WEFOUNDSome Reminiscences (Classic Reprint)

Jawaharlal Nehru with Mahatma Gandhi at Birla House after a three-hour talk with M.A. Jinnah in Delhi. Photograph dated 06/11/1939   | Photo Credit: The Hindu Archives

Once on a visit Gandhiji met a young student from Shantiniketan. They had a discourse on “beauty”. “The moon shining among the stars at night is beautiful,” said Gandhiji. “So is a pretty woman,” replied the boy. “Even if she is not morally upright?” asked Gandhiji. “Then her face would not be beautiful,” was the reply he got. “You are begging the question,” said Gandhiji with a laugh. The student looked nonplussed but joined in the laughter. When he grew up he became a Congress leader but remembered that Bapu had asked him to read “The Hound of Heaven” by Francis Thompson for spiritual enlightenment.

Gandhiji was no theoretical moralist. When news came from South Africa that the Mahatma’s eldest son had been harassing his own elder daughter, he wrote a long letter to him, both advising and criticising him for his immoral conduct and ordering him to send the girl Manu immediately to him in India, where Kasturba would help the granddaughter in erasing the bitter scars left by her ordeal.