My Brother's Face: I. 'Mahatma Gandhiki Jai'

JUNE, 1924


IT is the unwritten law of every Hindu that he shall revisit the place of his birth at least once in twelve years. Did our sages formulate this law from a profound knowledge of the soul’s need? I cannot say; but it is true that I, a Brahman, after many years of wandering in foreign lands, grew conscious of a longing for my home, which reached its climax in very nearly twelve years after my departure from India. I had spent hard outcast years in America, followed by years when I was admitted within the precincts of Western caste; I had traveled in England, France, and Norway, and had felt everywhere a deepening fellowship with men; but instead of lessening, these human contacts intensified the emptiness that surged within me.

Was this because I read in the eyes turned to mine some reflection of my own poverty of soul? Was it that Western men and women were seeking, though perhaps unconsciously, a freedom of the spirit from the burdens heaped upon it by a century of progress? Then in a flash it came to me that I might find in the age-old peace of India some balm of healing for other minds as well as for my own.

One day in the winter of 1920-21, as I was mounting the lecture platform of New York City’s Town Hall, I looked into the faces of my audience and into my own heart, and found with consternation that I was a man without a message. Then through confusion came the clear summons, ‘Go to India, and at the feet of Holiness renew thy spirit!’

So, almost literally with the begging bowl, I set forth upon the ancient pilgrimage of my race in search of Holiness.


India at last! The hills of the Western Ghauts gleamed so intensely emerald that it hurt one’s eyes to look at them. This afternoon of late March throbbed with colors clean and brilliant; russet and gold, purple and green, cerise and blue, alternated and mixed with one another as we drew closer to the wharf. Suddenly all these warm colors — warm and humid like the day — took supple and fully defined form. The ebbing and flowing currents of iridescence burning the strand shaped themselves into Indian women walking slowly back and forth, drawing about them the long flowing ends of their saris.

It was not a city but a fairies’ paradise that had come out to the sea front to take the evening air. Thus I beheld India once more. In my country when one is enchanted he cries, ‘What word! ‘ — as though to beg the God of Poetry, ‘Oh, give me some word to describe it! ‘

As the boat was moored and made fast the crowds ashore shouted, ‘Gandhiki Jai!’

‘What does that mean?’ I asked.

‘They are giving thanks for the safe arrival of the boat at this shore,’ I was answered.

‘But they shouted, “Victory to Gandhi!” ‘ I remarked, still puzzled. I had returned to India in the very midst of the Gandhi ferment and, during my first week, I found that the sound of his name rang like a refrain to everything I did.

‘Is n’t Gandhi the voice of love and longing? To shout for his victory is to acclaim the coming of God,’ I was told.

The next thing I remember is my brother’s face. I gazed into his eyes and read there not a man but a continent. India, India, India—I took the dust from his feet. My elder brother — the head of our house now that my mother and father were no more; and I saluted him, putting my forehead on his feet. No word can describe my meeting with him after all these years of exile.

After we had bathed and dined, our talk flowed hour after hour till, suddenly, the white bird of dawn spread its wings and tore the throat of darkness with its burning silver talons: the darkness of night bled in floods of crimson for a few moments — and was gone.

As if a curtain had been lifted from before us, people and faces were suddenly revealed moving about as they do on the stage. Such is the effect of daybreak in India. It was only half-past five. By six o’clock the whole world was astir, like ants about an anthill. We tried to snatch a few hours’ sleep before making plans for a long pilgrimage.

I had hoped to visit Gandhi in his prison, but my brother told me it would be impossible as, at that time, the Mahatma refused to see even the visitors permitted him by the Government, and spent his day s in fasting and meditation. Therefore, since the cotton mills of India were all congregated in the city where we had spent the last twenty-four hours, we decided to plunge ourselves into the life of the mill districts first.

It was nearing the sunset hour. We put on our best silk robes and went forth toward a Hindu temple to attend meditation and evensong. As the sun sank into rest the blue dusk, like winged silence, ran through the long dusty lanes that snaked their way between some buildings old enough to remind one of the tenth century, and others new enough to awaken a sense of horror toward all progress. Sometimes I saw beautiful seventeenth-century columns and porticos pulled down in order to widen the streets that two automobiles might go abreast.

That sight brought vividly to my mind the real conflict in India to-day: the best of the eighteenth century at war with the best of the twentieth; ‘modern progress slashing its way through the beauty and squalor of the Renaissance,’ as my brother expressed it.

Suddenly we turned a corner and beheld the tall temple of ochre-colored stone leap like a golden column into the deepening emerald dusk of the sky, while at its foot surged and pulsated the throng of worshipers clad in saffron and green and gold. They too were entering the temple for the evensong. Fearing that we should find no seats if we lingered, my brother and I entered the shrine, though I was longing to stay without to feast my eyes on the phantasy of color that was fast sinking into the black silence of night.

Within, the odor of dhoop (incense) and dhoona (frankincense) greeted our breath, and far away beyond us, over the heads of the worshipers, gleamed the half-lit inner shrine where the two sapphire eyes of the god glowed above his robes of crimson brocade. It is said that these sapphires are the largest in the East. What a sense of art these priests had, to dress in crimson a god whose eyes were two sapphires, glowing blue stars, I thought.

At this moment, a silver bell rang from afar: it sounded like large drops of water falling on a tranquil lotus pool. It stilled the worshipers into an inert mass. Both my brother and I had already sat down and had begun to meditate.

I found it hard to fix my mind upon the eagle of immortality in the midst of a beauty which I had not seen for thirteen years. So I opened my eyes and looked at my brother’s face. It astonished me to see how quickly he had entered into Silence. In the strangely lit atmosphere of the temple his noble forehead shone like the brown bark of a tree in springtime. There was not a line, nor the shadow of a wrinkle, varied and violent as was the life he had led; for this man had been the head of the militant Nationalists of India, living as a political rebel and a fugitive from justice for six years, at the end of which time, he had, for a motive not yet clear to me, abandoned his doctrine of revolution and signed a truce with the English Government, with all the honors of war. It seemed to me that only to hear my brother’s story would be a sufficient reward for my long journey, and I knew that he would reveal it to me in time, but that I must not hurry him.

In the meanwhile, I learned his oval face by heart: it glowed with serenity; the long black lashes of his eyes quivered, his mouth, ever so austere, now relaxed its corners and smiled, as if to me, with an intimation of the joyous mystery that his soul was just then entering. The rest of his face, the pointed yet smoothly modeled chin, the aquiline nose, a direct inheritance from my father, and his ears — large, delicately wrought like the Buddha’s — I studied while he meditated.

Every now and then I said to myself, ‘And this is the man who was alleged to be the head of the terrorist party, a subverter of law and order, a monstrous anarchist!’

Since thoughts are noisy in the presence of Silence, my brother’s eyes suddenly opened and their black pupils cast a glance that scorched me; then they closed for a moment. I said to myself, ‘Don’t think noisy thoughts; they wound his meditation!’ But he opened his eyes again, now calm and sweet with a light that was human and fraternal. He rose to go and signed to me to follow him. As we walked through the meditating crowd I could feel the stillness beat against my unashamed preoccupation with the mere beauty of the spectacle. I never knew before that thoughts could be stentorian.

Once outside, my brother’s large eyes, lotuslike indeed, rested on my face with a kindly expression in them. ‘Thou art too inquisitive about the trivial,’ he remarked. ‘Those who count the feathers on the wings of Silence are ungodly.’

‘If my thoughts disturb thy meditation, how canst thou meditate in a noisy city?’ I asked.

He answered: ‘The noise of a city is like the chatter of lunatics in an asylum; no sane man heeds it; but the chatter of a sane man’s thought is like clamoring kindness to one who needs more than kindness from his brother. Look, people are going to the theatre. Let us follow.’

‘What kind of theatre is it?’ I asked.

‘ It belongs to the Europeans and the Europeanized Indians. Let us take a taxi and go thither.’

Yes, we came out of the Silence to drive in a taxi to the European theatre, and what, a theatre! We found there a group of Hawaiians with yellow flowers, straw skirts and ukuleles, dancing, droning, and playing, and this in the country where Shakuntala has been played without any interruption for two thousand years. The Europeanized Hindus, descendants of Kalidasa, were applauding that droning and drumming of half-obscene imported dancing. I could not stand it and no more could my brother. We fled, and drove to Dhulia, to the theatre of the mill hands.

As we took our seats my brother remarked, ‘I see that modern progress offends thee. Now our mother’s spirit will rest in the other world. I so feared that the Western civilization might have tainted thee!’

The short play we were watching — an allegory, ‘Love Conquers Death’ — was about to end. The God of Death bowed his head before the chaste and devoted wife. He could not take her husband, for the fire of devotion proved impregnable even for Kala — Death — the Black One. At this point an actor dressed like a priest came on the stage saying, ‘May all women strive to be like Savitri, and all men like her loyal and true lord Satyavan!’ Then came a classical dance, the Song of Songs, given by the younger members of the cast. Again the old gestures of hands and arms, the clear archaic angular movements of the feet and the bodies. To conclude the performance, the voice from behind the stage spoke three times with the deep sombre intonation of an oracle: ‘Rama, Rahim Ek Hai! Allah Bhagaban Ek Hai!’—(Rama and Rahim are one; not two. The God of the Mohammedans is the same as that of the Hindus!)

Then rose a deafening shout as a dramatic answer from the audience: ‘Gandhi Maharjki Jai!’—(Victory to Kingly Gandhi!) Thus they took leave of the play of Savitri — ‘Love Conquers Death.’

When we walked out into the balmy night, my brother said, ‘Canst thou doubt where lieth the exact dwelling place of Our Soul? Mother India is moving to a dimension higher than we see with our blind outer eyes. Gandhi is one of the many pilgrims from that interior tiger-guarded place.’

‘It is the common people who are her soul.’

‘Yes, they are Our Mother’s own pang-born and pang-bearing ones. During my years of exile I have traveled all through India. At every peasant’s door I found God, and in every workingman the effort to articulate. Hindus and Mohammedans are but two babes sucking India’s two breasts, and the babes know now that there are two breasts to drink life from. Each can draw the song and sap of life without injuring the other. The breasts of the one ancienl mother: two sons of the One Heart! India is safe. Gandhi is not a cure as the foreigners think; he is the sign of our convalescence.’


The next morning, we visited some of the mill hands who were on a strike which, like strikes the world over, raised more problems than it solved. However, this strike being the first one in India to come under my observation, I paid much attention to it. I did not ask the strike-leaders’ opinion, nor that of their opponents, as to the exact nature of the trouble. On the contrary, I went to a barber who cut the strikers’ hair. He was a curious man. His head looked like a coconut shell with a few holes here and there to give the beholder the impression of a face. He wore a fine Gandhi silk turban on his head — an ivory halo to the coconut — for Gandhi’s handwoven silk, though coarse in texture, is fine in color. Like all barbers, Nao talked profusely and that was why I went to him.

‘Eleven hours a day,’ said he, ‘feeding those hot monsters of metal, sir, week in and week out. Sundays are no vacation — they are but days of recuperation; we cannot love the devil of the West.’

‘We’? I asked him.

‘Yea, I too once worked at nursing those hell-begotten metal-mouths,’ he went on. ‘But I gave it up. Now I barber those who feed the beast. I earn less but I get more time for singing and idleness. Was time meant to be counted by clock-strokes and screeches of factory whistles?’ cried the inspired barber. ‘Did not the gods make time for men to fashion dreams? Mahadeo, Mahadeo! The men strike because they live like earthworms crawling between machines eleven hours a day. They strike because they need the cure of indolence for their rusty limbs. Is man a centipede that he should crawl on his belly fast as the lightning to feed monster mouths hither and yon? Their wives toil too: between bearing children and giving suck to machines they grow scrawny as scarecrows and their voices sound like the very cry of filth. Women lose their bloom and men their gods; they visit no more temples, nor do they sing songs. God goes a-begging for a votary in this our old God-enchanted land. Nay, sir, the factory is now the God of these men and women, and the whistle is His speech.

‘They know not what they strike for: but I know. They strike because they are sick of feeding the hot mouths of metal when they should be feeding their own babes who have just grown teeth enough to bite the father’s finger for fun, or the nipple of the mother’s breast, to show that, though small, they too can make jokes.’

‘But I was told it was Gandhi who made these men strike,’ I said to the barber.

‘Ho-ho! The evil spirit sat on the tip of that man’s tongue who told you the tale out of malice.’

‘ Nay! ‘ I exclaimed.

‘Gandhi has been in jail now six weeks. The strike started the day of his trial.’

‘I mean the spirit of Gandhi,’ I explained.

‘Spirit? ‘ he questioned. ‘Gandhi can do no ill in spirit or in body. Strikes come because men are giving up their gods for the hell of factory work. Gandhi is no counselor to such men. If he were to walk by here you would say, “An avatara hath passed.” ‘

‘Dost thou consider him holy, Nao?’ I inquired.

‘Did I not see his ugly face? Did I not hear his words? I behold him as I see you. And I marveled at the monkeylike countenance without beauty. Then as the earth throbs when the firechariot pulls a long train, a quake broke in my heart, and I said to myself,“That man is my soul’s thousand faces in one face: that man unlocks his lips to give out words of precious truth. If he asks for my life I shall give my life to him.” ‘

‘Thou wouldst give thy life?’ I stressed the question.

‘Yea, that is the utmost I have. Had I more —’ But here the barber’s wife came out and offered us some cool drinks in brass cups.

After saying good-bye to them, my brother and I visited the homes of the strikers. They lived in an appalling squalor that beggars description. I was unable to bear it and I begged my brother to take me away.

On our way to Poona we met a silk vender. He was a short, lean, hawkfaced Gujrati, who was selling Gandhi silk and linen. I asked him why he did not sell foreign goods.

‘Brother,’ he explained, ‘I took a pledge before the Mahatma that I would sell nothing but purely domestic manufacture.’

‘Would you give a pledge of life to him?’ I asked further.

‘Why should I not? But he, Gandhi, will not take your life. He wants your soul.’

‘But why shouldst thou give him thy soul?’ I pressed.

‘Ah, had you only seen him! Those lips of his smiled at me. And I said to myself, “That mouth speaks no idle word: it is like God’s mouth.” And, brother, if God say to you do thus and so, would you not do it, would you not give what is yours — your soul?’

About six hours later, near the Karli Cave temple, one of the finest works of ancient Indian art, I asked my Mohammedan tonga-driver about Gandhi. He flourished his whip and shouted, ‘Gandhi is bad.’

‘Why bad, O thou true believer?’ I asked.

‘He saith whenever a community is in trouble, it should cease work for a day or two and pray to Allah to purify itself. Why should I purify myself? If Rahim be a rogue and steal Mobarak’s goat as well as his wife, why should you and I and the rest of the village pray to Allah ? We have not sinned. Have we?’ he asked me.

‘Then thou dost despise Gandhi?’ I evaded the question with another.

‘Nay, nay!’ he exclaimed vehemently. ‘I saw him once. He is as one in whose eyes shines the peace of Allah. He speaketh as no mollah can. He gladdens the heart and maketh the soul sweet with happiness at his words. Is it not good to perspire on a hot day? Is it not good then to hear him who hath Allah’s blessings on him? But I ask you, can one as low as I live as high as he? He saith that I should pray for Mobarak, the thief and lecher. But how can I pray for that rogue when I forget to pray for myself? Nay, Gandhi is too high.’ He shook his head with a strange expression of dismay and admiration.

After a pause he lashed his horse, saying, ‘Thou brother of an ass, dost thou not wish Gandhi wert thy driver to give thee a life all hay and no work! Thou son and begetter of mules, get up!’

The beast understood enough to slacken his pace even more.


We were on our way to see a man named Govrind who was a member of the Servant of India Society. This body is the real heart and soul of the Indian Moderate Party. Although many Indians agree that the Moderate Party is made up of rich and powerful men and women who are abjectly proBritish and who exploit the Servant of India for their own self-interests, there is not a soul in India who would ever dare allege that the Servant of India Society has any selfish motive back of its programme. Every member is like the founder, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, the idealist, who lives under a vow of poverty and devotion to India’s political betterment, and Mr. Srinivasa Sastri, a poor man who never takes office in the Government, and lives for his country as unselfishly as Gandhi.

However, Sastri is not Gandhi; he has no spiritual genius nor faith in the political greatness of his race; and no doubt that is why he is a Moderate, preferring India to remain under the tutelage of Britain until such time as she is able to rule herself. Govrind, the man my brother had brought me to see, explained something of this point of view to me.

A blue Persian rug of severe design in the centre of the red-tiled floor was all the decoration in the room into which we were ushered by an old maidservant of the house. We sat down on the rug, squatting in the ancient way, and with large russet napkins wiped the perspiration from our brows. The heat of the day was like warm hands pressing against temples and forehead. It was so hot that even our freshly laundered napkins clung to our hands as wool to the fingers of the knitter on a July day in New York; but somehow the Indian heat was more bearable than that of New York, for Indian life is ordered and Indian homes are built to withstand it.

Just as these thoughts were crossing my mind, the violet doors to our left opened wide. We could glimpse a fountain in a large space surrounded by impeccable white walls. The small fountain sang on, now much nearer, with a sound like bees about a honeycomb. It kept the house cool, just as a radiator in every room keeps a house warm in New York.

Now softly, as if keeping time to the music of the water, came our host through the open doorway and embraced my brother as men do in the East when they greet an intimate friend. Govrind then touched his palms and bowed to me as I was presented to him by my companion. He said in Hindi, ‘ I am a southerner. I know very little Hindi, so I must speak in English. Next to Hindi it is the common tongue of India.’

As we were seating ourselves comfortably on the Persian rug, I examined Govrind’s face more closely. He was dark as the blue sea after sundown. His eyes were large but set too close to each other. He had a nose like the ancient Egyptian, and the rest of his face was modeled like that of the goddess Sekhmet — strange, enigmatic, and fierce. But as he smiled at me, it became quite clear that the man’s heart was as tender as a child’s. His upper lip was shaped like a bow, and the lower one was almost straight from one corner of the mouth to the other. When he stopped smiling, the enigmatic expression once more took possession of his face. He was no more a man but an Egyptian god.

I spoke in English. ‘ I thought almost all Indians knew Hindi; is it not our common tongue? ‘

‘Yes, it is,’ Govrind answered; ‘outside my sixty million southerners, nearly two hundred and twenty million speak Hindi. If you northerners could teach Hindi to us of the south, India would have a common language.’

‘He has come from America, Govrind,’ my brother put forth, ‘to find out how you Moderate leaders feel toward Gandhi. Since, when we speak English we become direct, unpoetic, with shrill voices, let us plunge into the subject immediately and have done with it. I can’t stand speaking English. It makes us nervous and turns our voices falsetto, which never happens when we speak any tongue native to India. Come, attack Gandhi in the best style of a Moderate! ‘

Govrind smiled that enchanting smile of his. Then again he drew his lips together, sphinxlike. After clearing his throat, he began in a very unhappy voice in English. He even gave the title of his discourse: GANDHI’S INFLUENCE OUTSIDE THE PRISON WALLS — which proved to be a short account of the Gandhi movement since the Amritsar massacre in 1919.

‘But look here,’ I said to him, ‘you are not giving me your reactions as a Moderate of the most honest order. You are neither rich, nor powerful, yet you are a Moderate. Now tell me why you are a Moderate, and what you really think of Gandhi.’

‘I think,’ he said, ‘we are Moderates simply because in moderation lies wisdom.’

‘But most Moderates are so rich and so thoroughly fed on privileges that I should imagine your society, as an unselfish body, would shrink from them,’ I interposed.

‘I am happy to hear your appreciation of our society. But could n’t you praise us without condemning somebody else? It is so easy to praise one thing at the cost of another.’

Thus beaten by Govrind, I returned to my former question. ‘What do you think of Gandhi?’ I repeated. ‘Is he opposed to your Moderate Party?’

‘First of all, he is the most spiritual man living now,’ began Govrind. ‘But I don’t think his spirituality gives him the insight of a statesman. What’s more, I do not hold that Gandhi is a great thinker. I must admit, however, that he has done for his country that which no one else has been able to do: he has made the masses fully conscious of their political birthright.’

‘Do you think that India is fit to be free?’

‘No. Not in the absolute sense. But,’ Govrind continued, ‘I think we shall be ready for home rule in ten years if Gandhi’s men consent to coöperate with us, the Moderates. Otherwise, — if they continue to noncoöperate, — India will drift into unheard-of difficulties.’

He went on to discuss the MontaguChelmsford reform, saying that he was satisfied with it as a working basis, and a good start toward home rule, and from that, to explain what he considered the stumbling block of Noncooperation and the proofs of failure of Gandhism to achieve its ends. He finished by saying: —

‘If Gandhi is released to-day, his followers will give up Noncoöperation to-morrow. No doubt it is his incarceration that has united them so closely against the Government and against us who are coöperating with it. The noncoöperators identify us with the Government simply because we have accepted the Montagu-Chelmsford bill for the good of India. They don’t see that we love our country as much as they do.’

With these last words Govrind’s face grew dark with pity. And I said to myself, ‘This man is as unselfish as Gandhi.’

The Moderate politician did not believe nonresistance could be suppressed by imprisonment, or even by hanging. Any large attempt at suppressing it would drive it into military resistance.


When we left the house of the Servant of India, the afternoon sun was far behind the walls and there was no need to fear his shafts of light. Therefore we walked along the red roads between groves of mangos, till we were outside the city.

My brother exclaimed, ‘How dreary it all sounds when a man talks an alien language. Govrind could not use a single figure of speech. When we speak English, even elephants could not drag a jeweled metaphor out of us. I want to sing to relieve the pain in my heart:

'“Every time I ask a question, God,
Thou dost smile with stars.
People call Thee loving —
How can that be true
If thou dost only smile
While questions spear my heart?"'

He sang his song twice. Then as if the question was answered, he pointed to a small house ahead of us and said, ‘Let us go to that peasant’s home. I know him — he speaks Hindi; he will make talk that will satisfy our thirsty fancy.’

Under the light of the setting sun the peasant’s newly thatched house had a glow of gold. Even the walls of brown throbbed with the singing grandeur of the sunset that was now deepening into purple in the western sky against which the palm-fronds were spread in peacock-fans of gold and emerald flames. As we drew near the prosperous-looking hut, the peasant family of four came to welcome us.

After greetings and explanations were over, the owner of the house sat down beside us and talked. The pauses between our talk were punctuated by the cooing of a dove in the neighboring mango grove. I asked, ‘Can India soon be free?’

The peasant answered, ‘How can one be free when his soul is not free? To have a free country we must have free souls.’

‘What is thy opinion of Gandhi?’

The peasant answered to the rhythm of the swaying coco palms, ‘The dust of illusion still darkens men’s eyes, but a day will come when all the people of the world will see that the Mahatma is their Lover. He speaks like a holy one, for he is holy, and when he smiles he has brought us God.’

‘Wilt thou give thy life if Gandhi commands?’

‘Yes, that I will. But he will not command it. Only he whom the Antaryamin — God Within — prompts, shall give his life. For God is the lifegiver. He alone can ask us to yield life.’

‘Hast thou seen Gandhi? Hast thou heard him?’ I questioned further.

He answered, ‘Do you remember the old saying, “The fragrance of a flower goes but with the wind, but the fragrance of holiness goes even against wind?” Why should I need to see Gandhi? His holiness reaches me, despite my nature. Come, sir, perform the evening meditation in my house. It will gladden my wife and my children. Behold the sun hath set.’

‘The evening comes on wings of silence! Tone down the voice of mutiny; listen to the Silence for Whose worship the stars are lighted.’

With those words we sat down and meditated till the whole world slipped through the wicket of sunset into the larger spaces of night. Then the lady of the house raised the earthen lamp before her on a level with her eyes and went about the rooms propitiating the spirit of the night. It was sweet to watch her. The half-veiled face floated in the darkness above the lamp and I can see it before me now — as she carried the light outside and bore it three times around the sacred plants, symbol of Life.

When she went indoors again she set the lamp down on the floor, her body bending almost in two and rising quickly as a willow branch bends down and rises, the instant the pressing hand lets go its hold. It was all grace and simplicity!

After this, we said farewell to the peasant family and walked on into the fragrant starlit space. We wandered for some time, and then decided to go to a temple near by, in order to spend the night in the priest’s house. Though the evening worship was over, there was a large throng of people seated in the outer court, where from a wooden platform a man was reading from the Mahabharata. He no doubt had it all in his memory, since he looked very rarely at the book before him; if he did, I am sure he saw very little, for the small earthen lamp that was burning beside him was almost completely curtained with hovering moths. I felt a pang of beauty as I heard him roll out the majestic Sanskrit lines.

Next day we spent with that priest, talking of Gandhi. He said: —

‘One day I beheld Mahatma Gandhi. It was like seeing honey harden into a rod. He was so sweet yet so flinty. So I said to myself, “Thou hast praised God in a walled space and prayed for guidance; now behold God has sent a face for thy guidance; wilt thou go with him into the open, or wilt thou stay here in security burning more incense?”

‘To that question mine own heart answered, “Go thou, follow the face of him who is God’s witness.” There was naught else for me to do. Therefore, I went and told my tale to the Mahatma and he said to me that I should grow and live truth — Satyagraha — as a tree bears fruit. So like a tree I stayed rooted where I belonged. I preached Gandhism from my temple door.

‘One day I spoke to the people as I preached to them last night, not of God, but of Satyagraha. I said: “The British race are not enemies of India, but their Government is. It behooves us to dest roy that government at once.” Hardly had I finished my speech when two protectors of peace without their constable’s uniform, leaped upon me. Neither I nor my hearers could resist, since we had promised non resistance to the Holy One, and so I was taken to the English prison. It was the week before the Prince of Wales came to our town.

‘When we reached the prison yard, I found the place guarded by many of my own people in the service of the Government. The moment they saw me they all shouted, “Mahatma Gandhiki Jai”—(Victory to Mahatma Gandhi). I was so startled by such a cry from men in this position that I could not believe my ears. But when they shouted the same thing again and again I knew to what extent Mahatma Gandhi was loved, even by those working for the Government; but their feeling did not help my trouble, for one of these very men locked me up in a cell full of low-born drunkards. In there, disgusted, standing in a pool of disgorged dinner, I shouted “Mahatma Gandhiki Jai!” And lo, hundreds of other voices shouted, as if echoing my cry: “Mahatma Gandhiki Jai.” And still other voices from the distant parts of the prison took up those echoes and the booming shook the prison walls as the flood shakes the walls of a mountain cave.

‘Suddenly I felt a hand pulling mine. It was a follower of the Mahatma trying to speak to me in spite of that terrible noise. He drew me toward a corner of the cell and, as the noise died down, he said to me, “The whole prison is full of our people under arrest. Do not shout. They think thou art being tortured by those in power and they shout back to give thee courage.”

‘The corner he had led me to was clean and dry; and we started to make ourselves at home there. Hardly had we settled when a dozen of the followers were marched into our filthy cell amid deafening cries of “ Victory to Gandhi! ” My heart jumped in my breast when I saw their homespun Gandhi caps and the broad red bands they wore across them from shoulder to chest. They were men from the university who were forbidden to bear these signs. When they recognized us in the halfdark, they began to tell us that thousands had been arrested, and that many had been sent, away owing to lack of space to keep them in the prisons. So these were requested to offer themselves for arrest the next day, and this they did, in large numbers, according to their word. Some prisoners were obliged to wait until factories and private buildings were made into jails for their safe-keeping.

‘Hardly had the young men finished telling their tale, when the cell door was flung open and an English sergeant stood in the doorway. He said: “Any noncoöperator can get his immediate release if he will sign this note of apology.” We made no answer. And again the sergeant gave the same message, and only a drunkard replied. The sergeant said, “Silence! (Sowarkobatch — you son of a pig) I am speaking to the Gandhi men! ”

’I answered, “Gandhi men do not apologize,” and the Son of Anger answered back, “You shall pay for this at the trial to-morrow!”

‘ Then we were locked in our cesspool again for a day and a night.

‘The morning after, we were again asked to apologize. One consented, to our shame, and he was released; the rest were sentenced by the Court to various terms of imprisonment.

’Because I am no vender of news, nor a prostitute, I shall not tell you how bad was that jail. We were treated like the vilest criminals. But this was our enlightenment,’ the priest concluded, ‘for it taught us how bad prisons have been heretofore, and how many brother souls have been murdered for centuries because we were ignorant of their tortures. The only way for us was to make protest, and we refrained from eating food for a long period — some, indeed, abstained for sixty-five days. The common criminals took interest in our method and in a few days they too went on the hunger strike. No doubt this overcoming of prison discipline, as they called it, frightened the rulers, for, at last, having failed to conquer us, they set about to alter our conditions. Now, even cutthroats and robbers are being transformed into noncoöperators of high courage because Gandhi has penetrated into their prisons. The light of God penetrates where even the sun cannot shine.’

I asked him if he still believed that Gandhi was helping him and he answered, ‘Can my soul ever be weaned from the Mahatmaji? As the unseen God guides the stars, so his meditation is guiding us through its invisible way; inscrutable it is to the eye, but not to the soul. Unfathomable is the power of sacrifice.’

After talking with that priest, I decided that I need see no more people, for my purpose.