With my mother's permission and blessings, I set off
exultantly for Bombay, leaving my wife with a baby of a
few months. But on arrival there friends told my brother
that the Indian Ocean was rough in June and July, and as
this was my first voyage, I should not be allowed to sail
until November. Someone also reported that a steamer had
just been sunk in a gale. This made my brother uneasy,
and he refused to take the risk of allowing me to sail
immediately. Leaving me with a friend in Bombay, he
returned to Rajkot to resume his duty. He put the money
for my travelling expenses in the keeping of a
brother-in-law, and left word with some friends to give
me whatever help I might need.
Time hung heavily on my hands in Bombay. I dreamt
continually of going to England.
Meanwhile my caste-people were agitated over my going
abroad. No Modh Bania had been to England up to now, and
if I dared to do so, I ought to be brought to book! A
general meeting of the caste was called and I was
summoned to appear before it. I went. Now I suddenly
managed to muster up courage I do not know. Nothing
daunted, and without the slightest hesitation, I came
before the meeting. The Sheth- the headman of the
community who was distantly related to me and had been on
very good terms with my father, thus accosted me:
'In the opinion of the caste, your proposal to go to
England is not proper. Our religion forbids voyages
abroad. We have also heard that it is not possible to
live there without compromising out religion. One is
obliged to eat and drink with Europeans!'
To which I replied: 'I do not think it is at all
against our religion to go to England. I intend going
there for further studies. And I have already solemnly
promised to my mother to abstain from three things you
fear most. I am sure the vow will keep me safe.'
'But we tell you,' rejoined the Sheth, 'that it is not
possible to keep our religion there. You know my
relations with your father and you ought to listen to my
'I know those relations.' said I. 'And you are as an
elder to me. But I am helpless in this matter. I cannot
alter my resolve to go to England. My father's friend and
adviser, who is a learned Brahman, sees no objection to
my gong to England, and my mother and brother have also
given me their permission.'
'But will you disregard the orders of the caste?'
'I am really helpless. I think the caste should not
interfere in the matter.'
This incensed the Sheth. He swore at me. I sat
unmoved. So the Sheth pronounced his order: 'This boy
shall be treated as an outcaste from today. Whoever helps
him or goes to see him off at the dock shall be
punishable with a fine of one rupee four annas.'
The order had no effect on me, and I took my leave of
the Sheth. But I wondered how my brother would take it.
Fortunately he remained firm and wrote to assure me that
I had his permission to go, the Sheth's order
The incident, however, made me more anxious than ever
to sail. What would happen if they succeeded in bringing
pressure to bear on my brother? Supposing something
unforeseen happened? As I was thus worrying over my
predicament, I heard that a Junagadh vakil was going to
England, for being called to the bar, by a boat sailing
on the 4th of September. I met the friends to whose care
my brother had commended me. They also agreed that I
should not let go the opportunity of going in such
company. There was no time to be lost. I wired to my
brother for permission, which he granted. I asked my
brother-in-law to give me the money. But he referred to
the order of the Sheth and said that he could not afford
to lose caste. I then sought a friend of the family and
requested him to accommodate me to the extent of my
passage and sundries, and to recover the loan from my
brother. The friend was not only good enough to accede to
my request, but he cheered me up as well. I was so
thankful. With part of the money I at once purchased the
passage. Then I had to equip myself for the voyage. There
was another friend who had experience in the matter. He
got clothes and other things ready. Some of the clothes I
liked and some I did not like at all. The necktie, which
I delighted in wearing later, I then abhorred. The short
jacket I looked upon as immodest. But this dislike was
nothing before the desire to go to England, which was
uppermost in me. Of provisions also I had enough and to
spare for the voyage. A berth was reserved for me by my
friends in the same cabin as that of Sjt. Tryambakrai
Mazmudar, the Junagadh vakil. They also commended me to
him. He was an experienced man of mature age and knew the
world. I was yet a stripling of eighteen without any
experience of the world. Sjt. Mazmudar told my friends
not to worry about me.
I sailed at last from Bombay on the 4th of September.