I. THE FIRST
Before I reached home, the party which had started
from Phoenix had already arrived. According to our
original plan I was to have preceded them, but my
preoccupation in England with the war had upset all our
calculations, and when I saw that I had to be detained in
England indefinitely, I was faced with the question of
finding them all to stay together the Phoenix party. I
wanted them all to stay together in India, if possible,
and to live the life they had led at Phoenix. I did not
know of any Ashram to which I could recommend them to go,
and therefore cabled to them to meet Mr. Andrews and do
as he advised.
So they were first put in the Gurukul, Kangri, where
the late Swami Shraddhanandji treated them as his own
children. After this they were put in the Shantiniketan
Ashram, where the Poet and his people showered similar
love upon them. The experiences they gathered at both
these places too stood them and me in good stead.
The Poet, Shraddhanandji and Principal Sushil Rudra,
as I used to say to Andrews, composed his trinity. When
in South Africa he was never tired of speaking of them,
and of my many sweet memories of South Africa, Mr.
Andrews' talks, day in and day out, of this great
trinity, are amongst the sweetest and most vivid. Mr.
Andrews naturally put the Phoenix party in touch also
with Sushil Rudra. Principal Rudra had no Ashram, but he
had a home which he placed completely at the disposal of
the Phoenix family. Within a day of their arrival, his
people made them deal so thoroughly at home that they did
not seem to miss Phoenix at all.
It was only when I landed in Bombay that I learnt that
the Phoenix party was at Shantiniketan. I was therefore
impatient to meet them as soon as I could after my
meeting with Gokhale.
The receptions in Bombay gave me an occasion for
offering what might be called a little Satyagraha.
At the party given in my honour at Mr. Jehangir
Petit's place, I did not dare to speak in Gujarati. In
those palatial surroundings of dazzling splendour I, who
had lived my best life among indentured labourers, felt
myself a complete rustic. With my Kathiawadi cloak,
turban and dhoti, I looked somewhat more civilized than I
do today, but the pomp and splendour of Mr. Petit's
mansion made me feel absolutely out of my element.
However, I acquitted myself tolerably well, having taken
shelter under Sir Pherozeshah's protecting wing.
Then there was the Gujarati function. The Gujaratis
would not let me go without a reception, which was
organized by the late Uttamlal Trivedi. I had acquainted
myself with the programme beforehand. Mr. Jinnah was
present, being a Gujarati, I forget whether as president
or as the principal speaker. He made a short and sweet
little speech in English. As far as I remember most of
the other speeches were also in English. When my turn
came, I expressed my thanks in Gujarati explaining my
partiality for Gujarati and Hindustani, and entering my
humble protest against the use of English in a Gujarati
gathering. This I did, not without some hesitation, for I
was afraid lest it should be considered discourteous for
an inexperienced man, returned home after a long exile,
to enter his protest against established practices. But
no one seemed to misunderstand my insistence on replying
in Gujarati. In fact I was glad to note that everyone
seemed reconciled to my protest.
The meeting thus emboldened me to think that I should
not find it difficult to place my new-fangled notions
before my countrymen.
After a brief stay in Bombay, full of these
preliminary experiences, I went to Poona whither Gokhale
had summoned me.