On arrival in Poona, we found ourselves, after the
performance of the #shradha# ceremonies, discussing the
future of the Society, and the question as to whether I
should join it or not. This question of membership proved
a very delicate matter for me to handle. Whlist Gokhale
was there I did not have to seek admission as a member. I
had simply to obey his wish, a position I loved to be in.
Launching on the stormy sea of Indian public life, I was
in need of a sure pilot. I had one in Gokhale and had
felt secure in his keeping. Now that he was gone, I was
thrown on my own resources, and I felt that it was my
duty to seek admission. That, I thought, would please
Gokhale's spirit. So, without hesitation and with
firmness, I began the wooing.
Most of the members of the Society were in Poona at
this juncture. I set about pleading with them and tried
to dispel their fears about me. But I saw that they were
divided. One section favoured my admission, the other was
strongly against it. I knew that neither yielded to the
other in its affection for me, but possibly their loyalty
to the Society was greater, at any rate not less than
their love for me. All our discussions were therefore
free from bitterness, and strictly confined to matters of
principle. The section that was opposed to me held that
they and I were as the poles asunder in various vital
matters, and they felt my membership was likely to
imperil the very objects for which the Society was
founded. This naturally was more than they could bear.
We dispersed after prolonged discussions, the final
decision being postponed to a later date.
I was considerably agitated as I returned home. Was it
right for me to be admitted by a majority vote? Would it
be consonant with my loyalty to Gokhale? I saw clearly
that, when there was such a sharp division amongst the
members of the Society over admitting me, by far the best
course for me was to withdraw my application for
admission and save those opposed to me from a delicate
situation. Therein I thought lay my loyalty to the
Society and Gokhale. The decision came to me in a flash,
and immediately I wrote to Mr. Shastri asking him not to
have the adjourned meeting at all. Those who had opposed
my application fully appreciated the decision. It saved
them from an awkward position and bound us in closer
bonds of friendship. The withdrawal of my application
made me truly a member of the Society.
Experience now tell me that it was well that I did not
formally become a member, and that the opposition of
those who had been against me was justified. Experience
has shown too that our views on matters of principle were
widly divergent. But the recognition of the differences
has meant to estrangement or bitterness between us. We
have remained as brothers, and the Society's Poona home
has always been for me a place of pilgrimage.
It is true that I did not officially become a member
of the Society, but I have ever been a member in spirit.
Spiritual relationship is far more precious than Physical
relationship divorced from spiritual is body without