Bapu and Revolutionary

He joined us on the verandah of the guest house at Sevagram. There was a corner of that verandah that was a particular favourite with the Ashram inmates. There we often sat in solemn conclave deliberating on more things under the sun than are easily dreamt of. It was on an occasion like this that he came into our midst. He hailed from one of the provinces and was a person of considerable reputation. Hardly was he seated amongst us when with characteristic vigour, he butted into the conversation.

'In our province', he declaimed, 'we don't worship Gandhi as God. Oh, no!'

An impressive pause.

'We look upon him as a leader - and just this moment we are discontented with the lead he has given'.

He had plenty of other things to say and say them he did with much show of conviction. What else could we do but look profoundly impressed? He was in the Ashram for a frank talk with Bapu, he asserted, and to discuss important matters with him. We looked more impressed still and he beamed with pleasure.

'In our province, we are all revolutionaries'. There was a challenge in his voice as he delivered this sentiment. 'We are in a hurry to capture power'.

In the context his meaning was plain as pikestaff. Bapu was not 'revolutionary' enough for him, Bapu was much too slow in this business of winning India's independence.

His interview with Bapu had been fixed for the afternoon. We watched with amusement how he got into a mighty flutter as the hour drew high. For the fire-eating revolutionary he claimed to be, he was a shade too timid as he entered Bapu's little mud hut at Sevagram. He remained with Bapu for nearly an hour.

We met him again in our accustomed corner of the verandah late that evening. He had attended Gandhi's evening prayer and strolled straight across to join us. What a change had been wrought on him! Gone was his swagger and noisy self-assertion. As he sat silent amidst us we sought to draw him out.

'How did you fare with Bapu?' one of us asked.

'Did you tell him how he was losing favour in your province?'

He was now strangely a little apologetic.

'You know what fools we can be', he said.

We were not a little perplexed, 'What is it?' one of us ventured to query.

He turned to gaze in the direction of Bapu's little hut, where a little lamp burned illuminating the saintly little figure bent over some files.

'Nothing', he replied, 'but that little man is the only true revolutionary in our country. We spend ourselves in talking and shouting - and he acts. He compelled me in a few quiet words to come down to the hard earth of realities. He is our supreme realist'.

He looked excited. For all our inward amusement, we put up a brave show of being somewhat excited too.

He spoke little after that. He listened patiently to all that we had to say. It was clear that he was doing some hard thinking. A wholesome sign, indeed, we thought, as we turned in for the night.