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Sunday, November 1, 2020

Indian History ~ Gandhi's defeat in Gujarati Sahitya Parishad elections !

History was read with interest during school days .. .. it was Mughals, British colonization and how Congress got us freedom.  One feels that so many needed details were lost as they were never part of our text books.  For example, ever read of Lunavada State ? – there were Princely States and this too was one which acceded to Union of India in 1948.   

The leader who got us freedom - Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 in Porbandar (Sudamapuri), a coastal town on the Kathiawar Peninsula and then part of the small princely state of Porbandar in the Kathiawar Agency of the Indian Empire.  Here is some history of the man himself ! .. ..

On 10 Aug 1888, Gandhi aged 18, left Porbandar for Bombay. In few months,  he sailed from Bombay to London, with his brother seeing him off. Gandhi attended University College, London which is a constituent college of University of London. Gandhi, at age 22, was called to the bar in 1891 and then left London for India, where he learned that his mother had died while he was in London and that his family had kept the news from him.  His attempts at establishing a law practice in Bombay failed because he was psychologically unable to cross-examine witnesses ! He returned to Rajkot to make a modest living drafting petitions for litigants.  In 1893, a merchant in Kathiawar named Dada Abdullah engaged Gandhi for his  distant cousin in Johannesburg as they preferred someone with Kathiawari heritage. Gandhi was offered a total salary of £105  .. ..later with the turn of events, he was to return to India in 1915.   Gandhi took the leadership of Congress in 1920 and had all been portrayed as a successful person, whom the British feared most  

The not so highlighted fact  is inside Congress, Gandhi and Nehru had a clash with Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose who had been elected President in 1938.  Despite Gandhi's opposition, Bose won a second term as Congress President, against Gandhi's nominee, Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya; but left the Congress when the All-India leaders resigned en masse in protest of his abandonment of the principles introduced by Gandhi. Gandhi declared that Sitaramayya's defeat was his defeat but by mass resignations ensured that Bose left and Congress was in their reigns.

Ever heard of - Gujarati Sahitya Parishad (Gujarati Literary Council)  ?   It was founded by Ranjitram Mehta with the aim of creating Gujarati  literature appealing to all classes of society and cultivating a literary sense among the people. Parab is the monthly magazine of the Parishad.  Rao Bahadur Hargovinddas Dwarkadas Kantawala (1844 – 1930) was a Gujarati writer, editor and  researcher  on medieval Gujarati literature. He was the president of the sixth session of the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad.

Hargovinddas Kantawala was born on 16 July 1844 in Umreth, a town in Kaira district (now Kheda) of Gujarat. He started his career as a teacher, and then became headmaster.   He was later  appointed assistant deputy educational inspector, and then principal of the Teacher's Training College, Rajkot. He worked as the dewan (minister) of the principality of Lunavada State in 1905. In 1912, he started a textile mill.  Kantawala was awarded the title of Rao Bahadur by the government in 1903. He was awarded Sahityamartand by Sayajirao Gaekwad III, Maharaja of Baroda State.   In the elections to Gujarati Sahitya Parishad in 1919, he  defeated Mahatma Gandhi  and presided the sixth session of the Parishad.  He wrote two novels: Andheri Nagarino Gardhavasen (1881) and Be Baheno athava Ek Gharsansari Varta (Two Sisters or A Tale of a Family Life; 1898). He wrote a poem titled "Panipat" or "Kurukshetra" (1867), which gives an account of the six battles fought on the battlefield of Panipat.  His other poetical work is Vishwa Ni Vichitrata (Strange Things of Universe; 1913).  In addition, he extensively wrote about social problems, social reforms, moral issues, worldly duties, and promotion of indigenous crafts.

Gandhi contested again won the post in 1925 but his relations with the city of Ahmebadad in Gujarat was sore. .. .. in fact, in life, he perhaps had stayed away  from the city of Ahmedabad was definitive. His last day in Ahmedabad was on 2 Nov 1936.  On 31 October that year, he had presided over the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad, a body that formally came into existence in 1905. It had required strenuous persuasion for Gandhi to assent to be the president of the parishad’s 12th session.   Neither the literary figures nor the wealthy merchant capitalists who had gathered at the Parishad were oblivious to the fact that, in 1917, Gandhi had been frustrated in his attempt to be chosen as the president of the Parishad. The literary classes of Gujarat had preferred an officer of the Baroda State.  By 1936, the Parishad was somewhat, just somewhat, embarrassed by its earlier choice.    

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

1 comment:

  1. Very nicely written Swamy .. pls
    Do share more such inside details which we never read in our schooling..
    Dasan Kaushik