Friday, September 4, 2009

Gandhi and Parsis

Last month Mani Bhavan hosted an interesting talk on Gandhi and Parsis by Dinyar Patel. He also spoke on the role of Parsis in the Indian freedom movement. A very enthralling lecture.

Below is an excerpt from an article, Gandhiji addressed to the Parsis, published in Young India dated 23-3-1921.


I know that you are following with considerable interest the present non-co-operation movement. You may know, too, that all thoughtful non-co-operators are anxiously waiting to see what part you are going to play in the process of purification through which the whole country is passing. I, personally, have every reason to have full faith in your doing the right thing when the moment for making the final choice comes to you. And I address these few words to you because I feel that, probably, that moment has now arrived.

Apart from your being fellow-countrymen, I am bound to you by many sacred ties. Dadabhai ( Dadabhai Naoroji )was the first patriot to inspire me. He was my guide and helper when I did not know any other leader. It was to him that I bore, when yet a boy, a letter of introduction.( This was in 1888 when Gandhiji went to England to study for the Bar).
It was the late uncrowned king of Bombay, Sir Pherozeshah Mehta who led me in 1896 and showed me the way to work. It was he who, (when I wanted to give battle to a Political Agent as far back as 1892), restrained my youthful ardour and taught me the first practical lesson in ahimsa in public life. He taught me not to resent personal wrongs if I would serve India.
A Parsi merchant in Durban, Rustomjee Ghorkhodoo, was among my most valued clients and friends in South Africa. He gave freely to thepublic cause, and he and his brave son were the first among my fellow prisoners. He gave me shelter when I was lynched,and now, too, he is following the swaraj movement with considerable interest and has just donated Rs. 40,000 to it.
In my humble opinion, probably the first woman in India today is a Parsi woman ( presumably Gandhiji refers to Mrs. Jaijee Petit, wife of Jehangir Bomanjee Petit ) gentle as a lamb, with a heart that holds the whole humanity. To have her friendship is the rarest privilege of life.


Young India, 23-3-1921