The Height of Devotion

-Maniben V. Patel

It is now 18 years after Kasturba left this world. I remained so close to her that it is difficult for me to write anything about her.

She was not educated in the prevalent sense although she might have studied up to second grade in a Gujarati school of those days. But she could very well read Gujarati newspapers-'Navajivan', 'Harijan Bandhu' and books written in simple language. She could slowly read Hindi also and always read Hindi editions of 'Navajivan' and 'Harijan Sevak'. She knew very little of what is caned literacy. But she always tried to under- stand and follow every writing and speech and actions of Bapu. If she could not follow something, she always consulted Mahadev bhai about what Bapu said and as to the meaning of particular writing of Bapu. She was really a Sita of this age. She always willingly shared the good and bad days of Bapu.

In 1938, the Satyagraha movement was going on in Rajkot. The princely administration let loose a reign of terror over the people. Kasturba was greatly moved with these sufferings of the people. Bapu was not keeping well in those days. On one side she was feelin1'5 that she should stay with Bapu, on the other side she could not help feeling like going to Rajkot considering the suppression to which the people there were subjected. Bapu never insisted on her participation or non- participation in the Rajkot Satyagraha. He remained completely neutral in this matter. Sardar Vallabhbhai tried his best to prevent Ba from participating in this movement, but when the Satyagraha was resumed, he had to allow Ba to go to Rajkot.

Ba, myself and Mridulaben were detained in a bungalow of a Feudal-lord of village Trumba near Rajkot. One evening District Superintendent of Police of Rajkot told her in all seriousness that Bapu's health was very bad and the Prince of Rajkot desired that she should go to Wardha to stay near Bapu. Ba was obviously worried on hearing this, but she could not be induced in this cooked UP story. She told me that if there was anything like this, Vallabhbhai would definitely inform us through letter or telegram. She asked me to find out the fact in this matter. I told her that if the Thakor Saheb really wanted us to go to Wardha, he should allow us to inquire about Bapu's health on telephone. We were then taken to Rajkot and by God's grace we got Pyarelal on telephone. Ba herself could speak to him and she felt much relieved to find that Bapu's health was quite well.

'Mahatmaji undertook fast on several occasions. On such occasions Ba always devoted herself in praying God. She spent most of her time in serving Bapu and herself lived on some limited quantity of coffee or fruit juice. She never argued or quarreled with Bapu on such occasions. She continued to look after every convenience of Bapu until the end. In her last days, she was suffering from a great physical pain, even then she worried more about Bapu. She always inquired from Manu whether Gud was ready for Bapu and was not out of stock in the kitchen. she could feel at rest only when Manu went to kitchen and brought boiled Gud as required for Bapu before her own eyes.

While traveling with Bapu, whether she stayed at rich man's house or in the ordinary home, she never forgot to see herself that fruits, Khakhara, (a kind of Chapati) boiled vegetables, etc. were served to Bap'_1 in time. Despite number of other workers with her, she never felt at rest until she prepared all these things herself. Various people, big or small, came to Bapu including leaders as well as volunteers, Ba attended to everyone in the same manner and served them with great affection.

We all belonging to this institution, founded in the levered memory of Ba can pay our debt to her only by practicing some of the great virtues of Ba in our own life. May God give us strength to do so.