Published: 01st October 2019
Did you know that Gandhi once considered writing as a career?
We spoke to Tushar Gandhi and Rajmohan Gandhi to find out more about him developing an interest in writing and the English language
How can one talk about Gandhi and not mention the numerous letters that he had written and received over the years? Upon going through the contents of these letters, which are now available online, one can easily note how crisp and concise the content is. There is seldom any flowery expression. The message is rather to the point.
A large number of these letters are written in English. The Mahatma also wrote in Hindi and Gujarati. The road to this story also taught us that he studied Latin as a student. What could have been a few factors that led to Gandhi developing such a great flair for the English language, we wondered. The inquisition led us to his kin, a grandson and a great-grandson.
Tushar Gandhi, the grandson of the Mahatma's second son Manilal Gandhi, is the director of the Gandhi Research Foundation. He is popular for the reenactment of the Dandi March in 2005. He says, "Bapu wasn't too good in English initially. He struggled with the language. In fact, he dropped out of Samaldas College because it was impossible for him to study in the English language."
Later, when he realised that English was a necessity, especially during the British colonial era, he was adamant on learning the language. Not quite surprisingly, he went the extra mile. "That was around the time that he decided to go to England to study the language and the law that was practised. He was self-taught in English. From being intimidated by English, he slowly mastered the language and became proficient," says Tushar, "He never displayed his mastery using uncommon words but used his words concisely. He never wasted time and words to trouble people." He adds, "Around that time, Bapu also learnt Latin, which helped him understand the legal speech and English grammar better."
The next person from the Gandhi family that we got in touch with was former MP Rajmohan Gandhi, who is the son of the Mahatma's youngest son Devdas Gandhi. A biographer and an author of numerous books on Gandhi, he says, "Bapu became an avid reader of newspapers and this quickly improved his English. Books also fascinated him and no doubt taught him about writing skills. He found writing lessons even in Law textbooks. He had even thought of writing as a career until encounters and experiences turned him into a fighter for India's liberty."