by Rohan Jayetilleke
Mohandas Karmachand Gandhi, one of the greatest of the sons of India and the precursor of 'Freedom' to humanity, passed
the matriculation examination in 1887 at the age of 18 and with the financial assistance of his brother, proceeded to England
and having passed his law finals, was called to the bar in England on 10th of June 1891 and was enroled as a barrister in
the High Court in England on the 11th and sailed home on the 12th.
In his teens, while in India, the Gujarati didactic stanza gripped his mind and heart. Its precept return good for evil
- became his guiding principle in life, the very ideology made him the target of a Hindu fanatic and psychopath Godse's assassination
victim. The following are those wonderful lines.
"For a bowl of water give a goodly meal; For a kindly greeting bow thou down with zeal; For a simple penny pay thou back
with gold; If thy life be rescued, life do not withhold; Thus the words and actions of the wise regard; Every little service
tenfold they reward. But the truly noble know all men as one, And return with gladness good for evil done".
On March 12th 1930 Mohandas Karmachand Gandhi set off with seventy-eight disciples, among whom was the Cuckoo of India
Sarojini Naidu, from his ashram in Gujarat in Western India on a 350 kilometre trek to Dande in the western coast of India.
Twenty-five days later he stepped into a hollow on the sea beach, scooped up a fistful of mud and salt, and announced with
manly power, though frail in constitution to his erstwhile marchers and the crowds that thronged the scene, "With this salt
I am shaking the foundation of the (British) Empire! He said and did he? He did. Gandhi was visibly flouting the tax on salt,
the only condiment of the poor. With this announcement, it took 17 long years and the Second World War to liquify the British
The Salt March invigorated the Hindistic Indians but not the Muslim minority, a blow to Gandhi's concept of unity, which
resulted on gaining independence to divide the country to India and pakistan. The Salt March, exemplified Gandhi's commitment
to non-violence to gain Swaraj for India and all the British colonies in the Asian and African regions.
At the end of the march Gandhi said; "I observed that you have provided for the night journey a heavy kerosene burner mounted
on a stool, which a poor labourer carried on his head.
This was humiliating sight. This man was being goaded to walk fast. I could not bear the sight. I put on speed. But it
was no use. The man was made to run after me.
The humiliation was complete. If the weight had to be carried, I should have loved to see someone among ourselves carrying
it....... We would soon dispense with both the stool and the burner. If we do not quickly mend our ways, there is no Swaraj".
Known as Cuckoo of India, Sarojini Devi, was a renowned freedom fighter, a distinguished poet and one of the great orators
of her time and above all a nationalist.
You could take an Indian to any part of the world even a space craft, like Dr. Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian-American
born at Karnal, in India, who in 1997 became the first Indian to travel in the US Space Shuttle Columbia, Flight Shuttle STS-67,
and came by her death in the 2003 STS-107 Space Shuttle Flight (along with her crew), India cannot be taken out of the Indian.
Sarojini passed the Matriculation examination at the age of twelve, and the first ever to do so, whilst studying in the
Madras Presidency (Chennai). She was sent to Cambridge university at the age of 14, but never gained any degrees. Like Tagore
she played truant and was more immersed in poetry and writing.
On her return to India she was overwhelmed by the Gandhi's struggle for Swaraj and became a mighty atom in the movement.
Her father was Aghoranath Chattopadhyaya, a scholar of Sanskrit, Greek, Hebrew, Persian and English.
Her mother Varadasundari Devi wrote poetry in Bengali and knew Sanskrit too. Sarojini was the eldest of eight children.
All children beside Bengali, the mother tongue could speak in Urdu, Telugu and English.
Sarojini Naidu presided over the annual sessions of Indian National Congress at Kanpur (India) in 1925. It was the greatest
honour to a woman.
The president was all powerful and had to plan projects for the entire country for one year. She was not noted for her
organisational and management skills and an organiser with originality and dash. She too like Gandhi, Nehru and others had
to languish in British boarding cells (prisons) for no sin or crime but only for claiming India is India.
India belongs to Indians and not to the British, with an ancestry of savagery when India for aeons and aeons a civilised
land of people of Indian birth and Aryanisation is only a myth of the westerners, for India according to Buddhist Jatakas
was for aeons upon aeons was a developed land, and Aryans were thus invading Nomads from middle eastern countries, in search
of greener pastures from their desert lands.
At midnight of August 14th 1947, British empire was just a heap of dust and debris, India was free. Jawaharlal Nehru, when
he became the first Prime Minister of India, with an Indian as the President of the Republic, Rajendra Prasad, unlike Sri
Lanka with ageing Englishmen as Governor-Generals, the magazine, 'Shanker' under the caption, "Man of the week" journalised,
"On the verge of sixty, he is the boy of Harrow, dreaming of great things for his country.
It does not matter to him that his dreams may be unreal. He keeps his freshness of heart... the dauntless boy, intent on
his butterflies, willing to be cheated but incapable of cheating others."
Nehru in his last Testament wished he be cremated; a few ashes to be thrown into the Ganga (Ganges river) and the major
portion of the ashes to be carried high up into the air in an aeroplane and scattered from that height over the fields, where
the peasants of India toil, so that they might mingle with the dust and soil of India and become indistinguishable part of
That was Nehru the princely Kashmir Brahamin. We in Sri Lanka the living mortals, at government expense raise plaques with
their pedigree calling them themselves, the best of human qualities.
Published in the Daily News in Colombo, Sri Lanka