In the formative period of my life, I was not a admirer of Mahatma Gandhi. The eleven pledge prescribed by him as a short of a moral code of conduct seemed to me too puritanical to digest. Though his greatness was beyond doubt, yet I accepted that fact only with a feeble heart.
Today I am at the opposite end of the swing. My fondness for him has grown much beyond my imagination. As I go deep into his writing my fondness for him makes a deeper impact on my mind. The miracle that he wrought on our age is going to be a legend for many generations to come. Otherwise, how could he have inspired persons like Vinoba Bhave, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, J.B. Kripalani, Thakkar Bapa, Ravishanker Maharaj, Jamnalal Bajaj, Nanabhai Bhatt, J.C. Kumarappa, Sorajini Naidu, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Sushila Nayar, Ashadevi Aryanayakam, Mirabehnand many others, from all walks of life and with an astonishing richness of head and heart?
The disciples of Gandhiji are innumerable. Obviously, all of them could never be accommodated on a small volume like this. But the fact that they are innumerable is, in itself, a pointer to a direction for anyone to explore the treasure of the lives of these persons, and present from it Gandhiji, as seen in their work and as reflected from their style of loving. In so doing, perhaps, we may find out some sapling from where may bloom a new Gandhi-age really to evolve itself in this world.
While compiling these biographic sketches, I had a feeling of ecstasy, almost the rapturous experience of a lyrical poem. At times, it moistened my eyes. For providing such blissful moments I am indeed grateful to the National Book Trust which entrusted this pleasant work to me. I am equally grateful to Shri Mahendra V Desai, who took pains to go through the manuscript and make some valuable suggestions.
At the end of each chapter, notes have been given to show the source from which the material is drawn. I am indebted to all the writes and the publishers of the books enlisted in the notes. Finally, I owe lot of thanks to Shri Amrit Modi, Director of Gandhi Memorial Museum, Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, for equipping me with all the source material for this book and also the photographs.
May I also say that I am solely responsible for any error of fact or narration in this book?
Mahatma Gandhi attracted to himself at Sabarmati Ashram and elsewhere, men and women from diverse fields and regions committed to social action: khan, Vinoba Bhave, J C Kumarappa, Zakir Husain, J B Kripalani, Mirabehn, and others. The twelve biographical sketches in this book tell of the lives of these eminent Gandhians describing their initiation into Gandhian thought, how their future lives were shaped by the Mahatma's ideas, and their contribution's in diverse fields like education, land reform,planning and, of course, India's struggle for freedom. The author's association with the Gandhian movement lends authority to these sketches, which are prefaced by an essay on Gandhi's social thought. The anecdotes woven into these pieces not only engage the reader's interest but also illustrate the working of Gandhian thought in the lives of these inspired men and women.
Jayant Maganlal Pandya, educated at Banaras Hindu University, taught English for several decades at various colleges in Gujarat. He has edited a commemorative volume on Mahadev Desai in Gujarati and has published a biography of Mirabehn in English. Editor of Nireekshak, a Gujarati weekly, for many years, Shri Pandya has also translated literary works like Kalidasa's Meghadootam and Homer's Iliad into Gujarati.
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