You have heard the name of Mahatma Gandhiji. For India he is the father of the Nation just as George Washington is the father of America. As a mark of respect for him, we call him Gandhiji. His father’s name was Karamchand Gandhi and mother’s name was Putlibai. He was born in Porbandar, in the state of Gujarat.
It once so happened that a group of people came to perform a drama in Porbandar. It was about the ancient King Harishchandra who was very truthful. Gandhiji saw how much Harishchandra had to suffer to be truthful. This had a lasting effect on Gandhiji. He decided that he would also always tell the truth. Soon truth became his way of life. He made up his mind that even if the truth led him to trouble, he would never give it up.
One day, his father gave him a book about Shravan who was extremely devoted to his parents. Gandhiji quickly finished the book. He saw a picture in which Shravan was carrying his parents on his shoulders, since both of them were blind, and wanted to go to all the holy places. Gandhiji decided that he would also take care of his parents.
Once, Gandhiji was sailing in a big, foreign steamer to attend a conference in England, and sitting at a desk on the deck, he was writing a letter. A well-dressed European was amused to see Gandhiji who appeared to him quite different from all other passengers on the ship.
The vain European went to his room and taking some bits of paper, started writing nasty sentences and drawing funny pictures to annoy Gandhiji. He wondered why a half-naked, bald-headed and toothless old man should go to England at all. He advised Gandhiji to give up this ‘madness’ of going abroad. He neatly pinned all the bits of paper and came out of the room.
Walking proudly on the deck, he came to the desk where Gandhiji sat writing. As Gandhiji looked up, he handed over to him the pinned bits paper, expressing his disrespect for the ‘black Indians’. “You will find this interesting and useful. Read it and keep it with you”, he said to Gandhiji.
He, then went and stood at some distance to see Gandhiji’s reaction to what he had done. Gandhiji calmly rea every word written by him, raised his head and looked for a moment at the young man. Then he slowly took off the pin and threw away the bits of paper into the waste paper basket under the desk. “I have done just what you asked me to do”, he said, giving the young man his usual smile. “I have kept with me your pin which is the only interesting and useful thing you gave me thank you”.
The young European at once realised his mistake. He had expected that on seeing what he had written, Gandhiji would burst into a rage and create a scene which all the White passengers on the ship would enjoy. Now, Gandhiji’s short and sweet reply went straight to his heart. He realised how intelligent, cultured and humble Gandhiji was. He hung down his head in shame and went back the way he had come. This lesson which he learnt from Gandhiji must have put down his vanity for ever thereafter.