Tuesday, 13 November 2012

A Gandhi who studied in Mysore

A few days ago, I read with interest a news item in several news papers about Dr. Shanti Gandhi, a descendent of Mahatma Gandhi , contesting and winning a seat in an Assembly district in the United States.
Dr. Shanti Gandhi, the son if Kantilal and Saraswathi Gandhi had stood election on a Republican ticket and he defeated his Democratic rival, Theodore Ensley in election held in Kansa’s State.
Dr Shanti Gandhi, a cardio vascular surgeon, had contested for the 52nd Assembly district. He arrived in the United States in 1967 as a medical graduate from Bombay.
This news item immediately triggered my memory and I soon realized that Mr. Shanti Gandhi’s father, Kantilal Gandhi, had studied medicine in Mysore.
Both Kantilal and his wife Saraswathi had spent several years in Mysore when Kantilal was studying medicine. They had stayed on in separate houses but would meet both during the day and in the evenings and spend time together and join their neighbours in participating in Gandhian activities, including singing Ram bhajans, debates and discussions.
Kantilal Gandhi’s father was Harilal Gandhi, the eldest son of  Mahatma Gandhi. Harilal had always dreamt of making Kantilal a doctor. Kantilal passed matriculate when he was 20 years of age and despite disapproval from the Mahatma-his grandfather-he decided to study medicine in Mysore.
The credit for ensuing that Kantilal chose Mysore to study goes to Sir Mirza Ismail, the then Dewan of Mysore State. Mysore was under the Wodeyars and it was steadily making progress in all the fields. It was also one of the most progressive Princely states in India and Gandhi had a fairly good acquaintance with the then Maharaja and Dewan.
Kantilal settled down in Mysore with his wife and grandson. They spent several years in Mysore before Harilal came to see them. Harilal stayed with them for several weeks and enjoyed the company of his family. Mahatma Gandhi too was pleased that Harilal had settled down with his family and wrote to Saraswathi about it.
Mahatma Gandhi also addressed several letters to Kantilal, affectionately calling him Kanti. He also affectionately called Saraswathi “Saru”. In one of his letters, he says Mysore is a good choice for him to study as it has produced some brilliant people.
Kanti called his wife Saru. By accounts, Kantilal and Saraswathi led a happy life in Mysore. While Harilal (born in 1888) died in 1948, Kantilal died in 1983. His wife Saraswathi died in Tiruvananthapuram, Kerala, on December 15, 2008.
Dr. Shanti Gandhi happens to be son of this illustrious couple.
A book, Mahatma versus Gandhi by Dinakara Joshi and letters by Gandhi to Harilal Gandhi and Kantilal Gandhi will give you more details on these aspects.    

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