BANGALORE: He has hundreds of clippings of articles written about the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi and many more memorabilia from four years of his tenure as the Mahatma’s personal assistant, but the clincher on Monday was the man himself giving the audience a rare insight M K Gandhi’s life. “The first time I met Gandhi, he did not have his dentures and I couldn’t understand a word of what he said,” said V Kalyanam, personal secretary to Mohandas K Gandhi between 1944-1948. “He used to maintain silence on Mondays, and suring this he would write notes for me, his handwriting was not good,” he added. Kalyanam gave up a lavish lifestyle in Delhi and a government secretarial job to join Sevagram, Gandhi’s ashram in 1943.
Explaining the reason why Gandhi gave up salt in his food, Kalyanam said that it was not due to the salt tax or the Dandi March as is widely presumed. “Kasturba was sick once and the doctor told her to stop eating salt. She was stubborn and started arguing with the doctor. When Gandhi tried to calm her down she shot a retort at him asking him if he could give up salt. That is the real story,” said Kalyanam adding that both Kasturba and Gandhi gave up salt after that incident. “According to him, Gandhi had wished that Nehru not take up the post of Prime Minister but instead serve an Agrarian Prime Minister as his Personal Secretary. “Gandhi believed that a farmer’s PM could have helped increase the country’s agricultural output, but Nehru still went on to become the PM,” said Kalyanam.
Vice-Chancellor of Bangalore University Dr Prabhudeva said that the archives that Kalyanam maintained would be displayed permanently at Bangalore University. The exhibition and lecture was part of Sarvodaya Day observance by BU.