Gandhi Heritage Sites - Writeups

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Bhatgam, District Surat

Connection with Gandhiji 
During Salt March, Gandhiji delivered a memorable speech here regarding the conduct of his companions and asked for introspection. As Gandhiji noted, it moved the audience and him deeply and turned out to be an important speech.
CWMG Vol. 43: p. 146

In an act of civil disobedience against the unjust and unfair salt tax, Gandhiji led a march from Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad to Dandi, a coastal village in South Gujarat 385 km away from the Ashram. At the age of 61, accompanied by 80 fellow marchers, he walked 15-16 km per day to reach Dandi in 25 days.  The march started on March 12, 1930 and reached Bhatgam in Surat district on the evening of March 29, 1930.

Historical Speech at Bhatgam
Gandhiji himself did ‘a free and somewhat condensed’ translation of the original Gujarati speech into English for his weekly ‘Young India’. Excerpts from the translation:
• Tonight I make a confession and turn the searchlight inward. • Only this morning at prayer time I was telling my companions that as we have entered the district in which we were to offer civil disobedience, we should insist on greater purification and intenser dedication. I warned them that as the district is more organized and contained many intimate co-workers, there was every likelihood of our being pampered. I warned them against succumbing to their pampering.
• The local workers had ordered milk from Surat to be brought in a motor lorry and they incurred other expenses which I could not justify.• We are marching in the name of God. We profess to act on behalf of the hungry, the naked, and the unemployed. I have no right to criticize Viceregal salary if we are costing the country, say, fifty times seven pice, the average daily income of our people.• You give us guavas and grapes and we eat them because they are a free gift from a princely farmer. And then imagine me with an easy conscience writing the Viceregal letter on costly glazed paper with a fountain pen, a free gift from some accommodating friend! Will this behove you and me? Can a letter so written the slightest effect?
• We must become real trustees of the dumb millions.• In your hospitality towards servants like us, I would have you to be miserly rather than lavish.• This is not a battle to be conducted with money.  It will be impossible to sustain a mass movement with money. Anyway, it is beyond me to conduct the campaign with a lavish display of money.• Extravagance has no room in this campaign. If we cannot gather crowds unless we carry on a hurricane expensive propaganda, I would be satisfied to address half a dozen men and women.• I observed that you had provided me for the night journey a heavy kerosene burner mounted on a stool which a poor labourer carried on his head. This was a humiliating sight. This man was being goaded to walk fast. I could not bear the sight. I, therefore, put on speed and outraced the whole company. But it was no use. The man was made to run after me. The humiliation was complete.• For me, there is no turning back whether I am alone or joined by thousands. I would rather die a dog’s death and have my bones licked by dogs than that I should return to the Ashram a broken man.
CWMG Vol. 43: p. 146 - 149

Site Address
Surat, Gujarat, India – 394 540