Saturday, September 7, 2013

Virchand Raghavji Gandhi

“Swami Vivekananda!”
“Yep this is a  pic from the First World’s parliament of religion held in 1893 at Chicago. Identify ‘the other Indian’”
“Other Indian! It’s a news to me that there was another Indian representation. Let me see ….is that the person to the left of Swamu Vivekananda”
“That’s Anagarika Dharmapala aka Hewivitarne Dharmapala, a Sri Lankan who represented ‘Southern Buddhism’”
“Then it should the first left, the man with the turban”
“Yes, Virchand Raghavji Gandhi, he represented Jainism in the World’s Parliament of Religion”
“Tell me more about him”
“Virchand Raghavji Gandhi became honorary Secretary of the Jain Association of India, when he was just 21! But his knowledge was not restricted to Jainism. He was also a student of Bhuddism, Vedanta Philosophy, Christianity. He knew 14 languages! He also translated a French book to English, ‘An Unknown Life of Jesus Christ’”
“Looks to be a good scholar”
“Not only scholar, he was also a patriot.  During the 1897 Indian Famine,  Virchand Raghavji Gandhi was in US, he collected and send money and grains to India for famine relief. He also participated in Indian National Congress”
“V.R. Gandhi and Congress! Is there any connection between him and M.K. Gandhi”
“Virchand Raghavji Gandhi is a Barrister, so is M.K. Gandhi. They both were friends and it seems some US people mistook M.K.Gandhi as V.R. Gandhi. Here is a letter from M.K.Gandhi to Miss Emelia Mac Bean of Chicago dated June 13, 1931”
Madam, I have your letter for which I thank you. You are giving me credit of which I am wholly undeserving. You are thinking of another Mr. Gandhi my name-sake but in no way related to me. He and I were, however, friends and lived together for some time. You will be sorry to hear that he died many years ago, leaving an only son. It was he who visited America and made many friends. I have never had the privilege of visiting your continent.
“Hmm… interesting tell me about the friendship between Swami Vivekananda and V.R. Gandhi”
“They had good respect for each other. Remember that they travelled to US at a time when it was considered a taboo to sail in ocean. So there was some opposition to their US visit in India. Here is a 1894 letter by Swami Vivekananda to Haridas Viharidas Desai, Diwan of Junagadh”
Now here is Virchand Gandhi, the Jain whom you knew well in Bombay. This man never takes anything but mere vegetables even in this terribly cold climate and tooth and nail tries to defend his countrymen and the religion. The people of this country like him very well. But what are they doing who sent him over? They are trying to outcast him.
“Any other similarities”
“Like Swami Vivekananda, V.R.Gandhi also spent time in US and London and gave lectures, they both were very proud Indians and were patriotic. Both had a prophetic vision that India would attain Independence soon. V.R.Gandhi insisted that independence needs to be attained in peaceful non-violent ways and..”
“And what?”
“Like Vivekananda, V.R. Gandhi died young. He was just 37”