Writing during his famous 1937 trip to Travancore, Gandhi offers advice on marriage and promotes self-sustaining village industry: "I took no handmade paper with me. Hence this note on machine made paper"
ALS signed “Love, Bapu,” three pages on two sheets, 5.5 x 7.75, January 17, 1937. Handwritten letter to Shanta S. Patel, the daughter of Shankarbhai Patel, whose family members were close associates of Mohandas Gandhi. As evidenced by this letter and their other correspondence, Gandhi behaved as a protector of Shanta and frequently offered his wisdom and guidance. Gandhi writes from the Kingdom of Travancore, a prosperous and progressive princely state in the south of British India. In full: "I always think of you & want to write to you but never get the time. I have get some tonight by accident. We are on a little launch which is taking hours instead of half an hour to reach our destination. Not knowing this I took no handmade paper with me. Hence this note on machine made paper.
Bharatan must have told you all about our conversation. You should forget him. He is already engaged & is about to be married. I am sorry but you will, I have no doubt, appreciate the situation. If you can work on at Maganwardi with complete self-possession, it is well. But if you find it difficult, we must think on the possibilities. I expect to reach there 24th or 25th.
I hope you are thoroughly restored. I had sent a wire inquiring about your health. I hope Fischer continues to like his work & to keep his health. I see from the papers that you are having very hot weather. Here we are walking. There is no winter in the south of India." In fine condition, with short splits to the ends of the intersecting folds. Accompanied by an export certificate from the French Ministry of Culture.
Gandhi's letters to Shanta form a correspondence of precepts and counsels of existence, scanning all aspects of the young girl's life, ranging from morality to food. Gandhi's paternal tone confirms the role of surrogate father that he seems to have played for Shanta, whom he sometimes called his 'dear daughter.' Here, Gandhi asks her to give up a man who is already engaged and about to be married. This advice is accompanied by his invitation to stay and work at Maganwardi, the name of Gandhi's 'headquarters' established in Wardha, in central India. This is where Gandhi settled in 1936 after his final stay in prison, spending twelve years there until his death in 1948.
Gandhi's trip to Travancore in January 1937 remains symbolic of his action in India, representing an important episode in his life. Indeed, a few years earlier, in 1925, he had been refused access to the sanctuary of the Travancore temple, having only been authorized to walk around it. He complained in an article in his Navjivan journal: 'I was not allowed to go to the inner sanctum because I had been to England.'
Indeed, going abroad was considered a taboo by the Hindus of the time and those who violated this belief were denied entry to temples. These people could only enter shrines after performing purification rituals. In 1933, the King of Travancore, Sree Chithira Thirunal, ended these restrictions as part of his progressive platform. In January 1937, the king invited Gandhi as a special guest for the historic ceremony at the temples of Travancore, which finally opened their doors to all Hindus, including those of lower castes.
Gandhi's apology for the use of "machine made paper" is also interesting, as he was a vigorous promoter of traditional village industries—which served as a means for self-reliance and helped to establish economic independence from Britain. Though more famous for his encouragement of the use of homespun cloth (khadi) rather than British-made textiles, the same theory held true for handmade paper. Encompassing several aspects of his personal life and activist work, this is an important autograph letter by Mohandas Gandhi.