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The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi - Volume III
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who were asked to keep him posted with developments in the South African situation. When there was a threat of plague in Rajkot, he worked as the Secretary of the Volunteer plague Committee. Shortly after, he proceeded to Bombay and addressed himself to the task of building up a professional career.

    In November 1902, his countrymen in South Africa urged him to return, as the visit of Mr. Chamberlain, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, demanded his presence. Talking of the uncertainties of his life at this time, Gandhiji expressed his faith in God as Truth as the one thing certain in this world, adding: "One would be blessed if one could catch a glimpse of that certainty and hitch one's waggon to it. The quest for that Truth is the summum bonum of life" (Autobiography, Part III, Chapter XXIII). His return to South Africa was for him a part of that quest.

    Arriving in Durban in late December, he found that the old Boer laws against Indians in the Transvaal were being applied by the new Asiatic Department with unprecedented rigour. He led a deputation to Chamberlain and represented to him the legal disabilities of Indians in South Africa. The dismal prospects for Indians in South Africa led him to postpone his return home to India, and instead to settle down in Johannesburg. Enrolling himself in the Transvaal Supreme Court, he resumed active work on various fronts for the redress of the grievances of Indians. In a letter to Gokhale, he spoke of the growing tempo of the movement there: "The struggle is far more intense than I expected."

    His personal life at this time passed through a new phase of introspection. As in his earlier sojourn in South Africa it was the Christian influence, now it was the Theosophical influence that stimulated his religious quest and led him again to a serious study of Hindu religious literature. He memorized the Gita, which had become for him an "infallible guide of conduct", "a dictionary of daily reference". His appreciation of aparigraha made him cancel the only insurance policy he ever took out in life, an act of rare faith. His resolve that thenceforth his savings would only be utilized for public work brought about a serious misunderstanding between him and his elder brother, Lakshmidas, which was cleared only before the latter' death.

    The outbreak of plague in Johannesburg provided him a further occasion for public service. With characteristic indifference to the risk involved, he, along with a small band of co-workers, nursed the patients till the Municipal authorities made arrangements for their treatment. The evacuation of indentured Indians from the Indian Location to a camp of tents at the Klipspruit Farm imposed on Gandhiji the task of daily attendance at their camp to put new heart into them in the midst of their privations. A letter about the plague outbreak which he addressed to the Press at this time brought him into touch with two Europeans, who were later to become intimate friends and associates: Rev. Joseph Doke and Henry Polak. It also drew closer to him Albert West, whom he had just begun to know.

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