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Genealogy

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 Timeline of Kasturba  for  II : South Africa Phase (1893-1914)
   
Mid April, 1893 A trading firm, Dada Abdullah & Co., made an offer to engage Mohandas for one year in South Africa. So Mohandas left Rajkot for Bombay from where he sailed to South Africa, leaving behind Kasturbai with 5 year old Harilal and infant Manilal. In eleven years of marriage, they had hardly lived together for four years. During his stay in England, there was no direct correspondence between them. One year stretched to three years.'The wordless orator, the failed advocate, the self doubting young barrister .......... had vanished.' His evolution from Mohan to Mahatma had started in a week after his landing in South Africa. He had grown into a self-assured attorney, a leader of the Indian community in South Africa against racial and colonial exploitation and respected by every one, even his adversaries. Gandhiji left South Africa to bring his family from India.While in India, he published the 'Green Pamphlet' (`The Grievances of British Indians in South Africa')

30th October, 1896 Mohandas, Kasturba, Harilal, Manilal and Mohandas's widowed sister's son Gokaldas, sailed from Bombay for Durban. Kasturba opted for the Parsi dress - long sari, long-sleeved blouse, socks and shoes - as she said, later: 'what a heavy price one has to pay to be regarded as civilized'. On the way, a violent storm seized the ship.

19th December, 1896 The ship along with another one, reached Durban. But authorities put them in quarantine because of the opposition from the whites who had seen distorted reports on the 'Green Pamphlet' and wrongly thought that Gandhiji was leading an influx of Indians into South Africa. Kasturbai and children were scared.

13th January, 1897 The ships were allowed to enter Durban. Kasturba and boys were taken to the house of Rustamji, a Parsee merchant friend of Gandhiji. Mohandas, some time later, left on foot and was beaten badly by the white mob and was saved only through timely intervention of Police Superintendent's wife. After two days in Rustamji's house, Mohandas took them to Beach Grove Villa, where he lived. Kasturba quietly accepted the tremendous cultural/social changes and the realization regarding the prominence of Mohandas. For the first time, Kasturbai was the sole authority of the household and would henceforth be known as Kasturba. Mohandas would not send the boys to school because he considered the education there 'totally inadequate' and, apart from a short - lived experiment with a white governess, decided to teach them himself in Gujarati. Kasturba like any mother, wanted them to go to school. As in Porbander, here too, Gandhi household was an open house to which all and sundry were welcome. One morning Mohandas insisted on Kasturba cleaning the chamber pot of a Christian Indian of untouchable origin, and on her showing reluctance asked her to do so or leave. This was the first show of near violence in 16 years of their marriage. As Gandhiji wrote in his Autobiography: "The wife, with her matchless power of endurance, has always been the victor".

May, 1898 Kasturba gave birth to their fourth child, Ramdas. In the absence of an Indian nurse, Mohandas had assisted the doctor. As Kasturba was bed- ridden with anaemia, he attended on the mother and the new born as well as the older boys. Mohandas's legal practice was flourishing, but he was undergoing inner transformation. He was obsessed with simplifying living and spending more for public service.

23rd May, 1900 Kasturba gave birth to their fifth child, Devdas. Child birth was difficult and Mohandas delivered the baby safely by himself. Her health was fragile. Mohandas had started thinking about Brahmacharya so that he could devote himself more to public service. He suggested that they sleep separately and she agreed.

Oct. 1901 Mohandas decided to return to India. The grateful Indian community showered them with costly presents. Mohandas wanted all presents to go to the Natal Indian Congress for the benefit of Indians in South Africa. Kasturba resisted as she thought that he could do public service due to her toilng. She wanted to keep these for future daughters-in-law . But finally, Mohandas had his way.

Dec. 1901 Mohandas, Kasturba and boys returned to India.

Aug. 1902 G.K.Gokhale wanted Mohandas to set up practice in Bombay and thus help in the work of the Congress. Gandhiji enrolled Harilal in Gondal and Gokaldas in Benaras for education. Mohandas lived in a small bungalow in Girgaum. Manila] suddenly had typhoid and pneumonia.The doctor advised eggs and chicken soup. Kasturba and Mohandas would not agree. With her consent Mohandas tried hydropathic treatment and desperate naturopathic treatment. Manilal recovered. Mohandas moved the family to a more sunny and airy bungalow in Santa Cruz.

Nov. 1902 Mohandas had to leave suddenly being recalled by the Indian community in South Africa. Kasturba protested against again upsetting the home. So he left them behind in Bombay, arranging with his nephew Chaganlal, with wife Kashiben and their child, to stay with Kasturba and promising to be back within a year.

Jan. 1903 14 year old Harilal bethrothed with 11 year old Gulab. Mohandas was very averse to child marriage and gave consent on assuance that marriage would occur after many years.

Early 1904 Kasturba with three younger sons joined Mohandas (Harilal remained in India for his studies) in Johannesburg (Transvaal) in South Africa, where Mohandas had now set up law practice. Kasturba was concerned about Ramdas who had fractured his arm on way from India. Gandhiji set it right with an earth poultice. Mohandas was approaching the most decisive period of his life and self-transformation. He had started the weekly ' Indian Opinion' on 4.6.1903 from Durban and sunk more and more of his money in it. He widened his range of public service.

March. 1904 Peumonic plague (then incurable, and highly contagious) had hit the Indian location. Mohandas undertook to look after the patients. Kasturba went with him to the location, and with other women, cleaned up the make-shift hospital and collected material to equip it. She was becoming a perfect helpmate of Gandhiji in public service.

1904 After reading John Ruskin's 'Unto This Last' Mohandas set up the Phoenix Set tlement in wilderness near Durban, his first experiment in community living. He moved the press and workers of 'Indian Opinion' there.

1906 Mohandas's law practice continued to grow while he moved towards voluntary poverty, continence and increasing involvment in community service. Kasturba knew that Mohandas, outwardly severe, was inwardly seething with unrest. She was not surprised when he announced his vow of life-long poverty.

2nd May, 1906 Harilal and Gulab were married in Rajkot by Mohandas's elder brother Laxmidas, without knowledge or consent of him and Kasturba. Kasturba was dismayed. Mohandas wrote to Laxmidas: "Harilal's getting married has no meaning to me."

2nd June, 1906 Gandhiji decided to lead an Indian Ambulance Corps to assist the Government in the Zulu rebellion and hence shifted the family to Phoenix Settlement. For Kasturba it was a drastic change in her life. The Phoenix was a wild , snake - infested outpost. The only link with the civilization was the railway station, more then 2 miles away. Kasturba's health deteriorated. She was suffering from excessive loss of blood which worried Mohandas.

22nd June, 1906 Mohandas left Phoenix for Zululand. While there he clearly saw that, "I could not live both after flesh and spirit". He finally took the vow of Brahmacharya. When he mentioned it to Kasturba, "she had no objection." Her willing acceptance of her husband's vows of poverty and Brahmacharya had quietened his turmoil of mind and spirit. He was now completely free to commit himself, and his family, to public service.

11th September, 1906 The Transvaal Govt. had gazetted the draft Asiatic Law Amandment Ordinance on 22.8.1906, imposing severe restrictions on entry and living of Indians. Over 3000 Indians assembled in the Empire Theatre at Johannesburg under Gandhiji's leadership and took a vow not to submit to the 'Black' Ordinance. Thus was born the new concept of `Satyagraha'(then called `Passive resistance')

21st March, 1907 The Black Act was passed requiring all Indians to register by 31.7.1907, and then by 30.11.1907. Mohandas was now constantly on move and Kasturba was 'convinced of the justness of his cause'. Harilal and Gulab arrived at Phoenix at Kasturba's insistence. Kasturba proved to be a kind and considerate mother-in Iaw.

10th January, 1908 Mohandas was awarded 2 months' imprisonment for leading boycott against the registration. Kasturba received intimation at Phoenix while in the midst of fes tivities in respect of Gulab's pregnancy and immediately decided to 'at least share his diet'-to eat unsalted, unsweetened, unflavoured cornmeal mush -what Mohandas would get in Johannesburg jail, till his release. As Indian Satyagrahis filled up the Johannesburg jail, in absence of Mohandas, Kasturba tried to keep up everyone's spirits in the Phoenix Settlement. She began to exert gentle, but unquestioned authority. She won respect, co-operation and affection from all because of her unassuming gentle dignity. She was a demanding task master but never dictatorial. She never 'forgot' or 'overlooked' what was necessary. Though uneducated, she maintained accurate accounts. Extremely self- disciplined she soon became everyone's 'Ba' (mother). Mohandas was released 3 weeks later after an understanding with General Smuts, under which Indians would register voluntarily and the Black Act would be repealed. 10 days later while going for registration, he was severely 'beaten by Indian opponents of voluntary registration. Kasturba could not go to see him because she would not use the Phoenix money for'selfish needs.' She supported him. I have been preparing myself to face the worst ever since you took to public life. You must not be burdened with worries about me or the family'. But when alone she wept.

10th April,1908 Birth of Rami, daughter of Harilal and Gulab, Kasturba's first grand-child.

24th July, 1908 General Smuts did not repeal the Black Act. Hence, Satyagraha was resumed.

27th July, 1908 Harilal too joined Satyagraha and was arrested and awarded 7 day hard labour.

31st July, 1908 Mohandas formally gave up law practice.

10th August, 1908 Harilal again arrested, awarded one month's hard labour.

16th August, 1908 Nearly 3000 Indians, under Gandhiji's leadership, burned their registration cards. 'The Daily Mail', London, compared it with the 'Boston Tea Party' of American Revolution.

10th October, 1908 Gandhiji imprisoned for 2 months. In prison, he received message of Kasturba's failing health. He wrote a letter of tender concern to Kasturba: "I hope you will understand this and not feel offended. This is all I ask of you". After release, he saw how haggard, tired and listless she had become. He took her to a doctor in Durban who did a surgery. He went to Johannesburg but got a call from the doctor, "Kasturba is very weak. I feel she must be given beef broth". He rushed to Durban and Ba said she preferred death to taking beef soup. He carried her in a critical state to Phoenix Settlement. She recovered under his ministrations.

25th February, 1909 Gandhiji arrested for third time, given 3 months' sentence. Harilal too arrested for third time, given 6 months' hard labour.

23rd June, 1909 Gandhiji, with Haji Habib, went to London to represent the case of the Indians in South Africa. The mission was 'fruitless'. Left London on 13.11.1909. On return journey, he wrote his first important book 'Hind Swaraj'.

Feb. 1910 Kasturba's ill health was recurring. Gandhiji advised her to give up eating beans, peas or lentils. Kasturba loved good food, and said 'Why don't you give up before advising other to do so'. He immediately vowed to give up lentils for one year. Ba pleaded with him but he refused to relent. She too followed him and soon improved. Harilal had spent 14 months in jail within a year and half of joining Satyagraha. Manilal was undergoing the third term.

1910 The struggle by Indians in South Africa had spread to mass level. Mohandas decided to lead a long march of thousands of striking miners and their families in defiance of the law, to the Tolstoy Farm set up by him in the land donated by his friend H. Kallenbach.

9th October, 1910 Kasturba shifted home from the Phoenix to Tolstoy Farm. Harilal again arrested. On release in September, he sought Mohandas's permission to return to India - Gulab had already gone back with Rami for her next delivery. Harilal was unhappy at Mohandas having selected Chaganlal for studies in law in London on a scholarship. When Chaganlal failed to go, Mohandas selected Sorabji Shapuri Adjania even though Harilal had obtained highest marks in the essay competition for this selection.

8th May, 1911 Harilal disappeared from Tolstoy Farm. Kasturba suffered deeply during this episode.

15th May, 1911 Harilal was brought back. Harilal and Mohandas argued for two days. Mohandas bade farewell to Harilal. Harilal's words echoed in Kasturba's mind: "He just does not care for us, any of us."

20th October, 1912 G.K. Gokhale arrived in South Africa on Gandhiji's invitation to sort out the problems facing Indians there. He warned Gandhiji "against letting his own example of disciplined and relentless self-denial become a law for others". But also remarked: "Gandhi has in him the marvellous spiritual power to turn ordinary men around him into heroes and martyrs.

Jan. 1913 Gandhiji moved the base of operations to Phoenix. Kasturba happy though it meant another shifting.

24th March, 1913 The Court ruled that any marriage not solemnized according to Christian rites would not be legal in South Africa. There was already growing unrest among Indians due to 3 poll tax and other disabilities. Gandhiji, now induced Kasturba and other women also to join Satyagraha against the Court's order.

23rd September, 1913 Twelve men (including 15 year old Ramdas) and four women led by Kasturba tried to cross into Transvaal incognito. All were arrested and sentenced to three months' hard labour. Women were taken to Maritzburg jail - the first imprisonment of Kasturba. In jail, she helped younger companions to survive harsh prison routine and led other women in prayers each evening. Mohandas and Manilal were in other jails. Devdas helped in publishing the `Indian Opinion'. Situation of women satyagrahis in Maritzburg jail steadily deteriorated due to ill treatment. One young woman Veliamma, died just a few days after release.

18th December, 1913 Mohandas was released to enable him to testify before the commission set up by the Government to advise on the problems faced by the Indians. Gandhiji had taken to the dress of an Indian labourer - a sign of mourning for the 10 Indians killed in the struggle.

22nd December, 1913 Mohandas received frail Kasturba outside the jail on her release. Negotiations between Gandhiji and Government went slowly. Ba became gravely ill. For most of February/March 1914, Gandhiji remained at her side. He even wrote to a friend: "All of us are mentally prepared for Kasturba's death". And in another letter: "I have a strain of cruelty in me such that people force them selves to do things, even attempt impossible things, in order to please me." She recovered and insisted on accompanying him to Cape Town.

June, 1914 After 8 year long Satyagraha, Indian Relief Bill, a compromise, was passed by the Union Parliament: poll tax was abolished, non-Christian marriages were recognised and immigration laws relaxed. It was time for Mohandas to fulfil his promise to Gokhale to return to India.

18th July, 1914 Mohandas and Kasturba sailed for England (since Gokhale was there). Said General Smuts: "The saint has left our shores, I hope forever." On the ship, Gandhiji recited Gita or Ramayana for Ba for one hour everyday. After landing in England (6 Aug. 1914), Gandhiji appealed to Indians to support the British in the just started First World War. Kasturba too pledged her support. Gandhiji and Kasturba enrolled in a hospital for training as nursing aides. But Mohandas became sick due to pleurisy and Kasturba was miserable due to bad cold.