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Dandiyatra - A Historical Struggle For India's Independence

Dandiyatra Image - Mahatma Gandhi
(Image: Gujarat Pakshik)

There were many battles in the history of India's freedom struggle. In which the "Dandi Kooch" made by Mahatma Gandhi in the year 1930 has a different and landmark history. The struggle to reveal the hero of the country and shake the roots of the British government is the struggle of "Salt Satyagraha". For this struggle, Gandhi traveled 245 miles on foot from the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad to the coastal village of Dandi in Jalalpur taluka of old Surat district along with his 81 companions and broke the law of the British government by picking a pinch of salt there.

Before going into the details of this grand procession, we must also look at its background. In the year 1927 Madras Congress, the goal of the Congress was changed and the goal of complete independence was set instead of Swaraj. After this some progress was made as a result of the Montford Amendment and the appointment of the "Simon Commission" was announced in November 1927 to investigate whether the principle of "responsible government" could be introduced to some extent in the state constitution of Hindustan.

All parties were upset because there was no Hindi speaker in the commission and the commission was completely boycotted by the Congress. Motilal Nehru's presidency appointed an all-party conference and also decided to enlist the support of as many other parties as possible. The Simon Commission was launched in Mumbai on 03/02/1928 and the commission was boycotted across the country with the slogan "Simon Go Back".

In the Congress meeting in Calcutta, it was resolved that if the British Parliament did not accept the Constitution by 31/12/1929, the Congress would resort to non-violent non-cooperation and a boycott. At the Round Table, Gandhi presented 11 points to the Viceroy as preconditions for his participation, including complete prohibition of alcohol, reduction of customs duties, abolition of salt tax, reduction of military expenditure by half, reduction of wages for upper class jobs, protective duty on foreign textiles, trade along the Indian coast by Hindi ships. Acceptance, release of political prisoners and permission of exiles to return to India, C.I.D. These included the abolition of the institution or the control of the population and the release of arms for self-defense.

After a lot of discussions, Gandhiji wrote a historic letter to the Viceroy on March 2 and delivered it hand in hand with Reginald Reynolds. Gandhi clarified in this letter that if the response to this letter is not filled with sympathy, he will start the struggle from 12th March. Issues such as his unwavering belief in non-violence, the exploitative nature of the government, its reluctance to grant the rights of the people etc. were presented in it. Gandhiji's letter was not answered by the Viceroy and his minister Mr. Carnigham only wrote the usual letter of receipt. After this, Gandhiji published this letter and the call of Satyagraha started ringing across the country.

To make the movement a success, Gandhiji held a series of meetings to create public awareness and understanding among various sections of the society. As a result, the outline of the movement was prepared. The Satyagraha ashram of Sabarmati became a place of pilgrimage. Thousands of people from home and abroad started coming to Ahmedabad to see the divine scene of Dandi Kooch on 12th March. Newspapers from abroad, cameramen also started coming. For weeks, evening prayer meetings began to be held in the sand of the river. At one such prayer meeting, Gandhi exclaims, "I am born to destroy the British Empire." "I will die the death of a crow, the death of a dog, but I will not set foot in this ashram without taking Swarajya."

Date 12 March 1930 (Wednesday), Rest at Chandola Lake (Afternoon) And Overnight Stay At Aslali (1 Mile).

Crowds of people used to gather outside the Sabarmati Ashram. Khareji picked up the tune of "Raghupati Raghava Rajaram" and sang Bhakta Pritam's bhajan "Harino marag hai shurano nahi, kayar nu kam jo ne" by Bhakta Pritam, which was most appropriate for the occasion, and then Gandhiji stood in the courtyard of the weaving mill with his satyagrahi soldiers. Kasturba bowed to Kanku, garlanded him and bowed with a stick in his hand. Carrying two bags on two shoulders, Gandhi stood at the forefront of the army and left the ashram at exactly 6.20. Behind him was the sage-like Abbas Sahib with a white beard, and behind him walked the original 78 satyagrahis.

The march reached the Vidhapith and why this beloved institution of Bapuji, which prepares the soldiers of Swaraj, goes on without stopping? If Gandhiji and his team were caught, the Vidhapith team was ready to take their place. Narsinghbhai's wife Shree Manibehan bowed to Mahatmaji and saluted Akshat and a little girl put on a sutra necklace and marched ahead. The people of two or three small villages on the way were bursting with joy and enthusiasm as Asalali went.

In a speech at Aslali, Gandhiji said that "I and the Sardar had only one purpose for this march and that was to convey the message of the unjust salt tax from village to village. As there is a message for khadi, so is a message for salt. Half a mound per man and one mound per cattle." Salt is used. The farmer needs salt in the fertilizer too. In Punjab, Ijardar is given 9 mounds. When we have to pay a quarter of a rupee. Sardar will come out of jail and ask for an account. There were floods that Grandpa never saw and he saved thousands, even helped in epileptics. Gave and gave victory in Bardoli too, so they have the right to take account."

Dated March 13, 1930 (Thursday), Rest: Bareja and Night Stay: Navagam (9 miles).

Gandhi stayed one night in Aslali and the soldiers reached Bareja the next day. After that he was to enter Kheda district from Ahmedabad district. 4-5 thousand people came from Ahmedabad, Aslali and other villages to escort them to the border. After spending the afternoon in Bareja, in the evening Mahatmaji walked on the way to Navagam. Navagam is a village in Matar taluka of Kheda district.

Addressing a meeting at Nawagam, Gandhiji said, "I have been to this village and therefore know it well. I am happy to know that the Patels and the voters here have resigned, but here I have been cheated once. This time you will do the same." Or because the Mahatma came, we had to resign and now we are withdrawing. If you have succumbed to the pressure, withdraw still."

Iron discipline was maintained in the march. A group of volunteers should reach the village from where the march is to take place and arrange the location and meeting place etc. with the help of the villagers.

Dated 14 March 1930 (Friday), Rest: Vasana (afternoon) and Night Stay: Matar (10 miles).

On March 14, the march reached Vasana at 8.30. The village priest located Gandhiji in the picturesque Amrakunj and built a beautiful grass hut there. While giving a speech here, Gandhiji said that I am extremely happy as you are treating me according to every demand of my "new life". I have an extended family with me. If I was posted outside the village just to keep him away, I wish I should have been posted to the village school itself. Mukhi resigned here. What is the power of Mukhi? Depressing the people is the work of oppression. Abandoning headship means removing power from the home.

Dated 15 March 1930 (Saturday), Rest: Dabhan and Night Stay: Nadiad (15 miles).

The march to Matar Dabhan started at 6.30 in the morning. On the way there were crowds of people from village to village and two European families also came to visit. The people of Dabhan gave a warm welcome. Shri Nariman and Shri Mehra Ali came from Mumbai to meet Mahatmaji here. Sarbhara, while addressing the meeting, thanked the people for the service and said, "I have tasted the people of Kheda before. I thank you for giving me this bag. From the facts heard here, it seems that we are protecting the buffalo instead of the cow. If someone is sick, So how shameful is it if you want cow's ghee or milk and that too is not available in the village? If you want to protect cows, build cows and protect them."

The march from Dabhan to Malask started at 4.30 and entered Nadiad. He said here that I have given speeches in many meetings but never such a big crowd. What does the whole of India want to see right now? We want Purnaswaraj. I am not a fool to think that you all have come from so far away to respect me. You have come to Purnaswarajne. We have had a flood of blessings till we have come this far. But that blessing of yours should not dry up. Sardar Vallabhbhai has done a lot of work in Kheda district and therefore you have a threefold duty to help in this war. I don't want money help, I want people. Imprisonment of Sardar Vallabhbhai in Kheda district means imprisonment of Kheda. I have a right over you because of what I have done.

Dated 16th March 1930 (Sunday), Rest: Boriawi and Night Stay: Anand (11 miles) (March entered Boriawi at 8.35 hrs.)

In his speech, Gandhiji said that the court of Dhasa has abandoned the state, so did he abandon it forever? No no, we will gradually get back to our age. Here the teachers of the National School of Sunav were visited by the students and the main authority of Songadh Gurukul Chaturbhai and he took his blessings to raise the army.

Dated 17th March 1930 (Monday), Rest: Morning (Monday) and Night Stay: Anand.

The march reached Anand at 7.30. Thank you Anand for welcoming us,” Gandhiji said. You just heard in the bhajan that the "Flame of Love" Satyagraha's creed is a creed of love, not a creed of revenge. Revenge burns others, love burns itself and purifies others. At the time of death, there will be no anger in the mind, and the feeling in the mind, "O God! Do good to this killer," when such a gift of death occurs, call it a satyagrahi death.

Dated 18 March 1930, (Tuesday), Rest: Napa and Night Stay: Borsad (11 miles).

It was as if there was a heli of enthusiasm in Borsad. When the march reached there at 7.30 a.m. a mile and a half long welcome procession was held. Gandhiji said that this is the final war. Studying then is treason. I am the end of this state. The goddess of freedom stands before us and is getting ready to crown us. All of you appreciate the service of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Darbar Sahib and join the war.

Dated 19 March 1930, (Wednesday), Rest: Raas and Night Residence: Kankapura (12 miles).

The march reached Ras village at 8.30. Ras means the village of Ranshuras. Gandhiji said "Today the responsibility has fallen on Ras. When Sardar Vallabhbhai left Ahmedabad, neither he nor I knew that he would be caught, but he got the honor of being the first to be caught. That is why the religion of Ras became special. Your love brought you here. The convoy that took off from Ras at 8 p.m. Reached Kankapura village at 10:00. Gandhiji addressed a huge gathering of 20,000. Speaking here, Gandhiji said, "You are destined for bravery, but you do not rise because of faults. Thank you for making some corrections. But much remains to be done. If you do that, your name will be known throughout India. This is why I have embarked on a crusade and am traveling on foot, for a deeper reason. This is a pilgrimage.

Dated 20th March 1930, (Thursday), Rest: Hut on the bank facing the ocean, Night stay: Kareli (11 miles).

Hitherto the march was straight up the road. Now came the opportunity to cross the ocean. Here the stretch of moon was really as big as the ocean. After getting down from Mahi, 2-3 miles was a tough road in Kapra. As the mud and silt had to be moved, Bapu was asked to lift me, but he replied that I am on a religious pilgrimage and the pilgrimage should be done on foot.

In a short speech in Kareli, Gandhiji said: Fortunately for us, Bharuch arrived here before Jawaharlal and spent the whole night with him. God willing, we will meet him and the leaders of the Maha Samiti in Jambusar on Paramdivas. Here Gandhi's discussion with Jawaharlal was about what to do in the future. He asked Gandhiji's advice about breaking taxes other than salt and, if so, which taxes to do. Gandhiji opined that it is okay to concentrate on this salt law for now.

Dated 21 March 1930, (Friday), Rest: Gajera and Night Stay: Ankhi (Mile 11).

The same night Sangh marched from Gajera to Ankhi. Here the villagers decided not to give any kind of help to any government servant. 35 soldiers were also registered for breaking the salt law. Speaking here, he said that "When the people lose their loyalty, the situation of bureaucrats becomes miserable. People should not give them anything. I have heard that people do not give water, grain, divasli etc. to bureaucrats. People have the right to do that. There is religion, but It is not our religion to starve them.

Dated 22 March 1930, (Saturday), Rest: Jambusar and Night Stay: Amod (Mile 12).

Sangh was cutting the path of Jambusar, taking in the pleasant air of the morning dawn and the scent of forest flowers. Here Gandhiji said that "I have more work to do today than usual. Many members of the Mahasabha are present here. But helpless as you will not be able to hear their speeches. And we must leave here on time, so there is no time for many speeches. Welcome. I thank and congratulate the Mukhis for their resignation."

In Amod, Gandhiji said "Hindu-Muslim both join in this last fight. Now the form of the fight is such that the poor, the poor, the old, the child, all can take an equal part. I want to teach you to teach oneness instead of violence and beating. Ek nanno hundred dukhne hane it is true. All government servants should read it and I will go to Dandi and say now if you all leave for salt then we will get swaraj the next day."

Dated 23rd March 1930, (Sunday), Rest: Buva and Night Stay: Samni (12 miles).

Rajaji, Mahadevbhai and Deshpandeji came to meet in Buwa. The meeting was held at 3.30 pm under a beautiful huge tree. After finishing the meeting at Buwa, Gandhiji stayed there for two more hours. It was decided to observe the silence on Monday. At night, a huge meeting was held in the Maidan where Gandhiji emphasized on breaking the salt law and on wearing and producing khadi.

Dated 24th March 1930, (Monday), Leave: Samnima Spent as Maunwar and Night Residence: Samni.

On the way to Tralasa, a creek had to be crossed. Gandhiji and his comrades waded through water and mud up to their feet and reached the front crossing. Kasturba and Kakasaheb Kalelkar came here to meet Gandhiji.

Dated 25 March 1930, (Tuesday), Rest: Tralsa and Night Stay: Darol (10 miles).

Addressing the gathering, Gandhiji said that the march of Bharuch district has come to an end and now I have nothing more to say. I hope that everyone will contribute something to this crusade.

Dated 26 March 1930, (Wednesday), Rest: Bharuch and Night Stay: Ankleshwar (13 miles).

In the Bharuch meeting, Gandhiji said that Satyagrahis fight by listening to God's voice. It often happens that even when the whole world is spitting on the satyagrahi, he can hear the voice of God. For what I am doing, the whole of India was on one foot after 10 years. Since 1921 I have been saying two words. Purification and Qurbani: ie self-purification and sacrifice. Without this, Satyagraha will not be successful, because without it, God will not be with you. The Jagar leans over the Qurbani. I need everyone's help in this fight.

Three notable events took place during Ankleshwar's stay. One of the soldiers' brothers ate ice cream in Bharuch. It was an act against the discipline of the satyagrahi soldiers, so Gandhiji was very sad, another important event was that Gandhiji broke the salt law in Dandi on 6th April, after that many people were preparing to join the struggle all over the country. Congress president Jawaharlal Nehru prepared a short and simple pledge letter for the satyagrahis and sent it to Gandhi to make them understand the responsibility and join the struggle. He sent it from here to be published with his notes in "Navajeevan" and "Young India". On the third occasion, some soldiers of the squad left the ranks and entered the middle. So Bapu decided that from today the first squad will be the last and the defeat will start from the last squad.

Dated 27 March 1930, (Thursday), Rest: Sajjod and Night Stay: Mangrol (12 miles).

Mangarol's speech: We may admit our weakness but God is our supporter. As long as our battle is true, God's hand is there. Why don't we fight until then? Understand that the salt tax is gone. Maybe one or two months. Till now we have been nimakhalal despite taxation but now we are going to become nimakahram.

Dated 28 March 1930, (Friday), Rest: Rai and Night Stay: Umrachi-Surat (10 miles).

Speech in Rai: We cannot always do what we love. We do what is creditable, so it must reach the stem. So today it feels good, but I have to say goodbye to you.

Umrachi's speech: Swaraj will meet and be born in a month or two. Let the Sardar find my bones in ashes and not Swaraj. But now we are out. Government power is a bundle of lies. Why is it not such a large mass? By the breath of truth it shall fall; But when such truth is revealed in us?

Dated 29 March 1930, (Saturday), Rest: Airthan and Night Stay: Bhatgam (10 miles).

In his morning prayers, Gandhiji said "This is the last stage of our journey. At the very beginning we wash away all the filth - we have considered Dandi as Hardwar, then we must qualify for a holy place like Hardwar.

Dated 30 March 1930, (Sunday), Vacation: Sandhir and Night Stay: Delad (10 miles).

Sandhir's speech "I thank Talati Bhai who has resigned. Patels have resigned in good numbers. This is the second resignation of Talati. As we understand the secret of this struggle, and as we trust in God, more and more such resignations will come. will meet."

Delad's speech: "As the song says, what is bitter in the beginning, sweet in the end is sattvic. The embers of love that I had blown to friends, companions and assembly in Bhatgam, they did not regard as embers.

Dated 31 March 1930, (Monday), Holidays: Spent as Maunwar at Delad and Night Residence: Delad.

Gandhi ji took leave with his soldiers after observing silent Delad.

Dated 1 April 1930, (Tuesday), Rest: At Chaprabhata and Night Stay: Surat (11 miles).

Chaprabhata Speech: Swaraj has many limbs. We sing that "sutrane tantane swaraj", but did we get a little swaraj by singing that? It is the same when removing the thread. I have given an example of this Rentia, but such a work of alcohol has already been done. The third thing is that the sisters of Ahmedabad learned to clean the villages by removing garbage. We are so full of garbage that we have forgotten the mantra of Swaraj. By removing it, we will remove the dregs of the society and the heart.

Speech of Surat: We are freed only by enduring pain and suffering and the better this salt tax has been prepared by God. The government claims that the rulers of the state should find a way to collect taxes from all the people of the people. I have overturned the scriptures of Islam, Hinduism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism. In all of them it is shown that there is no tax on women and poor women.

I thank him that the statesmen can catch me if they want, but he is ashamed to do so. But one day I am free to be caught and if not caught, the hind is going to run away. The government has become like a snake has swallowed a mole. Now and then the law will be broken and the law will be destroyed, where will the sultanate be? All his limbs are loose. Without such hard work, the talk of taking the kingdom without sending a single man to prison is lying in my pocket.

Dated 2 April 1930, (Wednesday), Rest: Dindoli and Night Stay: Wanz (13 miles).

Addressing the gathering, he said, "I am happy that the friends I have met since my return from South Africa are living in this village. I have many hopes from such a village and if the hopes do not succeed, I will be sad."

Dated 3 April 1930, (Thursday), Rest: Dhamana and Night Stay: Navsari (13 miles).

Dhaman's speech: "There are towns around this Dhaman, in which my old refuges and comrades live. The Muslim brothers contributed a lot to the struggle in South Africa and the leaders of the struggle there were also Muslim brothers.

Speech of Navsari: Navsari is the headquarters of Parsi brothers. Parsi com is under one lakh. I do not remain without knowing you and they do not remain without knowing me. Dadabhai's granddaughters are getting mad and impatient for the fight and Mithuben left his mother and left the house to free the alcoholics from their addiction. There are many sisters here, I request you to take up this task. The sisters of Mukti Fauj have been seen doing such pious work. So all the sisters jump into the field where Mithuben has prepared and sat.

Dated 4 April 1930, (Friday), Rest: Vijalpore and Night Stay: Karadi (9 miles).

Vijalpore's speech: "Dandi is my stronghold. You will not come there in vain. However, whatever comes comes with provision for food and water, and only those who are willing to fight for the country's service. This is a pilgrimage, a crusade. There is no one to feast on." It will not come. The second condition is that no one will come there wearing foreign clothes. If Dandi is to be made a Dham-purna Swaraj Fort of Yatra, then so be it."

Dated 5 April 1930, (Saturday), Rest: Dandi and Night Stay: Dandi (4 miles) (Total miles 241).

Dandi's speech: "When I left Sabarmati to come here, I was not sure that we would be able to reach here. I have reached here, no less influenced by peace and non-violence. The secret of this struggle is to make satyagraha universal. So far, millions of people have carried the message of the salt tax. I have heard. Now we have to make salt as our ancestors used to make it and sell it from house to house until the government gets tired. The home of our journey is now Dandi, but the real home is the goddess of freedom. She has not been seen anywhere. Until then we will not have peace and the government will not be allowed to remain calm either.

The choice of this stem is not of man but of God. The week starting tomorrow is for self-purification. Finally I pray that the goal we set out to achieve will be achieved very soon. Those who are afraid of the government, who are ready to go from prison to the bullet, come with me tomorrow morning. God be with us, may the truth prevail.

Namak ka kanuan tod diya.

The day that Gujarat-Bharatvarsh and the whole world was looking forward to was on 6th April 1930 in Brahmamuhurta at 3.30 am Gandhiji and his soldiers and thousands of people woke up. At exactly 6 am, Gandhiji and the soldiers and thousands of pilgrims reached the shore for a sea bath. Someone asked "Bapuji will you also bathe in the sea?" The answer was immediately received, "Yes, the work to be started on the crusade should be done only after bathing and becoming holy." Saying this, he threw himself into the sea in a loincloth like a vagabond. After taking a bath, Gandhiji came out and had a little conversation with the victims.

After bathing in the sea, Gandhiji went out with the people for a mile, in search of salt prepared by the drying up of sea water in ditches and pits. A troop of government men spared no effort in their relentless efforts to shovel the bounty of natural salt into the ragdoli soil. Despite that, Ratnakar paid homage to the glittering salt at Gandhiji's feet where he was standing. As soon as the kalash of prasad was released from the yajna, Gandhi ji filled the yajna prasad exactly at 6.30 hours and the thunderous sound of thousands of people rang out, "Namak ka kanun tod diya." Bharata Gandhi uttered the speech that "I hereby lay the foundation of the edifice of the British Empire."

Thus, on 6th April, Gandhiji ended the Dandiatra, the historic struggle for India's freedom, and Gandhiji and his soldiers and thousands of people together broke the salt law.

(Source: Gujarat Information - Gujarat Pakshik)

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