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When a 27 year Old Dalit Documented Gandhi’s Dandi March Through Line Drawings and Art

Rizwan Kadri 01 Oct 2018

It was not just the Dandi March that he beatufully documented through line drawings and paintings.




While a battery of journalists, photographers and documentary filmmakers descended on Ahmedabad from across the country and abroad to cover the starting of the historic ‘Salt March’ of Mahatma Gandhi on March 12, 1930, a 27 year old Dalit artist armed with a drawing book and pencil legged along the 242-mile route to Dandi, on the coast of the Arabian sea in South Gujarat, capturing the landmark satyagraha movement that shook the British empire.

Unknown to the world, the Dalit artist Chaganlal Jadav’s drawing book is a live pictorial documentary of the salt satyagraha movement from its beginning to its finale. When I was browsing in ‘Gujari Bazaar’ of Ahmedabad - the 607 year old flee market - I came across a ‘drawing book’ - a book of paintings!I was stunned when I saw this beautiful pictorial depiction of our proud moment during the freedom struggle.Gandhi era is said to be alive in the drawing of Chaganlal. So let's take a look at the beginning of Gandhi era.

In the following years he travelled extensively in Kashmir in 1938 and then shifted base to Kullu in 1944. During this time Chaganlal painted nature. On returning to Gujarat he started painting rural scenes of Gujarat, Kutch and Saurashtra. Independent exhibitions of many such paintings spread his fame far and wide.

In 1944 Chaganlal, inspired by the Himalayas and the great Russian painter, Nicholas Roerich, drew paintings of the Himalayas. Chaganlal has depicted this in his paintings. His tour of the Himalayas ignited a desire to see God. In 1947 he turned a disciple of Sri Aurobindo. This spiritual turning point helped him forge a deep bond with him and the Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry for the rest of his life.

Gandhi’s Assassination
The news of the assassination of Gandhiji on 30th January, 1948 came as a huge blow. For nearly 2-3 days he could not even leave his room, he was stunned. He kept recalling his relations with Bapu and became depressed. His paintings that pay tribute to Gandhiji reflect his depressed state. Chaganlal’s name and fame had spread beyond the boundaries of the country. The seeds of his fame were sown, we must recall, by Gandhiji and his ‘Antyaj Ratri Shala’.

The case of Chaganlal is a study of how while serving at the Satyagraha Ashram Chaganlal is exposed to national activities, ideas about social reforms and the concept of equality and how they were all intertwined. Mahatma Gandhi (a Bania) recommends to Kanu Desai (a Brahmakshatriya) the aspiring Chaganlal for artistic training. Again Gandhiji asks Kalaguru Ravishankar Raval (a Brahman) to take Chaganlal as his disciple. The other disciples of Kalaguru had put up a great protest against Chaganlal, a Dalit, joining their school. But Raval, a firm follower of Gandhiji, did not give in to these pressures. Instead, the other students finally gave up and accepted Chaganlal. Raval has described this in his autobiography.

Read on…..

Entire Preface
UNSEEN DRAWINGS OF
DANDI MARCH
(Drawings of Chaganlal Jadav)

 
While a battery of journalists, photographers and documentary filmmakers descended on Ahmedabad from across the country and abroad to cover the starting of the historic ‘Salt March’ of Mahatma Gandhi on March 12, 1930, a 27 year old Dalit artist armed with a drawing book and pencil legged along the 242-mile route to Dandi, on the coast of the Arabian sea in South Gujarat, capturing the landmark satyagraha movement that shook the British empire.

Unknown to the world, the Dalit artist Chaganlal Jadav’s drawing book is a live pictorial documentary of the salt satyagraha movement from its beginning to its finale.When I was browsing in ‘Gujari Bazaar’ of Ahmedabad - the 607 year old flee market - I came across a ‘drawing book’ - a book of paintings!I was stunned when I saw this beautiful pictorial depiction of our proud moment during the freedom struggle.Gandhi era is said to be alive in the drawing of Chaganlal. So let's take a look at the beginning of Gandhi era.

The year 1915 was a turning point in Indian history. That year Mahatma Gandhi arrived in India, leaving South Africa, where he had successfully led a passive resistance movement against unjust apartheid policies of the colonial British government while instituting his fight on principles of truth, nonviolence and Satyagraha (insistence on truth). His arrival changed the course of the freedom struggle in India.

By setting up the ‘Satyagraha Ashram’ in Ahmedabad’s Kochrab area Gandhiji had sown the seed of a political, social and economic change in India. It is worth mentioning here that while in Johannesburg in South Africa, Gandhiji launched his very first non-violent agitation against British practices of social discrimination based on race on September 11, 1906.  When he decided to settle in Ahmedabad in February 1915, he transformed the Ashram into an antithesis of everything Ahmedabad stood for in those days. Here was a city of moneyed mill owners who lived a life of opulence. In stark contrast, the Satyagraha Ashram at Kochrab was defined by austerity. In fact, coincidentally, it was on September 11, 1915 that Gandhiji admitted Dudhabhai Dafda, an untouchable weaver and his family into Satyagraha Ashram - hitting out against the discriminating practice of untouchability, which Gandhiji considered a big blot on the country. There were vehement protests from some of his own followers. This had upset a neighbouring community and even Vaishnav businessmen who refused to fund Gandhiji’s activities. Bapu (Gandhiji) told the ashram inmates that if a boycott was declared and they were left without funds, they would shift to the untouchable’s colony. Bapu put into practice his ideas about Bramhacharya, physical labour, swadeshi and against untouchability into practice.

Gandhi also began an ‘Antyaj Ratri Shala’ (Night school for scheduled caste), at Kochrab near his Ashram. These two events proved to be significant. We can gauge the changes in Indian politics, social norms and economy that were also highly noteworthy when we analyse them.
A weaver boy named Chagan, aged around 12 years, began to attend Gandhiji’s night school at Kochrab, by walking 5 to 6 Km from Wadaj. He learned alphabets from the night school teacher, Parikshitlal Majmudar - a warm and concerned teacher - and under Gandhiji’s tutelage. Growing up, Chagan now was known as Chaganlal. He began to work in a mill, but Gandhiji made him change that and appointed him as a peon at Gujarat Vidyapith. Gandhiji observed that the boy had evolved artistic inclination.

During this time Chaganlal faced unexpected tragedies, but he did not give up. He began working for the night school of Gujarat Vidyapith as a teacher. He had no formal training as an artist, but Bapu kept an eye on him and knew his desire to learn more. So soon Bapu, who was the chancellor of Vidyapith, awarded him a scholarship. Chaganlal began to take training under well-known artist Kanu Desai. One day Mahatma Gandhi introduced Chaganlal to Kalaguru Ravishankar Raval.This became a turning point of his life.

Kalaguru infused artistic expressions to the waves of the contemporary times, and he realized Chaganlal’s potential. In order to encourage him in this occupation, he helped Chaganlal get a scholarship from Sir Girjaprasad, the great-grandson of Ranchhodlal Chhotalal, (who started the first cotton mill in Ahmedabad) and Sheth Shantilal Mangaldas. Now Chaganlal attended the Art Schools in Indore and Lucknow for further training. At Indore, in 1933 during training, he worked under the famous painter Narayan Shridhar Bendre, where he learned landscapes. It was due to the Kalaguru's assistance that he could attend the art school in Lucknow in 1934, - as Kalaguru was also his guarantor. Chaganlal was recommended by N.C. Mehta, who was the first ICS from Gujarat. At Lucknow art school, Chaganlal honed his skill in using colours. From 1935 Chaganlal began his life as an independent Artist. At the Haripura Congress session of 1938 Chaganlal met Subhash Chandra Bose - the president of the Congress and even assisted Kalaguru decorate the pavilion for the session. He became an underground activist during the ‘Quit India’ movement of 1942.

In the following years he travelled extensively in Kashmir in 1938 and then shifted base to Kullu in 1944. During this time Chaganlal painted nature. On returning to Gujarat hestarted painting rural scenes of Gujarat, Kutch and Saurashtra. Independent exhibitions of many such paintings spread his fame far and wide.

In 1944 Chaganlal, inspired by the Himalayas and the great Russian painter, Nicholas Roerich, drew paintings of the Himalayas. Chaganlal has depicted this in his paintings. His tour of the Himalayas ignited a desire to see God. In 1947 he turned a disciple of Sri Aurobindo. This spiritual turning point helped him forge a deep bond with him and the Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry for the rest of his life.

The news of the assassination of Gandhiji on 30th January, 1948 came as a huge blow. For nearly 2-3 days he could not even leave his room, he was stunned. He kept recalling his relations with Bapu and became depressed. His paintings that pay tribute to Gandhiji reflect his depressed state. Chaganlal’s name and fame had spread beyond the boundaries of the country. The seeds of his fame were sown, we must recall, by Gandhiji and his ‘Antyaj Ratri Shala’.

The case of Chaganlal is a study of how while serving at the Satyagraha Ashram Chaganlal is exposed to national activities, ideas about social reforms and the concept of equality and how they were all intertwined. Mahatma Gandhi (a Bania) recommends to Kanu Desai (a Brahmakshatriya) the aspiring Chaganlal for artistic training. Again Gandhiji asks Kalaguru Ravishankar Raval (a Brahman) totake Chaganlal as his disciple. The other disciples of Kalaguru had put up a great protest against Chaganlal, a Dalit, joining their school. But Raval, a firm follower of Gandhiji, did not give in to these pressures. Instead, the other students finally gave up and accepted Chaganlal. Raval has described this in his autobiography.

The founder of textile mills in Ahmedabad, Ranchhodlal Chhotalal had founded a women’s hospital, first of its kind in Gujarat, and where women were treated without discrimination based on caste. His great grandson, Sir Girjaprasad (a Brahman) therefore had no qualms in providing a scholarship to Chaganlal when Kalaguru’s recommendation. This had enabled him to attend art schools at Indore and Lucknow. Here he acquired training and earned a reputation that began to spread in the world. In 1939, Kalaguru had organized an art exhibition for the Bombay art society, in which Chaganlal’s water colour paintings, ‘Zupdi ni Lakshmi’ wonthe Governor’s prize of Rs. 100. The prestige of Chaganlal spread far and wide also his paintings were published in ‘Kumar’, an illustrated Gujarati periodicalfounded by Kalaguru.

Today a number of Chaganlal’s paintings - Shokdhara, Prakash, Prati, Gunahita, Vishvaswarup. Nirnay ni Kshano, Mangal Prabhat, etc. decorate the walls of museums, art galleries and private collections. However, there is one memoir that was never shown to the world! When I showed it to the well-known litterateur and a close friend of Chaganlal, late Professor Niranjan Bhagat, he exclaimed at once, “Oh! This is a book of paintings on Dandi March! I recall that Chaganbhai had shown it to me once with his memoirs!” Later the disciple of Chaganlal and well-known painter himself, Amit Ambalal also recalled and said, “Oh! There existed a diary with this drawingbook! Have you found, perhaps it would have helped you understand these paintings better!” Chaganlal used to narrate his experiences and events he witnessed at Dandi March toAmit Ambalal.Achyut Chinubhai, son of Sir Girjaprasad also met Chaganlal almost every day. So, when I showed the drawingbook to him, he exclaimed, “Oh! This is the drawingbook of Chaganlal! I am yet to see such masterly use of the brush like this anywhere else!” Achyut Chinubhai had also seen earlier Chaganlal’s memoir on Dandi March. In order to understand the memoir of Dandi March, first let us look up the history of Dandi March.

When we hear the word ‘Dandi’, at once a picture forms in our mind of some freedom fighters walking determinedly led by Gandhiji, and the other picture is of Gandhiji picking up salt on the Dandi sea-coast as a ‘civil disobedience’ action. Thus ‘Dandi’, a small village in south Gujarat achieved a global fame due to this event. It is considered the greatest event even in the history of any Satyagraha movement, anywhere in the world. On 12th March, 1930 the 61- year old Gandhiji, with his 78 handpicked followers, began the march from Satyagraha Ashram - Sabarmati in order to quash the unjust salt tax introduced by the British by an act of ‘civil disobedience’. The British had already imprisoned Sardar Patel on 7th March. There was excitement in the air as Mahatma began his journey, an anxiety that perhaps he too would be jailed prevailed and that the ‘PadMarch’(foot-march) too would be stopped by authorities. Journalists and photographers from all over the world gathered to report the progress and the historical moment of the memorable DandiMarch.

Chaganlal, on the other hand, joined the group and made ‘live paintings record’ of the memorable moments while moving with it. He was a member of a group, called ‘Arunodaya Tukdi’ that had travelled in advance of the March and organized Bapu’s journey. He found time to draw a few scenes and he painted 6 memorable poses of Gandhiji. He has also drawn other national leaders as well. He even took autographs on some for remembrance. In 24 days the group covered 241 miles and reached Dandi. On the historic day of 6th April, 1930, Gandhiji broke the law of salt tax and a great wave of Satyagraha swept across the nation. In ‘Karadi Shibir’ Chaganlal had the fortune to be with Gandhiji and here he made too few drawings.

The following month, in Karadi, on 5th May, 1930, Gandhiji was arrested. Along with him, Chaganlal too was sentenced to 3 months prison. This imprisonment again proved to be a turning point for him. During these months he drew paintings and drawings of daily life in Nasik prison, state of the prisoners, different parts of the jail, security arrangements and the building of the jail too in his drawingbook. This drawingbook is thus a rare collection of drawings and a live document of the historical Dandi March.

Some enterprising youths organized a Bicycle March to participate in the 46th Session of the Indian National Congress to meet in Karachi where Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was to be its President. We still do not have anything on Chaganlal - of whether he was part of this cycling trip. In this pictorial document we find one picture of ‘Frontier Gandhi’, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, returning from that session in a steamer from Karachi to Mumbai. Also, Sardar Patel, Jamnalal Bajaj, Sarojini Naidu, Mithuben Petit, Jawaharlal Nehru and others are also depicted. Chaganlal had the luck to be with Gandhiji again in his imprisonment in 1932 at the Yaravda Jail in Pune. This enabled him again to make a drawing on him there on December 2, 1932. 

Two other historical events are also included in this drawingbook. On 22nd July, 1933 Gandhiji had declared, never to return to Satyagraha Ashram - Sabarmati till he achieves Independence for India. On 31st July, 1933 as he bid adieu to the Ashram for the last time and after a Prarthana Sabha (Prayer) Bapu left the Ashram with immense pain in his heart, which was captured by Chaganlal. Gandhiji himself put his signature on that painting for him. This has increased the historical value of this drawingbook a thousand times.

Time went on. Chaganlal was aging. But the artist in him continued to fire his passion. Chaganlal is considered the ‘grandfather’ of ‘Modern Art Movement’ in Gujarat and among new aspiring artists he is dearly called ‘Chagan Kaka’. On 12th April, 1987 at the age of 84, Chaganlal passed away. But his drawingbook is a memoir, a glimpse into the Gandhian Era, an original document in pictures. In this collection we can view a pictorial history of the freedom struggle from 1930 to 1938. The pictures include:

1.     Spirit of Dandi March 
2.     Account of Navsari, Dandi and Karadi shibir
3.     With Bapu in Prison, 1930 & 1932
4.     Life in prison for Satyagrahis
5.     New Leadership of Sardar Patel, 1931
6.     Despair at abandoning the Ashram, 1933
7.     Leadership of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose at Haripura, 1938

And, these drawings and paintings which Chaganlal made during the Dandi March - a great historical event has never been revealed to the world!! Many persons may have retained scattered memories of this event; but there is nothing equal to this drawing book of Chaganlal Jadav, as it captures the live moments of that event he participated in.

The new generation should inculcate the true values and appreciate the ‘Spirit of Dandi March’. This drawingbook, kept away from the public so far, is now being published on the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. In this gargantuan task, the cooperation of the Shri Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, Maninagar, Ahmedabad, and the blessings of His Holiness Swami Shri Purushottampriyadasji Maharaj was sought, who has been my driving force. I feel blessed and deeply indebted to them here.

When a 27 year Old Dalit Documented Gandhi’s Dandi March Through Line Drawings and Art

It was not just the Dandi March that he beatufully documented through line drawings and paintings.




While a battery of journalists, photographers and documentary filmmakers descended on Ahmedabad from across the country and abroad to cover the starting of the historic ‘Salt March’ of Mahatma Gandhi on March 12, 1930, a 27 year old Dalit artist armed with a drawing book and pencil legged along the 242-mile route to Dandi, on the coast of the Arabian sea in South Gujarat, capturing the landmark satyagraha movement that shook the British empire.

Unknown to the world, the Dalit artist Chaganlal Jadav’s drawing book is a live pictorial documentary of the salt satyagraha movement from its beginning to its finale. When I was browsing in ‘Gujari Bazaar’ of Ahmedabad - the 607 year old flee market - I came across a ‘drawing book’ - a book of paintings!I was stunned when I saw this beautiful pictorial depiction of our proud moment during the freedom struggle.Gandhi era is said to be alive in the drawing of Chaganlal. So let's take a look at the beginning of Gandhi era.

In the following years he travelled extensively in Kashmir in 1938 and then shifted base to Kullu in 1944. During this time Chaganlal painted nature. On returning to Gujarat he started painting rural scenes of Gujarat, Kutch and Saurashtra. Independent exhibitions of many such paintings spread his fame far and wide.

In 1944 Chaganlal, inspired by the Himalayas and the great Russian painter, Nicholas Roerich, drew paintings of the Himalayas. Chaganlal has depicted this in his paintings. His tour of the Himalayas ignited a desire to see God. In 1947 he turned a disciple of Sri Aurobindo. This spiritual turning point helped him forge a deep bond with him and the Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry for the rest of his life.

Gandhi’s Assassination
The news of the assassination of Gandhiji on 30th January, 1948 came as a huge blow. For nearly 2-3 days he could not even leave his room, he was stunned. He kept recalling his relations with Bapu and became depressed. His paintings that pay tribute to Gandhiji reflect his depressed state. Chaganlal’s name and fame had spread beyond the boundaries of the country. The seeds of his fame were sown, we must recall, by Gandhiji and his ‘Antyaj Ratri Shala’.

The case of Chaganlal is a study of how while serving at the Satyagraha Ashram Chaganlal is exposed to national activities, ideas about social reforms and the concept of equality and how they were all intertwined. Mahatma Gandhi (a Bania) recommends to Kanu Desai (a Brahmakshatriya) the aspiring Chaganlal for artistic training. Again Gandhiji asks Kalaguru Ravishankar Raval (a Brahman) to take Chaganlal as his disciple. The other disciples of Kalaguru had put up a great protest against Chaganlal, a Dalit, joining their school. But Raval, a firm follower of Gandhiji, did not give in to these pressures. Instead, the other students finally gave up and accepted Chaganlal. Raval has described this in his autobiography.

Read on…..

Entire Preface
UNSEEN DRAWINGS OF
DANDI MARCH
(Drawings of Chaganlal Jadav)

 
While a battery of journalists, photographers and documentary filmmakers descended on Ahmedabad from across the country and abroad to cover the starting of the historic ‘Salt March’ of Mahatma Gandhi on March 12, 1930, a 27 year old Dalit artist armed with a drawing book and pencil legged along the 242-mile route to Dandi, on the coast of the Arabian sea in South Gujarat, capturing the landmark satyagraha movement that shook the British empire.

Unknown to the world, the Dalit artist Chaganlal Jadav’s drawing book is a live pictorial documentary of the salt satyagraha movement from its beginning to its finale.When I was browsing in ‘Gujari Bazaar’ of Ahmedabad - the 607 year old flee market - I came across a ‘drawing book’ - a book of paintings!I was stunned when I saw this beautiful pictorial depiction of our proud moment during the freedom struggle.Gandhi era is said to be alive in the drawing of Chaganlal. So let's take a look at the beginning of Gandhi era.

The year 1915 was a turning point in Indian history. That year Mahatma Gandhi arrived in India, leaving South Africa, where he had successfully led a passive resistance movement against unjust apartheid policies of the colonial British government while instituting his fight on principles of truth, nonviolence and Satyagraha (insistence on truth). His arrival changed the course of the freedom struggle in India.

By setting up the ‘Satyagraha Ashram’ in Ahmedabad’s Kochrab area Gandhiji had sown the seed of a political, social and economic change in India. It is worth mentioning here that while in Johannesburg in South Africa, Gandhiji launched his very first non-violent agitation against British practices of social discrimination based on race on September 11, 1906.  When he decided to settle in Ahmedabad in February 1915, he transformed the Ashram into an antithesis of everything Ahmedabad stood for in those days. Here was a city of moneyed mill owners who lived a life of opulence. In stark contrast, the Satyagraha Ashram at Kochrab was defined by austerity. In fact, coincidentally, it was on September 11, 1915 that Gandhiji admitted Dudhabhai Dafda, an untouchable weaver and his family into Satyagraha Ashram - hitting out against the discriminating practice of untouchability, which Gandhiji considered a big blot on the country. There were vehement protests from some of his own followers. This had upset a neighbouring community and even Vaishnav businessmen who refused to fund Gandhiji’s activities. Bapu (Gandhiji) told the ashram inmates that if a boycott was declared and they were left without funds, they would shift to the untouchable’s colony. Bapu put into practice his ideas about Bramhacharya, physical labour, swadeshi and against untouchability into practice.

Gandhi also began an ‘Antyaj Ratri Shala’ (Night school for scheduled caste), at Kochrab near his Ashram. These two events proved to be significant. We can gauge the changes in Indian politics, social norms and economy that were also highly noteworthy when we analyse them.
A weaver boy named Chagan, aged around 12 years, began to attend Gandhiji’s night school at Kochrab, by walking 5 to 6 Km from Wadaj. He learned alphabets from the night school teacher, Parikshitlal Majmudar - a warm and concerned teacher - and under Gandhiji’s tutelage. Growing up, Chagan now was known as Chaganlal. He began to work in a mill, but Gandhiji made him change that and appointed him as a peon at Gujarat Vidyapith. Gandhiji observed that the boy had evolved artistic inclination.

During this time Chaganlal faced unexpected tragedies, but he did not give up. He began working for the night school of Gujarat Vidyapith as a teacher. He had no formal training as an artist, but Bapu kept an eye on him and knew his desire to learn more. So soon Bapu, who was the chancellor of Vidyapith, awarded him a scholarship. Chaganlal began to take training under well-known artist Kanu Desai. One day Mahatma Gandhi introduced Chaganlal to Kalaguru Ravishankar Raval.This became a turning point of his life.

Kalaguru infused artistic expressions to the waves of the contemporary times, and he realized Chaganlal’s potential. In order to encourage him in this occupation, he helped Chaganlal get a scholarship from Sir Girjaprasad, the great-grandson of Ranchhodlal Chhotalal, (who started the first cotton mill in Ahmedabad) and Sheth Shantilal Mangaldas. Now Chaganlal attended the Art Schools in Indore and Lucknow for further training. At Indore, in 1933 during training, he worked under the famous painter Narayan Shridhar Bendre, where he learned landscapes. It was due to the Kalaguru's assistance that he could attend the art school in Lucknow in 1934, - as Kalaguru was also his guarantor. Chaganlal was recommended by N.C. Mehta, who was the first ICS from Gujarat. At Lucknow art school, Chaganlal honed his skill in using colours. From 1935 Chaganlal began his life as an independent Artist. At the Haripura Congress session of 1938 Chaganlal met Subhash Chandra Bose - the president of the Congress and even assisted Kalaguru decorate the pavilion for the session. He became an underground activist during the ‘Quit India’ movement of 1942.

In the following years he travelled extensively in Kashmir in 1938 and then shifted base to Kullu in 1944. During this time Chaganlal painted nature. On returning to Gujarat hestarted painting rural scenes of Gujarat, Kutch and Saurashtra. Independent exhibitions of many such paintings spread his fame far and wide.

In 1944 Chaganlal, inspired by the Himalayas and the great Russian painter, Nicholas Roerich, drew paintings of the Himalayas. Chaganlal has depicted this in his paintings. His tour of the Himalayas ignited a desire to see God. In 1947 he turned a disciple of Sri Aurobindo. This spiritual turning point helped him forge a deep bond with him and the Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry for the rest of his life.

The news of the assassination of Gandhiji on 30th January, 1948 came as a huge blow. For nearly 2-3 days he could not even leave his room, he was stunned. He kept recalling his relations with Bapu and became depressed. His paintings that pay tribute to Gandhiji reflect his depressed state. Chaganlal’s name and fame had spread beyond the boundaries of the country. The seeds of his fame were sown, we must recall, by Gandhiji and his ‘Antyaj Ratri Shala’.

The case of Chaganlal is a study of how while serving at the Satyagraha Ashram Chaganlal is exposed to national activities, ideas about social reforms and the concept of equality and how they were all intertwined. Mahatma Gandhi (a Bania) recommends to Kanu Desai (a Brahmakshatriya) the aspiring Chaganlal for artistic training. Again Gandhiji asks Kalaguru Ravishankar Raval (a Brahman) totake Chaganlal as his disciple. The other disciples of Kalaguru had put up a great protest against Chaganlal, a Dalit, joining their school. But Raval, a firm follower of Gandhiji, did not give in to these pressures. Instead, the other students finally gave up and accepted Chaganlal. Raval has described this in his autobiography.

The founder of textile mills in Ahmedabad, Ranchhodlal Chhotalal had founded a women’s hospital, first of its kind in Gujarat, and where women were treated without discrimination based on caste. His great grandson, Sir Girjaprasad (a Brahman) therefore had no qualms in providing a scholarship to Chaganlal when Kalaguru’s recommendation. This had enabled him to attend art schools at Indore and Lucknow. Here he acquired training and earned a reputation that began to spread in the world. In 1939, Kalaguru had organized an art exhibition for the Bombay art society, in which Chaganlal’s water colour paintings, ‘Zupdi ni Lakshmi’ wonthe Governor’s prize of Rs. 100. The prestige of Chaganlal spread far and wide also his paintings were published in ‘Kumar’, an illustrated Gujarati periodicalfounded by Kalaguru.

Today a number of Chaganlal’s paintings - Shokdhara, Prakash, Prati, Gunahita, Vishvaswarup. Nirnay ni Kshano, Mangal Prabhat, etc. decorate the walls of museums, art galleries and private collections. However, there is one memoir that was never shown to the world! When I showed it to the well-known litterateur and a close friend of Chaganlal, late Professor Niranjan Bhagat, he exclaimed at once, “Oh! This is a book of paintings on Dandi March! I recall that Chaganbhai had shown it to me once with his memoirs!” Later the disciple of Chaganlal and well-known painter himself, Amit Ambalal also recalled and said, “Oh! There existed a diary with this drawingbook! Have you found, perhaps it would have helped you understand these paintings better!” Chaganlal used to narrate his experiences and events he witnessed at Dandi March toAmit Ambalal.Achyut Chinubhai, son of Sir Girjaprasad also met Chaganlal almost every day. So, when I showed the drawingbook to him, he exclaimed, “Oh! This is the drawingbook of Chaganlal! I am yet to see such masterly use of the brush like this anywhere else!” Achyut Chinubhai had also seen earlier Chaganlal’s memoir on Dandi March. In order to understand the memoir of Dandi March, first let us look up the history of Dandi March.

When we hear the word ‘Dandi’, at once a picture forms in our mind of some freedom fighters walking determinedly led by Gandhiji, and the other picture is of Gandhiji picking up salt on the Dandi sea-coast as a ‘civil disobedience’ action. Thus ‘Dandi’, a small village in south Gujarat achieved a global fame due to this event. It is considered the greatest event even in the history of any Satyagraha movement, anywhere in the world. On 12th March, 1930 the 61- year old Gandhiji, with his 78 handpicked followers, began the march from Satyagraha Ashram - Sabarmati in order to quash the unjust salt tax introduced by the British by an act of ‘civil disobedience’. The British had already imprisoned Sardar Patel on 7th March. There was excitement in the air as Mahatma began his journey, an anxiety that perhaps he too would be jailed prevailed and that the ‘PadMarch’(foot-march) too would be stopped by authorities. Journalists and photographers from all over the world gathered to report the progress and the historical moment of the memorable DandiMarch.

Chaganlal, on the other hand, joined the group and made ‘live paintings record’ of the memorable moments while moving with it. He was a member of a group, called ‘Arunodaya Tukdi’ that had travelled in advance of the March and organized Bapu’s journey. He found time to draw a few scenes and he painted 6 memorable poses of Gandhiji. He has also drawn other national leaders as well. He even took autographs on some for remembrance. In 24 days the group covered 241 miles and reached Dandi. On the historic day of 6th April, 1930, Gandhiji broke the law of salt tax and a great wave of Satyagraha swept across the nation. In ‘Karadi Shibir’ Chaganlal had the fortune to be with Gandhiji and here he made too few drawings.

The following month, in Karadi, on 5th May, 1930, Gandhiji was arrested. Along with him, Chaganlal too was sentenced to 3 months prison. This imprisonment again proved to be a turning point for him. During these months he drew paintings and drawings of daily life in Nasik prison, state of the prisoners, different parts of the jail, security arrangements and the building of the jail too in his drawingbook. This drawingbook is thus a rare collection of drawings and a live document of the historical Dandi March.

Some enterprising youths organized a Bicycle March to participate in the 46th Session of the Indian National Congress to meet in Karachi where Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was to be its President. We still do not have anything on Chaganlal - of whether he was part of this cycling trip. In this pictorial document we find one picture of ‘Frontier Gandhi’, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, returning from that session in a steamer from Karachi to Mumbai. Also, Sardar Patel, Jamnalal Bajaj, Sarojini Naidu, Mithuben Petit, Jawaharlal Nehru and others are also depicted. Chaganlal had the luck to be with Gandhiji again in his imprisonment in 1932 at the Yaravda Jail in Pune. This enabled him again to make a drawing on him there on December 2, 1932. 

Two other historical events are also included in this drawingbook. On 22nd July, 1933 Gandhiji had declared, never to return to Satyagraha Ashram - Sabarmati till he achieves Independence for India. On 31st July, 1933 as he bid adieu to the Ashram for the last time and after a Prarthana Sabha (Prayer) Bapu left the Ashram with immense pain in his heart, which was captured by Chaganlal. Gandhiji himself put his signature on that painting for him. This has increased the historical value of this drawingbook a thousand times.

Time went on. Chaganlal was aging. But the artist in him continued to fire his passion. Chaganlal is considered the ‘grandfather’ of ‘Modern Art Movement’ in Gujarat and among new aspiring artists he is dearly called ‘Chagan Kaka’. On 12th April, 1987 at the age of 84, Chaganlal passed away. But his drawingbook is a memoir, a glimpse into the Gandhian Era, an original document in pictures. In this collection we can view a pictorial history of the freedom struggle from 1930 to 1938. The pictures include:

1.     Spirit of Dandi March 
2.     Account of Navsari, Dandi and Karadi shibir
3.     With Bapu in Prison, 1930 & 1932
4.     Life in prison for Satyagrahis
5.     New Leadership of Sardar Patel, 1931
6.     Despair at abandoning the Ashram, 1933
7.     Leadership of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose at Haripura, 1938

And, these drawings and paintings which Chaganlal made during the Dandi March - a great historical event has never been revealed to the world!! Many persons may have retained scattered memories of this event; but there is nothing equal to this drawing book of Chaganlal Jadav, as it captures the live moments of that event he participated in.

The new generation should inculcate the true values and appreciate the ‘Spirit of Dandi March’. This drawingbook, kept away from the public so far, is now being published on the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. In this gargantuan task, the cooperation of the Shri Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, Maninagar, Ahmedabad, and the blessings of His Holiness Swami Shri Purushottampriyadasji Maharaj was sought, who has been my driving force. I feel blessed and deeply indebted to them here.

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