GANDHI, MOHANDAS K. 1869-1948.
This lot features a large collection of memorabilia relating to Mahatma Gandhi, all hailing from the estate of Indian shipping magnate Sumati Morarjee, and including the following: 1. Mohandas K. Gandhi's copy of the Ramayana, a 20th century, cloth-bound printing, disbound, lacking lower cover and several leaves, dampstaining, with several leaves stuck together, lacking ownership markings. This copy is Gandhi's personal copy of the title, which Sumati Morarjee would present to him every evening at 5, along with a copy of the Gita, for his prayers (see p 33 of Sumati Morarjee Felicitation Volume, an honorarium published on the occasion of Morarjee's 60th birthday).
2. A pair of men's leather strap sandals, 11 inches in length, some loss and damage throughout; worn by Gandhi during his visit with Morarjee at Palm Bun, Juhu in 1944. With photographs of him in the sandals standing next to Morarjee on the beach.
3. A small metal-and-glass lantern, 4 x 4 x 7 ½ inches, with oxidation and wear to metallic surfaces; together with photograph featuring the lantern beside Gandhi at Juhu in 1944.
4. Two wooden spoons and a wooden fork, each 6 ½ inches in length, together with a metal bowl, 2 ½ high by 8 inches (diameter). According to Morarjee family lore, these items were used by Gandhi during his stay at the Aga Khan palace and were brought with him to Palm Bun, Juhu in 1944.
5. A metal vase-form drinking vessel, 5 inches in height, together with photograph (in album) of the vessel at Gandhi's side during his 1944 visit.
6. A metal thermos with lid, 13 ½ inches in height, with oxidation and wear.
7. A string of wooden prayer beads now in three pieces and with some beads loose, approximately 30 inches in length. Gandhi's personal prayer beads.
8. Two large handwoven white linen textiles, together with spun yarn. Woven by Gandhi during his stay at Palm Bun, Juhu, 1944 and mentioned in the Morarjee honorarium: "The Mahatma ... graciously presented Sumati with several hanks of yarn he had spun during his detention at the Aga Khan palace. Each piece was marked with the date on which it was spun, and Gandhiji asked her to make saris out of the fabric later woven from them at Sevagram. 'Bapu, I am not worthy to wear saris made out of the yarn spun by you,' Sumati protested" (p 33). Considered by Morarjee as among her most prized possessions.
9. 3 small carved soapstone "Three Wise Monkeys" figurines, each 1 inch in height, on a carved wooden base, the personification of "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil." One of Gandhi's few personal possessions, presented by him to Morarjee during his 1944 stay.
10. A collection of correspondence, approximately 9 pages, from Gandhi to Sumati and Shantikumar Morarjee, 1920s-1940s, most regarding arrangements for impending visits; all apparently published in the Collected Writings.
11. A small album of black-and-white photographs of Gandhi at Juhu with Morarjee and others. Prints approximately 5 x 7 inches. Many of the items in this collection are documented in the album. Morarjee's collection of photographs was used in both Tendulkar's Gandhiji (1944) and in Vithalbhai Jhaveri's epic film biography of Gandhi.
12. A small man's linen cap woven, with some damage and loss. According to the Morarjee family, this hat was woven by Gandhi and presented to Morarjee during his stay at Palm Bun.
Present also are two strands of spun linen woven by Nehru, dated 1941, with accompanying label; a carved wooden figure of Gandhi with staff, height approximately 9 inches, n.d. Presented posthumously to Mrs. Morarjee by one of Mahatma Gandhi's close associates (and his film biographer), Vitthalbhai Jhaveri; a small bronze plaque from Palm Bun at Juhu memorializing Gandhi's 1924 visit; and a 7 pp typed transcription of interview with Sumati Morarjee conducted by UNICEF and discussing her career and the family's relationship with Gandhi, pages with dampstain and loss.
Born Jamuna Gokuldas, Morarjee [1909-1998] was renamed "Sumati, meaning "she of superior intellect," by her father-in-law, the founder of Scindia Steam Navigation Company. Accepted into the management of the company at an early age, she assumed charge in 1946, by which time the company had grown to 6,000 employees. Mrs. Morarjee's contributions to the shipping industry and her company are memorialized in the book, Sumati Morarjee Felicitation Volume (1970).
From the early 1920s, when Gandhi first visited the Morarjee home, Palm Bun, at Juhu (in West Mumbai), to the 1940s, when she was actively involved in the underground movement for Independence, Sumati Morarjee was a close associate of Gandhi's. Gandhi first spent time at the Morarjee house in 1915 after his final return from South Africa; additionally he enjoyed two long recoveries at Palm Bun: the first in 1924 after his surgery for appendicitis, and the second in 1944 after his release from detention at the Aga Khan's palace in Poona. During both of these recuperative visits, Sumati Morarjee was his hostess and caretaker.
The property offered here includes a grouping of material that was kept at the Morarjee home at Juhu in an "unofficial" museum. This material has been documented in the above volume celebrating Morarjee, and also in Vithalbhai Jhaveri's epic film biography of Gandhi. Unfortunately, some of the material has suffered damage from the hot and humid weather native to Juhu; still, it is awe-inspiring to see what must be the largest offering of Gandhi's few personal possessions ever gathered in one place.