"He [Maganlal] was, in my opinion, a genius... He laid the foundation of the science of Khadi by writing his Vanat Shastra” said Mahatma Gandhi at the inaugural ceremony of Magan Museum of Khadi (pdf) at Wardha on Dec 30, 19382. Ever since I read this, I became curious about Maganlal Gandhi. Where did Maganlal learn the science of khadi? Was this science backed up by rigorous experiments? If so, where did Maganlal perform those experiments? I wanted to find out. Finally, I got a peek into the story when my friend Prof. Rishikesha Krishnan connected me to Prof. Shambu Prasad of XIMB Bhubaneswar. Shambu has done extensive research on science of Gandhi. I found answers to some of my questions in an excellent article written by Shambu “Gandhi and Maganlal: Khadi science and the Gandhian scientist”. Here is a short summary.
Maganlal Khushalchand Gandhi (1883-1928) was Gandhi’s nephew (a grandson of his uncle) and 19 years younger to him. Maganlal met Gandhi in 1902, two days before Gandhi was to leave for
In a short time, Maganlal picked up several skills at Phoenix Farm - composing and running the machines in the press, farming, carpentry and tailoring, keeping accounts of the settlement and teaching the children Gujarati and Mathematics. It was Maganlal who suggested the name Sadagraha to Gandhiji when he solicited a better term for “passive resistance” in the local newspaper Indian Opinion. Gandhi later modified Sadagraha to Satyagraha.
In 1922, a ‘Khaddar Information Bureau’ was constituted to provide or collect information on khadi from the provinces, to inform congress committees and selected workers on reports from the centres. Maganlal edited its ‘Khadi Bulletin’. A syllabus was formulated in 1923 for the weaving school with a regular six-month course. A khaddar service scheme was also instituted under which 600 instructors were to be trained in home carding.
Maganlal passed away while at work in
1. Gandhi and Maganlal: Khadi science and the Gandhian scientist” by Shambu Prasad, Presented at the Seminar ‘Gandhi and his Contemporaries’ held at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, April 13-15, 1999
2. “Mahatma: Life of Mohandas Gandhi” by D. G. Tendulkar, volume 5, page 6.
3. Maganlal’s photo is from "Magan Nivas" at Sabarmati Ashram.