After completing his High School studies,
Gandhi joined the Samaldas College, Bhavnagar and continued his studies
for some time.
One day, a Swamiji who came to Gandhi's
house remarked: "Why don't you send this boy to England for studies? The
family can regain its honor." This appealed to Gandhi. He had a great desire
to study medical science; but his brother was not in favor of it. Further,
in those days it was supposed to be, against religion to cross the sea.
His mother too did not consent. Her fear was that her son might take to
liquor and meat eating. At last, Gandhi gave his word to his mother that
he would not do anything immoral, and got her consent. His brother agreed
to bear the burden of the expenses, though he was not a rich man. It was
finally decided that Gandhi should go to England and study Law to become
Gandhi was only nineteen years old
then. He was to leave for England onSeptember 4, 1888. The elders of his
caste learnt this. They opposed his journey. But Gandhi disobeyed them
and left. The elders declared that Gandhi was an outcaste.
Gandhi had learnt from some elders
about life in London as also about manners to be
observed in English society. Friends
had told him that it was difficult to live without
drinking wine and eating meat, in
a cold country like England. But Gandhi tried hard to keep his promise
to his mother. He went in search of vegetarian hotels, and was content
to eat whatever food he got there. Every day he had to walk a long distance
from his residence to the hotel. But he never felt it a hardship. In the
end, he decided to cook his food himself.
Gandhi also tried to practice English
gentlemen's ways and manners and to learn to speak French, dancing and
the art of public speaking. His expenses increased. Neither could he learn
any of them. And then the realization came to him that his brother was
struggling hard tosend him money. Then he gave up all needless expenses,
and began to live a simple life. His studies became his sole aim.
Gandhi developed great intimacy with
an English family. He pretended to be an unmarried man. He used to be quite
free with the two-grownup daughters of the family. It looked as if the
friendship would go beyond the proper limits. It was a testing time for
Gandhiji. At that hour, he remembered the promise he had made to his mother.
It saved him from a moral fall. He felt repentant, and wrote a letter of
apology to the lady of the house, confessing that he was a married man
and the father of a child.
Gandhi stayed in England for two years
and eight months. He obtained the degree of Barrister-at-Law. Without staying
even for a day more, he started on the return journey to India, on June
During his stay in England, Gandhi
tried some experiments in vegetarian diet. He came to the conclusion that
a human being should not eat non-vegetarian food for any reason. He got
acquainted with some great persons of the day, like Dadabhai Naoroji and
Dr. Beasant. But there was no indication at all that some day Gandhi would
become a great man. For the first time Gandhi read the Bhagavad Gita, in
the company of two English Theosophist friends. Together they studied 'The
Song Celestial' (the English translation of the Gita) by Sir Edwin Arnold.
This roused Gandhi's interest in the Holy Books of the Hindu religion;
and his interest grew with time.The teaching of the Gita was a source of
spiritual strength to Gandhi.