The Danish Peace Academy

GANDHI AND NORDIC COUNTRIES

Collected by E. S. Reddy - EReddy@aol.com and Holger Terp

Letter from Ms. Ada Rosengren, September 28, 1927

Lidingo, Sweden

September 28, 1927

Dear Mahatmaji,

I am very, very glad to hear that you feel better and hope that you may soon be quite well.1

I have spoken to a publisher about your book “Self-restraint versus Self-indulgence” which I want to translate into Swedish. He asked me to ask you if you will allow me to do it and him to publish it. And on what conditions?

I don’t want to trouble you with answering me yourself, but hope that someone else will do so.

With my heart’s best wishes for your complete recovery,

Yours humbly

Ada Rosengren

May I add a few words. You say in your book that women do not tempt men – in India it is perhaps so, but here in Europe I think the women are those who tempt by their way of dressing – or rather not dressing, as they are half-naked at social entertainments, by their flirtation and coquetry and their passivity to men who take advantage of this last quality. And I have found that passivity is a woman’s way of telling a man without words that she invites him to do as he likes with her. And until women become positive and can say no to a man I don’t think humanity will make real progress. And your book will be useful to our young people that I only wish it were ready printed today in our bookshops. And thus I do hope you will allow me to translate it.

  1. R-n.

Source: SN12541

Letter from Ms. Ada Rosengren, May 29, 1928

Lidingo, Sweden,

May 29, 1928

Dear Mahatmaji,

For many days I have wished to write you and tell you how deeply I have felt for you when I read about the loss you have suffered. And I think we have all lost a brother through the death of your friend and helper Mr. Maganlal Gandhi. For me his life has been that of a hero’s and I look up to him as an ideal whom I want to be like as much as lies in my power. Who can take his place in his work as your helper, you who ought to have thousands of such friends as M. D.2 all working to realise your ideas and make the burden resting on your shoulders a little lighter. I consider it a bad karma to be old and unable to do some real work to help you.

I have sent you a German copy of the book at the Neutral Committee who has investigated the cause of the world war in case you should ever want to know something about it.

You say in the last copy of Young India that you have thought of visiting Europe and also Sweden, and that you will come here next year if no obstacles arise. I can scarcely believe that I, who have considered it impossible ever to see you, shall have the great joy of meeting you and get the opportunity of speaking with you. I live in a suburb of Stockholm and am already wondering if I can be of any use to you. There is nothing that is in my power that I will not do to help you. We need you very much in this country of ours.

May I ask you to tell me your opinions about the case of one of my friends? In your book that I am translating several authors are of the opinion that married people never ought to divorce. Do you think it right for two beings to live together when they hate each other, when the husband is a drinker and beats his wife and children etc.? And if a man who tries with all his might to live a chaste life once lets himself be tempted by a woman who loves him with erotic love, but whom he does not love at all, so that she becomes the mother of a child of his and he of course marries her to save her reputation – which is his duty – if these two people are so unlike each other as they can be and the wife after a few weeks shows herself coarse, sensual, exacting, irreligious, just the opposite of her husband and they live as two strangers in all that concerns their inner life, and do it still after 20 years of married life, this life being a torture to the man, do you consider it right that he should be bound to hold fast to it till his death? Besides the difference between their inner life the wife has treated him brutally because of his firm resolve to practise self-control in his married relations instead of birth control which his wife has exercised and this for many years. It gave him a severe illness, so much did he suffer from her treatment of him. When their two sons are ready to leave their home, do you consider it his duty to go on living with his wife though they never have come nearer each other during these 20 years? If a woman, relying on a man’s honour, gives herself to him with the object of forcing him to marry her, although she knows that he does not love her, does she not degrade the man she professes “to love,” does she not condemn him to a life which from the first to the last is a tragedy of the most fearful kind? Is not that the hatred at … which only seeks its own? And can the children grow up … in such an atmosphere?

If here in Europe people did marry out of real love, of course they never ought or should be willing to divorce each other but I don’t think the authors in your book think at the motives that make people marry - … first and last, social position, sensuality etc., are mostly the motives – and when they are married they love other people’s wives and husbands. I wonder if they can go on living together without making life a burden to each other.

I have been thinking of this for several years and wanted to ask your opinion all the last year. But I feel how much you have to do, how many letters you get asking lots of questions, how little I understand in these things and I fear troubling you. But I am very much interested in learning if what I think right is wrong. I have written this in the strictest privacy only for you.

With my heartiest wishes for your health

I remain

Yours humbly and with devotion

Ada Rosengren

Source: SN14319

Letter from Ms. Ada Rosengren, March 11, 1929

Lidingo, Sweden

March 11, 1929

Dear Mahatmaji,

First of all I thank you for your card which gave me great pleasure. Then I must tell you that after reading your “apologies” and not at all knowing if ever you have thought of coming to Sweden or that your apologies had anything to do with me, I still reckon me among those to whom you speak when you say that “these columns are a living bond between them and me.”3 And when you ask friends to pray for you I want to tell you that I have done so ever since I understood your work and all that is connected with it.

I wonder if you will answer some questions in Young India? In the paper for February 14 someone has written things about Napoleon. It is possible that he has said those words about Sword v. Spirit although I have never read them in the many biographies I have studied about him. But what is perfectly incorrect is that he was wiser than anyone else or that he fought because kings and emperors would not let him alone. Who forced him to undertake the expedition to Russia except his own gigantic ambition and arrogance? He sacrificed the lives of 435,000 soldiers who died of cold and hunger, suffering untold tortures, during the retreat from Moscow in the winter of 1812. Because Alexander of Russia had taken Finland from us and conquered the Turcs! Who that has read about his cruelties, his conceit, his murdering the Duke of …, perfectly innocent and all the other people who displeased him can believe that he wanted peace! He was the incarnation of “himsa” and selfishness. I can enumerate many wars that he began only to fulfil his desire to subjugate all Europe and be able to give to his brothers and sisters thrones and crowns. But when at St. Helena he wrote “Mémoires de St. Hélène” and there he set forth his whole life, his intentions and actions so as he wished posterity to see them and pretends to be guided by love to freedom (his aim was to enslave all the kingdoms in Europe) and to his native country (which was Corsica that he betrayed) and by his striving to increase the higher civilisation of humanity! I suppose the writer in Y.I. has read that autobiography and has believed that mere words can atone for actions. Napoleon had however a superior intelligence and wonderful knowledge on strategy but an unlimited contempt of all ideal points of view. I do hope India will never be like N. in actions or in his untruths; and historical writers say that he did not tell the truth in his autobiography.

Then I must ask you about the Women’s Int. League for Peace and Freedom. Do you think this League will ever succeed in bringing about peace in the world by mere talking? I have been a member of the League but left it as I cannot approve of their way of leading conferences. How can they believe that all the countries in Europe from which great parts of land have been stolen after the war, which have undergone humiliations without end, forced by England and France to submit to their awful cruelties, their greediness, their … - that these nations should fold their hands in humbleness and love and be satisfied with all the unrighteousness that is killing Europe! I wish men’s hearts could change to such meekness through mere talk; but if any country treated Sweden as E. and France treat Hungary, Austria, Germany a.s. on I don’t think we should feel satisfied if people told us, ever so many would, at all kinds of conferences that we ought to be so. Injustice and untruth are victorious in Europe at present and if the League cannot find any other way of changing these conditions than talking as it does, it will never change the hearts of men. I feel very strongly about all the subjugated countries because I have been told by their inhabitants what they have gone through. I do hope that karma will adjust things before Europe is annihilated.

Now I have taken so much of your time that I must beg you to excuse me. There is so much consolation in writing to you about all that pains me that I cannot resist the temptation.

I am afraid it will be difficult to get Self-restraint v. Self-ind. published here. Every publisher I speak to about it says that it is not fit for publishing in Sweden. But I shall not give up before I have tried every means.

Yours humbly and devotedly

Ada Rosengren

Source: SN12713

Letter from Ada Rosengren, October 13, 1929

Lidingo,

October 13, 1929

Dear Mahatmaji,

I sent you yesterday a little parcel with… if you should like to taste it. I believe a description is enclosed in the parcel. If not the following paper can show you how it is prepared. As I told you I think that honey and lemon juice are the best ingredients to mix in it. I take a little sugar too. If you like it and want to drink it instead of milk, which I don’t use and Mr. Hindhede says is perfectly unnecessary, there is more – parcels which are waiting to be sent to you. But I will first hear if you like it.

I thank you with all my heart for the letter you sent me and for your great kindness to buy the … seeds of the flax plant.

Yours humbly

Ada Rosengren

Source: SN15668

Letter from Tage Bundgaard, August 16, 1929

Silkeborg, Denmark

August 16, 1929

Mahatma Gandhi!

A young Danish admirer send you his best birthday congratulations!

I like India and the Indians very much and correspond with Indians in Delhi and Bombay; and my hope is one day to see India!

My town is a very nice little town with 12,000 inhabitants, and we have a gymnastic institute, which is frequented by people from England, New Zealand, India a.s.o.

Some days ago came three young Indians, one lady and two gentlemen.

Every year many foreign people come to Silkeborg to see the beautiful neighbourhood with the woods and the … lakes.

I am sure you would be glad of visiting Silkeborg!

I wish you many, many happy returns of this day!

Yours truly Danish friend

Tage Bundgaard

Silkeborg, Denmark

Europe

Source: SN15184

Letter from Dr. Prof. Christiansen, April 19, 1933

Maderno, Italy

April 19, 1933

Dear Sir,

I am one of your admirers and have written a book about diet, which will come out also in English this year. I know you are interested in hygiene of living and that you are developing great mental … on a very restricted diet. I would be very grateful if you would let your secretary tell me the exact measure of your … every day, how much milk, nuts etc. to use for my book, which I shall have the pleasure of sending you, when it is finished.

Yours sincerely admirer

Joh. Christiansen

P.S. Also your exact age and weight are of great interest for me to know.

Source: SN19028

Letter from Bertil Hult, September 6, 1928

Stockholm,

September 6, 1928

Dear Sir,

Writing you for the first time, I have to introduce myself as being Mr. Bertil Hult of Stockholm, Sweden. I have just written my second book on my round trip around the world. This text book is a story of India and I have titled it – “To the Land of the Lotus Flower.” As I have described much about Swaraj and Swadeshi – castes and Hinduism, I also had something to say about you. I was travelling in India more than ten months all over the country in many Provinces and States. As a fact I was the first man [to] make the trip around the world on bicycle. When you think of that you will imagine how I was treated in India. A white man on bicycle is not worth much to the other whites in India. I am a student of geography and history in Stockholm, newspaperman at present. I would like a picture of you Mr. Gandhi – or some American photos if you could lend me some. I would use them for my book. I am not at all a politician although I have got my views. I don’t like the British and their rule in India because I learned to love the real Indian people – the jungle people – the Sudras and all. For me there is no Brahmans, no Kshatriyas, no Vaisyas or Sudras.4 To me they were all men created by the world creator. I never think he meant some people to enslave others. I would like to write to you a great deal, but in fact I am afraid you are too occupied to read it. I will send you my books when they are ready. That will be about the 15th of October. My address at present is Bertil Hult c/o Bonniers, Stockholm, Sweden.

Awaiting your favour, I remain, Dear Sir,

Ever your affectionate friend of India

Bertil Hult

Source: SN14326

Letter from Fritz Kajpe (?), September 15, 1931

Copenhagen, Denmark

September 15, 1931

Mahatma Gandhi!

That not for many disappointments over the people in the West shall be add to you, I ventured to write and tell, that the humans who possess a really science of the spirit world and therefore been above the gravity of earth, all understand the standpoint of Mahatma Gandhi that you will emancipate India and that India will emancipate oneself from the materialism of Occident.

Our teacher in the West, Rudolf Steiner, have learned us of the mission of Orient and Occident in the world-evolution, and that the two current not may be mixed, we understand.

Therefore we who see the holy mission of Mahatma Gandhi and espouse it, done ours, that the good powers may conquer in this struggle.

In deep respect

Fritz Kajpe (?)

Address: Svanholmesvej 6 a

Copenhagen

Source: SN17733

Notes

1 Gandhi was unwell at the end of March 1927. He went to Nandidoorg, near Bangalore, on 20 April and rested there for a month and a half.

2 Presumably Mahadev Desai, secretary to Gandhi

3 In an article entitled “My Apologies” (Young India, January 31, 1929), Gandhi explained why he had decided to postpone a European tour he had intended in 1929, and wrote: “For the time being therefore the friends in the West would pardon me for my inability to visit them personally… Meanwhile let these columns be a living bond between them and me.”

4 The reference is to the four castes among Hindus.

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