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Issue No.: 572 | February 2015
 

Sir Pherozeshah Mehta’s Tribute

Godrej N. Dotivala
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"No speeches are required about him, no words are necessary to recount his manifold activities. This gathering and the gatherings all over the country are eloquent speeches to speak of him as he deserves to be spoken of.”

Gopal Krishna Gokhale was a great contemporary of Sir Pherozeshah Mehta whom Gandhiji hailed as "The Uncrowned King of India". I have had the privilege of bringing out the definitive work entitled Sir Pherozeshah Mehta: Memorial Volume and I feel it would be in the fitness of things if I read out a relevant excerpt from this book of mine on Gopal Krishna Gokhale.

A public condolence meeting was held at the Town Hall, Bombay on 5 March 1915 to mourn the sad demise of the Hon. Mr. Gopal Krishna Gokhale. H. E. Lord Willingdon, Governor of Bombay presided. In a speech charged with emotion the Hon. Sir Pherozeshah Mehta stated: "Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen – All thoughts of making a great speech about this great man and his great work have been driven out of my mind. I could have taken up hours and hours recounting all that I know of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, his noble life and his brilliant career. But I feel that the example which His Excellency with his unerring judgement has set us of being very brief is the wisest one. Even if all thoughts of making a great speech had not vanished from my mind on seeing this vast gathering they would have vanished in consequence of my own inability to do justice to that eminent Servant of India in the manner I should have liked to have done. No speeches are required about him, no words are necessary to recount his manifold activities. This gathering and the gatherings all over the country are eloquent speeches to speak of him as he deserves to be spoken of. 

Even if I attempted to make a long speech, I feel I could not have spoken connectedly and coherently for the reason that I feel so sad, so depressed, so forsaken, advancing as I am in years, on seeing valued and beloved colleague after colleague dropping away from my side. Telang has been gathered to his fathers, Ranade is no more amongst us, Badruddin has passed away, our beloved Gokhale alas! has now closed his eyes forever and forever, and many others, whom I could name are leaving me one after another, forsaken and desolate. I feel almost alone in the stupendous work for the country which is still pending before us. But memories and associations that come up before my mind's eye would scarcely leave me any power to dilate on details.

Within the last few days before his death I had numerous opportunities of conference and communion with him in Bombay and in Poona whither I went to pass my Christmas holidays this time, for the purpose of meeting him and speaking to him on many and many an important subject. We were together on several occasions and who could have thought then that we were no more to meet! - who could have dreamed that his end would come so soon! I cannot but recall with a keen sense of regret what plans he laid down for the present year, what hopes he had for making himself useful to his countrymen, what work he chalked out for himself for the development and advancement of the country which he loved so dearly! For many and many a long day some of us would only be able to give out the sore, the bitter and the pathetic cry as we miss him day after day -

But oh for the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Ladies and gentlemen, Gokhale is dead. How dearly we loved each other, how genuinely we trusted each other, what regard he had for me and l had for him, words fail me at the present moment to convey to you. In an attempt to speak of him all that comes back to my mind is - "Gokhale is dead leaving me behind. What shall l do to consummate the tremendous work that is lying before me! How should I act to carry out the plans we had chalked out, without his help, without his society, without his guidance and without his cooperation”.

Ladies and gentlemen, the previous speakers have informed you rightly that everything that could be said about Mr. Gokhale was said by the noble Viceroy in the Imperial Council and by our beloved Governor on more than one occasion. All that I can now do is to associate myself with Their Excellencies in paying my last tribute to the memory of a great and a good man and to add that Gokhale was a great gentleman and that he possessed a great moral and spiritual power which he exercised over all classes of people and which enabled him to carry out the great work which he had undoubtedly performed for the benefit of his countrymen whom he has left weeping behind him.”

Sir Pherozeshah’s eloquent address was acclaimed by loud and continuous cheering, in which Lady Willingdon joined spontaneously by clasping the speaker's hand and congratulating him on his splendid utterance.

MR. GODREJ N. DOTIVALA is Public Relations Officer of the Parsi Punchayet; 
Chairman of Junior Red Cross, Maharashtra, 
President of the Indo-Australian Society and, 
Secretary General of the Indo-Iranian Friendship Society.
 
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Other Articles in this Issue

Between Ourselves

GOPAL KRISHNA GOKHALE (1866 – 1915)

Editor
 

The Legacy of Gopal Krishna Gokhale

Introduction

A. B. Shah
 

Laying the Foundation for a Modern India

S. P. Aiyar
 

His Relevance Today

Aroon Tikekar
 

His Achievements

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Gokhale And Gandhi – Their Second Meeting

Prabha Ravi Shankar
 

Sir Pherozeshah Mehta’s Tribute

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Some Contemporaries of Gokhale in Poona

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