Mahatma & Kamdars

This is the one place in the world where you will see and read the real story of how Gandhiji was bestowed the name Mahatma. The following contains authentic pictures on the manpatra where the word “Mahatma” can be read in Gujarati.

Some claim that the great Indian author, Rabindranath Tagore first bestowed the name “Mahatma” on Gandhiji. However, there is no documentation or place of events or date of events available nor can anyone prove it. Whereas Nautamlal Bhagvanji Mehta (Kamdar) did so on January 21, 1915. In Gandhi’s Collected Works Collection, he states that he came to Mumbai from South Africa on January 14, 1915. He spent 4-5 days in Mumbai and then came directly to Jetpur on January 21, 1915. It was Nautamlal Bhagvanji Mehta (Kamdar) who drafted the manpatra and read it out loud. This document was authenticated by the Gandhi Museum in New Delhi, which is considered the world’s most famous authority in Gandhi material.

Documentation of how and when Mohandas K. Gandhi became known as the “Mahatma”. This is called a Manpatra. Click Here for an English Translation (Jan. 21,1915) Please note: The pink blocked area is to prevent duplication.

This is back side of Mahatma Gandhiji’s Manpatra from prominent civilians of Sorath(Jetpur) signed here. in those days age of a person was more important then money.

Wife of Mahatma Gandhi, Shrimati Kasturba Gandhi was also given Manpatra in Jetpur on January 21, 1915.

Reverse side of Kasturba’s Manpatra. Signed by Prominent Lady Personalities of Jetpur.

This note was found by Niranjan Mehta during my July 2006 research trip. He found them while looking through some books. It was written by Manilal Nautamlal Mehta (my father). It was written around 1981 to my uncle, Mulshankar Nautamlal Mehta, who was hard of hearing and so most conversations were conducted in writing. This note references an article in “Kumar” magazine. In this note, my father says to my uncle that Gandhiji’s Manpatra and the title “Mahatma” was drafted and presented by my grandfather, Nautamlal Bhagvanji Kamdar. As per my father, when my grandfather used that word Mahatma, a lot of senior members of Jetpur objected. But my grandfather stuck by it. Headmaster Dave was offended and objected to its use because they felt at that time my grandfather was giving too much respect to Gandhiji and creating reverence to Gandhiji. But my grandfather knew that the sacrifice that Gandhiji was doing for the cause was equivalent to a great soul (Mahatma.)

In this picture, when Gandhiji came back from South Africa in 1915, he landed in Mumbai in January 15th in 1915. First he came to Jetpur. This is the meeting that occurred in Jetpur from which Nautamlal Bhagvanji read the manpatra that coined MK Gandhi, the Mahatma.

Accepting Manpatra as “Historical Interest”

Date: 7 April 2002
Dear Dr. Niranjan Mehta

I am grateful for your email of 24 March, 2002. We have seen your website The letter of Gandhiji dated 23 August 1937 is duly appearing in the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi. However, our collection does not have the two photographs in which Gandhiji appears (#1 and #3) and the addresses presented to Gandhiji and Kasturba at Jetpur on 21 January 1915. The Addressed as “Mahatma” for the first time, is of historical interest and we would like to add it to the permanent displays in the Gallery. I shall be deeply obliged if copies of the photographs and the Addresses in original in good copies could be given to the Museum.

Yours sincerely
Yours sincerely
Dr. Y. P.