Kids Health

Independence Day 2018: Mahatma Gandhi lied once, for his brother

Happy Independence Day 2018: Inspired by the story of Raja Harishchandra, young Mohan vowed to never lie, often to the adults’ discomfort. Your child is sure to enjoy this story.

By Subhadra Sen Gupta

A Happy Family

Young Mohan (for that was what his family called him) was born to Karamchand and Putlibai on 2 October 1869. Theirs was a large, happy family. Mohan had a sister and two brothers—all older than him, so you can imagine how much he was loved and petted. The family was quite wealthy and lived in a big, three-storeyed house in the Indian port-city of Porbandar, in what is now Gujarat.

Karamchand was an educated man. The ruler of Rajkot admired him and made him the diwan of Porbandar. As diwan, he managed the business of the state. People respected Karamchand a lot and came to him for advice.

When Mohan was a young boy, he was very shy. He would spend all his time with his books. This made him very thoughtful. However, he didn’t love studies; in fact, he found maths rather hard. But he was a good student overall, and his teachers thought well of him. One day, Mohan got his father’s permission to see a play about a king named Raja Harishchandra. The special thing about this king was that he never lied, no matter what happened to him. Mohan was so impressed by this play that he swore to never tell a lie in his life.

This is how one of Mohan’s report cards read: Mohan hated the fact that his handwriting was so terrible. He felt really bad about this all his life.

Always, Always Truthful

One morning, Mohan’s class was given a spelling test. Mohan knew all the spellings, except that of ‘kettle’. The English teacher, keen to prove that he was a good teacher, wanted all his students to know every spelling so that he could impress his superiors. When he saw that Mohan was unsure, he prodded him to peep at his neighbour’s slate and see the spelling.

‘But that would be cheating,’ an aghast Mohan thought. He refused to look at his neighbour’s slate, and eventually was the only boy in class who did not get all his spellings right. But that didn’t bother him. He was more bothered that his teacher had told him to cheat.


Did You Know? As a little boy, Mohan was so timid that he was scared of ghosts, thieves and snakes. He was even afraid of the dark.

One of the only times Mohan lied was when he was in his early teens. He stole some gold from his brother and sold it. But it wasn’t for himself.

He gave the money to his other brother to help him get out of debt. He couldn’t sleep that night. He tossed and turned, feeling awful. Finally, he confessed to his father. He was ready for any punishment. But instead of getting upset, Mohan’s father wept. He was hurt that his son had lied, but happy he had confessed.

(Excerpted with permission from Puffin Lives: Mahatma Gandhi—The Father of the Nation, authored by Subhadra Sen Gupta, published by Puffin India. MRP: Rs. 150.)

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