Ancestors of Karamchand Gandhi
From the village of Kutiana(then Junagadh), the Gandhi family originated, In the late 17th or early 18th century, Lalji Gandhi moved to Porbandar and entered the service of its ruler, the Rana.
Several generations of the family served as civil servants in the state administration before Uttamchand, Karamchand’s father, became diwan in the early 19th century under the then Rana of Porbandar, Khimojiraj.
In 1831, Rana Khimojiraj died suddenly and succeeded by his 12-year-old only son, Vikmatji. As a result, Rana Khimojiraj’s widow, Rani Rupaliba, became regent for her son. She soon fell out with Uttamchand and forced him to return to his ancestral village in Junagadh.
While in Junagadh, Uttamchand appeared before its Nawab and saluted him with his left hand instead of his right, replying that his right hand was pledged to Porbandar’s service. In 1841, Vikmatji assumed the throne and reinstated Uttamchand as his diwan.
Like his father, Uttamchand Gandhi, Karamchand had become a court official, or chief minister, of the local ruling prince of Porbandar. Karamchand’s duties included advising the royal family of Porbandar and hiring other government officials.
Royal Service by Karamchand
Like his father Uttamchand Gandhi, Karamchand grew a court officer or chief minister of the prince, the local ruler of Porbandar. Karamchand’s duties involved advising the royal family of Porbandar and hiring other government officials.
Karamchand had very little formal education, but his knowledge and experience made him a good administrator. He was kind and generous. He also has a bad temper.
Karamchand learned from experience – by attending religious ceremonies and watching his father work. But, there were some areas in which he never gained much knowledge including geography and history. Anyway, Karamchand excelled as chief minister in Porbandar.
Wealth of Karamchand
Despite Karamchand’s success in his job, he did not discover ways to accumulate wealth. The Gandhis had lots to eat, a decent number of servants, and a few nice pieces of furniture.
But they were by no means wealthy. The money Karamchand made just met the household expenses.
Karamchand married four times. His first three marriages ended with the deaths of his wives. Among which two died immediately after giving birth to two daughters.
In 1859, he married Putlibai Gandhi(1844 – 15 June 1891). Their marriage lasted until he died in 1885.
This marriage produced four children – three sons including Laxmidas Gandhi (1860 – 9 March 1914), Karsandas Gandhi (1866 – 22 June 1913) & Mohandas Gandhi (2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) and a daughter named Raliatbehn (1862 – December 1960). Mohandas Gandhi was his youngest child. All his children got married during his lifetime.
Death of Karamchand Gandhi
In 1885, Karamchand suffered a serious attack of the fistula. Putlibai and her children (notably Mohandas) took care of him. His health began to decline day by day. Although doctors tried different types of treatment, it was to no avail.
He later suggested surgery for that, but his family doctor denied doing so. Karamchand’s health remained to decline further till, ultimately, he died on the 16th of November aged 63.
As his son Mohandas (Mahatma Gandhi) would later recall the events of that night:
“That night, his uncle Tulsidas (Karamchand’s younger brother) came to their home. Though death was imminent, no one accepted the fact that it would be his (Karamchand’s) last night. When Tulsidas used to come to visit his ailing elder brother, he would sit behind him during day. That night, around 10:30 or 11, when then 16-year old Mohandas was massaging his father’s legs, Tulsidas came there and told him to go. He happily went to his bed, where his wife Kasturba was sleeping. Within seconds, their servant called him and told that Karamchand’s condition was serious. But as everyone had already realized that his condition was serious, they realized that he had died.”