Where’s Mahatma Gandhi’s final will?

Last week, when a hand-written will of Mahatma Gandhi prepared in 1921 went under the hammer at an auction house in England for 55,000 pounds, some reports suggested it was Gandhi’s last will. However, inquiries revealed that it was not the last one and experts in Gandhian studies in Ahmedabad say Bapu made up to four wills during his lifetime.

The final one was also hand-written and signed on February 20, 1940 in Malikanda, now in Bangladesh, by Gandhi, entrusting copyrights of his books and other written works to the Navajivan Trust.

Now 73 years later, the original will, which was entrusted to Navajivan Trust, cannot to be located. A true copy of the typed text is easily accessible in the Trust’s records though.

“The will was submitted in the Ahmedabad District Court by the then chairman of the Navajivan Trust, Narhari Parikh, to get the probate to execute the will. It could be that the will was not brought back from the court. If it was brought back, then it must be somewhere in our records. Now that you’ve mentioned it, I will search for it,” said Kapil Raval, a trustee of Navajivan Trust who has been associated with Navajivan since 1987.

In the two-page will, Gandhi has put his then personal secretary Mahadev Desai and Navajivan trustee Narhari Parikh as its executors. Bapu has also decreed that 25% of net profits of Navajivan Press from the sale of books etc should be given to Harijan Sewak Sangh every year.

Even a copy of the handwritten will is not easily available with Navajivan Trust. “I am confident that if the paper was taken back from the court, it will be found. We have so much material; it is difficult to locate everything immediately,” Raval said.

Navajivan Trust was founded by Gandhiji in 1919 to facilitate the printing of two weeklies Navajivan in Gujarati & Hindi and Young India in English with Gandhi as the editor. Late Jitendra Desai held the position as the managing chairman of the trust for several years.

Desai’s son Vivek has inherited his father’s legacy as the managing trustee. Vivek too was clueless about the possible location of the Will and directed the questions to Raval.


Where’s Mahatma Gandhi’s final will?
Navajivan Trust unable to locate the will written in 1940.
Jumana Shah
May 26, 2013