Explain the ideas expressed by Gandhiji in his address at the time of opening of Banaras Hindu University in 1916.

According to the advice given by Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Mahatma Gandhi spend around one year travelling around different regions within India for the purpose of knowing about the Indian masses. Gandhij made his initial main public appearance at the opening of BHU or Banaras Hindu University in February 1916. He felt that it was extremely bad that there the poor laborers were not mentioned in the speeches of the dignitaries. Thus, he criticized the elite while speaking on the occasion.

While expressing his views, he suggested that the opening of this University was more of a ‘gorgeous show’ but the ever enhancing economic rift between the millions of poor Indians who were not present there and the richly bedecked noblemen present there was really one matter of worry for him.

Furthermore, Mahatma Gandhi suggested that there was no salvation for the nation, India, unless the rich strip themselves of the jewellery and hold it in trust for their countrymen located in India. He further added that there exists no spirit of self-government regarding them if they allow others or themselves take away from the peasant almost all the results of their labour. He emphasized that their salvation can only come via the farmer instead of the doctors, lawyers or rich landlords.

It is also worth noting that the opening of this University was an occasion for celebration as this nationalist university was founded by Indian efforts and Indian money. But Gandhiji, instead of adopting a tone of self-congratulation, wished to remind those present of workers and peasants who thought of forming the main Indian population but were not present their like audience.

Thus, the speech delivered by Gandhiji at the University in 1916 was indicative of the fact that Indian nationalism was a formation of elite like doctors, landlords and lawyers. Apart from this, it was also the initial public announcement of the desire of Mahatma Gandhi that he wished to make Indian nationalism more precisely representative of the Indian persons as a whole.