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From Swami Vishwananda

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Author: Vishwananda, Swami (Gandhi National Memorial Fund)

Date: July 2, 1959

Location: New Delhi, India

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Travels


In a 19 May letter, King thanked Vishwananda, secretary of the Delhi branch of the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, for serving as his guide through India and commented that he had "never been showered with such hospitality " nor "met people more genuine and loving." 1 King concluded: "I am almost driven to say that I have an affection for the Indian people unlike that that I have for any other people in the world." 2

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,
Dexter Ave., Baptist Church,
454 Dexter Avenue,
Montgomery-4, ALABAMA.

{My} Dear Dr. King,

It was kind of you to have written such a sweet letter. Many who saw the letter have appreciated it deeply, particularly your expression of affection for the people of India.

I am grateful to you for what you said about me personally and shall strive to deserve it better. The thirty years and odd I have given to the service of humanity, I feel, have not been as complete as they should have been, nor adequate enough, though intentions all along have been good. But it is in His hands to use this humble instrument for what it is worth.

I hope you would not mind this deviation as it has been provoked by your letter.

The correct way my name is written is Swami Vishwananda.

Please convey my affection to Mrs. King, the children and Dr. Reddick.

Yours sincerely,
[signed] Vishwananda
(Swami Vishwananda)

1. Swami Vishwananda (1910-) served as secretary of the Gurukul ashram (1935-1955) and of the Harijan Sevak Sangh (1942-1955), an organization dedicated to the nonviolent eradication of untouchability. He worked at Gandhigram (1955-1958), when he began a two-year stint with the Delhi Gandhi Smarak Nidhi. He returned to Gandhigram in 1962.

2. In a booklet published to commemorate the visit, Vishwananda recalled King's departure from Delhi: "Some of us were very silent; the relationship that had developed was too sacred. When the heart speaks the tongue is silent. Our eyes searched the skies until the plane that carried the Kings to Pakistan disappeared over the horizon" (With the Kings in India: A Souvenir of Dr. Martin Luther King's Visit to India, February 1959-March 1959 [New Delhi: Gandhi National Memorial Fund, 1959]).

Source: MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.

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