Totaram Sanadhya

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Totaram Sanadhya (1876 - 1947) was an Indian-born political activist in Fiji. Amongst the people who have written about the life of Fiji’s indentured Indian labourers, Sanadhya stands out because he actually experienced indenture and spent a considerable time witnessing its atrocities and trying to improve the plight of the indentured labourers. After living in Fiji for twenty-one years, he returned to India, in 1914, and wrote about his experience in the book, My Twenty-One Years in the Fiji Islands (Hindi). This book was used as the main source of information in the campaign to end the indenture system.


  • The religious situation of our people is very unstable. This is because of the lack of religious teachers and other dedicated people. As a result Fiji Indians are like an unsteady boat in a whirlpool.
    • My Twenty-One Years in the Fiji Islands (English translation by J.D. Kelly & U.K. Singh, Fiji Museum, 1991).
  • A person who does not have stability of mind is an unstable dinghy. In this struggle of life, I will confront all the challenges with truth and strength, and will never waver. Cowardliness is an eveil which I should banish from my life.
    • My Twenty-One Years in the Fiji Islands (English translation by J.D. Kelly & U.K. Singh, Fiji Museum, 1991).
  • Remarriage is or is not approved in shastra; I have no authority to speak on this subject. But I surely cannot go on without saying this much, that remarriage has helped a great deal in stopping crime in Fiji.
    • My Twenty-One Years in the Fiji Islands (English translation by J.D. Kelly & U.K. Singh, Fiji Museum, 1991).
  • I am of the sacred thread; my people, long generations before you were born, worshipped after this way. They discovered the only way for for my caste, and our feet love the path. They spent their lives, not in winnning bread, not in accumulating wealth, but in thinking about religion. For five thousand years they have been thinking, and here are their thoughts. (He tapped his Vedas gently with his finger.) There are thoughts here that you English, clever as you are in science and machines, can never understand. All the good things in the Bible - love to the neighbour, forgiveness of injuries, purity of life and motive, and many more besides.
    • Quoted in J.W. Burton, The Fiji Of To-Day, (Charles H. Kelly, London, 1910).

About Totaram Sanadhya[edit]

  • Aged Totaram Ji died without suffering. He was an ornament to the Sabramati Ashram. He was not a scholar, yet he was wise. He was a collector of bhajans, but not a scholar of music. With his single-wired instrument he used to charm the people of the ashram. Just as he was, so was his wife. But Totaram died first! Wherever people have gathered, there are conflicts. I do not remember any single incident in which this couple participated, or were in any way the cause. Totaram loved the earth. The fields were his life. He came to the ashram years ago and did not ever leave. They found unfailing encouragement from him. He was a strong Hindu, but his heart was equally disposed towards Hindus, Muslims, and those of other faiths. On him was not even the smell of untouchability, and he had no vices at all. He took no part in politics. Still, his love for his country was strong enough to stand any comparison. Renunciation was easy for him. He adored the ashram.
    • Mohandas Gandhi, quoted in T. Sanadhya, My Twenty-One Years in the Fiji Islands (English translation by J.D. Kelly & U.K. Singh, Fiji Museum, 1991), pp. 5-6 [1].
  • Totaram was a remarkably able man. His writings in Hindi show a perception, idealism, tolerance, wit, balance, and shrewd practicality seldom matched by any of his European or Indian contemporaries, and as a debater he was supreme.
    • K.L. Gillion, Fiji’s Indian Migrants: A History to the end of Indenture in 1920, (Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1962).

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