Haridas must have been a courageous child: he left home.
Do you think of this as nonviolence? Violence is not only killing people. Violence is an attitude, an approach.
Gandhi was trying to impose his ideology on his son. This is not nonviolence at all. And to tell the small child either to accept his ideology or leave the house and never come back again – this seems to be hard, harsh, ugly.
Haridas left the house and stayed with one of his distant relatives who could understand that his demand was not wrong. He educated him. And because Haridas became educated, Gandhi wouldn’t accept him in the house; not only that, he disinherited Haridas, and told him he was no longer his son.
This is an extremely violent, revengeful attitude.
And in fact, Haridas proved that Gandhi was wrong. He became educated; no religion was lost, no innocence was lost, no faith was lost. If Gandhi was really a nonviolent person he should have apologized to Haridas, and welcomed him home, because he had existentially proved that “You are wrong.” But on the contrary, he was so resentful, so revengeful that he disinherited him.
Gandhi used to say that Hinduism, Mohammedanism, Christianity, are all the same. All the religions of the world teach the same doctrine, the same God. Their languages may be different, but their essentials are not different. Anyone reading Mahatma Gandhi will think him a great synthesizer of all the religions, but that is not true. It was not a philosophical understanding, but a political strategy.
In India the majority religion is Hindu, the second major religion is Mohammedan, the third is Christianity. Gandhi wanted all these three religions to follow his fight against the British rule. And it was possible only if all these three were not religiously antagonistic to each other. So it was a political strategy, and Haridas proved it perfectly.
When he was abandoned by Gandhi, disinherited, Haridas became converted to Mohammedanism. The word haridas means “servant of God.” He told the Mohammedan priest who was converting him, “Please keep my name – of course in the Arabic translation, but with the same meaning.” So the name given to him was Abdullah Gandhi. “Abduullah” means the same as Haridas – “servant of God.”
Gandhi was furious. Now, in the first place, you have disinherited him, he is no longer your son – why should you be furious? And it is everybody’s freedom to choose any path.