Gandhi on my mind

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It has been really hectic at work. But on October 2, I took out time to visit the Sabarmati Ashram to pay my respects to Gandhiji on his birth anniversary. It was humbling to see a number of people coming there to pay homage to the ascetic soul who fought for our independence. There were some elderly people who could barely walk but they were there. They stood in silence in Hriday Kunj (pictured above) to pay their respects to Gandhiji. You could see their love for Gandhi in their eyes. Seeing that kind of love for a man who died 67 years ago is so very heart-warming.

We are living in difficult times. We are living in the times of mindless aggression, string of bans, politiciized killings and pure gloss with little substance or no substance. The unfortunate events unfolding in different parts of India disturb me a lot now. I am a Gandhi admirer and a lover of this fascinating country called India. My idea of India is diverse, tolerant, plural, colourful, crazy, tender and affectionate. Everyday, I see a bit of my India being killed now. It breaks my heart. I have been thinking of Gandhi a lot since I visited the Sabarmati Ashram. I have been thinking of our journey as a nation. I have been talking to some of my friends about Gandhi. I have been reading Gandhi. I am clinging to Gandhi like a child clings to his/her mother to protect his/her own self against a violent world.

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I sent this pic via whatsapp to my spiritual companion. The message I receive is : :

“This quote is akin to Rumi’s : one foot in the Centre while another moving in all directions of the world. The difference between Gandhi and Rumi is Gandhi prizes Hinduism while Rumi prizes Islam yet they constructed the same language and message: the language and message of heart. “

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I bought this book ‘Bapu, My Mother’ written by Manubehn Gandhi for just Rs 10 (believe it or not) during my visit to Sabarmati Ashram. Just few days back, I had bought one samosa for Rs 15. We are living in strange times. Really strange times. A samosa for Rs 15, a book for Rs 10. I shared my thought and the pic above  with my friend who now lives in UK. Our conversation was like this:

She : D, you are so right. My dad used to carry a photo of Gandhi Bapu in his wallet. Along side one of Surajbaa – his mother and Mahaprabhuji. For my father, Bapu’s simplicity and way of life were traits to follow. It has become fashionable to blame Gandhi for everything…  i understand that we may not agree with or understand everything he did or preached but am aghast that we doubt his sincerity and honesty. He never made any fortune for himself.
Me: The ones who criticize Gandhi actually haven’t even read or understood Gandhi’s philosophy.
She: i m tired of this new, uneducated, gullible  india.
Me: Please add : Aggressive and consumerist.
She: Yes, Modified. Rewrite history, rename roads. Everything ever discovered was by our ancients.

She: D, we are gone, Our country is gone. Wherever we go, we are pounced on.  All around me I see Muslim haters. In my family, in my husband’s family. India has changed.

I talked to my mother-in-law about Gandhiji. She remembers Gandhi’s death. She was a little girl then but she remembers it very vividly. She tells me on the day (January 30, 1948) of Gandhi’s death, the whole village (in Kerala) mourned. People cried as if they have lost their own father. Hardly anybody had dinner that night. They all grieved deeply and intensely Gandhi’s death.

Like I am grieving right now. Along with some of my friends. But you know, we are the new micro-minority. We are isolated souls living on the fringe of a new, aggressive, masculine, consumerist India.