Gandhi The Man

How many of us know that Gandhi didn’t celebrate 15th August 1947. He spent the day fasting and praying.

Most of us don’t know the great person that Gandhi was. Its sad, very sad for me that we call him father of the nation, we call him Mahatma, we hang his photo in every office, yet probably even 10% of the Indian population doesn’t know ‘Gandhi – The MAN!’

A Himalayan miscalculation by those who could not have imagined the carnage and butchering that would follow.  The joy of Independence was dulled by the saga of partition. The folks of my generation and later  mostly remember this day as an event to celebrate, but I am sure the older people who in their youth witnessed the sad event, can’t help but shudder a little too.

Blaming this tragedy on Gandhi is in my opinion, not only childish but also goes on to show how little people know about him and the freedom struggle. He was 77 years old at that time. He was in prison from 1942 and was released on 6 May 1944 because of his failing health and necessary surgery. He came out of detention to an altered political scene—the Muslim League for example, which a few years earlier had appeared marginal, “now occupied the centre of the political stage”.

Sitting in the comfort of the home, eating all the possible delicacies, using all possible comforts life has to offer – people throw an ill meaning one liner on the internet…. Ridiculous!

I am no lawyer and am not writing this blog to defend  this great man. He would not have wanted anyone to that either.  “My life is my message – he says”. I believe it to be true to the last letter.

My idea is to summarize a few things I’ve read about the Mahatma. Some in his own words and some noted by those who knew him.

From being a vegetarian by birth (though he did indulge in non-veg while in school), he switched to being vegetarian by choice in London. He even promoted being vegetarian by joining and supporting various communities.

In London where he was studying to become barrister, he even attempted to learn French and elocution, Dancing and Violin.  But soon realized that was not he had come to London for and re-directed himself to his actual ‘calling’.

He was on an everlasting mission on self improvisation. He explored various religions, read their holy books and learnt from all. It appealed to him greatly, that renunciation was the highest form of religion. During his time in South Africa “Bhagwat Gita” became his infallible guide of conduct. It became his dictionary of daily reference and remained so until last.

From Gita – words like aparigraha (nonpossession) and samabhava (equability) gripped him. And from there started his real transformation. From selling off his personal possessions, to not keeping gifts and gold amounting to thousands of Rs (of that time), to cleaning toilets of his guests(no flush at that time), to eating simple food – list is long and the readers these days don’t have the patience.

He was always on some kind of diet – he started by cutting down his meals, then to give up tea, spices, milk and ultimately grains. He once went on diet of raw groundnuts, bananas, dates, lemons, and olive oil. Later he took up a fruit diet. This was changed to only 5 fruits diet and finally only those 5, that were cheapest in the market. The last addition he did, after he realized that when he stayed as guest at his friends place they fussed over his fruit diet and procured the most expensive fruits for him.

As a student he managed his funds very carefully and kept that habit forever.  Later on when he handled public funds amounting to lakhs – instead of outstanding debts he always had surplus balance in respect of all the movements he led. He wanted the youth to learn from this habit and always take care of their finances.

…To be Continued

For further Reading:

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2 thoughts on “Gandhi The Man

  1. well written and factual…however I believe the life of a person has a meaning when the deeds are helpful for a larger part of society…..I see Gandhi very similar to “Pitamaha Bhishma” from “The Mahabharata “who was a towering personality, very respected, an ideal son, ideal studen, teacher, prime minister….a fatherly figure…undefeated…, beholder of all values and virtues…however, in the war…he gave more importance to his Vow than his own army….Was it righ, what is wrong? is debateable and hence comes difference of opinions….As Mahabharat says,”Dharma is Subtle”…..Sid
    Yudhis

    • Thnx Sid.
      1. “..when deeds are helpful to larger part of society..” – think about it. Caste, Sati, Untouchables… Need I say more?
      2. I don’t see him as Bhishma at all. What made Gandhi great was his simplicity and that he was an ordinary man. Traveled 3rd class, wore almost nothing, ate almost nothing. List is long. In terms of a vow – Gandhi didn’t take one vow and stuck to it for life. He kept evolving along with his soul’s evolution – from being a man who spent hours fussing about his hair style to the one who started living on the path of non possession. He is a living example of what a man can do and that there is no limit to his capabilities.
      Will read the book you suggested as well and yes its always good to have a point of view.
      I am really annoyed by those who form an opinion without any knowledge whatsoever (not talking about you!). I was hoping that this blog reaches some such audience too. Thnx again.

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