Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gandhi Smriti

Wow it seems like a lot longer than 7 days since my last post.

I'm going to cut short the agonizing details on my travel difficulties and post about Gandhi Smriti in Delhi. I didn’t have much time there because I needed to get to Indore for the organic farming conference. But it was amazing. It’s a beautiful testament to Gandhi’s life and the history of India. It felt really good to do something which fits so perfectly with the reasons I came all the way to India.

This monument is to mark the place where Gandhi was shot. In fact it is expressed in the text surrounding the monument as “achieved martyrdom”.

I was a little bit surprised by the large size of Gandhi’s house. It has been turned into a museum with the most amazing interactive displays. They’ve used technology and sensors to create some very artistic and functional displays. For example there is one where as you walk down the hall it plays a video of Gandhi’s life. The computer tracks you as you walk; walk faster and it plays faster. If you stop the movie pauses. Another example is a set of cubes. The cubes have a screen on their surface. By placing the cubes next to each other in different configurations a different quote will scroll across the screen each time. Each permutation has a different quote associated with it.

This is Gandhi’s bed, where slept during the last days of his life. They were very busy ones, doing lots of organizing. The room next door is his receiving room where lots of meetings happened.

A constant theme at the Smriti was the spinning wheel which Gandhi advocated as a way to bring rural villages out of poverty. It’s not that there was anything holy about the spinning wheel, Gandhi just appreciated its practicality. He saw its simplicity and ability to challenge British cloth imports while at the same time providing an income to rural people during times that they weren’t involved in farming.

Honestly I’m not sure how it works. I think it is meant to produce thread from cotton. The whole process of growing to producing cloth is rather complex but a spinning wheel is a core part. I was able to buy a shirt made in a village, according to Gandhi’s program. The fabric is known as khadi. After putting it on I can see that it’s unusually well suited to the hot Indian environment. The shirt has a loose weave that allows air to blow right through. Khadi can take warmer forms as well of course. At the agricultural college in Indore people sported warmer vests etc. made of khadi.

Here I am wearing my khadi shirt, looking ridiculous in front of the first train to ever roll into Indore. My new friend Shialendra is the one who took the photo.

The site has a book store where I was able to buy a couple of things that Gandhi wrote. I bought Self Restraint Vs. Self Indulgence, a book written my M.K. Gandhi, and also a collection of his works put together by UNESCO called All Men Are Brothers (“Life and Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi as Told in His Own Words”).

Just like Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi was aware that he was likely going to get shot. Days before Gandhi was shot, someone tried to kill him with a bomb. Both Gandhi and King gave speeches shortly before their assassinations and in those speeches they spoke of their own deaths (by the way King also asked people to boycott Coca-Cola in his last speech!). In All Men are Brothers the Navajivan Publishing house publishes Gandhi’s speech. Here is a section of it to share:

“I believe in the message of truth delivered by all the religious teachers of the world. And it is my constant prayer that I may never have a feeling of anger against my traducers, that even if I fall a victim to an assassin’s bullet, I may deliver up my soul to be written down an impostor if my lips utter a word of anger or abuse against my assailant at the last moment.

Have I that non-violence of the brave in me? My death alone will show that. If someone killed me and I died with prayer for the assassin on my lips, and God’s remembrance and consciousness of His living presence in the sanctuary of my heart, then alone would I be said to have had the non-violence of the brave.”

It is written at Gandhi Smriti that Gandhi died with the word “Rama” on his lips, which is a holy utterance.


  1. Super blog, Jamy, would that I one day keep such good records of my travels-DAD

  2. your indore tour was really good and you meet a new friend shailendra there......
    how was these experience......?