Gandhiji’s Ashram in Ahmedabad turned out exactly what I had envisioned it to be – bare, minimal and yet so authoritative. The sign boards do not have to remind you to be quiet. Your inner self does. For, as an Indian, indebtedness to this great soul is infused into your system right from your toddler years. From merely knowing his name upon seeing his photo, to being taught that he is the Father of our Nation, to learning about how he got an entire nation to follow him, to growing up to understand and respect him for his ideologies, this country may spit at its politicians, but holds Bapu dear. Very dear.
Sabarmati Ashram, therefore, was a coveted must-see in Ahmedabad. We took the 90-minuted guided walking tour that showed us all the numerous kutirs and galleries exhibiting portraits, items of daily use related Gandhiji and the Freedom Movement. We went past the room housing different charkhas, the Magan Niwas. So what if they were built of wood? They defied an empire powered by guns and cannons. Hridaya Kunj gave me goose pimples. It was almost as if Gandhiji was still sitting and spinning the wheel there. I stood looking into the room for a long time – the room looked like a seat of power, an embodiment of steadfastness, of legitimate defiance.
A local school had brought its children to the Ashram that day, and so the quiet of the place was replaced by the hushed chatter of excited voices, the running of little feet. The grown-ups visitors didn’t seem to mind the ‘noise’ though. Honestly, it was reassuring to see that the authorities of the ashram were keenly handing down Gandhiji’s legacy to the new generation.
Gandhiji dreamt and fought for a unified India. That India, today though sovereign, is fast losing its socio-political freedom to archaic customs, to its race for wealth creation, to so-called ethnic incompatibility, to the nefarious designs of its neighbours. We are in dire need of a leader who can free us again and give us a better India. The cry is therefore unanimous – Gandhiji, you should have lived in our times!
Dharati pe ladi toone, ajab dhang ki ladaai
Daagi na kaheen top, na bandook chalaai
Dushman ke kile par bhi, na ki tuune chadhaai
Vaah re fakeer khoob karaamaat dikhaai
Chutaki mein dushmanon ko diya desh se nikaal
Saabaramati ke sant tuune kar diya kamaal