Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Thin Fakir from India...

The other day my daugher asked me, "Maa, what did Gandhiji give the Indians?" Feeling proud that she should ask me this question, I was making a mental list of all the things we, as a nation have, because of him and many who followed his blueprint in those formative years. Seeing me take so much of time, I guess she lost her patience and came up with the answer herself," He gave us a holiday every year on the 2nd of October!" She smiled and went away, My jaws dropped and I was left feeling sad. I know shes just a kid and we have all gone through these jokes, but it was just not fair. Each time I read his biography, each time I see the film made by Attenborough, I choke up at this small man and his immense courage, the way he stood tall, the power of his gaze, the sharpness of his wit, the charm, the childlike jubiliance. he, like many who strive to create a difference, was a controversial figure. There have been people who have opposed his views, in his lifetime and also after it. His views on partition, his non violence approach, many have said he taught us the concept of 'strikes' and 'bandhs'.

Yes, he did introduce us to these weapons, but at that time we used it against the British, and today it has become a blunt weapon, becuause we have pushed it far too much, we have used it for all sundry purposes and more, so its lost its effect and brought in vices of its own, so is Gandhiji to be blamed for this wrong usage?

There are many known and unknown facets to his life, today in dedication to him, I would like to share this day of his life with you all..

When most of India was looking at the glittering lights of Delhi on the midnight of 14th August 1947, awaiting the dawn. Glittering lights, loud slogans and a poetic assertion of Late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who said: "At the stroke of the midnight hour when the world sleeps India will awake to life and freedom and a soul of a nation long suppressed will find utterance." There was darkness in Calcutta. Gandhi was agonized. A few weeks prior to Independence Day of 1947, an emissary of Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel was sent to Gandhi at Calcutta, who was working for peace and harmony among the Hindus and Muslims. The emissary reached at midnight. He said: "I have brought an important letter for you from Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel." "Have you taken your food?", asked Gandhi. When the emissary said " No", Gandhi served him food. And after food, Gandhi opened the letter from Nehru and Patel. They had written: "Bapu you are the father of the nation. 15th August 1947, will be the first Independence Day and we want you to come to Delhi to give us the blessings." Gandhi said: " How stupid!. When Bengal is burning, Hindus and Muslims are killing each other and I hear the cries of their agony in the darkness of Calcutta, how can I go to Delhi with the glittering lights?" These were the heart-rending words of Gandhi. He said "I have to live here for the establishment of peace in Bengal and if need be, I have to give up my life for ensuring that there is harmony and peace." The emissary started for his return journey in the morning. It was a moving sight, full of human touch. Gandhi gave the emissary a sendoff. He was standing below a tree. A dry leaf fell from the tree. Gandhi picked it up and put it on his palm and said: " My friend, you are going back to Delhi. What gift can Gandhi give to Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel? I am a man without power and wealth. Give this dry leaf to Nehru and Patel, as my first Independence day gift." And when he was saying this, tears came from the eyes of the emissary. And with a sense of humour Gandhi said: " How great is God? He did not want Gandhi to send that dry leaf. He made it wet. It is glistening with laughter. Carry this leaf as a gift full of your tears." That was Gandhi's human touch.

I hope kids today and from the generations to come can understand his philosophy and his strength before applauding him for giving us all a holiday on the 2nd of October, every year. I havent had the chance of speaking to my daughter after the joke, but will do so one of these days, if not they, who will spread his message to the whole world now, that he is so long gone.


ZB said...

I share your views on Gandhi....He is truly the Greatest Indian, we all are proud of him and continue to get inspired by his legacy....This is a great tribute to a great man. Loved reading this..

Vidushi said...

Hey i got goosebumps bcoz of ur writting skills n ur way to salute Mahatma Gandhi...i believe dat wid mothers like u...India gonna rock...

BK Chowla said...

Our political selfish class has ensured that Gandhi is forgotten and slowly is taken off the pages of history.But,his Name is used only during elections to champion the cause of freedom.

Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

Nicely written. Whenever I think of the Mahatma, what Einstein said famously of him came to mind that ‘the posterity will never believe that such a man in flesh and blood walked on this earth.’ What a man, what a life. And yes, Attenborough’s Gandhi! Anyone who wishes to understand Gandhij should watch it. For me the movie was kind of an eye opener. It shows how strong a personality he was, how strong his convictions were, how strong a will he had…Today the world needs the Mahatma and his teachings more than ever.

Ajit Ray said...

I had never heard of this incident.

The Holy Lama said...

On 2nd Oct, I scan the pages of the newspaper to see if any channel is showing the Gandhi film and make it a point to watch it with the kids. The book Freedom at Midnight is another thing that Iam planing to make them read.
Gandhi was cerainly the best thing that happened to a world after two wars.But the minimalism that he asked us to follow is long lost.
But he continues to inspire many. Mont Blanc had come come out with a series of pens in his remembrance.
Peculiar how different people get inspired by him.
Thanks for keeping him alive on blogsphere:)

Protege said...

Great post. I loved the Richard Attenborough movie and it is by far still one of my favorites. When I saw it for the first time as a teenager I was incredibly touched and it effected me for life.

Tripti said...

Dear Sujata,

Good post!

How are you, sorry was a bit busy in life as i am planning to relocate to india.

Hope you are doing great.

Love you!

bluebird said...

Hi Sujatha,

Its been some time since I said Hi to you.

Loved the piece on Gandhi.

Truly he was a saint, rather than a politician.

And more importantly, he showed the world that there is an alternative available to the boom of the cannon, the silent murmur of prayer, to bring forth change and justice in the world; if only men would have the courage and gumption to take it.

Beautifully written.

nsiyer said...

Sujata, I am inspired by what you have written. I am writing a post immediately on Gandhiji.

Kavi said...

A man who brought us together and gave the concept of non-violence to the world deserves far more than just a holiday !

The powers that be, have thought it fit to get a pen made after him ! For some ostentatious sum.

The real lessons that he gave the world are far too many and far too wide to be encompassed.

There are very few like him. Perhaps it would be fitting to say...there are none like him !

Nazish Rahman said...

I simply loved your was lovely. Gandhiji was really a Mahatma!! Today whatever we are is all because of him. Yes it was he who got us freedom and in an organised way!! He showed everyone that one can get what he wants without violence. Every great is misunderstood. Actually u see all big ideas are shot down by the smallest men with their small ideas. Those who think Gandhi was wrong is them who are blind.

He never taught us trikes n lockout...those who say i would like to tell them that u cannot blame a car if there's an accident. The driver is to b blamed. If ppl use it the way it should not then its them who r to b blamed.

Remember its not easy to bring everyone together and fight for one cause with non violence...i ask those ppl to just bring everyone in their family together, forget the nation!!!
Those who pont fingers at him first do something thats even a percent close to what he has done and given not only to India but the entire world..."non violence and sacrifice".

Sumandebray said...

I think of Gnadhiji, I think of Netaji. I could see many imgages that would have been painted with different colors and would had strokes.
I think of appeasement ....
I think of many more things. But he undoubtedly is the symbol of non violence today ... similar like the Taj Mahal is the symbol of Love. Who would be interested to know what happened to those souls who made this symbol.
Today you can buy the Mont Blanc special edition pen for just 14 lakhs of rupees but the good thing is that you get to keep one free! So much for simple living!

SG said...

Nice post. After attaining independence, Mr. Gandhi requested that the Congress Party be dismantled because its aim (to get independence) has been achieved. The then Congress Party leaders did not listen to him.

Anonymous said...

He was a treasure to the earth and to India.

Mustaf said...

This was such a touching post. I was nevr aware of this incident and in your other posts, too I have seen you have a good grasp on history.

Coming to Gandhiji, even if someone believes that his certain decision was controversial, his path was not 'right', but my suggestion to those would be first reach the podium as tall as where he is standing and then criticize him.

Was reading Chetan Bhagat's article on him in today TOI.If he could come down just for one day and show us the path for next 50 years, it would be a different India altogether...

Phoenix said...

Thats a great write-up. I believe he is the greatest leader that Indians have known, a real visionary... I compare him to anybody else from his times or after his times.. and they all pale into insignificance of different degrees... without ever holding any office of profit.. and never even thinking about establishing his dynasty in Indian politics.. without striving for power.. he was the most powerful of them all!

nsiyer said...

Dear Sujata,

I have linked your blog to my recent post on'Mahatma Gandhi'. I was inspired by what you wrote.

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Nona said...

Nice post! I have not heard of this story before... though I knew Bapu was in Bengal during the time of independence.

Suraj said...

Great ! I feel the kids are not to be blamed, we should spread the teachnings of Gandhiji.

I have never seen indian people who talk about world peace, no war etc etc... mentioning Gandhi as their role model, they prefer a international guy, but why when we have a man who taught the world non-violence.

I could never believe that such a human existed....he was by all means a superman !

kavita said...

I read the post many times,its my fourth i read it out to my husband and we both think that you deserve a round of applause for this great tribute to Mahatma.

Butterfly Thoughts said...

the post was such an eye opener.We know so many things about this great man but still 2nd october passes without a thought without much of thinking about this man.its so true that we need to keep it alive and pass the message to the kids around so they underdtand their importance and relevance.a very nice and different thought.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Thank you for that Gandhi story. Gandhi is highly respected among my friends in the USA. It is good to hear stories from his homeland.

sujata said...

@ZB thanks, good to see you back with a post after are things?

@Vidushi thanks

@BK Chowla yah we end up using his name to further our selfish motives

@Arun its very difficult to believe indeed, that such a person existed, amazing power and charisma, the way he pulled crowds, his compassion, his dignity, we can only strive to reach a percentage of that, if at all

@Ajit good, I increased your knowledge

@The holy lama thanks..a definite inspiration

@Protege thank you so much for saying that, It feels good to know your admiration for him.

@tripti hello sweets, you are relocating to India? that should do a lot of good to Nadeem, even you I hope,take good care, love your profile picture, stay in touch, God bless

@Bluebird thanks, I wonder why we didnt have anyone like him or even close in the later years.

@nsiyer thanks si, honoured

@Kavi yah none like him, i wish these traits could be groomed, cultivated..but like all things priceless, i guess its just one in a life time

@NR agree completely if a car has an accident cannot blame the manufacturers, very well said

@Suman did hear about the mont blanc pen series, you seem a bit ambivalent on your view..Netaji and him didnt quite agree isnt it? could you say a bit more...

@SG when he wanted to put Jinnah as the prime minister of free India, nehru didnt agree whole heartedly, how would he agree to dismantling the party?

@the things we carried, thanks

@Mustaf, agree completely, we need people like him who can lead from the front

@phoenix, i think his family was greatly neglected as he was too committed to his path, hats off to kasurba, for being right by his side..his kids were almost distant to him.

@nona thanks

@Suraj yup a super duper man

@Kavita thanks so much dear, am really happy

@Butterfly thoughts thanks a ton, am glad I could connect and share with so many through his message, and his life

@Elizabeth Mahlou welcome to my page thank you very much for sharing your views on him with us.

अनिल कान्त : said...

आपने जिस तरह से लिखा है वो वाकई बहुत बहुत अच्छा लगा

Aparna said...

When we were young, we also made a lot of disparaging comments about the Mahatma.
I needed to grow up to appreciate his views and his philosophy, so I still have hopes from the younger generation.
It is only now, after reading a lot about him, I have understood what a great man he was, how he followed what he preached. Can you ever think of cleaning somebody's spit just to teach him a lesson? He had lot of spunk.

Sumandebray said...

I was very vague about what I wrote. I did not want to end up making a few statement which will not be "politically correct"

Deeps said...

Do I still have to say that that your posts shake me & awaken me every time I read them?

Thers no denying the fact that Gandhiji was a great man and all of us Indians owe our freedom to him.

Although his policies and ideologies have been debated at times,its a fact his perseverance and love for his country are some of the things we can tell our children to imbibe.

Balachandran V said...

If there is one thing that would make me identify myself as an Indian, it would be that Mahatma Gandhi was one. We have only a handful like him, well-known and maybe hundreds like him, unknown. The rest is ROTTEN.

PS: I was away for a while...

R. Ramesh said...

oooff what a wonderful post...gr8 ya su...thanks for sharing this..btw also thanks for staying connected...always nice to hear fm good friends likeu..

Butterfly Thoughts said...

My blog's comment section acting a bit funny. not opening.Thanks for those words. they were beautiful and touching.I am so happy that such wonderful people are around. I know doing all that would surely help. Just a matter of time:-) thanks for the comment. It really made a difference.

ஷ‌ஃபிக்ஸ்/Suffix said...

Nice thoughts, need of the hour. I am glad you have shared such fruitful message. Thanks Sujata.

Bhavya.B said...

A post I read holding my breath.
I'm hearing of the dry leaf incident for the first time.

PURN!MA said...

I was not awae of the dry leaf incident. Thanks for narrating that one to us. amazing post as usual! :)

R. Ramesh said...

hey..u cant imagine M without her lipstick and makeup u doing friend? take care cheers

Destiny's child... said...

I am late to comment, but a very aptly timed post for the occasion of bapuji's birthday. :) There people who say Gandhi was narcissistic, self obsessed. What they fail to see is what he gave the nation - the freedom to all (including them who say these things abt him) to say and do whatever they want.
Thanks for bringing this up. :)
And do tell your daughter that has more than one reason (not just the holiday) to thank him. :)

Keep up the good work!

Santanu Sinha Chaudhuri said...

Thank you, Sujata, for sharing this wonderful story. I hadn't read about this incident earlier, although the fact that Gandhiji didn't celebrate independence is well-known.

Gandhi will not be forgotten. He will endure, just as Buddha has endured for over two millennia. And thanks to writers like you, those who want can read serious writing on a wide range of topics on the Net. Thanks once again.

R. Ramesh said...

thanks su...take wishes always:)

Babli said...

Very well written about Gandhiji. I am speechless. Excellent post.

deeps said...

proud moments ... for all of us Indians ....

well, i think kids today learn from their parents and teachers and elders ....!!

Nikki said...

Nice Post.

JD said...

that was an awesome tribute to Gandhi ji..

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JAY MEHTA said...

Hi sujata,
It was wonderful reading this article.
I was proud to be an indian after reading this; which we are often not.
please share more such incidences from gandhis life so that todays youth stop spilling dooms on gandhis name.
From jay mehta.

Sakshi said...

Like everyone already said What a great post!! I think we all have gone through ur daughter's path and thinking Oct 2nd was indeed the greatest gift from Mahatma. It's so sad that just bcoz all of us who are born years after our independence doesn't give much importance to the struggle and the brave people who gave us this precious freedom. We as parents have to encourage our kids to read more about our heritage and to be honest I am finding it already so difficult to teach my son :(

Loved the way you have written abt Gandhi and yes I am a fan of the movie too which I think I saw for the first time when I was 10. The movie made me read a lot about Gandhi.

Haddock said...

The book "freedom at midnight" says it all.
Any one who has not cried after reading the book does not know the value of life.

Pesto Sauce said...

A great Indian indeed...he taught us what being Indian means

He could have been star of the show on 15 August but he chose to stay in slums of Calcutta instead

日月神教-向左使 said...


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