Arts & Entertainment

Gandhi’s ashram-museum in India preserves his legacy of non-violence

By Macarena Soto

Ahmedabad, India, Sep 21 (EFE).- A simple house on the banks of the Sabarmati River in the city of Ahmedabad, in western India, was home to Mahatma Gandhi for 13 years, and today serves as a museum.

From this place, he set off on a journey of almost 400 kilometers on foot to rebel against the British Empire and vowed not to return until India achieved independence, which finally happened in 1947.

The place was meant to be an institution in search of truth and a center of learning for followers of the idea of nonviolence, a method that would help to secure India’s independence almost three decades later.

Gandhi left the ashram on Mar. 12, 1930 and never had the opportunity to return as he was assassinated on Jan. 30, 1948, a few months after his country got independence.

Ashram Sabarmati sought a new social construction of truth and non-violence that would help revolutionize the system under colonialism.

Here, there were “strict rules” of coexistence, prayer and food, the head of the Ashram, Atul Pandya, told EFE.

Currently, more than 3,000 people visit this iconic place daily – 30 percent of them foreigners -, where you have to enter barefoot.

The visitors are received by Tata, an old woman who teaches to use a spinning wheel to produce cotton, something the Indian leader did regularly in his spare time and incorporated into the families of the area so that they could produce their own clothes.

“I understand my life because I understand the life of Gandhi,” she told EFE.

The quiet old woman explained that the Indian leader introduced this tool with two objectives, to generate prosperity in the community through the production of cotton and to offer an instrument of meditation for its members.

“Gandhi said that if we all had hands, we could all help. For others it was also to generate routine, also something good for the mind, to reconnect with oneself,” she said.

Inside the ashram-museum, one could see the table on which Gandhi wrote numerous letters, thoughts, notes or speeches. Next to it lay the same spinning wheel that the pacifist leader used. His office and the kitchen were austere with some utensils of the time and other replicas.

Also on display were several writings of Gandhi and a chronology with the most important events of his life and the struggle for Indian independence.

“Here we protect the physical heritage, of course, the building and the adjoining areas where Gandhi lived for 13 years (from 1917 to 1930), plus we have many manuscripts of the time that our archive team takes care of and researches, it is a way to preserve his legacy,” said Pandya.

However, Pandya clarified that the main objective was to offer “inspiration.”

“We try to give information, but this is not a university, this is a place to give inspiration, many people come for the experience, this is the place to live the experience of where Gandhi lived,” he underlined.

The head of the museum believed that Gandhi and his ideas were still valid in the current age, especially in the face of the great challenges facing humanity.

“In the world there are many people who fight against extremism or climate change and look towards Gandhi, if we want to live in a sustainable world we have to follow his ideas,” he said. EFE


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