One more thing !

Gandhiji 2018:

|| om tat sat ||

Gandhiji 2018:

October 2 always brings back thoughts about my hero Mahatma.

Even if you did not know anything about the Mahatma , it is very easy to fall in love with the Mahatma, if you had a teacher like Sugandhavalli who dramatized the independence movement and the greatness of Mahatma. Naturally British and Nathuram Godse are villains without an iota of doubt. There was never any doubt ( in those days) about Godse in that narration in the school. That was in the formative period of second Form and third Form in mid fifties of the last century.

Time passed, I went through the high School, college , then to the Institute for engineering in Bangalore and finally Pilani for Masters. After Pilani I went to Minneapolis in Minnesota in USA. That is where I had all the opportunity to read about Gandhiji.

Right opposite to our engineering block on Church Street was a block for Journalism dept and their library/reading room. I used to go to the reading room and look up New York times every day either before going to lunch in Coffman memorial building or while returning from Lunch. Then I came to know about the Ames South Asian Library , which is on the west bank across the main campus on the east bank of river Mississippi. There was long bridge with a covered corridor for students to walk across.

On week ends I would walk across the river Mississippi and go to the South Asian library. The most interesting part was that the wing opposite to the South Asian library housed the Library archives of old news papers and magazines

That was like a heavenly opportunity.

I looked up stories on Gandhi in all old issues of NY Times, Christian Science Monitor, and Chicago Tribune. I could dig up the Salt Satyagraha dispatches. I could see the Times 'Man of the year in 1930'. I could read the articles on Gandhi ji during the period of Gandhi's death. I read the NY times account. NY times had editorials on three consecutive days about Gandhiji. I would read those editorials again and again and be thrilled about his greatness. I was literally pouring over the pages of the old news paper or magazine. It was thrilling then. It is thrilling now to look back at those pre internet, pre-digitization era archives.

That library would be a twenty minute walk from my graduate student office on church street. Even in a winter with the wind chill dipping to below zero, I would walk across that nice and warm covered corridor across the river Mississippi. There were certainly lot of other group activities, like games etc., in Coffman Union, monthly Indo American club movies, bridge games with a special group so on. But the library trip and Gandhi reading was a solo activity and soul filling too.

That was also the start of collection of Gandhi memorabilia.

I must have read what ever book I could lay my hands on including the slightly controversial Eric Erickson's book "Gandhi's Truth". Later when the Man of Century issue of Time came with Gandhi as the runner up - it did not matter. I gobbled up the story many times .

Times seem to move on and there are now views through tinted glasses. I saw a Gandhi video being circulated with Gandhi's favorite dhun "raghupati raghava rajaram patita pavana Sitaram ". For full two minutes the dhun did not go beyond this line and ended there without touching the next line "ishwar allah tero nam- sab ko sanmati de bhagavan", which also defines his creed.

But then there are brighter things.

I have a grand-nephew who also went to Pilani, went through the good old Electrical engineering course. Then he got permission to do a research project on Gandhi in the final year of engineering. He took up the defense of Gandhi on the issue of "Gandhi and racism", at a pretty high intellectual level. I was thrilled to read the thesis.

I was proud of him.

Godses may have become bolder.
But Gandhi's Truth is universal.
Gandhiji is not just an Indian Saint
Gandhiji is a universal icon for civil disobedience and non violence.
People walking in protest in far away Washington know Gandhi.
Gandhi story will continue to inspire people across the globe and India too.

||om tat sat||