An exceptional icon

His life was a unique journey along the path of greatness. He was the one who courageously proclaimed that is life was his message. A simple man clad in a handwoven dhoti, believed that the greatest weapon is one’s own character. He was a great soul – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi or better known as Mahatma Gandhi.

Born on 2 October 1869, to Karamchand Gandhi and Putlibai, he was considered as a student of average merit but of great morals. His honesty finds mention in the pages of history. Mohandas valued the teachings obtained from reading. Raja Harishchandra was his role model, a virtuous king who went through harsh tests but never deviated from truth. Exceptionally Gandhi was a victim of child marriage himself.

He got married to Kasturbai Makhanji or Kasturba Gandhi at an early age. In 1888, he decided to go to London for studying law. In 1893 as a young lawyer he moved to South Africa, which was the turning point of his life. Gandhi dedicated his life in discovering and pursuing truth, or ‘Satya’ and called his movement as ‘satyagraha’, which means “appeal to, insistence on or reliance on the Truth”. At a mass protest meeting held in Johannesburg on 11 September that year, Gandhi adopted his still evolving methodology of ‘Satyagraha’ (devotion to the truth), or nonviolent protest, for the first time. However, he returned along with his family in 1915.

After homecoming, the Champaran and Kheda agitations were the first Golden feathers in Gandhi’s Crown. Non-Cooperation Movement was the highly powerful weapon of protest and mass action introduced by Gandhiji. He also published two journals ‘Young India’ and ‘Nabovivajan’ to proclaim his views and to educate the people about Satyagraha. Later Gandhiji played an important role in the Chauri Chaura incident and supported Swadeshi policy. In Civil Disobedience Movement he chose salt as a weapon of Non-Violent Movement.

He went for Dandi March to ensure active participation of women. In round table conferences he and his attire drew everybody’s attention. In 1942 Gandhi launched Quit India Movement while his slogan, “do or die” inspired millions of people and strengthened their determination to die rather than give up the goal of freedom. The sudden demise of Kasturba was a severe blow to him, leaving him grief stricken. Gandhiji’s Legacy was inspirational.

Martin Luther King Junior, Nelson Mandela and Suu kye were greatly inspired and were true followers of Gandhiji. Romain Rolland and Albert Einstein were also great admirers of Gandhiji and his principles. He was a voracious reader and wrote his autobiography ‘The story of my experiments with truth’. Besides, several films such as ‘Gandhi’ and ‘The making of Mahatma’ have been made on the great personality. He was assassinated on 30 January 1948 by Nathura Godse. His death was mourned across the world.

(Manjush Halder, Coordinator, Class VIII, Bongaon High School)

A letter of reverence

Respected Bapuji, Namaskar,this is Sourajyoti Mazumdar from Asansol and I am in my teens. It is just another lazy rainy day here during this autumnal festival season. I am fidgeting with a blank paper just thinking how to begin with the frustrations and confusing thoughts running on my mind. I kept brooding and finally made this desperate attempt in incoherent sentences with some excerpts from your book. Please excuse me for intruding into your peaceful hours.

Bapuji, I firmly believe that your autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, can strengthen our confidence and give courage to confess our mistakes. You had said “Confession of error is like a broom that sweeps away dirt and leaves the surface cleaner than before”. We hardly find such spirit in people nowadays.

What we witness is an evil practice to cover up the mistakes. I am exalted to find that you too disliked being punished by the teachers. However, the fear of punishment makes us more disciplined. Even for our own safety we are cautious only when there is a fear of being penalised. Not to speak of the notices in public places, that states of a penalty for spitting or creating nuisance and not making us ashamed.

Regarding friendship you asserted with great subtlety that only between like natures can friendship be altogether worthy and enduring. Again you also said as a man cannot see his back, so can he not see his errors or insanity. Rajat, Soumo, Samarup, Pratham are my close friends as we are like-minded. Their company invigorates me and makes my world come alive. But we consciously avoid in trying to reform anybody as it may hurt him and the bond of friendship may weaken. I know my letter is getting longer.

Last but not the least I want to quote your words on socio-economic equality. “Economic equality is the master key to non-violent independence”. Bapuji, since you left, the gap between the rich and the poor is widening. On the other hand the nation is heading towards digitalisation which has reduced the scope of employment in the labour intensive projects. Nobody listens to your advice that machinery has its place; it has come to stay.

But it must not be allowed to replace necessary human labour. The growing economic inequality coupled with rapid digitalisation in the populated country like ours may lead to unemployment, joblessness, uncertainty and insecurity creating anarchy among the deprived and the downtrodden ones. We always miss your presence in the process of our development.

Let me conclude with one of your very useful philosophies – “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong”. Take care.

With regards,

Your loving student

Sourajyoti Mazumdar,

Coordinator, Class X,

St Vincent’s High & Technical School, Asansol