My life is my message – a visit to his place can make so much of an impact
While growing up, I’d heard so much about this little man. When I was younger, I heard all the good things. As I transitioned into an adult, I heard more from the critics. Somehow, I never formed an opinion about him. No amount of reading and speculated knowledge could make me box him. I’ve always believed that people are so much more than what we think we know of them. To me, each person is an ocean and trying to judge an extraordinary human with my limited intelligence never seemed fair.
Work took me to his city recently. I didn’t want to miss visiting his place this time. So I squeezed in a reasonable amount of time before I headed out to the airport. My driver warned me about being time conscious before he showed me my way inside. It was nothing like I had imagined.
I first walked into the museum. I spent time reading and observing each detail. Great words about him, funny letters sent to him from all over the world and the messages that he left behind. So many iconic moments from our history books had started right here. That place had seen our heroes. Museums have this unique ability to take us to a time when we did not exist. I travelled back in time and soaked myself in this place. These words that I read about him gripped me the most;
“He is a dangerous and uncomfortable enemy, because his body which you can always conquer gives you so little purchase upon his soul “
Still with my thoughts, I continued my walk around the ashram. I was interrupted by bhajans that I heard from some happy faces. I looked up, smiled and walked towards them. Sitting by the Sabarmati River, in the midst of nature, were a group of children, happily in tune with their teacher. I watched them for a while and carried the joy along. I walked towards the place where he supposedly lived, where his wife lived, where they had guests, where they took national decisions, where they prayed, where they worked… Such normal places, yet so historic. It truly looked like an ashram to me. I imagined a place where people strived to live up to the highest ideals of existence. In fact the more I thought about those times, I couldn’t help but contrast it with our current average life.
My last stop was the store. They sold books and some other organic stuff. One of those books caught my eye; I opened it to read a line, but my mind drifted. I realised that he did not preach non-violence in response to actual violence. He promoted a lifestyle called ‘Ahimsa’. It was there in every part of the ashram. From the way they lived, to the way they thought, to the way they acted.
We live in such violent times. Our thoughts are violent, our attitude, our actions, our words, even the food that we consume is so violent towards our own bodies. We exploit this world that we live in. We live at a time where we are so far away from our core. Non-violence is no ordinary word. Non-violence is a lifestyle. A lifestyle that moves us to the highest ideals of human existence.
I don’t care to judge what he did right or wrong, there’s no good that can come out of that anyway. I don’t care about his experiments with life; greatness always has a streak of madness. But I have finally judged him! To me, Gandhi was not a man. He was a Saint who cleansed himself every single day and he reached a state of ultimate purity with purpose.
My intelligence didn’t feel so limited anymore. I had finally understood the meaning of the words written by that Mahatma. He wrote “My life is my message “.