Humility, simplicity

he sat here
in all humility
in extreme simplicity
and changed the world
his empty ‘chair’
a symbol now
of the lack of
Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi’s room at the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. Visited today by my daughter Kaveri and myself. To pay our respects and homage.

35 thoughts on “Humility, simplicity

  1. Nobody in this world can stop an idea/energy whose time has come. I hope somewhere someone in this world will come forward to heal this world. It’s at the brink.
    There are just no Statesmen/women in the world any more……only politicians.

  2. More power to him and may his tribe increase. In times of turmoil like the present we need to remember lesson taught by the simple but great Mahatma of nonviolence and tolerance. That picture is very beautiful…and well he is the best example of how 1 person can change the world if one makes up one’s mind..a constant reminder that all of us have it in us to take responsibility for what happens around us and to change it..rather than being apathetic and hoping someone will come along and do it for us..

  3. Happy New Year to everyone and hope 2009 ushers in joy, peace, prosperity, goodwill, and oneness among all

  4. Dear Shekhar,
    I hope you had a wondereful time at the Sabarmati Ashram and sometimes when you are in these extraordinary zones you feel so connected to the great spirit. A couple of months back when I was in New Delhi at Rajghat in the middle of the afternoon I was the only one there and I got such an amazing feeling. There was a lady outside from whom I bought flowers and after offering them on the samadhi I sat there for half an hour, just thinking – it was amazing. This wonderful song from 1954 sung by asha bhosle captures the greatness of gandhiji so beautifully.
    de di hamen aazaadi binaa khadg binaa dhaal
    Sabarmati ke sant tuune kar diyaa kamaal
    aandhi mein bhi jalti rahi Gandhi teri mashaal
    Sabarmati ke sant tune kar diyaa kamaal
    dharti pe ladi tune ajab dhang ki ladaai
    daagi na kahin top na bandook chalaai
    dushman ke kile par bhi na ki toone chadhaai
    waah re fakir khoob karaamaat dikhaai
    chutki mein dushmanon ko diyaa desh se nikaal
    Sabarmati ke sant tune kar diyaa kamaal
    shataranj bichhaa kar yahaan baithaa thaa zamaanaa
    lagtaa thaa mushkil hai firangi ko haraanaa
    takkar thi bade zor ki dushman bhi tha taanaa
    par tu bhi thaa Baapu bada ustaad puraanaa
    maaraa wo kas ke daanv ke ulti sabhi ki chaal
    Sabarmati ke sant tune kar diyaa kamaal
    jab jab teraa bigul bajaa jawaan chal pade
    mazdoor chal pade the aur kisaan chal pade
    Hindu au Mussalmaan, Sikh Pathaan chal pade
    kadmon pe teri koti koti praan chal pade
    phoolon ki sej chhod ke daude Jawaaharalaal
    Sabarmati ke sant tune kar diyaa kamaal
    man men thi ahinsaa ki lagan tan pe langoti
    laakhon mein ghoomtaa thaa liye satya ki sonti
    waise to dekhne mein thi hasti teri chhoti
    lekin tujhe jhukti thi himaalay ki bhi choti
    duniyaa mein tu bejod tha insaan bemisaal
    Sabarmati ke sant tune kar diyaa kamaal
    jag mein koi jiyaa hai to Baapu tu hi jiyaa
    toone watan ki raah pe sab kuchh lutaa diyaa
    maangaa na koi takht na to taaj bhi liyaa
    amrit diyaa to theek magar khud zahar piyaa
    jis din teri chitaa jali, royaa thaa mahaakaal
    Sabarmati ke sant tune kar diyaa kamaal
    de di hamen aazaadi binaa khadg binaa dhaal
    Sabarmati ke sant tuune kar diyaa kamaal
    Best Regards,

  5. A man with nothing to his name. A loincloth and a staff, yet he gave us so much. Our freedom. He made mistakes, he had human foibles, he was a jealous man who played favorites, but he was also a master. A master at playing the game that got us our freedom. A master at being bringing out the best in us… for a while atleast. A master even today, whose memory can shame us into Gandhigiri. I have probably not come accross a more simple icon before. But paradoxically he was the most complex person, any of us could have hoped to have known.

  6. Himanshu thanks for reminding us of this gem from Jagriti. For those of us who grew up in the DD era, this song was a staple. The folks at DD loved Jagriti.
    I wanted to add that this song was tuned by Hemant Kumar and written by Kavi Pradeep who wrote a lot of ‘veer ras’ songs that were a comment on the society and politics of pre-partition and newly indepedent India.
    He had a straight style where he said it all without any poetic frills and fancies. The most famous of those was ‘Door hato aie duniya walon hindustan hamara hai’, from the 1942 Kismat. This song went on to become the anthem of the quit India movement. The legend says he got the song past the British censors by claiming it to be supporting the British in the world war!.
    This other song ‘Aie mere watan ke logon’ needs no introduction. Then there is the beautiful song that he wrote pouring out his angst against the partition angst was ‘Dekh tere sansar ki halat’. Such was the universality of his poetry that even today that song seems to reflect the depravity of human spirit.
    Talking of Jagriti, there is another interesting phenomenon. This film starred the child artist Master Ratan. He migrated to Pakistan after this film and then a few years later starred in a film called ‘Bedaari’. This film was a frame by frame copy of Jagriti. While all the information till this point is of mild interest. What is interesting is that all the songs were copied in the Pakistani context and make an interesting commentary on the picture from the ‘other side’.
    There are some links to the songs I mention at the bottom of this post.
    1. Dekh tere sansar
    2. De di hamen azaadi
    3. Aao bachhon sair karayen tumko Pakistan ki (Other version of Aao bachhon tumhe dikhayen) (follow links on the page to see other songs for Bedaari)

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  8. “Samdhashti ne kapat rahit chey..”
    That’s from one of the lines of Vaishnav jan toh.
    perhaps I will find some answers there. thank you.

  9. dear shekhar
    thank you for this. what a beautiful reminder for the new year…(thanks himanshu for the song)
    happy new year to you shekhar and to our little community here on yr blog.
    love, shivani

  10. He sat there
    and preached non violence
    to the non violent people
    while the violent ones
    went berserk
    they carved a new country
    with blood and gore
    and yet this great man
    had no word of reproach
    to the violent lot
    in the end his country
    paid a heavy price
    when he imposed his stooge
    undemocratic he always was
    but will be remembered
    as a saint he never was
    jai hind!

  11. Hi Shekhar!
    Only a couple of days ago an altogether different idea was coming into my mind in answer to your question “Is war an option?”
    I was thinking that perhaps if we could motivate a couple of hundreds of our people to be ready to sacrifice their life for the country the terrorism could be broguht to an end.
    The idea was to then send an invitation to the terrorists by guranteeing them safe return that they are welcome to kill as many people as they like from among the hundreds of people who will welcome them in a que outside India Gate or Hotel Taj etc.
    On arrival they will first be duly welcome at Taj and offered breakfast/lunch as the case may be. Then they or their grievances will be listened to in rapt attention for a few hourse by some prominent people of Mumbai. The later will not argue with them only submit a few clarifications here or there if at all.
    And lastly they will be led to India Gate or to the lawns of Hotel Taj to kill the people gathered there in que.
    I wonder how many people they will like to kill and even more, how much motivated they will remain to come again and kill more people. After all what real grievances these people have against India? I dont think at the end of the day they are more than what are there in two brothers on separating. I totally agreed with President Zardari when he recently said that “every Pakistani has some percentage of Indian in him/her.”
    A poet of Punjab once wrote about us Punjabis: “Pyar naal eh karan gulami par tein na manan kise di (with love they can be your slaves but otherwise they damn care who you are and will fight with you to the end if you will try to subjugate them in any way).” It seems to me it is also true of Pakistani Punjabis.
    Anyways, and now today you have written a thread on Mahatam Gandhi, who would probably have thought on similar lines. The idea may have seemed too impractical and naive coming from me but it is such-like ideas which made Mohan Das Karam Chand into Mahatama Gandhi. No?
    Excuse my naivety in advance.

  12. Lets not let rhetoric and poetic language overshadow his hardwork and a very strategic and active life.
    This was after he had done enough in Africa.Then put along a team in India and fathered the national moment starting right from Champaner.Just google MKGandhi’s chronology and one can unerstand.
    He came and sat at this place after getting fed up with the violent extremists and sort of taking a temporary sanyas after calling off his peaceful protest moment due to some violent acts commited by some Indians.
    By this time he had already mentored a very strong national political team who knew what they were doing while ‘Baapu’ was there for them when need be at the Sabarmati ashram.
    Humility and Simplicity I agree but Gandhi alone couldn’t have done it without Nehru,Patel,Jinnah,Azad and the like.
    Maybe today we need somebody midway between the extremely humble-and-simple Gandhi and the self-God-proclaming Krishna who also comprehensively changed the world of his times.
    Maybe somebody between Vinay Purushottama and Leela purushottama.Somebody who simply Loves even the not-so-humble and not-so-simple.

  13. Dear SK,
    Good wishes for 2009,
    The photograph is really touching. It shows the great simplicity and humility of a man who changed the world. And infact what else a man with free mind and soul would need other then what he has with him. In all truthfullness we must agree that all our actions, desires and passions are basically our own weaknesses crept in our own struggles in life.
    May GOD give us all the simplicity and humility of this great man.

  14. Shekharji,
    I remember going to Mahatmaji’s Aashram even as a kid, with my parents but there is something unexplainable about the serenity or the aura of that place that makes you feel peace inside you.
    Even at his Samadhi in Delhi again the same feeling. My first exposure to film in early 80’s was the film ‘Gandhi’ that too my parents who never took me to movie hall told me on Monday morning that you’re not going to school but to watch a film. Being Amitabh Bachchan fan, I thought they may take me to Amitabh film but it was Gandhi and it created quite an impact.
    Today it pains when the generation ‘X’ misuse the name of Mahatma as how much they are wrong and sometimes I try to explain but they are very much strong in their opinions. Very few auto biographies are with honesty and of all I have read, I think it is Gandhiji’s one which I find honest.
    Someday, when you have to think about telling the next Generation youth about the simplicity and greatness of the father of nation, please do so…at least they will understand or try to.
    So, this was your last post for 2008. Wishing you and everyone on this wonderful blog a safe and healthy coming new year 2009

  15. May this New Year bring many opportunities to your way, to explore every joy of life
    May your resolutions for the days ahead stay firm, turning all your dreams into reality and all your efforts into great achievements.
    Happy New Year
    to you & your loved ones.

  16. You know each time I look at the pic I can actually more and more see him sitting there all in white…not thinking it but I actually see him! A visualization?!
    It sounds like a very deep experience to be able to share with your child…I don’t believe in heading off on pilgrimages to particular places cause I believe divinity can be found anywhere on the planet but would be nice to see it one day if I ever make it to India and that part of it…
    On the whole would be good to see the land of my ancestry one day …I think in my younger yrs would be easier on the bones too…but I hate to fly and with all the other aclimatizations I expect I will have to go through…I dont look fwd to a trip from Trinidad (Caribbean) to India! And imagine the British brought people (my ancestors) all the way from there by boat! Can you imagine?! My longest flight ever was about 8 hrs from here to London and that was like hell in a box!

  17. rudra, yr poem reminded me of arguments re the mahatma between 2 factions in my family–one anti gandhi and one pro. this is going back several years, when i was still in my teens. you have summarised what his critics said very eloquently.
    i have to say i was no great fan of his. but then i realised that i was judging him for what happened in india–the partition, the bloodshed etc.
    if you actually see him for the person he was and the thoughts and concepts he came up with, you might feel differently. india’s independence was just one of the things he gave to the world…certainly the british people feel that he was the one man that instigated the beginning of the end of the empire, which the world needed desperately.
    he gave us back our freedom, no doubt. he just could not fibght all the evil forces that were rampant then. he was after all human.
    bapu ki jai and jai hind.
    best, shivani

  18. One cannot blame Gandhiji for the partition and all that. Even then, the partition was a blessing in disguise. Gandhiji was an extremely advanced soul – almost enlightened – and his actions were bound by his inherent non-violent nature. He was placed in his celebrity position by providence to set a fine example for turbulent times.
    But having said that, it would be dualistic to preach non-violence in each and every situation. Bear in mind that many Indian sages and kings – some fully enlightened – have waged wars when necessary. It is not the actions that bind, but the doership. Most Indians of today are misinterpreting this doctrine of non-violence. Wars and conflicts are a part of worldly existence..the unwise peacemakers have to find their peace in the midst of wars.

    Please go to Sabarmati,His spirit,His soul still lives there in simplicity.
    Sit there a few minutes and make a pledge that you are the one who is going to make the difference.Please go, BUT, one by one. This is my humble request for he still SPEAKS and I have heard.Jai Hind.

  20. Shivani,
    Thank you for your message and praise of my poem – it is a poem written in pain than in joy – I do understand and respect what you said there. To be honest , it gives me no joy , pointing out the ‘black spots’ on Gandhiji’s ways.
    But then , I want us to not lose sight of that truly independent entity ‘ truth’ when we go ‘waa waa’ over Gandhiji’s contributions to ending the British Empire.
    We could have had our independence by 1929 when the ‘swaraj’ and civil disobedience movement was in full swing. But because of one incident ( Chauri Chaura) , Gandhiji stopped the whole movement. Instead he chose to back the ‘ Khilafat’ movement – which was about Indian Muslims supporting the ‘Kaliph’ in Turkey , their ‘ Islamic Protector of the Caliphate’.
    It was Netaji Subhas Bose’s INA that broke the confidence of the British Empire – as Chamberlain would say later , Gandhi’s ‘non-violent’ movement hardly mattered for the British to vacate India – and would have stayed on into the 1950s , if possible. It was the mutiny on board the Indian Navy that finally gave the message – Indins would not follow the British anymore.
    And finally , when 15 of the 17 Congress chiefs elected Sardar Patel as the Congress Chief in 1947 , in-effect , making him the Prime Minister of Independent India , guess what Gandhi did ? He used his emotional appeal to express his unhappiness at the election outcome , he would like a re-vote and said he wanted ‘Nehru’ , his stooge to take over instead – we know the disastrous effects of Nehru’s incompetence – his dynasty laid claims to a truly broad Indian freedom movement and now have contracted a KGB/ Vatican plant into their family in the form of Sonia Maino.
    Gandhiji’s personality was transformational. But what I am saying is , let us not lose sight of the enormous costs his lack of Realism left us. India lost more land than all the countries that took part in the II world war ! Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan have dwindled from 30% in 1947 to under 5% now.
    In the end , I have trouble judging who is more patriotic – a Gandhi who was fine with his motherland split to suit his own ‘principles’ , or a Godse , who though being a devout and simple Brahmin went out of way and character to shoot the man he saw as the cause of yet another haulocaust in the form of India’s ‘Partition’. Godse’s last wishes were that his ashes should be offered in the Sindhu river ( Indus) when it flows freely in an ‘Akhand Bharat’ – something that Nehru forceibly dishonoured and had his ashes thrown in the Arabian sea.
    Let us not lose sight of truth – is all I am saying.
    Satyameva Jayate and Jai Hind.

  21. brahmastra,
    I feel , you have the vision to see things from a spiritual perspective – a mark of an evolved soul. I agree that Gandhi practiced political realism mixed with religious concepts – something unheard of before – he was the first true politician who not just gave ‘speeches’ , but actually gave up even the clothes he wore to be one with the people he represented.
    Afterall , the British Empire looted Indians even of the clothes they wore – something that Independent India and her crooked politicians could not address to our everlasting shame .
    The reason again is that the ‘Mahatma’ liked his title and a lot of his personality influenced the way the freedom struggle remained truly that – a struggle.
    He was carried away by universal principles and was indeed , a McAulean moulded Barrister educated in Christian Morals – something his innate Hindu genes married to ‘practice’ – which thankfully and mostly by accident resulted in his ‘political sainthood’.
    Truth , is that Gandhiji ignited the imagination of Millions and country actually got on its feet – and just when we thought we had the British, he let us down – not just badly , but pathetically and to utter despair of the very millions he tried to uplift.
    Duality at its best and worst – thats Gandhiji.

  22. Rudra,
    I have always mantained something like if Gandhiji was in Germany fighting Hitler, it would be a very short fight with a rather ‘unhappy’ ending. Indian independence is far less creditable to the celebrity freedom fighters than is ordinarily accepted. One of the most significant reasons for the British to have left India was that they were exhausted from the WWII and plus, after having sucked India dry for a few hundred years coupled with the growing unrest, the country was turning more into a liability than an easy cash-cow. But, as karma would have it, the British of today seem to be taking quite a helpful stance towards India with growing added reason could be that of transmigration of souls.
    But I have to also say that, on a personal level, I still do not feel qualified to judge Gandhiji..who knows the nature of being in such an exalted state where there is only compassion for all beings and transcendence above the petty and mundane conditioning. And as I stated hindsight, the partition was a blessing in disguise..otherwise the demographics would not have been in the favour of Hindus. Now, at least the fanatics are accountable in a separate country.
    Anyway, your posts are quite packed as well.

  23. thanks rudra. these are facts that i did not have the foggiest idea of, and make me despondent. indeed a different first prime minister for india could have changed the ‘tryst’ with destiny which nehru spoke of.
    but i agree with brahmastra that i still do not feel qualified to judge the mahatma. i appreciate what you say and it does add a new dimension for me in the way i see him.
    he was nonetheless a great soul…for instance, ram and krishn also made mistakes and had favourites.
    even the greatest souls are, in this world, bound to their flesh and blood, with that come some inescapable emotions and passions. he did have a soft spot for nehru and that changed many things for india.
    satyamev jayate.
    best, shivani

  24. I love this man for his quotes…….u cant write a bigger essay than this..
    “First they ignore you,then they laugh at you,then they fight you then you win”
    Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

  25. Hi Shekhar,
    Imagine-Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi, a German Jew in Nazi Germany 1939.What do you have to say about that?

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