Friday, November 2, 2012

What do you mean, tomorrow is Friday? (take 2)

Hi again to family, friends old and new, and followers of our India Adventure.   Rotary Club of Nagpur hosted the team today.  Rtn. Manjot Kahai and Dr. Rajiv Borle escorted us to the Gandhi Ashram at Sevagram this morning.  Of course, you’ve heard of Marthami Gandhi, know that he is the small peaceful man with the round spectacles.  But did you know that Gandhi is Bapu: father of the nation?  

Over the past couple of years, Gandhi has been on my radar.  I can’t say I’ve studied Gandhi or that I follow his simplistic life in my everyday, but I can tell you that Gandhi’s philosophy resonates with me whenever I come across a Gandhi quote, when I read passages of his work, or even watching Ben Kingsley’s “Gandhi” film.  Needless to say, arriving at the grounds of Gandhi’s ashram was one of those moments of disbelief: “am I really at this place I’ve imagined in my heart and mind”?  This is not a big, lavish tourist site.  Manjot and Rajiv parked just outside of the gates, we gathered our things and walked past a couple of very understated souvenir huts, and admired the canopy of trees, the prayer square where Gandhi prayed and then we removed our shoes and entered Adi Nivas, the first hut built on the ashram.  We probably only encountered 25-30 other people while visiting the ashram (half of them being people living in and maintaining the grounds, gardening, etc.).  

Bapu was the integral guide for change in India by:
Attaining freedom through truth and non-violence
Trying to extend and enlarge the scope of truth and non-violence into community action
Instill the necessity of vows
 for the salvation of oneself AND for social service
Reviving self-respect of the poor by voluntary poverty, so that the good qualities in all coule become a living force
Preaching constructive programmes for every situation and in showing the way to universal equality
Emphasizing that the end and the means are equally important  
Building up selfless workers for the service of society

Thank you, Rotary Club of Nagpur, for arranging such a humbling excursion for us.  

You may be interested to know that the souvenirs at the ashram were of 2 types: fabrics and clothing made by habitants of the ashram, and books written by Gandhi and others inspired by his life and work. 

Also, I must mention that Gandhi had a snake cage in his office building.  It wasn’t very big, perhaps the size of a very small cast iron wood stove.  The placard above the cage explained the danger of snakes, but Gandhi did not believe in killing the snakes.  Rather, snakes were caught and placed in the cage, to then be removed from the ashram.  

Other highlights today:
Visit to medical school complexes in Wardha, including a tour of medicinal herb garden at Madhame Gandhi Ayurved College and Research Center
Library visit at Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Science
Lunch at Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Science
Celebration of Sinjara at Centre Point Hotel
Rotary Meeting at Nagpur Club
Social and dinner at residence of Shiv and Geeta Rao

Stay tuned for Jean's post on Friday's block printing session and a few other highlights.  

Signing off,

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