Memorable experience of Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
It was a chilly December morning of 2010 when we accidentally landed in Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad on the insistence of our taxi driver who was driving us to Gandhi Nagar for Akshar Dhaam temple. He said, “Ashram is on the way and you and your daughter would love it”. We couldn’t be thankful enough for making our trip worthwhile by taking us there. Ashram opens at 8:30 in the morning remains open till 6:30 in the evening.
So we (me, husband Mukund and daughter Tanya) happily agreed for this stopover. Being a Gandhian, I thought that at least I will get to see where and how Gandhiji lived. It was one such rare visit on which I had not done any research otherwise I do not visit any place without doing good amount of research. So big surprise awaited us…it was the most awesome place I had been too. We were very pleasantly surprised to see the surroundings, location, peace serenity, greenery, pictures of Gandhiji depicting various life events, Dandi march…what not. We were so bowled over by the ashram which houses Gandhiji’s room, Kitchen, Kasturba’s room, Charkha, Spectacles, Pen, footwear …what not. We could not help ourselves clicking lot of pictures there which we proudly treasure. I would like to share those with my readers who are looking forward to visiting Ahmedabad on October 2 on Gandhiji’s birthday. Let Ashram visit be first on your itienery.
So you should not make that mistake which I made by not knowing anything about the ashram but I was awarded with lot of excitement and amazement ( that’s another story). My happiness knew no bounds amidst Gandhiji, his pictures, his house, his things…how I wished I was born in that era to have met him in person. It was a great moment indeed.
Here goes the history of ashram:
Upon returning from South Africa on January 9, 1915, Gandhiji was in search for a place to settle himself and a small group of relatives and associates who were with him in the African struggle. His political views still unformed, Gandhi chose Ahmedabad in the West Indian state of Gujarat for three reasons, “Being a Gujarati, I’ll serve my country best through the use of the Guajarati language. As Ahmedabad was the centre of the handloom in early days, the work of spinning wheel (charkha) could be done in a better way, I believed. Being the capital of Gujarat its wealthy persons will also make a larger contribution, I hoped,” in his own words. He said, ‘this is the right place for our activities to carry on the search for truth and develop fearlessness – for, on one side, are the iron bolts of the foreigners, and on the other, thunderbolts of Mother Nature.”
The ashram was then shifted on 17 June 1917 to a piece of open land on the banks of the river Sabarmati. Reasons for this shift included: he wanted to do some experiments in living e.g. farming, animal husbandry, cow breeding, khadi and related constructive activities, for which he was in search of this kind of barren land; mythological, it was the ashram site of Dadhichi Rishi who had donated his bones for a righteous war; it is between a jail and a crematorium as he believed that a Satyagrahi has to invariably go to either place. The Sabarmati ashram (also known as harijan ashram) was home to Gandhiji from 1917 until 1930 and served as one of the main centres of the Indian freedom struggle. Originally called the Satyagraha ashram, reflecting the movement toward passive resistance launched by the mahatma, the ashram became home to the ideology that set India free.
Sabarmati ashram named for the river, on which it sits, was created with a dual mission. To serve as an institution that would carry on a search for truth and a platform to bring together a group of workers committed to non-violence who would help secure freedom for India.
By conceiving such a vision Gandhi and his followers hoped to foster a new social construct of truth and non-violence that would help to revolutionize the existing pattern of like.
Over the years, the ashram became home to the ideology that set India free. It aided countless other nations and people in their own battles against oppressive forces.
Today, the ashram serves as a source of inspiration and guidance, and stands as a monument to Gandhi’s life mission and a testimony to others who have fought a similar struggle.
• Collecting, processing, preserving and displaying archival materials (writings, photographs, paintings, voice-records, films, personal clothes etc
• Microfilming, lamination and preservation of negatives
• Arranging exhibitions on aspects of Gandhi’s life, literature and activities
• Publication of the “mahadevbhani dairy,” which chronicles the entire history of the Indian freedom struggle
• The ashram trust funds activities that include education for the visitor, the community and routine maintenance of the museum and its surrounding grounds
• Keeping contact with as well as helping and undertaking study and research in Gandhian thought and activities and publishing the results of such study and research and allied literature for the benefit of the people
• Observance in a suitable manner of occasions connected with Gandhiji’s life
• Maintaining contact with the youth and student community and providing facilities to them for the study of Gandhian thought.
With such modest abode, “ Sabarmati ke sant tune kar diya kamaal”