Ancient Life and Research, Gujarat, Reformers Politics and the World
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Knowing Gandhi and Learning from many Mahatmas

Today is Lal Bahadur Shastri’s birthday. The second Prime Minister of India, who was rather killed/poisoned on his visit to Tashkent in 1966. He had gone to sign a peace deal organised by the US and the USSR seminaries, UN security members with Pakistan’s Military Leader Ayub Khan after the war of 1965. The deal was signed in the evening as the Peace Pact failed. The next morning, he was found dead in his room. For days, months and years that commenced and kept passing by; it was less strange, rather maddening that no one ever asked for an inquiry, no one protested, no body looked for proofs or questioned the circumstances of his death. Death of the head of a nation state was accepted as mere fate.

He was a sincere and a firm leader. He did not shy away from going into war with Pakistan in 1965, that was pushed on him merely a year later he took office; and only three years later, after Nehru’s historical blunder when China opened fire and defeated us in the war of 1962.

Prior to this day of meeting with the Pakistani General, Ayub Khan had mocked LB Shastri of his short stature, on which he had famously said that all of India will held her head high(metaphorically talking about himself as well) while meeting the general who had called him for the Peace pact.



Today is the day that is long known and celebrated across schools and other institutions as Mahatma Gandhi’s birth day, 2nd October. I wanted to remember Lal Bahadur Shastri likewise while congratulating everyone for what they did to build this nation to where it is today.


It is deeply important to me that we keep walking towards empowering children in the ways that is today available to us. That we reform and make that evolution happen in each child, which is their rightful, fundamental right. As it is not for them but to humanity we will and must serve as one.

BR Ambedkar and MK Gandhi


This also reminds me of another Reformer that I want to quote is Babasaheb Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, probably the most important figure after Gandhi that India could receive from. A Jurist, Economist, Teacher, Social Reformer. One of the five men, behind India’s constitution. And it was he, probably only he, whom Gandhi detested, may be even hated as he could not literally stand Ambedkar.

In a 1955 BBC interview and here, Ambedkar had said, “Gandhi was never a Mahatma; I refuse to call him a Mahatma. He can be heard saying that Gandhi was no reformer. “He was just an episode in the history of India, not an epoch maker,”

While some Gandhian scholars have time and again dismissed Ambedkar’s characterisation of Gandhi as mere ‘polemic’, I would argue that his sharp criticism stems from logical analysis and philosophical disagreement rather than hatred for Gandhi as a political opponent.


Ambedkar was of course not Gandhi like. All his life he tried, but he could not touch the Indians in a way that Gandhi could, this thing called the soul. But Ambedkar touched something more important to the body. He touched their mind.

And while what both of them could not touch rather bring along was the union of the mind and the soul, they did try, may be we all are. To makes this body; Bharat, which is India.   

India Map of 1907 – British India


While growing up as a young kid, there were many things i never liked about my school. And the foremost was that it unintentionally took my freedom away or so I think. I was never introduced to any ancient Indian texts, neither I learnt anything about Yoga or even Sanskrit till i was 13. A child like me who only wanted to see and know of the world was made to sit and learn answers to the question for examinations after every three months or more like a parrot. So much so my unlearning started before i could wake up my interest for higher learning. And soon it started affecting my results in higher classes or that is what i think of it now probably because i couldn’t pursue anything apart from five subjects at school.

I feel liberated at the thought that I am not in school. And more so there is no more need to answer questions about Gandhi’s contribution to India’s freedom struggle.

School history curriculum was also one reason i did not take Modern History of India as my thesis while studying for my Masters in History. I am glad I am not preparing for the Civil Services Exam and writing essays on the differences between Gandhi’s and Nehru’s outlooks. I am so glad that period of my life is not ongoing and that tryst with the persisting education system is over.

Calcutta Zebra Cart
Kumbh Mela 1888 – Prayagraj/Allahnad
Three Indian men with Bear, Goat and Monkeys


It took me years to distance myself from school, to realize about the wrong decisions that were politically taken on account of Gandhi. As I answered a friend’s query over phone on my thoughts on Gandhi, on his 152nd birthday on 2nd October, i actually started with thanking him within me. Also because i consider Gandhi’s “My Experiments with Truth” to be the first ever book i remember reading consciously, that changed something in me, that even kept calling me back once a year in my adult life for over a few years. It helped me embrace some habits that i still carry. But a lot later again when my political or worldly mind started developing, I realized the importance, more so the magnanimity of events that went on with us as a colony. We as a nation had already started looking up to Gandhi a lot before he became Mahatma. He was so called an educated Indian out of the illiterates, in our colonizer’s eye. He was a lawyer, someone who could carry or represent the India that can become the India ruled by the British. But so much so his decisions- The Khilafat movement, the Direct Action Day, his controversial role in Bhagat Singh’s hanging, the sidelining of Netaji, the Partition of India — all these debilitating, damaging events in the life of India made me realize the culpability of Gandhi. Even in his personal life, it wrings my heart to think of the women whose lives were possibly destroyed by the man’s “experiments’ with celibacy”.

Ramana Maharishi at his Ashram by Henri Cartier-Bresson


But there is one thing that Gandhi understood and said which completely lines up with what I have learned about India in the past two and little more than half decades of my efforts to decolonize myself — that India lives in its villages. In my travels crisscrossing the states of India on my bike, hitch hiking, or even long walking journeys, soaking in its uniqueness, I often remembered his words from My experiments with Truth, that the warmth and kindness of villagers and people living in small towns, the faith in Bhagwan, the adherence to meaningful traditions long-discarded in urban India; all these would make me understand that indeed, “India’s soul lived in her villages”.

Of course, Gandhi was not the first to observe that the Atman, the soul of India was in its villages or that they need to be preserved for the sake of humanity. The Rishis and Gurus of India have not only known it but have done much to preserve that ethos. The Ashrams they established and the discourses they gave kept the oldest civilization rooted for a long time. And yet, in a broken India left behind by the British, it is from Gandhi that I learned about the Charkha, Khadi, the cottage industries and the importance of rural livelihoods. At a time when development, industrialization and modernization were all that India wanted, someone who spoke up for Indian villages — for that, I will acknowledge Gandhi.

MK Gandhi with Rabindranath Tagore

Yet another statement of Gandhi that hit me between the eyeballs is that the British left India more illiterate than it was 50–100 years before. Like many Indians in modern India, I thought that the British, despite all the evil they wrought with their oppressive rule had at least established modern schools in India, which raised many people out of illiteracy. I myself studied in a Christian missionary school and was taught to think that the poor in India had to be uplifted not just from poverty but also from the ignorance of Dharma.

Vultures feeding on Dead bodies. A scene during partition of India
Manikarnika Ghat, Varanasi
Fruit Bazar, somewhere in India


Reading the statement of Gandhi on British-fuelled illiteracy in Dharampal’s “The Beautiful Tree” burst my bubble and forced me to explore the extent of damage caused by English-medium schools in India. It made me cry at the impoverishment of villages caused by oppressive taxation, the destruction of the ecosystem of learning, the disconnect with Indian languages that had once been rich in literature and sciences, the descent into unawareness and the degradation into confused Indians who do not speak or write well in their own languages. The rootless Indians who loathe their own civilization and discard her myriad gifts, who do not know how to use their own indigenous worldview are but a product of the schooling that started from colonial times.

Leaders are often imperfect, even fatally flawed. I am glad we are learning to stop idolizing them. But sometimes, a grain of truth emerges from the people we barely agree with.

As they say, Fame and foresight are rarely bedfellows.

: ँ : 

This Essay is written as an update of last years Learning from Mahatma, Knowing Gandhi.

Image Source – Internet
Cover Image – Getty Images


: ँ : 

If you have anything to share, feel like saying a hello, you can write to me at narayankaudinya@gmail.com

To follow other ethnographical and short excerpts of stories from rural Indian Subcontinent, find me at narxtara ~ Road to Nara or sometimes on Narayan Kaudinya

by

Hi, I am Narayan Kaudinya. And i welcome you on this journey, the Road to Nara ! I am an Ethnographer and a practicing Indologist. I did my masters in History and further learnt Sanskrit, Yoga and Nerve-therapy. At 24, pushing most academic sounding, office sitting works away, i felt compelled to know and understand the world and my country, Bharat/India. I travelled, and as it happened i took up teaching in Kashmir and further up in the remote villages of Baltistan in the foothills of Karakoram Ranges. For around three years and many states later there came a time when i felt that it was only while teaching i learnt how to laugh, to see, feel, breathe, love and cry -with children, and mostly resource-less parents in the harshest-freezing border conditions. I write, and work as a documentary photographer and Filmmaker, with numerous published, exhibited and some awarded stories. In my travels and life i have let nature lead me, the divine mother, and as a Yogin, my resolve here is to share my experiences and thoughts as honestly, and through them to blossom in everyone the power and possibility in pursuing your breath, that you seek your true nature with courage and curiosity. Here, on this road i will share my spirit, my love for nature, the elements of life that are us. And in doing so, i'll be happy to see you along.

71 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for bringing this valuable information today.
    Let the young generation know the reality.
    Also let others know about the reality.
    On right day, it will open some the eyes of many.
    My best regards 🙏🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is an updated version of an earlier essay, and it is of vital importance, as the author’s vision of Indian villages as the soul of India comes with the news that the Delhi government is changing the national curriculum to include lessons in patriotism. To my mind the most important reform of the modern age. Once again, it is India showing the world what is the right thing to do, The Western world is not capable to understand the value of patriotism, and is blundering and living with crime on an unparallel scale.
    I can only salute the writer for his wisdom and excellent presentation of his essay.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Surendra Sharma says

    This is an eye opener for me. You are also blessed to have that depth and intensity of the best of writers. This as we know is a courageous post and one which will be remembered for long. Thank you very much Narayan. Kudos to you.

    Like

  4. The decolonialisation of our consciousness is a journey that has begun for so many indians

    Outstanding observations Nara

    Liked by 2 people

  5. KK says

    This is a timely, balanced and nicely articulated piece covering all the relevant facts, Narayan ji. I fully endorse your views on Gandhi’s controversial role on direct action, Bhagat Singh’s hanging, Netaji, and partition. The school education has always been wanting, more so when the history itself has been distorted. A lot of reforms is called for, for all-round development of children. Thank you for touching this aspect as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Narayan, thank you for sharing your insights on two of India’s great leaders, celebrated today in your country. The aftermath of British colonialism remains with us all as former colonized peoples. Your following observation makes clear of the work that still remains to be done: “The rootless Indians who loathe their own civilization and discard her myriad gifts, who do not know how to use their own indigenous worldview are but a product of the schooling that started from colonial times.” As descendants of African slaves and Indian indenture laborers, we in the Caribbean Region have yet to free ourselves from mental slavery.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Rosa, a lot of work has just started to be done, taken up the generation and correcting it slowly. It took time to find voice and confidence as one, after a long period.

      I am likewise and have been fascinated by your
      personal story and what went there, and how you fought it.

      I am more than delighted to share this change and become a part of it too. My wishes.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a fascinating report. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Canada has just celebrated the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to recognize the damage done to its First Nations people by British colonoziers.

    Like

  8. Thank you so much for sharing these informational blog. Came to know about many things that happened in the past . 👍 Great ✌️💐

    Like

  9. I’ve read a number of Gandhi’s books, including “My Experiments with Truth.” I’m not Indian, and I have never been to India, so I cannot speak for the Indian people. But based on what I’ve read and studied, I believe Gandhi came at the right time in history to free India from British domination and to influence Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement in America. He saw an injustice and fought back in the only way he knew how, as a dedicated Indian and as a spiritual man whose first love was God. His point, as I see it, was to restore the traditional crafts and spirituality that make up the soul of India. He wanted the people to value their traditions, self-reliance, and independence apart from the British. And I think he succeeded. But he was not a politician, and he was not equipped to run a nation as a politician. The independence of India is a great accomplishment and a great role model for other countries. India has a rich history that should be valued by all Indians.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dawn, thank you so much for your views in here. As they came out to be from your personal understanding of Gandhi and i happy to know that you read ‘my Experiments with Truth’ amongst others.

      As you pointed out, one cannot be more right of Gandhi’s arrival and his tremendous work, following and leading people, uplifting the mass mindset towards possibilities of being non-violent even in the face of violence, to be tolerant towards the british atrocities and be Truthful.

      The point Dawn is, and i also feel this being the best part which still lives on is that he is well respected across the India, but along the way the party that he founded Congress, went on to rule this country for around 60 years out of 75 after Independence marred with corruption and undemocratically giving the prime post to the sons and the daughters of one family mostly, which had angered many people. Secondly, because of this Party, Gandhi and only Gandhi came into limelight and many other freedom fighters were left behind and even forgotten, not getting their due respect for the work they did. Especially Subhash Chandra Bose, to whom Indians believe, a strong reason Britishers left India.

      You may know that Pakistan and Bangladesh came out of India; And somewhere it came upon Gandhi who allowed it to happen. Partition still brings in many memories of such cruelty towards each other that it lives on very sourly.

      Ofcourse, many things cannot be known to foreigners. But it is important to let out a few norms now. Things are fast changing in the world and it is important for the history to be open and communicative in this age.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for clarifying the situation in India. We are also fighting corruption here in the United States, and it sometimes seems like an insurmountable task. And I can see where a great personality like Gandhi would overshadow everybody else and cause resentment. And yes, from what I have read about the Partition, it was a violent ripping apart of the whole country. I wonder what would have happened if the country had stayed whole. Would that have caused even more violence? I appreciate your responding to my comments.

        Like

    • Thank you Dawn for opening this conversation, also it made me happy that you could go deeper and even made me write some things, some back stories,

      Yes, its most important the values of India lives on, as it will not only help us but the world altogether.

      Thanks so much again
      Narayan x

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post here, Narajan. On most levels I agree with you about Gandhi, especially on the issue with women. Yet your article gave a deeper insight about the history at that time. Since I had been in India once, your country has grown to my heart, it has survived abuse through many centuries. On another note those images like a zebra cart and the fight with the bears I find most disturbing how animals were treated back than. Have a wonderful and inspiring week.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is such a refreshing post. And, so well balanced too. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Most people will shy away from writing a post like this. I will share this post in my circle of people, those who hold a similar viewpoint.

    Like

    • Neel, you writing to me is refreshing. Thank you so much.

      Yes Neel, i know what you mean about this post being on the edge rather almost a political debate.

      But i imagine we have come at a time now Neel that it is time to come together in understanding our history better. It is alright to even go an extra mile to hear the other out but with technology and developed countries going to mars and building homes, i think it is time that we solve these rather important-unimportant issues soon and help building a better world.

      We will 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow Nora… Thank you so much for this heartfelt, historical educated post, shedding light in so many ways! I am eternally grateful for your truth, heart, vision and hope for our children. The points you bring up are vital to our world and moving forward as we continue To light the path in hope, courage and love. I particularly love these lines and could not agree more with all of what you’re saying. I’m also sorry you had to have exams like so many be the forefront of what’s important in life
    “child like me who only wanted to see and know of the world was made to sit and learn answers to the question for examinations after every three months or more like a parrot. So much so my unlearning started before i could wake up my interest for higher learning”
    Namaste my friend sticker of light and truth! Stay well 💕❤️🙏

    Like

  13. Mr. Gandhi was truly a remarkable man! There are similarities here in America, perhaps in every land. In the “country”, or the more rural areas, neighbors, as well as strangers wave & smile to one another, and help each other so often with caring for land, bringing food to show they care, and more.
    These things happen in the large cities too, but more commonly outside of them. Many public (not so much private) schools here teach things we will probably not need to know later in life, and some teachers are brainwashing kids with their own political ideals.
    At this point, I believe schools should teach only what is necessary for life & with money management tips. They should discuss people such as Gandhi more often, only to open the minds of youth to learning extra things & deeper meanings in life. But generally, it is the parent’s responsibility to expose their children to the good in the world, show them to question what others say, and inspire them to reach a wholesome & spiritual existence.

    Like

    • Renee, it is mesmerising to learn how you know, learnt and understood Gandhi.

      You are certainly right, the schools must teach and all the more now what is absolute must.

      We here in India, have had the most practical teaching methods and even after taking a brunt from the English edication school they still live on. Even the school that i run, we take utmost care to balance what we are giving to our children.

      Not even a single generation should miss an opportunity from here onwards to become the best a human world can get, and it is rather not difficult because as of now technology is on our side. If we can somehow direct to meet this tech with spiritual curiosity of the human mind, we have done our job.

      Like

      • It is good to know individuals with views similar to your own are operating schools. I learned of Gandhi in school, but not in depth. I remember being impressed, however, and as an adult I watched a movie and documentary of his life. I learned more from your post.
        And your final paragraph here is so true.

        Like

  14. The breath of life
    the soul
    has many variants
    according to the law of nature
    of life brought forth

    the spirit of man
    from the soul
    through the dream
    to new insight
    becomes the evil
    not exterminate

    the truth is
    that we between two worlds
    entangled
    between evil
    and good
    have to go our way
    to try the better every day

    Like

  15. Reblogged this on Working, Striving towards a more Peaceful World "I WRITE, I SHARE, I DREAM!" and commented:
    http://www.foreigncorrspondent.wordpress.com
    An inspiring leader

    https://www.google.com/search?q=mahatma+gandhi+craig+lock&rlz=1C1YTUH_enNZ931NZ931&oq=mahatma+gandhi+craig+lock&aqs=chrome..69i57j33i160l3.16336j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
    (my “filing system to rescue me from sheer utter chaos” – thanks “Big G”)

    And by that I mean God (far more than Google)… but then perhaps I should thank both …

    Like

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