Mahatma Gandhi had a significant influence on our family and my childhood. My paternal grandfather stayed at Sabarmati Ashram and served Mahatma Gandhi there for twenty years. My grandmother took her children to her parents’ home and willingly gave away all ten and a half kilos of her gold jewelry saying, “I will take care of the children. You go and serve the country.”
My teacher Pt. Sudhakar Chaturvedi was also a teacher to Mahatma Gandhi whom he taught the Bhagavad Gita. He is still alive and is a 116 years old. Gandhi used to call him Bangalori, since he is from Bangalore. Once, they was lodged in Yerawada jail in Pune and Kasturba was on her deathbed. When Gandhi realized that she may not survive the day, he asked Pt. Chaturvedi to read the second chapter of the Gita. There is a verse in it that describes the qualities of one who is established and centered in knowledge – Sthitapragna. Gandhi said, “Bangalori, today is the test of your Bapu. Let us see if I can maintain equanimity of mind today. My wife and partner for over 50 years is leaving her body. I have done such injustice to this woman. I always forced her to do things she did not want to do. I’ve been so cruel to her and her children. But she stayed with me till her last breath. She is the real saint, not me.” He made this admission during her last moments as she died in his arms.
He was a great advocate of non-violence and compassion towards animals. Once he saw a cow being milked so hard that her udders started bleeding. From that day, he left having cow’s milk and would only have goat’s milk. He said the right to the cow’s milk goes to the calf first. He was so sensitive towards the cow and today, India has become the #1 exporter of beef. Millions of cows have been slaughtered in this country over the last few years. He was a strong proponent of prohibition against alcohol but nobody says that. He stood firmly against religious conversion but nobody talks about that. It is so sad to see that all that Mahatma Gandhi stood for has been totally demolished in his own country.
The youth of our country should wake up and follow these values, which have tremendous strength in them. He used to do satsang everyday. In fact, this is the reason that his movement reached the masses and was successful. His satsangs brought hundreds and thousands of people together who united with his mission.
Today, the situation is as critical as it was in Gandhi’s time. We are again passing through a phase of transformation and we need to stand united with the larger vision of a better future for our country. Let us take responsibility for a better India and create a wave of enthusiasm and hope like Mahatma Gandhi did.