Friday, 30 January 2009

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi lives on

by Kathryn Hadley

‘History is replete with instances of men who by dying with
courage and compassion on their lips converted the hearts of their violent
opponents.’ (Gandhi)

61 years ago today, Gandhi was shot whilst taking his evening public walk around the grounds of Birla House in New Delhi. The assassin was Nathuram Godse, a Hindu radical who had links with the Hindu extremist group Hindu Mahasabha, which notably blamed Gandhi for weakening India and sacrificing Hindu interests by insisting upon payment to Pakistan. He immediately surrendered himself to the police and was put on trial. He was sentenced to death for murder and hanged at Ambala Jail, on November 15th 1949.

On the night of Gandhi’s assassination, President Pandit Nehru broadcast a radio address to the nation:
‘Friends and comrades, the light has gone out of our lives, and there is darkness everywhere, and I do not quite know what to tell you or how to say it. Our beloved leader, Bapu as we called him, the father of the nation, is no more. Perhaps I am wrong to say that; nevertheless, we will not see him again, as we have seen him for these many years, we will not run to him for advice or seek solace from him, and that is a terrible blow, not only for me, but for millions and millions in this country.’

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was commonly known around the world as Mahatma Gandhi or ‘Great Soul’, an honorific allegedly first given to him by the poet, playwright, novelist and composer Rabindranath Tagore. Gandhi is also referred to in India as Bapu ‘Father’ and is honoured as the Father of the Nation.

Although 61 years ago to this day India may have been plunged into darkness, the light of Gandhi still shines brightly. In India, January 30th is observed as Martyr’s Day in remembrance of those who gave their lives in service of the Indian nation. His birthday, on October 2nd, is also commemorated as a national holiday in India. In June 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted October 2nd as an International Day of Non-Violence. Mahatma Gandhi was named 1930 Man of the Year by Time magazine and, in 1996, the government of India introduced the Mahatma Gandhi series of currency notes. Statues have been erected in his memory all over the world. There is notably a statue in Tavistock Square, near University College London, where he studied law.

There exists a wide variety of resources devoted to Gandhi in India and worldwide. Mani Bhavan, Gandhi’s residence in Mumbai from 1917 to 1934, has an extensive library with a large collection of books both read and written by Gandhi. It also has a very comprehensive website.
Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya19
Laburnum Road
Gamdevi, Mumbai

Another recommended website is that of the Gandhi Book Centre, which includes a bibliography, quotations, photographs, a selection of articles written about Gandhi, as well as links to other websites and Gandhi centres and institutions.

Richard Attenborough’s film Gandhi (1982) is also well-worth watching.

For more information on Gandhi’s assassination, read Richard Cavendish’s article in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of his death
Mahatma Gandhi is Shot
See also David Bates’ article written for the 50th anniversary of his death
Mahatma Gandhi Assassinated
For more information on Gandhi and his legacy, read our article
Makers of the Twentieth Century: M. K. Gandhi

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