Sunday, October 22, 2006
Discovering the Mahatma
For the life of me, I cant understand what took me so long to undertake this mission of discovering Gandhi. It is a shame, for I belong to the post independence generation where Gandhi was still very much part of t living memory, and often a topic of discussion at the dining tables. yet Gandhi, to me,remained just a little more than the bits and pieces of information that sank into my mind from the text books as also from the air I breathed. As I grew older,i heard less and less of Gandhi - there was a progressive depletion of the mahatma's presence in the atmosphere.
I read the Experiments With Truth in my early teens. Parts of it made me blush – such a prude I was! Parts of it sounded like extracts from a catechism text book. A lot of it I didn’t understand..
My next rendez-vouz with Gandhi was when I taught nehru’s prose in the college classrooms. I could comfortably sail thru Nehru, but come a quote from Gandhi and I’d get stuck. Strangely enough, somewhere deep down in me, I understood the Mahatma’s words fully well – but to put his views across to my students, I struggled. Found my language inadequate. Hey, I thought, this dude is a tough nut.
And then there was attenborough’s Gandhi – haven’t kept count of how many times I have seen it. Whatever anyone may say of the movie, Gandhi comes across as I have always understood him, tho my contact with his thought and personality was minimal
Of late the great man has become an obsession with me ( no thanks to munnabhai – have not yet seen the movie – shall do so soon). I visited Mani Bhavan a couple of times and moved thru the room with an honoured feeling that I am literally following the hallowed footsteps of a - well, what was he?
a down to earth commonsensical philosopher?
a doctor of humankind with the sharpest of diagnostic acumen?
A man with a concentration of soul power that rendered futile the most sophisticated arsenal?
Or just another human being who fully comprehended his potential as a member of the human species and set out to tap it to the full?
What on earth was this man? the ninth incarnation?
And why did we Indians abandon him?
He showed us the way. Why didn’t we take that route?
Do I see signs of his resurrection?