The annual letter from Arun Gandhi on the occasion of the International Day of Nonviolence.
We’re fortunate enough to have permission to publish the annual statement from Arun Gandhi, grandson of ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi on “Gandhi Day,” the United Nations International Day of Nonviolence. Here is that statement in its entirety:
To all my personal friends and friends of my late grandfather Mohandas ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi I send warm regards and best wishes from my home in Rochester, New York.
I have been encouraged by many to continue writing an annual message on the day of Grandfather’s birthday, October 2nd (1896 – 1948). This date is now known as the United Nations International Day of Nonviolence which was designated by the U.N. to acknowledge Mohandas ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi each year.
I continue to write this annual message and I now share this with you and those who hold dear the wisdom, and benefit from the philosophy and message of Mahatma Gandhi.
Bapu, we still love you!
I received a letter from an Indian friend who lived for many years in Britain and San Diego and recently decided to go back to India to take back home the Gandhi legacy “Become the change you wish to see in the world.” Like thousands before him he is disillusioned. He has not been able to find Gandhi in the new India. Of course, Gandhi’s image adorns all the currency notes, there are statues in town squares and every city and town has a “Mahatma Gandhi Road.” Lip service is paid to Gandhiji’s memory on his birthday and his death anniversary.
But, thankfully, Gandhi is not forgotten by everyone. He still lives and influences people in small towns and villages of India where common people are quietly bringing about a change that Gandhi talked about. Hardcore, Khadi-wearing “Gandhi’ans” will not recognize these individuals as followers of Gandhi’s traditions. But Gandhi was not about wearing Khadi and dogmatically using his writings as the blueprint for change. Gandhi encouraged people to use their wisdom and imagination to do what is necessary to bring about a change. Gandhi wanted his writings to be burnt on his pyre because he did not wish to leave behind a dogma.
Fifteen years ago I went in search of Gandhi’s soul and I knew I would not find it in the modern, westernized, materialistic cities of India so I travelled through the villages and found hundreds of interesting organizations quietly changing society one person at a time. I decided to share my findings with people who were interested in joining me in a Gandhi Legacy Tour during December and January each year. Over the years hundreds have come and were impressed by the amazing sacrifices that young people have made to help the poor and the destitute.
Perhaps, that is as it should be because Gandhi always believed true India existed in its 600,000 villages, not in the cities! Bapu will always be there wiping the tears and tending the wounds of the forgotten humanity dismissed by urban gentry as the “dregs of society.”
— Arun Gandhi
–Photo: a very young Arun Gandhi with his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi and family