"Be the change that you wish to see in the world", the man behind this inspiring thought is none other than immortal soul of the Indian nation Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, commonly known as Mahatma Gandhi. He was the preeminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India. Using his ideas of non-violent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for non-violence, civil rights and freedom across the world.
In the memory of the legendary figure, India celebrates 2nd October "Gandhi Jayanti" which is observed as a National holiday in the country.
Today whole world is remembering Gandhi on his 144th birth anniversary. On this occasion I would like to share 7 interesting stories from his life:
The night was very dark and Mohan was frightened. He had always been afraid of ghosts. Whenever he was alone in the dark, he was afraid that a ghost lurking in some dark corner would suddenly spring on him. And tonight it was so dark that one could barely see one's own hand. Mohan had to go from one room to another.
As he stepped out of the room, his feet seemed to turn to lead and his heart began to beat like a drum. Rambha, their old maidservant was standing by the door.
"What's the matter, son?" she asked with a laugh.
"I am frightened, Dai," Mohan answered.
" Frightened, child! Frightened of what?"
"See how dark it is! I'm afraid of ghosts!" Mohan whispered in a terrified voice.
Rambha patted his head affectionately and said, "Whoever heard of anyone being afraid of dark! Listen to me: Think of Rama and no ghost will dare come near you. No one will touch a hair of your head. Rama will protect you."
Rambha's words gave Mohan courage. Repeating the name of Rama, he left the room. And from that day, Mohan was never lonely or afraid. He believed that as long as Rama was with him, he was safe from the danger.
This faith gave Gandhiji strength throughout his life, and even when he died the name of Rama was on his lips.
Mohan was very shy. As soon as the school bell rang, he collected his books and hurried home. Other boys chatted and stopped on the way; some to play, others to eat, but Mohan always went straight home. He was afraid that the boys might stop him and make fun of him.
One day, the Inspector of Schools, Mr. Giles, came to Mohan's school. He read out five English words to the class and asked the boys to write them down. Mohan wrote four words correctly, but he could not spell the fifth word 'Kettle'. Seeing Mohan's hesitation, the teacher made a sign behind the Inspector's back that he should copy the word from his neighbour's slate. But Mohan ignored his signs. The other boys wrote all the five words correctly; Mohan wrote only four. After the Inspector left, the teacher scolded him. "I told you to copy from your neighbour," he said angrily. "Couldn't you even do that correctly?"Every one laughed.
As he went home that evening, Mohan was not unhappy. He knew he had done the right thing. What made him sad was that his teacher should have asked him to cheat.
In South Africa Gandhiji set up an ashram at Phoenix, where he started a school for children. Gandhiji had his own ideas about how children should be taught. He disliked the examination system. In his school he wanted to teach the boys true knowledge—knowledge that would improve both their minds and their hearts.
Gandhiji had his own way of judging students. All the students in the class were asked the same question. But often Gandhiji praised the boy with low marks and scolded the one who had high marks.
This puzzled the children. When questioned on this unusual practice, Gandhiji one day explained, "I am not trying to show that Shyam is cleverer than Ram. So I don't give marks on that basis. I want to see how far each boy has progressed, how much he has learnt. If a clever student competes with a stupid one and begins to think no end of himself, he is likely to grow dull. Sure of his own cleverness, he'll stop working. The boy who does his best and works hard will always do well and so I praise him."
Gandhiji kept a close watch on the boys who did well. Were they still working hard? What would they learn if their high marks filled them with conceit? Gandhiji continually stressed this to his students. If a boy who was not very clever worked hard and did well, Gandhiji was full of praise for him.
Soon after Gandhi's return from South Africa, a meeting of the Congress was held in Bombay. Kaka Saheb Kalelkar went there to help.
One day Kaka Saheb found Gandhiji anxiously searching around his desk.
"What's the matter? What are you looking for?" Kaka Saheb asked.
"I've lost my pencil," Gandhiji answered. "It was only so big."
Kaka Saheb was upset to see Gandhiji wasting time and worrying about a little pencil. He took out his pencil and offered it to him.
"No, no, I want my own little pencil," Gandhiji insisted like a stubborn child.
"Well, use it for the time being," said Kaka Saheb. "I'll find your pencil later. Don't waste time looking for it now."
"You don't understand. That little pencil is very precious to me," Gandhiji insisted.
"Natesan's little son gave it to me in Madras. He gave it with so much love and affection. I cannot bear to lose it."
Kaka Saheb didn't argue any more. He joined Gandhiji in the search.
At last they found it – a tiny piece, barely two inches long. But Gandhiji was delighted to get it back. To him it was no ordinary pencil. It was the token of a child's love and to Gandhiji a child's love was very precious.
Children loved visiting Gandhi. A little boy who was there one day, was greatly distressed to see the way Gandhiji was dressed. Such a great man yet he doesn't even wear a shirt, he wondered.
"Why don't you wear a kurta, Gandhi?" the little boy couldn't help asking finally.
"Where's the money, son?" Gandhi asked gently. "I am very poor. I can't afford a kurta."
The boy's heart was filled with pity.
"My mother sews well", he said. "She makes all my clothes. I'll ask her to sew a Kurta for you."
"How many Kurtas can your mother make?" Gandhiji asked.
"How many do you need?" asked the boy. "One, two, three…. she'll make as many as you want."
Gandhi thought for a moment. Then he said, "But I am not alone, son. It wouldn't be right for me to be the only one to wear a kurta."
"How many Kurtas do you need?" the boy persisted. "I'll ask my mother to make as many as you want. Just tell me how many you need."
"I have a very large family, son. I have forty crore brothers and sisters," Gandhiji explained.
"Till every one of them has a kurta, how can I wear one? Tell me, can your mother make kurtas for all of them?
At this question the boy became very thoughtful. Forty crore brothers and sisters! Gandhiji was right.
Till every one of them had a kurta to wear how could he wear one himself? After all the whole nation was Gandhi's family, and he was the head of that family. He was their friend, their companion. What use would one kurta be to him?
One day Gandhi and Vallabhbhai Patel were talking in the Yeravda jail when Gandhi remarked, "At times even a dead snake can be of use." And he related the following story to illustrate his point:
Once a snake entered the house of an old woman. The old woman was frightened and cried out for help. Hearing her, the neighbours rushed up and killed the snake. Then they returned to their homes. Instead of throwing the dead snake far away, the old woman flung it onto her roof.
Sometime later a kite flying overhead spotted the dead snake. In its beak the kite had a pearl necklace which it had picked up from somewhere. It dropped the necklace and flew away with the dead snake.
When the old woman saw a bright, shining object on her roof she pulled it down with a pole. Finding that it was a pearl necklace she danced with joy!
When Gandhi finished his story, Vallabhbhai Patel said he too had a story to tell:
One day a bania found a snake in his house. He couldn't find anyone to kill it for him and hadn't the courage to kill it himself. Besides, he hated killing any living creature. So he covered the snake with a pot and left it there.
As luck would have it, that night some thieves broke into the bania's house. They entered the kitchen and saw the overturned pot. "Ah," they thought, "the bania has hidden something valuable here." As they lifted the pot, the snake struck. Having come with the object of stealing, they barely left with their lives.
Gandhi went from city to city, village to village collecting funds for the Charkha Sangh. During one of his tours he addressed a meeting in Orissa.
After his speech a poor old woman got up. She was bent with age, her hair was grey and her clothes were in tatters. The volunteers tried to stop her, but she fought her way to the place where Gandhi was sitting.
"I must see him," she insisted and going up to Gandhi touched his feet.
Then from the folds of her sari she brought out a copper coin and placed it at his feet.
Gandhi picked up the copper coin and put it away carefully.
The Charkha Sangh funds were under the charge of Jamnalal Bajaj. He asked Gandhi for the coin but Gandhi refused.
"I keep cheque worth thousands of rupees for the Charkha Sangh," Jamnalal Bajaj said laughingly "yet you won't trust me with a copper coin."
"This copper coin is worth much more than those thousands," Gandhi said.
"If a man has several lakhs and he gives away a thousand or two, it doesn't mean much. But this coin was perhaps all that the poor woman possessed. She gave me all she had. That was very generous of her. What a great sacrifice she made. That is why I value this copper coin more than a crore of rupees."
I hope you enjoyed reading these stories. if you know any other story or event form Gandhi's life which is inspiring then you are welcome to share with us. Thanks for taking your time!
If you want to know more about Mahatama Gandhi use below references :
http://www.mkgandhi.org/ -An organisation which is dedicated to Gandhi.
Life of Gandhi – Youtube Video of documentary biography of Gandhi.