Traveling into the Heart of Gandhi’s Work

While connecting with friends and supporters on Facebook earlier today, we noticed the following post by Benjamin Brown, who participated in portions of our Certificate in Nonviolence Studies and is currently in Mumbai, India. We found his post so touching that we asked his permission to share his words. We quote him directly. All photos courtesy of Benjamin Brown.

Photo of Mani BhavanJust leaving the Gandhi House “Mani Bhavan,” in central Mumbai… Words aren’t really gonna do it here, but I’ll try anyways:

So I was told I’d probably stay for an hour or so, and I ended up staying for 6… Two minutes after I walked in, suddenly overcome with emotion, I excused myself, and cried my eyes out in the side ally, as all the memories flooded back from Gandhi books & movies I’d studied over the past couple years… Whoa… I’m actually here. The heart of the largest nonviolent campaign ever waged in human history… The energy in this place and within myself is palpable, like a pilgrimage I didn’t even know I was on…

A little background: Mani Bhavan served as Gandhi’s Mumbai headquarters from 1917-1934. He learned carding and spinning here, which later became the “charka,” or keystone symbol / leverage point of India’s Independence. Gandhi issued his unregistered weekly bulletin “Satyagraha” from here. He organized boycotts on foreign cloth, fasted in protest of riots, and got previously banned literature re-legalized from here. He called the country to observe January 26th as Independence Day from Mani Bhavan, and much much more…

TPhoto of Gandhi Libraryoday, the building, (a 4 story mansion on an amazingly quiet street for Mumbai), serves as the homely Gandhi Museum. It holds the largest collection of books about Gandhi, read by Gandhi, and written by Gandhi. His personal spinning wheel is housed here, along with many other items that he used during his stays. There are extensive timelines, photographs, & texts about his life and India’s fight for liberation. My favorite part however, (though I don’t think I was supposed to be there), was on the roof, where Gandhiji’s big canvas tent was often set up outside of the monsoon season.

I laid in the shade of the staircase housing, listening to the sounds of the city below, and tried to imagine those hot summer days he spent up here reading, resting, and helping to create a new world. I wondered what his inner state must have been in these times of deep contemplation and creativity. I caught what I thought to be some essence of this man as I dozed off to sleep, and proceeded to have several really vivid dreams along these lines…Photo of Gandhi poster

I’ll be gestating on these for a while, I’m sure, but in short I’d like to simply state that “My life has always been, and is now more consciously coming into service of Life.” This is no longer a test drive, something to be scared of or make trivial. This is IT. And much like Gandhi, I’m beginning to take it a lot more seriously… Today was a mile marker, a landmark on my path by which to guide myself… And I’m deeply grateful for it.

I’m also deeply grateful for a couple special people, without whose inspiration, I probably wouldn’t have found myself here, literally or metaphorically: Michael Nagler, Stephanie Van Hook, & Nicholas Ernesto Sismil of The Metta Center for Nonviolence Education… Thank you all for helping to bring the heart of Gandhi’s work into my life. It has and will continue to be a very special thing for me…

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