“Happy Birthday, Gandhiji!”–Daily Metta

October 2:

gandhi-21“The power of nonviolent resistance can only come from honest working of the constructive programme.”

–Gandhi (Mahatma, vol. 5)

How do you say ‘happy birthday’ to a Mahatma? Not with an elaborate meal, of course. Not with a sugary cake and candles. Beer and wine are out. And no, not even with flowers, as we’ve already seen (Gandhi preferred spun yarn over picked flowers…). Gandhi wanted his birthday to be a day to strengthen our commitment to the nonviolent struggle; particularly, in his day, by redirecting our attention to constructive program, and its symbol, the spinning wheel. He called October 2, therefore, “Charkha Jayanti,” or “spinning wheel birthday,” shifting the focus from himself to the well-being of everyone and the ideal of selfless service to achieve it.

It is highly appropriate then, that on June 15, 2007, the United Nations decided to inaugurate an International Day of Nonviolence on Gandhi’s birthday, the purpose being to “disseminate the message of nonviolence, including through education and public awareness.” But a day is not enough. Where Gandhi’s vision meant a continuation of work already started–that is, “don’t stop spinning just because it’s my birthday,”–we should all “keep spinning” in our own ways: whatever you are doing that is at the service of a nonviolent future, keep at it and keep it going even deeper. Because that is our salvation, not any single person. Not even Mahatma Gandhi! And he knew this…

Experiment in Nonviolence:
How will you celebrate Charkha Jayanti today?