3 October, 2018
Gandhi Jayanthi, on 2nd October every year, is celebrated with reverence across our country as the birthday of the Father of our nation. This year it is even more special as we are approaching the 150th anniversary, and there are plans set in motion by the Government of India to have events across the next two years to mark this occasion and make it worth the while, in honor of the man who fought for our independence and also inspired millions to do so.
However, if you ask today’s kids, Gandhi Jayanthi may just be another holiday for them Gandhiji is just another person the pages from the pages of their history texts. So, is there a need to tell them, more about the man, his life, and the importance of the values that he lived by? This quote from Albert Einstein defines Gandhiji best, “Generations to come will scarcely believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.” And hence, perhaps, this Gandhi Jayanthi, you should tell your grandkids, a few inputs on why you feel that the Gandhian values should live on through them.
It is, perhaps, rather difficult for the generation of today, to believe that a simply clad, half-dressed man, with a lathi in his hand, actually got us freedom from the mighty British empire, that was ruling so many parts of the world, through their colonization. And if you tell them, that he did not all, by firmly standing by his principles of non-violence, they may find it even more astounding.
And this is the most crucial lesson that today’s generation can learn from Gandhi’s life. While it is easy to take to arms and violence, it is tough to show restraint and stand by your principles, despite provocation. It is not easy. Today’s kids see violence all around them. At home, in the movies, on the roads, in the playground, and so on. They find it easy to retaliate, rather than show restraint. So, this lesson in non-violence and control can start from home, from none other than their grandparents. It can help them for a lifetime.
The three monkeys
All of us would have heard about the Gandhiji’s three monkey’s, “See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil”; hence one is covering his eyes, the second his mouth, and the third his ears. A lot of issues in our society today can disappear if only all of us dwell on this lesson from Gandhiji. He urged people not to see evil, hear evil or speak evil. Interestingly, these three monkeys have a name, why not give this as an assignment for your grandkids to find the names and also tell you what these monkeys stand for and what they can do to imbibe the lessons from them.
In his book called, “My experiments with truth”, Gandhiji gives an account of his growing up days, wherein he had stolen money to smoke. He later felt so guilty about it, that he wrote a confession letter to his father, who read it, cried and tore it off. He says that this episode taught him a lot about honesty in life and that never wavered after that. We have to tell this story to our children and show them that they need to trust us. That is okay to make mistakes, but that it is equally important to own it up and ask for forgiveness and learn from them. Honesty is a disappearing policy nowadays, but as the old saying goes, it is definitely the best policy.
Gandhiji was a learned and accomplished man. If he wanted, he could have chosen to earn well and lead a lavish life. He, however, accepted the rather troublesome path and along with it, chose to live his life simply. While we may not exactly be able to follow that path strictly now, it is very much possible to teach our grandkids, to live life simply. It is possible to celebrate birthdays quietly and perhaps donate an amount every year to an orphanage instead. It is possible to buy a few pairs of clothes perhaps less than we would love to and instead think of the underprivileged.
Stand up for your rights
Gandhiji’s struggles against discrimination, slavery, etc., started from his days as a barrister in South Africa. From there, he came back to India and decided to live as a simple Indian and still took up the fight to send the British out of this country, and that too without taking up arms. He always believed in standing up for the rights of Indians and their self-respect. What he did and achieved, was not for his family, but for all of us. And this is another big lesson that we can teach our grandkids. To stand up for what is right, even when we see that it is not about us. If we see something wrong happening, we should unite to fight against it.
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