Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gandhiji and untouchability

Gandhiji was different from other freedom fighters and leaders of the time in a number of ways. One difference was that he gave equal importance to one more fight along with the struggle for independence, and that is, the emancipation of those tagged as “untouchables.” Gandhiji’s work against untouchability began in South Africa around five decades before our independence. 

After his return to India, an incident at his Kochrab Ashram near Ahmedabad shows us how much importance he gave to the concept of equality between castes. The year was 1915. Thakkar Bappa, a close associate of Gandhiji, sent a Dalit by the name of Dudha Bhai to live in the ashram. Everyone in the ashram, including Kasturba, was opposed to this, and this was specifically due to Dudha Bhai’s status, as deemed by the caste hierarchy. Gandhiji made it clear that Dudha Bhai would not leave the Ashram. Anyone who was not
comfortable with this was free to leave. He was informed that no one would agree and that even the funding for the ashram might stop. Gandhiji was undeterred. He was ready to shift his ashram to the Dalit basti , he said, even if it meant that his ashram would have only two members, namely Dudha Bhai and himself. Finally everyone turned around, except Gandhiji’s sister Gokiben, who left Kochrab as a result of her brother’s firm stance, never to return. 


Anonymous said...

just dropping by to say hi

dokka srinivasu said...

Nanditha madam

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Dokka Srinivasu