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A tribute to the Mahatma

S Narendra Prasad Jan 29 2018, 23:16 IST

Museums are repositories of art, culture and history. Nowadays, we find a lot of specialised museums. From wax to coffee and toy museums, we seem to have it all. That apart, advanced technology is used to improve the quality of the display in these museums.

One such effort is made by Gandhi Bhavan in the Manasagangotri campus of the University of Mysore. This is essentially a replica of the Gandhi Ashram in Sabarmati, Gujarat. Gandhi Bhavan was inaugurated here on January 31, 1966 in order to propagate Gandhian ideals among the students. It is the product of a joint initiative by Gandhi Smarak Nidhi and University Grants Commission, both based in New Delhi.

The ashram

The replica built here speaks volumes about the zeal of the Gandhi Bhavan in its attempt to promote Gandhian values of peace, love, non-violence, comradeship and Swaraj. The Gandhi Ashram in Sabarmati played an important role in the life of the Mahatma. It was his third ashram, the other two being the Phoenix Settlement and Tolstoy Farm in South Africa. The Sabarmati Ashram is from where he organised various satyagrahas, and meetings to fight issues such as poverty, untouchability and the struggle against colonialism.

Gandhi and his associates started out as a small community at Kochrab Ashram, Ahmedabad. This later developed into an organised community in Sabarmati. A cowshed, library, a spinning-shed, kitchen and living quarters were added later. Here, Mahatma Gandhi promoted small-scale rural industries that play a crucial role in the upliftment of villages. All of these details were considered while building the replica of Sabarmati Ashram in the university campus.

In order to recreate the ashram in Gandhi Bhavan, the team collaborated with Gandhi Smarak Nidhi and procured memorabilia connected with Gandhi. The replica of 'Hriday Kunj', Gandhi's home in the Sabarmati Ashram, stands out. In the Gandhi Room, one can find a display of rare and historical photographs.

There are photos of Gandhi with his mentor Gopal Krishna Gokhale, and other freedom fighters like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, J B Kripalani, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Dr Rajendra Prasad and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on display.

These photographs throw light on the freedom movement in India and showcase the political life of Gandhi. That apart, Gandhi's personal belongings, again replicas, are on display in this room. His mattress, pillow, a pair of slippers, spectacles, a kerosene lamp, a stop clock, etc. are exhibited in an attempt to showcase his simple living. Through the exhibits, this ashram helps visitors learn more about Gandhian values in a time when they are diminishing.

Furthermore, Gandhi Bhavan has chalked out various programmes to reach out to more people and promote Gandhian ideals. It intends to involve students in its programmes. The team also intends to collaborate with Karnataka Shilpa Academy and build sculptures, to be placed in the exclusively created 'Gandhi Path'.

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