NAVA GAM VILLAGE–A SCHOOL IN GANDHI’S NAME

WE VISITED THE MOST FAMOUS OF GANDHI’S ASHRAMS CALLED SATYAGRAHA IN AMEDABAD.  ALONG THE SABARMATI RIVER, GANDHI’S ASHES WERE SPREAD, JUST FEET FROM THIS ASHRAM.  THERE IS A SCULPTURE OF THREE MONKEYS FROM AN OLD FABLE THAT REPRESENTS PART OF GANDHI’S BELIEF:  SPEAK NO EVIL, SEE NO EVIL, AND HEAR NO EVIL.  CHILDREN IMITATED THIS POSE AS SEEN IN OUR BLOG.  AT THE ENTRY GATE OF THE ASHRAM ARE ACACIA TREES WHOSE LEAVES ARE TIED UP ON ROPE TO WELCOME VISITORS.  WE MET A GROUP OF SOCIAL WORKERS AND TEACHERS FROM THE INDIAN DEPARTMENT OF LABOR WHO WERE HOSTING A LARGE GROUP OF UNDERPRIVILEGED CHILDREN AT THIS ASHRAM IN HONOR OF THE NATIONAL CHILD LABOR ACT, THE INTENTION OF WHICH IS TO EDUCATE ALL CHILDREN IN ORDER TO PREVENT CHILD LABOR ABUSES.

AT THIS ASHRAM WE LEARNED THAT GANDHI APPRECIATED THE BRITISH MILITARY POWER AGAINST HIM; HE SAID, “WE CANNOT FIGHT SO WE WILL BE SPIRITUALLY POWERFUL” .  THEREFORE, GANDHI TAUGHT HIS FOLLOWERS TO PRAY TWICE A DAY AND FAST.  SPINNING IS A PROMINENT ACTION ACCORDING TO GANDHI.  IT HELPS A PERSON TO MEDITATE AND CONCENTRATE.  ONE MUST SYNCHRONIZE THE PRESSURE OF THE STRING:  TOO MUCH TENSION, AND IT BREAKS; TOO LITTLE TENSION, AND IT’S SLOPPY.  THIS IS AN ANALOGY FOR POLITICS.   THE SPINNING WHEEL WAS ‘THE WEAPON THAT FREED A NATION” FROM BRITISH RULE.

THE TEN RULES OF THE ASHRAMS (AND GANDHI’S LIFE) WERE:  (1) TRUTH; (2) NON-VIOLENCE; (3) CHASTITY; (4) CONTROL OF THE PALATE; (5) NON-STEALING; (6) NON-POSSESSION OF POVERTY; (7) ALTRUISM (TO CARE FOR OTHERS); (8) FEARLESSNESS; (9) VARNASHRAMA DHARMA (100 YEAR LIFE SPAN FROM STUDENT TO MARRIAGE TO NON-ATTACHMENT TO LIVING LIKE A MONK); (10) EQUALITY OF RELIGIONS.

EVERY YEAR, THE GANDHI SALT MARCH IS RE-ENACTED WITH THE TWELFTH NIGHT BEING AN OVERNIGHT STAY AT THE NAVA GAM VILLAGE. HERE, WE MET MR. AWALGEWAY, WHO IS AN ELDERLY CHAIRMAN OF THE NAVA GAM SCHOOL.  AT A YOUNG AGE, HE CARED FOR GANDHI BY MASSAGING AND WASHING HIS FEET.  WE FELT HONORED TO BE IN HIS PRESENCE.  THE BOARDING SCHOOL HOSTS 1,000 STUDENTS GRADES 1-12, BOTH BOYS AND GIRLS.  AS SOON AS WE ARRIVED, WE WERE MET BY THE HEADMASTER AND INVITED TO THE ADMINISTRATOR’S OFFICE FOR LUNCH AND REFRESHMENT.  WE CONTINUE TO BE AMAZED AT THE HOSPITALITY OF THE INDIANS.  ON THE CAMPUS, STUDENTS CARE FOR A TREE PLANTATION AND ARE TOLD THEY MUST NOT “SOIL” THE SCHOOL (SMOKE OR DRINK ALCOHOL).  GANDHI TAUGHT THAT EDUCATION IS TO BE  “CHARACTER-ORIENTED, NOT ONLY AS A MEANS TO EMPLOYMENT.”  GANDHI WAS HAPPY WITH CHILDREN BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT POLLUTED.

WE PROCEEDED ONTO MATAR, THEN DABHAN, THEN ANAND, ARRIVING HERE IN BARODA WHEREBY WE DROVE THROUGH A SANDY RIVER BED FOLLOWING THE ACTUAL 241 MILE ROUTE OF GANDHI’S SALT MARCH IN 1930.

IN AMEDABAD, WE TOURED A HAND-MADE PAPER MAKING FACTORY.  ENVISION THE INSIDE OF A GYMNASIUM WITH CONCRETE FLOORS AND WALLS AND ABOUT SIX WORKERS LABORING IN PAIRS AT THEIR 4X4X4 TUB OF WATER.  THE PAPER IS MADE FROM ALL RECYCLED MATERIAL AND IS VERY HIGH QUALITY, EXPENSIVE AND SHIPPED ALL OVER THE WORLD.  IN THE PICTURE, TWO MEN ARE SPREADING PULP INTO A FRAME, THEN PRESSING A SHEET ON TOP OF THE PULP TO LIFT IT OUT OF THE TUB.  IT’S STACKED, AND THEN WHEN DRIED, IS HUNG IS CLOTHES-PINNED TO A LINE WHERE IT FINISHES DRYING AND IS READY FOR CUTTING.

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