Be in India: The birthplace of Gandhi’s movement

2011 Gandhian Legacy Tour – Trip Report

Guest post by: Missy Crutchfield and Melissa Turner
Founding Editors | Be Magazine | www.bemagazine.org

Gandhi led India to independence through a movement of nonviolence—something unprecedented.

Gandhi once said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” This is easier said than done, but by his own life he showed it is not at all impossible.

He wielded the power of peaceful protest, non-cooperation, marches and boycotts—fighting for freedom and justice for all.

His life and work inspired Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela in leading the civil rights and anti-apartheid movements.

Now with the Occupy Wall Street movement in America and revolutions erupting across the Middle East, what would our world today look like through the eyes of Gandhi? This was a question many had on this year’s “Gandhi Legacy Tour.”

Our first experience in Gandhi’s India brought us to Mani Bhawan, his home in Bombay (now called Mumbai). Visitors from around the world visit Mani Bhawan to see the small room Gandhi inhabited and worked from while he lived in Mumbai.

Inspired by Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence, young civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. set out on a similar journey in 1959—a month-long visit to India retracing the steps of the Mahatma, the “Great Soul.”

Tushar Gandhi shares the story of Martin Luther King Jr. arriving in Mumbai and being offered the finest state accommodations. He refused, instead requesting to stay in Gandhi’s home, Mani Bhawan, which had since been turned into a museum and library.

For the next several days, Dr. King slept on a small cot in a storeroom at Mani Bhawan and sat meditating for hours on the floor next to Gandhi’s prayer mat. Dr. King’s time spent in India had a profound impact on the direction of the American Civil Rights Movement.

“I left India more convinced than ever before that nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom,” wrote Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King returned from India and in a matter of years he was giving his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

As Civil Rights marchers and Freedom Riders faced the violence of fire hoses, police dogs, and fire bombs on the streets of America, they courageously “turned the other cheek,” some even losing their lives for the cause, living out Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolent resistance.

And then in 1968—twenty years after Gandhi’s assassination—Dr. King was shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee where he was marching for the rights of sanitation workers.

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