The footprints wind their way along a curving path. In this quiet place, one of remembrance, they mark the route Mahatma Gandhi walked before he was brought down by the bullets of hatred. To visit Gandhi Smriti is to walk in gentle silence, tracing his path, reading his words, feeling the essence of his energy that lingers still in a garden of white flowers.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a leader of Indian nationalism during the British rule. That Mahatma part? It’s a title of honor that means “venerable,” given to him in 1914. Indians sometimes call him Bapu. Papa.
And what a father he was, for a struggling country. Gandhi’s actions led India to independence and his example inspired the world. For a man who embraced nonviolence and offered astonishingly vivid proof of what that can achieve, his death came with the ultimate irony. On January 30th, 1948, Gandhiji’s light was extinguished.
Can any light truly be extinguished, can it be completely erased from the hearts and minds of men and the energy it has set aglow? Gandhi, the man, was gone. No more would he walk in the gardens, pray over his people, reach to the world with his peaceable doctrine. No more. But his life serves as an example of what could be and his words linger to inspire us.
I am praying for the light that will dispel the darkness. Let those who have living faith in non-violence, join me in the prayer.
For many Indians, Gandhi was the light that dispelled the darkness. He is not there to lead them but his hopes and dreams remain, waiting for someone…or, even better, a powerful union of someones…to embrace them and make them a reality. For Gandhi, that would truly result in the India of his dreams.
And for the rest of us? Gandhi’s message rings as clear today as it did when his gentle presence moved about the country he loved. We can, all of us, pray for the light that will dispel the darkness. We can walk with quiet determination and offer our efforts, our thoughts and our inspiration to a world that struggles. We can join as groups to make that difference or we can stand alone, but either way the decision to open our hearts and minds is…of course…up to us.
It’s easy to look on someone like Gandhi with awe and with a significant emotional distance. He was special, we might say. Different. We…aren’t.
Oh, but aren’t we? Doesn’t every one of us have that potential, that right, that amazing power inside us?
To change the world, you say? Me? Hmmm. Well, let me ask you this. How exactly does one change the world? All at once, in an enormous movement that swoops from east to west and north to south and suddenly everybody is holding hands and singing Kum Ba Yah?
That would be dandy. Let’s not wait for it, though.
Gandhi knew this. He knew that a movement starts with a moment and a moment begins with the decision to walk a certain path. There is nothing to stop you, to stop me, to stop any of us from walking the path of caring. The path of compassion. The path that can lead to amazing, astonishing, beautiful change.
Oh, yes. Gandhi knew this. My favorite quote?
My life is my message.
What message are we sending to our children, our friends, our family? To those we love?
What message will you choose to send today? Your life. Your message. Your choice.