Former UK Prime Minister Winston Churchil called him “Half Naked Faqir” whereas as poet Rabindranath Tagore referred to him as “Mahatma”. Among several other most influential personalities of his times, Albert Einstein admired him greatly. Over 70 years since his assassination, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi continues to inspire interest in political scientists, politicians, social activists and people from almost every walks of life.
“My life is my message,” Gandhi had famously told a scribe once when asked about his message to the world. “With the weapons of truth and non-violence, he brought about a social reformation in the country, compelling a mighty empire to leave the country not as enemies but as friends,” says A Annamalai, director of the National Gandhi Museum in Delhi, describing Gandhi as a fighter who battled evil with love.
On the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatama Gandhi, Annamalai says the museum is going to launch a digital study kit in the form of a pen drive containing six components, that tell almost everything about his personality. “We are indeed happy to take this forward with additional inputs to the original content in the digital form. We hope to reach as many educational institutions as possible,” he adds.
Costing just ₹100, according to him, the pen drive contains all basic books by and on Gandhi, a documentary film on Gandhi, Gandhi’s life in pictures, Gandhi’s voice, information on Gandhi’s Ashrams and his favourite bhajans.
The books by Gandhi include All Men are Brothers, Caste Must Go and the Sin of Untouchability, Character and Nation Building, Communal Harmony, Diet and Diet Reform, Ethical Religion, Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule, India of My Dream, Key to Health, My Experiments With Truth, My God, My Nonviolence, My Religion, Ramanama, Sarvodaya, Satyagraha in South Africa, The Message of Gita, Truth is God, Wisdom of Gandhi.
Similarly, there are at least ten books on Gandhi including Gandhi: A Life, Gandhi: The Man, Gandhi Chronology, Gandhi Collection, Gandhi Through Western Eyes, Gandhi World Citizen, Homage to Mahatma, Kasturba Gandhi, Sword of Gold and Women Behind Mahatma, in the pen drive.
“Gandhi was one of the most photographed person of his times. We have a collection of his 10,000 pictures at the museum,” says Annamalai, adding that the kit also contains selected 100 photographs of Mahatma Gandhi that capture his journey from his birth place, Porbandar, to his memorial at Rajghat
The kit also contains a documentary film—which happens to be the first documentary on Gandhi—produced by AK Chettiar, Mahatma Gandhi: 20th Century Prophet. “The earliest footage in the film, acquired in London covered Gokhale’s visit to South Africa in 1912. It’s perhaps the only footage of Gokhale and with him stood a young lawyer Gandhi, dressed tidily in a suit,” Annamalai says, elaborating that the documentary also features Tilak’s funeral, Salt Satyagraha, glimpses of Quit India Movement, speeches of Mahatma Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru and Gandhi’s visit to North West Frontier Province with Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan.
The documentary—which was released in Raxi Theatre in Chennai on 23 August 1940—has opening shots of Buddhist monuments to emphasise Gandhian principles of non-violence. After the initial screening, Annamalai informs, the film had to be withdrawn from theatres fearing British government. Seven years later, on the eve of Independence on August 15, 1947 it was screened in Regal Theatre, Delhi with a Hindi commentary.
But Chettiar later re-edited the film in Hollywood in English and screened it across the US in 1953. It was screened in Washington with President Eisenhower seeing it. Many dailies, including The New York Times, reviewed the documentary.
“Gandhi was one of the most photographed person of his times. We have a collection of his 10,000 pictures at the museum,” says Annamalai, adding that the kit also contains selected 100 photographs of Mahatma Gandhi that capture his journey from his birth place, Porbandar, to his early life in London and South African, Indian Freedom Struggle to his memorial at Rajghat.
The audio clips in the kit feature his speech recorded in London in 1931 ‘Spiritual Message of Mahatma Gandhi’, speech delivered at Asian Relations Conference held at Delhi, 1947 (English), a post prayer speech—Cleanliness and Hindu Muslim Unity dated January 10, 1947 (Hindi) and a post prayer speech on Churchill's statement on May 10, 1947 (Hindi) among others.
Additionally, it has a video footage that details five places established by Gandhi to experiment in community living: Phoenix Settlement (1904), Tolstoy Farm (1910), Kocharup Ashram (1915), Sabarmati Ashram (1917) and Sewagram Ashram (1936).
And as an aural treat for Gandhi’s followers, the kit also contains his favourite bhajans such as Raghupathy Raghava Raja Ram, Vaishnava Jana To and Eakla Chalo among other Ashram bhajans.