Young World

Moments with the Mahatma

An inspiring presence: Down the ages. Photo: CH. Vijaya Bhaskar  

The year was 1936 and Saraswathi Guruswamy then a curious 12-year-old peered through the window of her home to identify the dignitary being hosted by her father V.M. Ramaswamy, an advocate and MLA, in North Arcot District. Her curiosity knew no bounds when she discovered that Mohandas K Gandhi would be spending a week with the family at Vellore while on his fund collection drive in the South.

Recollection

She and her younger sister mustered up the courage to get closer to the respected visitor only to be influenced for life.

Now an octogenarian she fondly recollects that precious time she had with Gandhiji and how in one way or the other he had moulded her young mind towards higher ideals.

Gandhiji befriended the two little girls and requested them to play the veena for him. He would engage them in thought provoking conversations about the lives of the downtrodden, how one should refrain from wearing foreign clothes and how no girl child should marry for dowry.

“Infact I was so inspired that on Gandhiji's request I donated my gold bangles and chain for the cause without hesitation. And it was not just his words but his actions too that I learned from. He would wake up by 4 a.m. and says his daily prayers. He wore only Khadi clothes. He was a stickler for time and was always punctual for every appointment,” recollects Saraswathi, a social worker in the twin cities.

Gandhiji also spoke against prohibition and encouraged free education for women and championed the cause of women upliftment. “In hindsight, those few days with Gandhiji made me bold for life and motivated me to accept nothing without questioning,” she adds. Although married at 15, Saraswathi believed in doing chores herself because dignity of labour was another Gandhian ideal.

Today Saraswati Guruswamy cannot imagine what her life would have been had it not been for this chance meeting with the man who went on to become the Mahatma, a shining example of simplicity and steadfast values to all the world.


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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 12:49:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/kids/moments-with-the-mahatma/article2487201.ece

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