Tuesday, November 10, 2009

He looked at me!

I met a really interesting gentleman over the weekend who, when he was 12, actually saw Gandhiji, in person! How it happened was: He lived near Gandhiji's Sevagram ashram in Wardha. And, much like some of us keep pestering our parents for this or that, he kept pestering his dad: I want to see Bapu! I want to see Bapu! Finally, the day dawned and they went over to Wardha.

They had been told strictly not to fall at Gandhiji's feet, or to shout 'Gandhiji ki jai!".... It seems he abhorred this. A crowd had gathered and they all waited for Gandhiji to appear from his hut, to make his way to the place where he would have breakfast (which was just some ground groundnuts anyway).

He appeared, and there was a hush as people gazed. "I felt he was looking at me!" said the gentleman. "And I'll tell you, everybody there felt that. There was a kind of magic about him."

Indeed, many people have said that when Gandhiji gazed upon a crowd, each one in the crowd felt he was looking at him or her directly. Such was his personality.

In 'Picture Gandhi' you will read about how people would hold up their babies, even in a large crowd, so that Gandhiji's gaze would fall upon them. 

The gentleman also told me that he had heard from others that when you met Gandhiji, even if for ten minutes, "you became his world"... that is, he gave you his full attention.

Something for us there, right? Especially in this day of mobile phones and easy distractions? How to listen, how to pay attention....?

1 comment:

  1. My mother's cousin has a similar story, only he was just a baby then. His mother who was very young herself, insisted on going to see Gandhi. They waited for hours, and when the car passed by she rushed forward past guards and through the surging crowds and held her baby up. For a moment everything stopped, and the infant got that famous look, the look of undivided attention.

    The young mother wasn't well, and in fact she died shortly after, but she took her baby to be blessed by Gandhiji. For him, that "He looked at me" moment, even as an adult today, constitutes a link both with Gandhi and with the young mother whom he lost so young.