Saturday, August 7, 2010

Remembering the Mahatma

Tucked away in a leafy lane named Laburnum road in Gamdevi, South Mumbai, is Mani Bhavan – the building in which Mahatma Gandhi resided and headquartered the freedom movement of India. Now it houses a reference library and the room with furniture as it was used while Gandhiji used it. It is open all days from 09:30am to 6:00pm and is free to all those who want a glimpse into the history of the man who was responsible for galvanising the people of India to achieve freedom. The house belonged to Shri Revashankar Jhaveri, Gandhi’s friend and host in Mumbai. Whenever Gandhi was in Mumbai from 1917 to 1934, he stayed here. The building was taken over by the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi Bhavan in 1955. Mani Bhavan is one of the few important places hallowed by Mahatma Gandhi’s close association. Gandhji took his first carding lessons from a carder who used to pass by Mani Bhavan every day in 1917. He also learnt spinning here. Satyagraha against the Rowlatt Act was launched from here in March 1919. With a view to defy the Indian Press Act, he began publishing an unregistered weekly bulletin ‘Satyagrahi’ from 7th April, 1919 and also took over ‘Young India’ and ‘Navjivan’ weekly journals in English and Gujarati. The Congress Working Committee met here on 9th June, 1931 ad decided to send Gandhiji as the sole representative of the Congress to the Round Table Conference in London. He returned to Bombay on 28th December, 1931, a frustrated man. Thereafter, he discussed the situation with the Working Committee of the Congress which met here and decided to launch the civil disobedience movement for Swaraj, at midnight on 31st December, 1931. Gandhiji was arrested in his tent on the terrace of Mani Bhavan in the wee hours of the morning of 4th January, 1932. Mani Bhavan is a place where Gandhiji lived and conversed with his colleagues, moulded the nation in the image of his cherished ideals of Truth and Non-violence and inspired his followers and devotees who went forth from here in the world charged with a sense of service and sacrifice. Mani Bhavan, once the residence of the Father of the Nation, is now a source of inspiration for freedom and peace loving men and women all over the world. The Library on the ground floor consists of more than fifty thousand books in Reference and Lending sections. It contains books by and on Gandhiji and Gandhian thought and allied subjects. The room on the 2nd floor which used to be the living room and working place of Gandhiji has been preserved as far as possible in its original setting. Adjoining this room is the exhibition depicting Gandhiji’s life through mini figures in about 28 tableaux prepared by Smt. Sushila Gokhale Patel. In the Picture Gallery there are posters depicting important events and photocopies of some significant letters, articles and documents written by and about Gandhiji. Address: 19 Laburnum Rd Gamdevi Mumbai (Bombay) 400 007 India Tel: 91 22 2380 5864 Fax: 91 22 2380 6239 Website: