A Story from Gandhiji’s Life-5

This incident occurred in Noakhali. After the Hindu-Muslim riots Gandhiji toured the area on foot to reassure and comfort the people. He would set off from a village soon after dawn and arrive at the next village after sunset. On arrival he would first attend to his work then he would take a bath.

Gandhiji used a rough stone to clean his feet. Miraben had given this stone to him many years ago and Gandhiji had kept it carefully ever since. He took it with him everywhere.

One evening after they had arrived at a village and Manu was getting Gandhiji’s bath ready, she noticed that the stone was missing. She looked everywhere but could not find it. Continue reading “A Story from Gandhiji’s Life-5”

A Story from Gandhiji’s Life-4

Children loved visiting Gandhiji. A little boy who was there one day, was greatly distressed to see the way Gandhiji was dressed. Such a great man yet he doesn’t even wear a shirt, he wondered. “Why don’t you wear a kurta, Gandhiji?” the little boy couldn’t help asking finally. “Where’s the money, son?” Gandhiji asked gently. “I am very poor. I can’t afford a kurta.” The boy’s heart was filled with pity. “My mother sews well”, he said. “She makes all my clothes. I’ll ask her to sew a Kurta for you.” “How many Kurtas can your mother make?” Gandhiji asked.

“How many do you need?” asked the boy. “One, two, three…. she’ll make as many as you want.” Gandhiji thought for a moment. Then he said, “But I am not alone, son. It wouldn’t be right for me to be the only one to wear a kurta.” Continue reading “A Story from Gandhiji’s Life-4”

A Story from Gandhiji’s Life-3

Gandhi and his wife 

Gandhi and his wife Kasturba, 1902

Soon after Gandhiji’s return from South Africa, a meeting of the Congress was held in Bombay. Kaka Saheb Kalelkar went there to help.

One day Kaka Saheb found Gandhiji anxiously searching around his desk. “What’s the matter? What are you looking for?” Kaka Saheb asked. “I’ve lost my pencil,” Gandhiji answered. “It was only so big.”

Kaka Saheb was upset to see Gandhiji wasting time and worrying about a little pencil. He took out his pencil and offered it to him. “No, no, I want my own little pencil,” Gandhiji insisted like a stubborn child.

“Well, use it for the time being,” said Kaka Saheb. “I’ll find your pencil later. Don’t waste time looking for it now.”

“You don’t understand. That little pencil is very precious to me,” Gandhiji insisted. “Natesan’s little son gave it to me in Madras. He gave it with so much love and affection. I cannot bear to lose it.”

Kaka Saheb didn’t argue any more. He joined Gandhiji in the search. Continue reading “A Story from Gandhiji’s Life-3”

A Story from Gandiji’s Life-2

This incident occurred when Gandhiji was practising law in the city of Johannesburg in South Africa. His office was three miles from his house. One day a colleague of his, Mr Polak, asked Gandhiji’s thirteen-year old son, Manilal to fetch a book from the office. But Manilal completely forgot till Mr Polak reminded him that evening.

Gandhiji heard about it and sent for Manilal. He said, “Son, I know the night is dark and the way is long and lonely. You will have to walk nearly six miles but you gave your word to Mr Polak. You promised to fetch his book. Go and fetch it now.”

Ba and the family were upset when they heard of Gandhiji’s decision. The punishment seemed far too severe. Manilal was only a child, the night was dark and the way lonely. Continue reading “A Story from Gandiji’s Life-2”

The Courteous President

Abraham Lincoln was driving in his state carriage one afternoon. An old man walking along the road, recognised the American President. He took off his hat and bowed in respect.

Lincoln responded to his gesture by tipping his hat and bowing in return.

One of his companions riding in the carriage with him told the President,”Why did you have to do that? After all he was only a poor man!”

“I don’t want anyone to be more courteous than I,” said the gracious President with a smile.

Determination

In 1883, a creative engineer named John Roebling was inspired by an idea to build a spectacular bridge connecting New York with the Long Island. However bridge building experts throughout the world thought that this was an impossible feat and told Roebling to forget the idea. It just could not be done. It was not practical. It had never been done before.

Roebling could not ignore the vision he had in his mind of this bridge. He thought about it all the time and he knew deep in his heart that it could be done. He just had to share the dream with someone else. After much discussion and persuasion he managed to convince his son Washington, an up and coming engineer, that the bridge in fact could be built.

Working together for the first time, the father and son developed concepts of how it could be accomplished and how the obstacles could be overcome. With great excitement and inspiration, and the headiness of a wild challenge before them, they hired their crew and began to build their dream bridge. Continue reading “Determination”

A Story from Gandhiji’s Life

In South Africa Gandhiji set up an ashram at Phoenix, where he started a school for children. Gandhiji had his own ideas about how children should be taught. He disliked the examination system. In his school he wanted to teach the boys true knowledge—knowledge that would improve both their minds and their hearts.

Gandhiji had his own way of judging students. All the students in the class were asked the same question. But often Gandhiji praised the boy with low marks and scolded the one who had high marks. This puzzled the children.

When questioned on this unusual practice, Gandhiji one day explained, “I am not trying to show that Shyam is cleverer than Ram. So I don’t give marks on that basis. I want to see how far each boy has progressed, how much he has learnt. If a clever student competes with a stupid one and begins to think no end of himself, he is likely to grow dull. Sure of his own cleverness, he’ll stop working. The boy who does his best and works hard will always do well and so I praise him.”

Gandhiji kept a close watch on the boys who did well. Were they still working hard? What would they learn if their high marks filled them with conceit? Gandhiji continually stressed this to his students. If a boy who was not very clever worked hard and did well, Gandhiji was full of praise for him.

by Uma Shankar Joshi

In the picture: Gandhi in South Africa, 1895 

You can read more on Gandhi here

Generosity

Gandi Mahatma Gandhi went from city to city, village to village collecting funds for the Charkha Sangh. During one of his tours he addressed a meeting in Orissa. After his speech a poor old woman got up. She was bent with age, her hair was grey and her clothes were in tatters. The volunteers tried to stop her, but she fought her way to the place where Gandhiji was sitting.

“I must see him,” she insisted and going up to Gandhiji touched his feet. Then from the folds of her sari she brought out a copper coin and placed it at his feet. Gandhiji picked up the copper coin and put it away carefully.

The Charkha Sangh funds were under the charge of Jamnalal Bajaj. He asked Gandhiji for the coin but Gandhiji refused.

“I keep cheques worth thousands of rupees for the Charkha Sangh,” Jamnalal Bajaj said laughingly “yet you won’t trust me with a copper coin.”

“This copper coin is worth much more than those thousands,” Gandhiji said. “If a man has several lakhs and he gives away a thousand or two, it doesn’t mean much. But this coin was perhaps all that the poor woman possessed. She gave me all she had. That was very generous of her. What a great sacrifice she made. That is why I value this copper coin more than a crore of rupees.”

A Quality of a Great Man

George WashingtonDuring the American War of Independence, the commander of a small unit of soldiers was giving orders to his men about the heavy cannon that they were trying to lift to its place at the top of some fortifications. It was almost beyond their power to lift the weight, and the commander kept shouting encouraging words.

An officer, not in uniform, was passing by, and he asked the commander why he did not help the soldiers. Greatly surprised, the man turned round and said proudly, “Sir, I am a corporal!”

“Oh, you are, are you?” – replied the officer. – “I did not know that. I beg your pardon, Mr. Corporal”.

Then he got off the horse he was riding and, taking hold of the rope that the men were pulling at, he pulled with all his strength. And when the cannon was in its place, he turned to a little great man and said, “Mr. Corporal, when you have another job like this and have not enough men, send for you commander-in-chief, and I shall gladly come and help you”.

The corporal was struck with astonishment. The man who had helped his soldiers was George Washington.

George Washington

The earliest known portrait of Washington, painted in 1772 by Charles Willson Peale, showing Washington in uniform as colonel of the Virginia Regiment.

More on G. Washington, the 1st President of the United States, you can find here.

How America was discovered

Christopher ColumbusIn the fifteenth century people knew only three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa. They knew nothing about such a big continent as America.

The man who discovered America was born in 1451 in Italy. His name was Christopher Columbus. He became sailor at an early age. Knowing that the earth was round, he decided to reach India sailing to the west. He tried to arrange an expedition but did not have money, and nobody wanted to help him.

At last the king of Spain gave him money for the expedition. He sat a sail in 1492. The voyage was very dangerous and difficult. On the 12th of October his ship reached the land.

Amerigo VespucciWhen they landed, they saw strange trees and flowers. Men and women with olive-coloured skins gathered around the sailors and looked at them with great surprise. Columbus was sure that he had discovered a new way to India.

Some time later another sailor reached that land. His name was Amerigo Vespucci. He understood that it was a new continent. Thus, the continent was named after him.

***

Christopher Columbus (above) – Portrait by Alejo Fernández, painted between 1505 and 1536.

Portrait of Amerigo Vespucci (below) – author unknown.

You can read more about Columbus here.

More on Vespucci – here.