We often wander in search of inspiration and so was our case when we began our journey to Gandhi Ashram. Though there weren’t any expectation, the visit led to some soul searching. It answered some questions we had been struggling with but raised many more.
Over the last two days we met so many inspired people with equally inspiring life stories that it is difficult to write about them all in one post but what we all observed through the stories (or rather the journeys) of those people is the common thread that holds them together. The deep sense of solidarity and the spirit of changing themselves by serving others. A selfish motivation – as described by Nimesh :). Truth, love, joy, compassion, humility, friendship – the Gandhian principles so often forgotten were imbibed by one and all associated with the place. None of the people we met ever talked about changing the world but about changing themselves. “Be the change” is what their kurtas read. They all had at some point of time broke the shackles of their routine life in search for purpose and satisfaction. They had originally come to the ashram for one hour, one day, one project and never left.
Madhusudan came here as a filmmaker with an idea of making a film on manav sadhana for increasing awareness. Little did he know that one interaction with Jayesh bhai and his message of spreading love and greater love would strike such a cord that it has been 7 years since that day and he hasn’t thought of turning back.
The place is a collection of individuals, organisations, groups and ideas working towards one message “Love All Serve All”
Nimesh was running a successful animation firm in Pune when suddenly he realised that while he was successful, he was not content. Today he is enjoying at the ashram engaging with 16 children through the medium of arts and theatre. Madhusudan says he is “mothering” instead of using the word ‘fathering’ the children. Nimesh accepts that he stayed on because he was selfish. He was changing and he liked the change.
Siddhartha and Leher came to the ashram for one day during their journey across India. This was one year ago. Raghu bhai came here because he felt he was becoming a burden on his family due to his disability, but today he is the support of nearly 20 mothers due to his “tyag no tiffin”. He started by sharing his tiffin with an elderly lady and slowly others joined him. Today they fast for one meal every Thursday and the money they save by skipping the one meal is used to provide tiffin to these 20 elderly women.
Rahul an avid photographer strongly believes in the power of images to bring change. He says he is a bit shy in talking to people but he found his purpose when he saw the smile on the kids faces when they get a print of their picture. A lot of us click pictures of kids in slums, in streets or in other public places but how many of us go back and give those pictures to them? Rahul does. He says the families display the pictures on their walls and it is s sense of pride and togetherness for them. He is now working on a project where he would click pictures of at least 100 families and give them the framed photograph.
Like Nilesh bhai, Madhu bhai, Siddharth, Rahul, Leher.. .the place is a buzzing with people moved by love. Deepam aptly says that they stay on because they gain more than what they give.
Everybody I spoke to has a journey I would want to be part of. The place didn’t just inspire, it taught me. Yes, in just two days, it taught the message of humility and gratitude.
To know more about the people and their initiatives go to http://www.movedbylove.org/
This photo belongs to ‘charityfocus’ on Flickr