Mumbai: After remembering the victims of the 26/11 victims, US President Barack Obama Saturday went on a personal pilgrimage to Mani Bhavan, onetime home of his hero Mahatma Gandhi, where he spent 45 minutes.
"I am filled with hope and inspiration as I have the
privilege to view this testament to Gandhi's life. He is a
hero not just to India but to the world," Obama, who was
struck with awe, wrote in the visitor's book at the Mani
Bhavan here with a cupboard teetering with books of the
Mahatma in the background.
Situated on a quiet lane, Laburnum Road, in South Mumbai, Mani Bhavan usually hosted Gandhi whenever he was in Mumbai between 1917 and 1934. It is today a museum that houses a number of rare memorabilia related to the Father of the Nation.
Gandhi, the US President said, has inspired Americans and African Americans, including Martin Luther King.
Obamas then spent sometime alone in Gandhi’s old room which has changed little since the time the great soul used to occupy it - has a bed, a small desk and his spinning wheel.
Michelle said she will always "treasure" the visit to
honour Gandhi's memory.
"The visit will be on that I will always treasure. The
life and teachings of Gandhi must be shared with our children
around the world," she wrote in the visitors book.
The Executive Secretary of the Mani Bhavan Gandhi
Sangrahalaya Meghshyam Asgaonkar said Obama appeared to be
very impressed on seeing Gandhi's simplicity when he went to
his living room.
Obama’s admiration for the Mahatma is well known, during a talk with students in the US, last year, he was asked if he could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be. “You know, I think that it might be Gandhi, who is a real hero of mine,” Obama said, adding “what was interesting was that he ended up doing so much and changing the world just by the power of his ethics, by his ability to change how people saw each other and how they saw themselves.”
Importantly, it was in Mani Bhavan that Gandhi learnt how to spin cotton and then he would spin daily as a symbolic demonstration of how the country could wean itself from its dependence on the product of British mills.
The room was in more ways than one the epicenter of a non-violent civil disobedience movement, the brainchild of the Mahatma that eventually shamed the British into leaving the Subcontinent. The Non-Cooperation, Satyagraha, Swadeshi, Khadi and Khilafat movements, all these great movements were steered from his humble room in the building.
What makes Mani Bhavan all the more important and personal for Obama is that his other hero, Martin Luther King, visited the place years ago and spent the night there.
It is said that King got the courage and determination to fight for the rights of his people after his time in solitude at Mahatma’s room.
Obama also wrapped a bust of Gandhi with a cotton
garland. Visitors from all over the world come to Mani Bhavan
to see the room Gandhi occupied, its picture gallery, the
Library Hall and the terrace where he was arrested on January
First Published: Sunday, November 07, 2010, 00:18