Ashrams in India & Abroad
Sabarmati Ashram and Museum, Ahmedabad, India
Authority responsible: Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust
Director: Amrutbhai K. Modi
Aims: The Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya seeks to keep alive the message of Gandhi's life and work through the following activities: collection, preservation and display of Gandhi's writings, photographs, paintings, voice-records, with as well as helping and undertaking study and research in Gandhian thought and activities and publishing the results of such study and research and allied literature for the benefit of the people; maintaining contact with the youth and student community and providing facilities to them for the study of Gandhian thought; arranging exhibitions on aspects of Gandhi's life, literature and activities; observance in a suitable manner of occasions connected with Gandhi's life.
Contents: Archives consisting of 34,065 letters to and from Gandhi both in original and in Photostats; in Hridaya Kunj (original residence of Gandhi) some of the personal relics of Gandhi are on display; library consisting of nearly 21,500 books dealing with Gandhi's life, work and teaching and allied subjects and reading room with more than 50 periodicals in English, Hindi and Gujarati.
Special activities: Photograph gallery (life story of Mahatma Gandhi) consisting of more than 100 photo enlargements of some of the vivid and historic events of Gandhi's life; "Gandhi in Ahmedabad" gallery consisting of photographs and some important documents; Colour Oil Painting Gallery consisting of eight big life -size paintings of some historic events of Gandhi's life.
Publications: Mahadevbhai's Diaries, personal secretary of Gandhi, parts 6 to 20
Address:- Harijan Ashram
Gujarat State, India
Opening Hours:8.30-18.00 hrs
Sevagram Ashram, Wardha, Maharashtra
Gandhiji stayed from 1936 to 1948 at Sevagram Ashram and carried out all his activities from this ashram during that period.
History: When Gandhi started his padayatra (foot march) in 1930 from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi for the Salt Satyagraha, he had decided not to return to Sabarmati till independence for India was attained. Independence was not attained at that time and Gandhi was imprisoned for more than two years. On his release he spent sometime travelling.
He decided to make a village in Central India his head quarters. He came to Wardha in 1934, at the invitation of Jamnalalji Bajaj.
In April 1936, Gandhiji established his residence in the village Shegaon which he renamed as Sevagram, which means 'village of service'. Gandhiji was 67 years old when he came to Sevagram. From then on, Sevagram has become an inspiring place. Many decisions on important national matters and movements were taken at Sevagram. It became the central place for a number of institutions for the nation building activities devised by Gandhiji to suit the inherent strength of this country.
Shegaon is a small village 8 km from Wardha town in Maharashtra and 75 km from Nagpur. In spite of many practical difficulties, Gandhiji decided to settle here. Though he did not have any intentions of keeping anybody with him except Kasturba, pressure of work necessitated more colleagues with him till Sevagram Ashram became a full-fledged institution.
There were no facilities at Sevagram, not even a post or telegraph office. The letters used to be brought from Wardha. There was another village in this region named Shegaon, made famous by the residence of Saint Gajanan Maharaj. So, Gandhiji's letters used to get misdirected. Therefore it was decided in 1940 to rename this village as SEVAGRAM or the village of service.
Places of Interest for Visitors:
Adi Nivas (the first hut) and Prayer Ground: Adi Nivas was the first hut built in the Ashram, hence the name. Gandhiji lived in it with other Ashram members in the early days. The northern verandah was used as dining hall. Below the open sky on this sand-bed, morning and evening prayers of various religions were held and that has continued even today.
Ba Kuti ( Kasturba's Hut): This was the place of residence for Kasturba Gandhi.
Bapu Kuti (Gandhi's Hut): This, as the name suggests was the place of residence of Gandhiji. His belongings of daily use are kept here. His massage table and sleeping cot are kept in the adjoining room. The daily morning prayers are held in the verandah of Bapu Kuti even today.
Gandhiji's Secretariat: Gandhiji kept in touch with the whole world through correspondence from this room. The telephone, which was brought here by the British authorities for consultations with Gandhiji and a cage and wooden scissors used to trap snakes and later leave them in the forest) are displayed here.
Akhiri Nivas (The last abode) : Initially used as a hospital for the villagers, Gandhiji lived here to cure his cough and cold before leaving for Noakhali, from there he never returned and thus the hut got its name, Akhiri Nivas. A weighing machine used by Gandhiji is displayed here.
Bapu's Kitchen: This kitchen used by Gandhiji is still used as such. A flour grinding machine, sometimes used by Gandhiji is kept here.
Adya Adi Nivas: This is the place where Gandhiji first rested after coming from Wardha.
Parchure Kuti: A Sanskrit scholar and a constructive worker, Shri Parchure was served by Gandhiji in this hut when he was afflicted with leprosy.
Mahadev Kuti: Gandhiji's secretary, Mahadev Desai lived with his family in this hut near Bapu Kuti.
Kishore Nivas: The residence of Kishorilal Manshruwala, a close disciple of Gandhiji and the part time editor of the Harijan weekly. As Manshruwala was suffering from asthma, Gandhiji allowed this house to be built with bricks and cement.
Rustam Bhavan: The four room guest house, built by the son of late Rustamji for Ashram guests and still used as such.
Gandhiji Exhibition: The newly developed (1991) Gandhi Photo Exhibition, exhibiting the life and works of Gandhiji, is on the western side of the road.
Yatri Nivas (Visitor's Residence): Built by the government in 1982, it is managed by the Ashram for the benefit of visitors and for holding training camps and conferences by various constructive work institutions.
Nai Talim Parisar (Basic Education Premises): It was guided by Gandhiji and constructed by late Ashadevi and Aryanayakamji.
Sevagram Ashram Pratishthan,
Tel No.: 91-7152-84753/ 84754
Tolstoy Farm, S.Africa
The Tolstoy Farm was named such by Herman Kallenbach, Gandhi's associate It was founded in 1910 and disbanded in 1913 proved to be an ideal laboratory for Gandhi's educational experiments. "Tolstoy Farm was a family in which I occupied the place of the father," wrote Gandhi, and that I should so far as possible shoulder the responsibility for the training of the young"1 The routine of the children on the farm was divided between attending classes and contributing to the maintenance of the farm. As at the Phoenix settlement manual work was combined with instruction on a daily basis, but Gandhi took this concept one step further at Tolstoy by introducing vocational training to give "all-round development to the boys and girls". Although at this stage there was no attempt to educate the children through the medium of a specific handicraft, Gandhi enabled each child to become self-supporting by supplementing their education with vocational training. Their ages ranging from six to sixteen, the children had on an average eight hours of manual training per day, and one or, at the most two hours of book learning"
An added dimension of the Tolstoy Farm was the decision to hold co-educational classes, and indeed to encourage the boys and girls to do everything together.
The activities which the young contributed their energies to at Tolstoy Farm included general labouring, cooking, scavenging, sandal- making, simple carpentry and messenger work. But Gandhi did not recommend manual activities merely because they were materially productive or remunerative. In addition to productive crafts, manual work of a purely constructive nature was also essential for the maintenance and development of community life. The contribution of work such as sweeping, scavenging and water fetching was seen to be invaluable to the psychological, social and moral well-being of an integrated community. Gandhi's objective in this context was to inculcate the ideals of social service and citizenship through all the activities of children from the earlier formative years.
2. Harijan,18 September 1937
Anandwan Ashram - BABA AMTE'S ASHRAM, Maharashtra
Anandwan Ashram is the fruit of one person's ceaseless efforts and the humanitarian work of an institution set up by him - the Maharogi Sewa Samiti. Muralidhar Devidas Amte or Baba Amte as he is popularly known has carved a new path as to how a single individual can make a difference in the world. The work of the institution has converted the barren, lifeless area into a lush green forest with the help of leprosy patients who had suffered from crippling deformities. Anandwan has not only helped them fight rejection, both from families and society, but also showed the way to contribute to the world and that too, how! Today Anandwan proudly stands as one of the largest organisations of its kind in the world and attracts a large number of visitors worldwide. The doors of the Ashram are open to any needy any time. Actively supported by his family, his son, Dr. Vikas Amte spearheads the working of Anandwan under the guidance of his inspiring father. Baba Amte has been bestowed with many national and international awards, including Ramon Magsaysay in 1985 and Gandhi Peace Prize, 1999.
For more details, visit :
Dr. Vikas Amte
Tah. Warora, Dist. Chandrapur,
Maharashtra - 442 914,
Ph. No. 07176-82034 - 82425
Fax No. 07176-82134
Gandhi Ashram Trust (GAT), Bangladesh
A Shelter for Distressed Humanity
Gandhi Ashram Trust (GAT) is a philanthropic development organisation working at Noakhali. It is working since 1946 with Gandhian philosophy of rural development, peace and social harmony. Since inception, GAT is working for the rural poor, specially for women, in the encircled area of the Ashram. It has two prong functions of development and charitable activities. The goal, objectives and activities of GAT are derived from the core value of Gandhian philosophy and guideline.
At present GAT is working for 5 Upazillas (sub-districts) of Noakhali, Lakshmipur and Feni District. It is working directly with 25000 poorest families of the area.
Background: The establishment of Gandhi Ashram trust is rooted with the 'Peace Mission' of Mahatma Gandhi immediately after the communal riots in 1946 at Noakhali. Gandhi stayed for about four months in the riot stricken areas. He started moving around the villages and motivated the people towards his peaceful coexistence and non-violence philosophy. When Gandhiji came to Jayag on 29th January 1947 all sections of the local community extended him whole-hearted support.
At that time, Barrister Hemanta Kumar Ghosh of the village donated all his resources to Mahatma for the development and peace of the area and "Ambika Kaliganga Charitable Trust" was formed. The office of the Gandhi Peace Mission, formerly known as Gandhi Camp, was shifted to the present campus of Jayag. The Gandhi Camp started working for both peace and charitable functions and it continued till partition of India.
After the partition, specially after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, except for a few most of the Gandhi followers left Noakhali. The non-secular government of Pakistan started oppression of the Gandhians and majority of them were in Jail for almost the life time of Pakistan. The properties of the Trust were forcefully taken away by some land grabbers and anti-social elements. It was not possible to continue the activities of the Trust. The team manager of Peace Mission Mr. Charu Chowdhury was detained in jail for several times and finally for 1963-71. He was released in 1971 after independence of Bangladesh.
Charu Chowdhury started re-organising the Ashram in the newly independent Bangladesh and freed land properties from the land grabbers. It took final shape with the Gazette notification of Bangladesh Government on 2nd October 1975, where "Ambika Kaliganga Charitable Trust" was renamed as "Gandhi Ashram Trust". A committee with representatives from both Bangladesh and Indian Government was formed to run the activities of the Trust.
GAT Over the Period: In the initial stage, Ambika Kaliganga Charitable Trust decided a charitable role and started working for the riot victims of Noakhali. The victims were rehabilitated in their society and relief functions were carried out. Besides, motivational works for communal co-existence were taken after the separation of India. In the Pakistan period, the Trust could not continue its activities due to the policy of the then Government.
After the Independence of Bangladesh, with the emergence of Gandhi Ashram Trust, there was a shift in the vision and mission of the Trust. Development and extension services for the poor and disadvantaged class were taken into consideration along with charitable function. Now a days, development of life standard, both in material and eternal sense, is the main focus of Gandhi Ashram Trust (GAT).
Jharna Dhara Chowdhury,
Secretary, Gandhi Ashram Trust (GAT),
Jayag, Begumgonj, Noakhali.
Ph: 03221-8083, 0171-408226
Source: Sansthakul, monthly newsletter of Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, March 2004, Vol.34, No.12