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Archive for the ‘Ashram’ Category

Gujarat govt releases video of its plan for Gandhi Ashram, says ‘restoration’ to inspire future generation – Deccan Herald

Posted: October 21, 2021 at 1:44 am

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A day after a group of Gandhian organisations set out on a march from Sevagram to Sabarmati to protest against the redevelopment plan for Mahatma Gandhi-founded Sabarmati Ashram, the state government on Monday released a video on social media platforms, sharing its plan for the Ashram for the first time in public domain.

The government has termed its plan as "restoration" of "Gandhiji's karmabhoomi" to "keep alive his values and philosophy and continue to inspire future generations."

The 4.48 minutes long video titled "Gandhi Ashram Restoration Project" was uploaded on Chief Minister Office Twitter and Instagram handles. The video has been made by "Mahatma Gandhi Sabarmati Ashram Memorial Trust", which is said to have been formed by the state government recently to look after redevelopment work and the subsequent management of the Ashram precinct. Despite repeated attempts, K Kailashnathan, chairman of the Executive Council, set up by the state government for project implementation, didn't respond to comment.

The development comes a day after 50 people representing various Gandhian organisations embarked on "Sevagram-Sabarmati Sandesh Yatra" in protest against the government's plan for redevelopment. The march, started from Sevagram Ashram in Wardha, will reach Ahmedabad on October 23. On October 24, a silent protest is likely to be held at the Ashram.

The short videodescribes the Ashram set up by Gandhi in 1917 as "the austere, simple and authentic architecture of the ashram was the very embodiment of Gandhiji's value and philosophy."

It says, "It is true that today's Gandhi Ashram memorial is deeply inspiring yet it has long been felt that it leaves much to be desired. When established the Ashram was spread out over 120 acres of land on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. It had 63 buildings that housed numerous activities of the Ashram. Today, what people know as Gandhi Ashram is only five acres of the original Ashra which has been preserved as a memorial. Only three of its original buildings are open for visitors, many of the others have either been torn down or lie across the busy ashram road. The video says that over the years many new buildings "that are incongruous with the architecture of the original Ashram, have also been built on Ashram ground, making it unrecognisable from the place where Gandhijji nurtured India's quest for freedom."

It adds, "During this 75th year of India's independence the government has resolved to restore Gandhi ashram in a way that preserves the ethos of the original ashram. Ashram road will be severed and diverted. The Ashram will be expanded to include all buildings built during Gandhi's time. Buildings and activities which are not congruent with the proposed memorial will be moved to satellite campuses adjoining the ashram. Ashram wasis who are currently the tenants of various trusts will be given ownership of new houses with upgraded facilities located within 50 metres of their current locations. Those who chose to move to a different location will be provided a generous compensation or four-bedroom homes which are ready to occupy."

Sharing the government's plan, the film says, "A conceptual master plan for expansion and restoration of Arham has been prepared. The original building of the Ashram will be carefully restored and brought alive for everyone to visit and be inspired by. A few new museums and exhibits will be added to display Gandhi's life and works. Gandhi Ashram archive and library will be better housed and facilities will be created for research and training. Amenities will be augmented to support the continuously increasing number of visitors. All of these be done in a way that preserves the ethos and sanctity of the original Ashram.Chandrabha revolt in the vicinity of the ashram will be made into a pleasant urban waterway. The historic dandi bridge will be restored."

The video says that the estimated cost for this project is 1,200 crore, which will be funded by the Government of India and managed by the Gujarat government in "consultation and consensus" with all stakeholders. "Restoration of Gandhiji's karmabhoomi will keep alive his values and philosophy and continue to inspire future generations," the video added.

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Gujarat govt releases video of its plan for Gandhi Ashram, says 'restoration' to inspire future generation - Deccan Herald

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October 21st, 2021 at 1:44 am

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Gandhi Ashram Redevelopment: Received bids from 3 firms, says AMC officials – The Indian Express

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Three firms have bid for the Gandhi Ashram redevelopment project work, for which the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) had issued a tender worth an estimated cost of Rs 218 crore last month, said AMC officials.

The technical scrutiny of the three bidders is expected to be completed by October 19 and if all goes as per plan, the work is expected to commence by end of November, an AMC official said.

The three bidders include construction company NCC in a joint venture with Ahmedabad-based P Das Infrastructure Ltd, Ahmedabad-based Apex Tarmac Pvt Ltd and Kalthia Group base in Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar, according to AMC officials who handle the tender process for the Gandhi Ashram Precinct Development at Sardar Patel Stadium in West Zone, which shall cover the restructuring of the Chandrabhaga river a tributary of the Sabarmati. The submission of bids to the online tender, which closed on October 5, are undergoing technical evaluation to verify if the bidders fulfill the necessary criteria for undertaking the work, said an AMC official.

Once the technical evaluation and scrutiny are done, we will open up the financial bid for whosoever qualifies where they will quote the amount and the one who quotes the lowest will win the bid, the official said.

According to the tender document, the bidder shall have experience of similar work of infrastructure-based projects, completed between 2014-15 and 2020-21. After the financial bidding, the AMC official said, it would take one week for approval from the municipal commissioner and 21 days for approval of the standing committee (of the AMC)Work will start thereafter.

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Gandhi Ashram Redevelopment: Received bids from 3 firms, says AMC officials - The Indian Express

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October 21st, 2021 at 1:44 am

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Step inside Samantha Ruth Prabhu’s Rishikesh luxury resort on banks of river Ganges, see pics and video – Hindustan Times

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Samantha Ruth Prabhu is vacationing in Rishikesh with her friend and has been sharing pictures from there. The Family Man 2 star, who has been in the news lately for her separation from Naga Chaitanya, has revealed she's staying at The Roseate Ganges, a luxury hotel on the banks of the river Ganges.

In the pictures shared on her Instagram Stories, Samantha gave a glimpse of the infinity pool that comes with a view of the mountain, the monkeys, a huge spiderweb she noticed, and an old tree she spotted. She also geotagged the location. Her friend Shilpa Reddy also shared a picture to reveal that they stepped out for a trek.

The luxury resort, as per their official website, offers nature walks by the river, treks, yoga on the white sand beach, meditation, the religious Arti by the Ganges, river rafting, a spiritual peregrination, as well as visits to organic farms, Sivananda Ashram, Rajaji National Wildlife Park and The Beatles Ashram.

With 17 villas present, a night at the resort could cost anything between 26,897 to 50,000, depending on the time of the year one visits. While the prices seem to be below 30,000 most times, on occasions like Diwali and New Year, the prices shoot up.

Also read: Samantha Ruth Prabhu reveals what she hates being asked in interviews, calls such questions extremely inhumane

Previously, Janhvi Kapoor had stayed at the resort when she visited Rishikesh with her friends. A picture of her unwinding in the infinity was shared by the resort as well.

Samantha's break in the mountains comes after her announcement of her split with Chaitanya. After being married for close to four years, Samantha and Chaitanya issued identical statements confirming that they were parting ways. Although the cause of their separation isn't revealed, Samantha had lashed out at rumours suggesting affairs, that she never wanted children and has had abortions.

The Telugu star is also set to return to work soon. She has recently signed two bilingual movies back-to-back. One is helmed by director duo Hari and Harish whereas the second is with debutant director Shantharuban. She also has director Gunasekar's period drama Shaakuntalam in the pipeline.

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Step inside Samantha Ruth Prabhu's Rishikesh luxury resort on banks of river Ganges, see pics and video - Hindustan Times

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October 21st, 2021 at 1:44 am

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From Hindu temples to Durga Puja pandals, Hindu homes, shops and villages: Comprehensive account of the carnage in Bangladesh by Islamists – OpIndia

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Durga Puja is an integral part of Hindu Bengali culture. Apart from being a religious festival, it is an emotion that resonates in the hearts of the Bengali community. As such, it comes as no surprise that Bengalis wait in sheer anticipation of the annual Durga Puja. But, for Hindus living across the border in Bangladesh, the auspicious occasion was sullied by violence, vandalism, killings, rapes and desecration at the hands of radical Islamists.

In a Muslim-majority nation where they constitute less than 10% of the total population, Hindus remain vulnerable to attacks by radical Islamic terrorists. Opindia has documented 100s of such cases of persecution and ill-treatment meted out to the minority community. Given Bangladeshs track record of human rights violations, attacks on Hindus remains a routine affair. However, this time the Islamists tried to create a context to justify their ruthless atrocities on minorities, ahead of Durga Puja.

In the wee hours of Wednesday (October 13), radical Islamists reportedly entered the Nanuar Dighir Par Durga Mandir in Cumilla district and placed a copy of the Quran on the feet of the idol of Lord Hanuman. According to Shibu Prasad Dutta, the general secretary of Cumilla Mahanagar Puja Udjapon Committee, someone carried out the mischief in the morning when the guard was asleep. The miscreants took some pictures of this and ran away. Within a few hours, using Facebook, the propaganda spread like wildfire with the provocative pictures, confirmed a district official.

The foundation for orchestrating a Hindu pogrom was perfectly laid The insult of the Holy Book, the punishment for which is death. Dipan Mitra, the Secretary-General of World Hindu federation (Bangladesh Chapter), stated, Then they raised an issue of insulting Islam and gathered a mob and started attacked Hindu Temples in Cumilla town. After that, the attack on temples and Hindus was spread all over the country

He further added, They Vandalized more than 315 Temples and its Idols and looted all valuable things in more than 30 districts of Bangladesh during 13 16 October 2021. They attacked and vandalized nearly 1500 Hindu houses in Cumilla, Chandpur, Noakhali, Chittagong, Coxs Bazar, Feni, Chapai Nawabgonj and other districts. Mitra recounted the names of the 10 Hindus who were slaughtered by radical Islamists under the garb of blasphemy. They included Manik Saha, Jatan Saha, Prashanta Das, Priest Nimai Krishna, 4 unnamed Hindu priests and 1 more unidentified victim. Besides, 23 Hindu women and girls were raped and 17 Hindus remain missing.

Mitra concluded, Now is the time to clarify the position of the government do they want Bangladesh to be a secular prosperous Bangladesh or do they want to take it back to the ideology of previous Pakistan. He also mentioned that the lack of justice is giving birth to new crimes in this country. He appealed to the government for immediate arrest of all culprits and provides exemplary punishment.

While blaming the Hindu community for the desecration of the Quran, Islamists vandalised the Durga Puja pandal and the idols of the deities kept at the Nanuar Dighir Par Durga Mandir in Cumilla. According to Dipan Mitra, the Islamic extremists also attacked the Nrisingh Dev and Dashavuja Kali temples. He added that the mob also vandalised the Rishipara temple, Rajeswari Kali temple, besides 14 other temples and Durga pandals in the district.

The Secretary-General of the World Hindu Federation (Bangladesh Chapter) informed that the Muslim fanatics attacked 15 Puja pandals (Banskhali), 3 temples and puja pandals (Melaghar in Patia), 5 temples and Puja pandals (Sarkarhat and Hathazari) in the Chittagonj district. He added that attacks were also carried out at the Karunamoyi Kalibari temple at Chakbazar and J M Sen Hall Puja Pandal in Chittagonj.

At the same time, 70 Hindu houses were attacked in Hajiganj in the Chandpur district. About 150 Hindu families were targeted along with the iconic Ramkrishna Mission. Besides, 7 temples and puja pandals were also destroyed by Muslim extremists. Advocate Dr Gobinda Chandra Pramanik, Secretary-General of Bangladesh Jatio Hindu Mohajote, shared the news of the death of Manik Saha, publicity secretary of Chandpur district branch of Bangladesh National Hindu Youth Grand Alliance.

The Islamists attacked the Ram Thakur Ashram and vandalised 10 temples and puja pandals including Mongola, Nabadurga, Bijoya, Trishul and Koatbari Puja Pandal. About 20 houses were attacked in Nalchira, Chayanibazar, Begumgonj, Choumohoni and Sonaimuri. At the same time, 9 temples and puja pandals were vandalised at Choumohoni in Noakhali.

On Friday (October 15), a frenzied mob of radical Islamists attacked the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temple in the Noakhali district of Bangladesh.In a tweet, the official handle of ISKCON wrote, ISKCON temple & devotees were violently attacked today by a mob in Noakhali, Bangladesh. Temple suffered significant damage & the condition of a devotee remains critical. We call on the Govt of Bangladesh to ensure the safety of all Hindus & bring the perpetrators to justice.

The Bangladesh unit of ISKCON lamented that the sculpture of its founder, AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, was burnt down during the arson attack on the temple. A Twitter account (@HinduVoice_in) had shared disturbing visuals of arson by radical Islamists. In the video clip, flames and smoke were seen rising from the burnt ISKCON temple. SpokesmanRadharamn Das had shared visuals of a Hindu monk, who was critically injured after sustaining a dagger attack to his head.

In a video that has now surfaced on social media, a Hindu monk at ISKCONnarrated, Hare Krishna! Today, Jamaat attacked the ISKCON temple and other temples in Choumani in Noakhali. They have executed it as part of a vicious plan. ISKCON Mandir has been desecrated. They have killed one devotee outright and stabbed another, leading to his critical state. Several motorcycles were set on fire. There was a mob of 400-500 people. They have looted 1 lakh taka from our temple The Noakhali administration has yet not taken any action against the miscreants.

Radical Islamists attacked Hindus in the Feni district in the Chittagong Division of Bangladesh. A 14-second video clip had gone viral wherein radical Islamists could be seencreating mayhem on the streets. Equipped with lathis, the frenzied mob gathered in large numbers and then looted and vandalised Hindu temples in unison.

Reportedly, the President of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, Shukdeb Nath Tapan, was attacked by the same Islamist mob near the Joykali temple. The Hindu community was preparing to lead a march from the said temple to the old Dhaka-Chattogram Highways Trunk Road. Islamists, who had gathered near Trunk Road Bara Masjid attacked the Hindus with sticks and brickbats. In a bid to control the law and order situation, the cops deployed a large team in the Feni town. They resorted to firing tear gas shells to disperse the unruly mob.

According to Officer-in-Charge (Feni Model Police Station) Nizam Uddin, more than 40 people were injured during the clashes. They were then rushed to the Feni General Hospital. According to Shukdeb, the district administration took time in sending in Border Guard Bangladesh (BGF)and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). The attackers torched a passenger vehicle at Kalipal, hurled crude bombs, vandalised a fire truck and attacked Hindu temples such as JoyKali, Jagannathbari, Kalibari Temple and Gaziganj Ashram.

As per eyewitnesses, the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami named Islami Chhatra Shibir was among the perpetrators. Local activists of the Awami League and its student wing Bangladesh Chhatra League tried to resist the attackers. Weve got reports about vandalism of shops. We are working on it, stated Inspector Monir Hossain (Feni Model Police Station).

In a fresh attack on Sunday (October 17), they carried out arson at a village and burnt 20 Hindu homes in Pirganj Upazila in the Rangpur Division of Bangladesh.

BDNews24reportedthat Muslims in Jelepolli in Majipara had alleged that a Hindu man had posted content dishonouring religion on Facebook. District Superintendent Md Qamruzzaman stated, Police stood guard around his home. That home was saved, but the attackers set fire to some other homes not so far from his. The frenzied mob of radical Islamists targeted three villages namely, Majhipara, Bottola and Hatibandha villages in Pirganj Upazila.

BDNews24 added that the Fire Service Department received information about the arson attack at around 9:50 pm. It was only at 3 am on Monday morning that the fire could finally be extinguished. While there have been no casualties or estimates of the damage caused, it is believed that 15-20 houses were burnt down during the attack.

Dipan Mitra, the Secretary-General of the World Hindu Federation (Bangladesh Chapter) shared a list of temples, Hindu houses that were attacked and burnt in 24 other districts of Bangladesh. His comprehensive list reads

In a statement on Friday (October 15), the International Commission for Human Rights and Religious Freedom(ICHRRF) condemned the targeted attacks on the minority Hindu population during Durga Puja. ICHRRF remarked, Durga Puja is the years biggest religious festivity in traditional Bengali Hindu culture, and is a time of great celebration, musical performance, dioramas, feasts, parades and personal reflection, observed across social divides in Bengali society. However, this iconic Hindu religious festival has come under gruesome attack from Muslim mobs this year in Bangladesh, vandalizing Hindu temples, smashing icons, and assaulting devotees.

It further added, Across 22 districts of Bangladesh, major and minor incidents of attacks and vandalism have so far claimed the lives of at least 4 people and injured over 60 others, some critically. The violence erupted in Cumilla after rumours of an act of blasphemy at a Hindu religious gathering. Attacks followed in quick succession at several other locations. ICHRRF also condemned the targeting of the ISKCON temple in Noakhali. The International Commission for Human Rights and Religious Freedom also criticised the action of the Bangladeshi police.

To stop the attacks, Bangladesh police authorities have enforced a ban on all kinds of gatherings and rallies in several districts, effectively squelching public festivities and giving in to Islamist demands to exterminate overtly Hindu observances. The police also opened fire on a gathering of over 500 people, which is reported to have resulted in some casualties. The Durga Puja attacks this year are not isolated. They form part of a continuing series of attacks on Bangladeshi Hindus since early this year, which in turn are part of a decades long process of ethnic cleansing of minorities from Bangladesh, it concluded.

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From Hindu temples to Durga Puja pandals, Hindu homes, shops and villages: Comprehensive account of the carnage in Bangladesh by Islamists - OpIndia

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October 21st, 2021 at 1:44 am

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Channi: Govt committed to ensure holistic development in State – Daily Pioneer

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Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Sunday asserted that despite less time, all out efforts would be made to realise the peoples dreams by fulfilling the remaining promises made to them.

Reiterating his Governments firm commitment to ensure holistic development in the State and welfare of all sections of the society, Channi said

judicious utilisation of time would be done to achieve the goal for betterment of the State.

Channi, in his address during a function held at local MLA and former Minister Sunder Sham Aroras residence, said the State Government was working round the clock to ensure overall development and timely completion of ongoing infrastructure works as urban development is a crucial component of holistic growth.

All basic amenities in urban areas will be provided to the people in the urban areas keeping in view their future needs, said Channi, adding that there was no dearth of funds for the same.

Announcing Rs 10 crore for Hoshiarpur to be given within next few days, the Chief Minister said that his Government was already making best use of available time so as to touch new heights of success and glory in the State as per peoples aspirations.

Pointing out, the Chief Minister also announced that Hoshiarpur would get state-of-the-art Biodiversity and Sports Park at a cost of Rs five crore to further develop flora and fauna in the region.

Foundation stone of this Park and the upcoming Medical College would be laid shortly. However, the classes of this Medical College would commence from the next academic session. All the necessary directions have already been issued to expedite the process for tender floating so that its construction could be started at the earliest, he added.

Extending a healing touch to the children, who lost their parents during COVID-19 pandemic, Channi handed over packets containing daily use items and some cash to them.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister also went to the residences of MLA Arun Dogra and MLA Pawan Kumar Adia, where he met the families of both MLAs and interacted with them. Later on, the Chief Minister also visited MLA Dr Raj Kumar Chabbewals residence.

The Chief Minister, accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Revenue Minister Aruna Chaudhary, also paid obeisance at Swami Jagat Giri Ashram in Pathankot. Channi, who attended the Satsang while sitting amongst the people, announced a grant of Rs 51 lakh for Ashram, road widening project that leads to the Ashram, and also laid the foundation stone of a hostel in MKM Public School at Ashram premises.

Special focus is being laid to strengthen the education and health sectors for ensuring affordable quality healthcare and education to the weaker sections of the society so that young minds from the unprivileged part of the society can contribute towards societys development, he said.

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Channi: Govt committed to ensure holistic development in State - Daily Pioneer

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October 21st, 2021 at 1:44 am

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The future of Sabarmati Ashram – The Indian Express

Posted: August 25, 2021 at 1:48 am

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During the previous several decades, as scholars interested in the life and thought of Mahatma Gandhi, we have had the privilege to work in the archives of the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad the most important repository of the correspondence to and from Gandhi and to walk around the hallowed ground of the Ashram, the residence of the Mahatma and his wife Kasturba, from 1917 until he departed from there on the historical Salt March to Dandi in 1930.

We have wondered what direction the Ashram could take in the 21st century. Over the years we have imagined, in particular, what the Sabarmati Ashram might become and how it could play its role in spreading the message of Gandhi, how it could be ensured that the most effective use is made of this unique world-significant location. Of course, it has a large role to play as one of Indias most historical sites, as a museum and as a pilgrimage place that inspires the quest for truth and teaches the observant visitor about the value of nonviolence and simplicity in a period of threatening environmental collapse and very present economic inequality. For these reasons, the lessons taught by Gandhi, and embodied in the Ashram, are just as important now as ever before.

The ethos of the Ashram is conducive to the higher-level ways of thinking and being that Gandhi modelled. So powerful are the present simplicity and orderliness of the surroundings that they cannot but affect the thoughtful visitor. In the late 1970s, the revolutionary thinker Ivan Illich, talking of Gandhis hut at Sevagram, noted, This hut of Gandhi demonstrates to the world how the dignity of the common man can be brought up. It is also a symbol of happiness which we can derive from practising the principle of simplicity, service and truthfulness. Of course, he could just as easily have been talking about Hriday Kunj, the basic but inspiring home of Gandhi and Kasturba at the Ashram. But such happiness requires time, a slower than usual pace, and quiet reflection something impossible among huge crowds.

It seems to us that there are two possible ways to make sure that the Ashram remains relevant into the future. One of them seems obvious, but we feel would create more loss than gain. If the press reports of the proposal to redevelop the precinct are accurate, the Ashram could become a mass tourist hub, with a large car park, food court, shops, a VIP lounge, that could reclaim the visual wholesomeness, tranquillity and uncluttered environment of 1949, while becoming a world-class tourist destination. This would generate money for the state and, perhaps, make the Mahatma known to a far greater number of people.

One must ask, however, whether there is not a higher purpose in preserving the Ashram in its striking simplicity and as a relatively hard-to-access place without food outlets on the grounds, and without lounges for important visitors (what would Gandhi say about this!).

A potential Disneyesque Gandhi theme park (and what would Gandhi say if he could re-visit Dandi?) may be popular among those wanting to take a selfie and tick a bucket-list box. However, there may be another approach, one that allows the Ashram to become (or, indeed, remain) something harder to envisage but where one can feel the Gandhian ethos. It was here that Gandhi conducted his experiments to observe and infer ethical action, where communal living and dining meant that caste divisions were done away with, where ashramites learned that they could take on the might of an empire.

Would the proposed makeover not end up obliterating Gandhis ideas and message? Would one still be able to feel Gandhis spirit? The loss would be intangible, but huge. When Gandhi was asked why he did not visit America, he expressed the fear that people would come to see him out of idle curiosity: Lets see this animal in the Indian zoo. He wanted those who had an interest in him to really understand what he was trying to do and invited them to come to the Ashram and make a detailed study of his teachings.

Instead of a tourist hub where Gandhi could become a mere tourist attraction, here is a chance for India to ensure that the Ashram where the Mahatma walked and worked, and where one can still feel his spirit in the gardens, homes, and prayer ground, remains a living, breathing means for the world to understand Gandhi and his message.

Of course, as scholars of Gandhi, we may have a narrow perspective. In addition to attracting true seekers, could the Ashram also be positioned so that it ensures that its outstanding collection of Gandhiana is shared by scholars and peace workers in a way that helps to promote first-class Gandhi scholarship and considered Gandhian praxis, and possibly to help create a worldwide community of like-minded Gandhi inspirees? While the Gandhi Heritage Portal of Gandhi-related documents and information is provided electronically by the Ashram, could the Ashram be the site of an international Gandhi research hub in India? It could become the most important place in the world for scholars and seekers to come and work, to meet other scholars and seekers, to share information and discuss ideas. It could foster greater contact among Gandhi experts and ensure that Gandhi scholarship is carried out at the highest level and that an understanding of a Gandhian ethos is not lost. Could it be a place where Gandhi scholars and sincere seekers from around the world come and work with the best of local scholars and activists who could inspire each other?

Having access to documents, whether in hard copy or digital form, is not the same as having a group of like-minded people working in one place. And if the place had a Gandhian atmosphere (such as the Ashram could provide, but simple academic libraries and archives, no matter how good they are, cannot) it would be a wonderfully unique atmosphere and, through the Sabarmati Harijan Ashram, India could serve the entire world as a beacon for the seeker of truth and nonviolence.

This column first appeared in the print edition on August 25, 2021 under the title Gandhi Ashram of the future. Weber is author of On the Salt March: The Historiography of Gandhis March to Dandi, DiSalvo of The Man Before the Mahatma: M.K.Gandhi Attorney at Law, and Dalton of Mahatma Gandhi: Nonviolent Power in Action

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The future of Sabarmati Ashram - The Indian Express

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August 25th, 2021 at 1:48 am

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It is not enough to protect the precincts of Sabarmati Ashram – The Indian Express

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The Mahatma Gandhi Ashram at Sabarmati has always attracted universal reverence in India and outside. It has received and welcomed a wide range of individuals, many of whom come here as pilgrims.

The Ashram is not a project, or Gandhijis home, or a tourist spot. It is where our history of achieving freedom for millions with non-violent means was made. It is where we experimented with a future way of living. The Ashram is not a mere memorial of objects and artefacts but a place that inspired satyagraha and carved pathways inner and outer to peace. It is our common and shared responsibility to protect, preserve and promote. All of us. Including our government.

What we have to preserve is the sanctity of the Ashram. We have to preserve the simplicity, logic and spirit of Gandhijis ideas and values. And we have to do so with consensus, and in full collaboration with each other. I insist that any change to the Ashram, or the proposal to redevelop it, is made with consensus and any process for this change is collaborative.

So far, all have been open, welcoming, and cooperative in discussing ideas and plans. The suggestions and protest letters about the redevelopment plan are most valuable and welcome. I have faith that we will all continue this open and peaceful process to achieve a consensus.

And, therefore, there is hardly any possibility of the governmentalisation of the Ashram, we believe. We will continue our efforts to protest, protect, and promote this Ashram with peaceful means.

Non-violence, to me, has never been a lack of action or timid acceptance, it has been a force of its own that is connected with wider day-to-day political, social, and economic struggles for the freedom of the poor and women workers. Gandhi Ashrams will not work for the betterment of Indias society nor its citizens if they are not more and more aligned to the Gandhi way.

This is not to take Gandhi too literally. Let us conceive of Gandhi as a way of thinking about our society, economy and politics. The Gandhi way is self-reliance at the local level, and full employment at the household level. It is a way towards sustainability and near-zero carbon footprint. It implies local ownership of the means of production. It calls for a broad-based and inclusive social and economic democracy. The Gandhi way is to build peace at home, in the neighbourhood and in the world. And in this, Dalits, minorities, Adivasis have a leading role to play. Women and workers will be the engines.

As a society, we seem to be rushing towards mass suicide, with investments that lead to no jobs, and infrastructure that pollutes air, food and water faster than we can clean or preserve them. If the majority turns on minority communities, cultures or ideas, in the end we will leave no one alive.

Unless the ashrams take the economy and the citizens to self-reliance, to full and meaningful employment, to sustainability, and to local cooperative control of the means of production, they will not deliver what they promise widespread long-term prosperity and samullas for every Indian.

The Ashram is not made of the four walls that protect Gandhijis artefacts and archives needless to say they are priceless to us all but of an endless set of doors that open us to the Gandhi way. Let me give a personal example. What touches me at the Ashram is the recurring memory of my grandfather, Dr Manidhar Prasad Vyas, from Desai ni Pole, Khadia, Ahmedabad, joining the Salt March and being hit by police sticks that broke his teeth, weakened the bones in his limbs for the rest of his life, and transformed him from a successful medical doctor into a lifelong satyagrahi.

Gandhiji would have been puzzled by his people caring for the Ashram precincts but not moving ahead to the peaceful, Gandhian constructive way of building a mutually nurturing society.

This column first appeared in the print edition on August 23, 2021 under the title Open doors, not walls. The writer is Sewa founder and chairperson of Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust

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It is not enough to protect the precincts of Sabarmati Ashram - The Indian Express

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August 25th, 2021 at 1:48 am

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Ma Anand Sheela’s advice to Priyanka Chopra, Alia Bhatt if they want to play her: ‘Move away from scandal’ – Hindustan Times

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Ma Anand Sheela, the controversial former aid to Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh (later known as Osho), has commented on the two rival biopics being made about her; one, a film starring Priyanka Chopra, and another a show, reportedly starring Alia Bhatt.

In a new interview, Ma Anand Sheela said that she hopes the two projects are able to avoid focusing only on the scandals that she has been involved in.

Asked about the narrative projects being made about her, she told journalist Puja Talwar, "Well, I sometimes chuckle. Sometimes they will have to do deep searching into my character. They have to move a little bit away from scandal. And I don't know if they can. And if they don't, I take it as an impression of me they are doing."

Sheela rose to prominence after appearing in the 2018 Netflix documentary series Wild Wild Country, which focused on the ashram that Rajneesh set up in Oregon with Sheela's assistance, and the massive scandal that forced them to shut down, and caused irreparable damage to their relationship.

Sheela also appeared this year in Searching for Sheela, a one-hour documentary executive produced by Shakun Batra. She said that she hasn't seen it in its entirety, but only fast-forwarded to her own portions, to ensure that her words weren't misrepresented.

Shakun Batra is the man behind the purported Alia Bhatt project. He spoke to Hindustan Times about it earlier this year, and said, "It's an ambitious show, it's something that's very close to my heart..." He said that he was ready to 'jump back into development' on the show after completing work on his upcoming film, starring Deepika Padukone.

Also read: Ma Anand Sheela hasnt given Priyanka Chopra permission for the biopic, says Alia Bhatt has the necessary spunk to play her

Sheela had previously said that she hasn't given Priyanka permission to play her on-screen. She told Hindustan Times, "I told her I do not give her permission to do [the] film because I have not chosen her... In Switzerland, we send legal notices very simply. I sent her an email which is accepted there as legal." Asked if she'd heard back, she said, "No, never. Not even a courtesy letter that they received my notice but thats not an issue, maybe she never had the opportunity to meet me or make time to meet me and it is no big issue... not everybody has the time to meet me."

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Ma Anand Sheela's advice to Priyanka Chopra, Alia Bhatt if they want to play her: 'Move away from scandal' - Hindustan Times

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August 25th, 2021 at 1:48 am

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Book review: In Women Who Wear Only Themselves, an life through the sacred journeys of four travellers – Firstpost

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The women you will encounter in this book are not four different iterations of the same template. They seek a dissolution of ego, not an extinction of personality.

My first encounter with Arundhathi Subramaniams writing was as a college student in the first decade of this century. Her poetry gave me an opportunity to engage with the inner lives of pilgrimage and postcolonialism in an idiom suited to my curious, restless mind. Her prose showed me a way to inhabit the present moment without apology, while being open to the guidance that might come from those who have asked the same questions before me.

Her new book Women Who Wear Only Themselves is a reminder of her enduring interest in exploring spiritual life when it is a subject that many of her contemporaries only scoff at. Perhaps it is comforting to inhabit the familiar language of cynicism that flows easily from the tongues of those like myself who have been taught to think critically. It takes courage to see things as they are, and not merely to spot what is problematic and how it can be fixed.

Published by Speaking Tiger, this book offers four essays bound together by the authors enquiry into the sacred journeys of four fellow travellers all of whom are women. In the Preface, she writes, These women made no effort to impress. They were gracious enough to share their life journeys, without trying to flaunt their attainments, win recruits, or garner publicity. I am a seasoned listener, and instantly alert to subtle attempts to broker deals.

The first essay, titled Clothed in Emptiness, is about Sri Annapurani Amma who resides in an ashram in the village of Chinnalambadi in Tamil Nadu. She wears no clothes, except during public satsangs and television interviews. Her guru is an 18th century saint named Sadashiva Brahmendra, whose compositions still suffuse the repertoire of Carnatic musicians. He may not be around in a physical human form but he continues to be a living presence for Amma.

Her devotion to him may come across as a disappointment if you equate surrender with subjugation. However, an open heart can help you perceive that their relationship is not bound by codes of obedience and punishment. She refers to her guru as thatha, the Tamil word for grandfather. There is a profound sense of security in knowing that you are being led and looked after by someone who craves no validation and desires only your well-being.

The second essay, titled The Reluctant Guru, is about Balarishi Vishwashirasini whose hermitage lies deep in the palm-fringed road from Coimbatore to Palakkad. Thrown into gurudom because of her stunning gifts as a child prodigy, she is now maturing as a teacher of nada yoga. The author explains, The idea of offering sound to the divine appealed to me. I like the idea of the spoken word as libation a sensual and aromatic gift to the gods.

The experience of being one with Shiva is what gives meaning to this teachers existence. The awareness that she has miles to go before she sleeps has taught her to wear the guru role with joy and lightness. She tells the author, When confronted by questions I cannot answer, I learnt to say, I dont know, and simply offer the person a cup of coffee or tea It is not my role to satisfy people. I now realize that. I can only give them what I am capable of offering.

Arundhathi Subramaniam

The third essay, titled What It Takes to be a Redwood Tree, is about writer-filmmaker Lata Mani whose former life as a Marxist and feminist intellectual was turned upside down by a brain injury from a road accident. She is based in California. I was not looking for the divine, she came looking for me, she says while describing her relationship with the path of Tantra that has transformed her understanding of trauma, pain, illness, disability and death.

She believes that understanding the social basis of gender counts as essential work towards spiritual liberation because men, women, boys, girls, intersex and trans persons, each carry particular burdens. In her view, struggles and spiritual journeys are shaped by class, caste, culture, race, etc. She says, The trick is in learning how to simultaneously understand, honour and take distance from that which we have assumed has made us who we are.

The fourth essay, titled The Leap into Monkhood is about Maa Karpoori whose transition from marriage to monastic life was catalysed by a yoga class that she had no intention of joining but was cajoled into by her former husband. It was there that she met her guru, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. Eventually, she picked sangha over samsara, and walked into a life of voluntary simplicity in an ashram near Coimbatore. The shift was rewarding but not easy.

Arundhathi Subramaniam, who is also the author of the book Sadhguru: More Than a Life, writes, Her guru, once a close friend and guide, was turning into a larger-than-life figure. Access to him was growing more difficult. A small band of fellow disciples was growing into a large bustling ashram. A spiritual path was getting systematized. It was unnerving. She found ease in silence and sanyas, dropping the need to have a personal relationship with her guru.

Each essay has a different flavour because each quest is moulded by a unique set of causes and conditions. The women you will encounter in this book are not four different iterations of the same template. They seek a dissolution of ego, not an extinction of personality. Being able to tell the difference can be an impossible task if you keep trying to forcibly sift reality through preconceived categories of analysis. You cannot be free while being caught up.

If you need a concrete takeaway from this book rather than the chance to sit and contemplate at leisure, read the Afterword. Tying up all the connecting threads, she writes, On one level, they are part of a quietly growing chorus one that recognizes the importance of honouring a woman-nourished, woman-vitalised, woman-inclusive spirituality on this planet. On another, they are just fingers pointing, as so many have before, to the moon.


Chintan Girish Modi is a Mumbai-based writer who tweets @chintan_connect

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Book review: In Women Who Wear Only Themselves, an life through the sacred journeys of four travellers - Firstpost

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August 25th, 2021 at 1:48 am

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Police look for helper who murdered head priest in Surendranagar ashram – The Indian Express

Posted: July 14, 2021 at 1:53 am

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The chief priest of an Ashram in Sayala of Surendranagar was allegedly murdered by his sewak (helper) after a dispute between the duo, with police forming multiple teams to arrest the accused.

According to police, the incident took place in Nageshwar Ashram at Vanki village of Sayla taluka in Surendranagar on July 4 night, when head priest Bhavani Shankargiri Bapu, said to be above 60 years old, was allegedly assaulted by his helper Sitaram (Ramji), 30. Bapu died during treatment in a Rajkot hospital on July 6 night, after which police lodged a case of murder against Sitaram who is absconding.

I arrived at Nageshwar Ashram with my guru Dharmendragiri Bapu for a satsang On July 4 night, Dharmendragiri Bapu, Bhavani Shankargiri Bap, Sitaram and I were sitting in the ashram. Bhavani asked Sitaram to get him dinner and water The latter got infuriated and started abusing him. Sitaram picked up a wooden stick and assaulted Bhavani Shankargiri multiple times on his head due to which he fell unconscious. He then assaulted Dharmendragiri and myself with the stick and demanded keys of my motorcycle. He then locked us inside the ashram and left on the motorcycle, said Ashish Shekhalia, helper of Dharmendragiri Bapu, in his police complaint.

We called on 108 helpline and Bhavani Shankar Giri was taken to a hospital in Surendranagar. He was later shifted to Rajkot based hospital where he died on July 6 night during treatment, the complaint added.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Surendranagar Superintendent of Police Mahendra Bagadia said, The accused assaulted Bapu over demanding dinner and water. He is absconding as of now and teams have been formed to arrest him.

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Police look for helper who murdered head priest in Surendranagar ashram - The Indian Express

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July 14th, 2021 at 1:53 am

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