We celebrate the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and many functions are organized in the schools, colleges and other places and the same is done all over the world in different ways. For many people in India, this seems to be a holiday and the people plan to go out to enjoy with their family. A few months back there was a debate on a TV channel in which the topic was how to celebrate National festivals. The person from travel industry was trying to prove that the people have a right to enjoy on these occasions and it was not necessary for them to sit at home and think and talk only about such day that are of immense importance. The debate gave a feeling to me that the national festivals, like Independence Day and Republic Day are marked only to enjoy. I have a different point of view in this regard. Such national festivals provide us an opportunity to remember the good done and sacrifices made by our forefathers and leaders. This is the occasion to remind ourselves of our duties and responsibilities towards our nation. This is also an opportunity to understand our great leaders better and get inspired by their deeds and character which made them great and enabled them to achieve freedom for us. This is not true only for the national festivals but all other occasions as well. This is the most appropriate opportunity for us to let our children understand and realize the sacrifices made by our freedom fighters and states men.
2nd October has great importance in the history of our nation. Two great leaders who contributed immensely in shaping the destiny of our country were born on this auspicious day. They were Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri. As usual we celebrated their birth day yesterday also. I happen to read some articles in different newspapers regarding the life these two great personalities. It is not that I had not known these things about them earlier but every time I read about them, it gives a lot of strength and positive energy. This also gives us a belief that if we remember and follow their sayings and doings then this country will reach newer heights sooner than thought by many in today`s time. At times Gandhi Ji and other leaders are made so great that ordinary people think that they cannot do anything of that kind which these leaders did. The same, at times, is felt by the children also and they tend to feel it too difficult to do things as Gandhi Ji or Lal Bahadur Shastri Ji did. But the truth is that they were also as ordinary children as anybody is! They did the same things which are expected of a normal child but the difference was that of conviction, courage and doing the things honestly. Gandhi Ji was no exception because he was also an ordinary human being, but truth and honesty were his hallmarks and he was very true to himself and also to others. We do read different views about him that he ate meat etc., but why did he do that, is very important to understand for all of us. He was swayed by one of his friends, who was very close to him and used to influence him the most, particularly for this incident of his life. As we all know that Gandhi Ji was very respectful towards his parents and would never dare to tell a lie to them or hide anything from them. They belonged to a Vaishnav family and were pure vegetarians and never thought of eating meat. This friend of Gandhi Ji used to encourage him to eat but Gandhi Ji would very politely say no and it was the same for other things also which Gandhi Ji thought were not right to do. When all efforts of this gentleman failed he used a trick. He knew that Gandhi Ji used to think and talk about why Britishers were ruling our country so one day he told Gandhi Ji that it was because they had more strength than Indians. When Gandhi Ji asked about the reason why Britishers had more strength than Indians his friend told him that it was because they ate meat and fish etc. So if he wanted to fight with them and be strong then he should also eat the same. It was something that Gandhi Ji had never done before, but was persuaded to do because of his respect for the country. But at the same time, he was worried that his parents would be very annoyed with him if they came to know. He also knew that he would not be able to hide it from them. He ate meat few times but could not afford to conceal the same from his father. He wrote on a piece of paper and gave it to his father and stood in front of him. He wanted to be punished by his father. But as always after reading the confession his father was quite and did not say anything to Gandhi Ji. Gandhi Ji knew that his father would not scold or punish him and would not say anything to him. After this Gandhi Ji did not eat meat because he followed the voice of his conscience and never wanted his parents to suffer in the heart of their hearts because of his actions. One thing important to understand for all parents is that the parents of Gandhi Ji never scolded or punished their children. If they did anything wrong then the parents used to punish themselves particularly the father. This means it is not necessary to punish the children to make them understand their mistakes. This can be done by using other methods also because the children are so innocent that they get influenced by small gestures of love and understanding. The other thing which is very important for the children to be learnt from Gandhi Ji`s life is that they should be very careful while being friendly to someone because the friends can influence you the most, both positive as well a negative. This can very easily be understood from the lesson which Gandhi Ji learnt from the mistakes he committed because of the influence of his friend, who persuasively turned him into a non-vegetarian. He also misled and misinformed Gandhi Ji on different occasions. This teaches us that we should be very careful even while selecting a friend.
The other important quality which the children must imbibe from his life is that to accept and admit anything wrong done by you. This was one of the greatest qualities of Gandhi Ji that he would admit his mistakes very politely in front of all. I would advise all children and grown up people that if we can follow these simple things (which are not very difficult to follow but we seldom do), then the life would become easy for self as well as others. Let the children be inculcated with the value and habit of telling the truth and being honest. But before teaching the same to the children we have to inculcate the same in us. When I spoke to some students about these things their simple question to me was that if truthfulness and honesty are so important for them then why most of the adults tell a lie and why they were dishonest? This was one of the most difficult questions I faced and seek your help and guidance to answer this to the children. Only thing I can admit is that our words and actions do not match each other most of the times and that confuses our children the most. So, we should also take a pledge that lessons of Gandhi Ji`s life are not be taught to the children only but we should follow them first. This will be the real tribute to him.