Mommy, who is this old man and why is his photo on my money?

“Mommy, who is this old man and why is his photo on all my money?”, as my little daughter looked at me with her quizzical eyes and a handful of currency notes, I decided to tell her all about Mahatma, specially the lesser known facts about his life which mirror the simplicity and nobility of our role model.

'Live as if you were to die tomorrow; learn as if you were to live forever'

Mahatma Gandhi lived to learn! And this is the wisdom that needs to be imparted to the young children today. His life is an inspiration for people around the globe and he will always be remembered as Bapu, loved by one and all.

  • Born in Porbandar, Gujarat on 2nd October 1869 in a Banya family. Gandhi's father Karamchand then used to be the prime minister of Porbandar state in British Raj. Gandhi's mother Putlibai was his fourth wife. Gandhi married Kasturba at the age of 13.

  • When Gandhi had initially expressed his desire to go abroad and study in England, he was proclaimed as an outcaste by his community members for his decision. The villagers believed once he lived in a foreign land he would forget his Hindu traditions and become a Britisher. The entire village was asked to boycott him and no one should bid him a farewell. The decision was later withdrawn in 1891 when Gandhi visited India.

  • On his first ever visit abroad, Gandhi was spellbound by the grandeur of the hotel he was to stay in London. As quoted by him in his book - 'I had never in my life seen such pomp'. Gandhi assumed that the lift (he saw for the first time in the hotel) was a room!.

  • Gandhi was ambidextrous, his first book ‘Hind Swaraj’ originally written in Gujarati has been hand-written using left and right hand. He usually used to switch between his hands while writing when he got tired of using one hand.

  • After spending few years in London,Gandhi moved to South Africa. An infamous incident is when Gandhi was pushed out of a first class compartment of the train in Durban due to his dark color! This is when he pledged himself to non-violence.

  • Mahatma Gandhi knew 11 languages that included Gujarati, English, Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu, Persian, French, Arabic and Latin. Closer to his death he was learning Bengali.

  • Gandhi’s favourite bhajan was “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram”.

  • Gandhi was nominated 5 times for the Nobel Prize and got shortlisted thrice. The first nomination was in 1937 and he was shortlisted too.

Gandhi’s life is an open-book, all we need to do is leaf through the pages and understand what he is trying to say and pass it on to the new generation.

There is a beautiful Bollywood song that has captured well the aura of the legendary Father, let us pay a tribute to Gandhi Ji on his 148th birth anniversary and share the beautiful lyrics with our small kids who are already enchanted by this old man!

Ainak pehne lathi pakde chalte the woh shaan se
Zaalim kaape thar thar thar thar sunkar unka naam re..
Kad tha unaka chhota sa, aur sarpat unki chal re
Duble se patle se the woh chalte sina tan ke.
Bande mein tha dum vande mataram.. !

Happy Birthday Bapu!