Mumbai – Mani Bhavan

Mani Bhavan is one of India’s important Gandhi memorial museums and a house where he lived from 1917 to 1937. The middle balcony opens into the room where he lived and worked and is the site where he often prayed. The second photo shows the simple interior of that room preserved as it was when he lived there. The bookcase in the back contains three volumes, the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita. Gandhi learned to spin while here and part of his famous spinning wheel is shown in the back. It was here that he started his historic fast on November 19, 1921 to restore peace after violence accompanied the visit of the Prince of Wales.

Twenty-eight dioramas that depict famous scenes from his life fill the room next door. The detail of the miniatures is amazing. I photographed them all as we had so little time here and there was so much to read, see, and feel. All over the walls were copies of his writings and sayings. One framed exhibit showed letters to Hitler and FDR. The letter to Hitler, written in July, 1939 implored him to refrain from starting a war, saying nothing was worth the cost. No one knows if Hitler read it, but everyone knows he did not heed it. The letter to FDR asked that he support India’s effort for independence from Great Britain, which occurred in 1947. A library with over 50,000 volumes contains Gandhi’s books and books on his thought. A children’s section had a book on Lincoln prominently displayed.

In a quiet section of the library, I sat a moment and offered a prayer in gratitude for people like Gandhi and in petition that I be more like him. I may not visit Bombay again, but I am better for having been in this place and the world is better that he lived in it.

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