Intro : Along with ahimsa (non-violence) and secularism there are many more things in the life of Gandhiji that could be emulated, and one of them is cleanliness.
Once Gandhiji was travelling in the Mumbai mail in third class compartment, as another traveller caught his attention who was coughing time and again and, not only that, spitting inside the compartment itself. At this Gandhiji, sitting silently, said nothing when he did so twice. But as he was about to spit for the third time, Gandhiji took his hand below his mouth, and the cough fell in both of his palms. Gandhiji soon went near the window, threw it out, then washed hands and came back to his place, saying nothing to him. Seeing this, the traveller grew extremely shameful and apologised. At this Gandhiji told him instructively, “See brother! This train is ours. If this is misused, it would only be our loss. Secondly, spitting inside the train will spread disease also. That’s why I did let cough fall here inside the compartment”.
Along with ahimsa (non-violence) and secularism there are many more things in the life of Gandhiji that could be emulated, and one of them is cleanliness. But unfortunately considering the great personalities on the basis of only one that is secularism, the nation is kept deprived of knowing so many inspiring actions their lives consist of. Instances are though many but here giving the account of life of Veer Savarkar alone would be sufficient. Like Gandhiji, he put forth such ideals of social harmony that got to be precedent in social field. Building of Patitpavan Mandir, agitation for the entry of so-called low castes in Vittahal Mandir of Ratnagiri, starting of Hindu coffee house and handing over its functioning to a dalit youth, organising caste-free public feast and by such other programmes he inspired the distinction-prone society of that time to think in the direction of harmony.
Likewise, Gandhiji had been a great votary of secularism, but he was not unaware of danger of religious conversion being done forcefully and through deception by missionaries inside the country, and world over. And he always made people alarmed about it- “In India and elsewhere the way Christian missionaries are carrying out conversion, it is impossible for me to hold it justified in any condition. It is such a blunder which is indeed the greatest impediment in the path of peace world is supposed to move.”(Gandhiji aur Isaiyat, page-109, Rameshwar Mishra, Kusumlata kaidia)
So much persuasive he had been upon cleanliness that for the cleanliness of Sabarmati Ashram it was upon the volunteers themselves to take care of that. He used to say, “Everyone must be one’s own scavenger”. ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission being carried out on the initiative of Narendra Modi, is needed to be viewed taking into account this outlook of Gandhiji. True that this will indeed appear to be some thing weired to those whom the necessity of thinking beyond privileges and rights never occurred. In criticising Modi the detractors might comment, “How clean has the country been in one year, huh!” But if they have pinned all their hope on government, it has to be said that their understanding regarding mission is inadequate. Every individual at his/her own level should follow cleanliness, particularly at public places more strictly—this is what is needed to be understood, to be emulated. Government agencies are already doing that, and must do in better way, no doubt. Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev of Isha Yog (Coimbatore) rightly said-,“Swachh Bharat and Yog Day, these are not separate things. I am really glad that our national leader is thinking about these things and wants this to happen because in the last few centuries we have not seen any leader talking about how you should be within yourself.”
Rajesh Pathak (The writer is a senior columnist)