Mohandas (know by the honorific, ‘Mahatma,’ meaning ‘great-souled’) Gandhi is one of humanity’s great figures in making the world better. His lifestyle and teachings of nonviolence and his leadership in non-violent resistance has brought great change, especially in India. Many have followed Gandhi’s methods–The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the United States being a significant example–so that his influence is global.
What is not as well know is that Gandhi’s children and their families and his grandchildren and their families have continued his work and carried it forward. One of those grandchildren is my guest for this episode, Arun Gandhi. Arun, as he prefers to be called, is the fifth grandson of Mahatma Gandhi through his second son Manilal.
There are two things for me that seem to characterize Arun’s life. The first is drawn from a story Arun tells about advice he learned from his mother, Sushila. In helping to teach her children how to deal with being a close relative of Gandhi and his legacy, Arun’s mother advised all of her children by saying, “There are two ways of dealing with it. You can either choose to be overwhelmed and live in Grandfather’s shadow, or you can use the glow of his light to illuminate your path (Legacy of Love, p.11).” Arun has allowed the glow of his grandfather’s light to illuminate his path.
The second thing is drawn from Gandhi’s often expressed conviction to be the change one wishes to see in the world. In living out this teaching, among the many things Arun and his wife, Sunanda, have done, they rescued over 125 orphan children from the streets and placed them in loving homes around the world and began a Center for Social Change, which transformed the lives of millions in villages in the western state of Maharashtra. Together, Arun and Sunanda started projects for the social and economic uplifting of the oppressed using constructive programs, the backbone of Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence.The programs changed the lives of more than half a million people in over 300 villages and they still continue to grow. In 1987 Sunanda and Arun came to the US and in 1991 they started the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence. In the time Arun was associated with the Institute, he took the message of nonviolence and peace to hundreds of thousands of high school and University youth around the US and much of the Western World. After his wife died in 2007, Arun founded the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute in 2008, headquartered in a suburb outside of Chicago, ILL. The Institute was founded to promote community building in economically depressed areas of the world through the joining of Gandhian philosophy and vocational education for children and their parents. In November 2013, Arun was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Council for a Parliament of the World Religions.
Arun has written numerous books. Among them are Legacy of Love: My Education in the Path of Nonviolence, The Gift of Anger: And Other Lessons from My Grandfather Mahatma Gandhi, Kasturba: A Life, and two children’s books, Grandfather Gandhi, and Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story.
The music for this episode is from a clip of a song called ‘Father Let Your Kingdom Come’ which is found on The Porter’s Gate Worship Project Work Songs album and is used by permission by The Porter’s Gate Worship Project. You can learn more about the album and the Worship Project at theportersgate.com.