Centenary of Sabarmati Ashram is being celebrated in our country The genesis of Sabarmati Ashram can be traced to 1915 when Gandhi established a Satyagraha Ashram in Kocherab in Ahmedabad after he came back to India from South Africa.
Later on 17th June 1917 he shifted it to the Sabarmati bank where one finds the present location.
He chose that location in 1917 between a cremation ground and a jail to produce Satyagrahis and on the ground that the place of Satyagrahi is either in jail or in cremation ground.
It became the nucleus of freedom struggle till 1930 when Gandhi started his historic Dandi March not only to break iniquitous salt law but also to achieve independence of India.
He took a vow that he would not return to Sabarmati Ashram if India did not get independence. And he never came back to that sacred Ashram because India did not get independence in 1930.
It is really a shrine for freedom and independence. He never established a shrine to worship in the Ashram in spite of many requests to do so.
He always offered prayers in open air and in response to the demand for a separate prayer hall he stated that open prayer hall has its ceiling in the form of sky and four walls in the form of four directions -east, west, north and south.
He then stated that the objective of prayer offered in such open air prayer hall is to transcend the barriers of language, caste and nationality.
It is instructive to note that Mauritius decided to become independent on 12th March on which Gandhi started his Dandi March in 1930.
They consciously chose that date because Gandhi had started Dandi March on that very date. A poet of Mauritius wrote a nice Hindi poem by saying "Bara March Ko Aya Hamara August Pandra".
The Satyagraha Ashram which Gandhi established in 1917 in Sabarmati Ashram is, to my mind, the most sacred place far surpassing all the places of pilgrimage in our country as it was s founded on the foundational principles of Yoga - Satya, Ahimsa, Non-possession and non-stealing.
It's legacy needs to be preserved in face of leaders of our public life who unfortunately call Gandhi "A Chatur Bania".
# Mr Satya Narayan Sahu was OSD and Press Secretary to the late President of India Shri K.R. Narayanan and served as Director in the Prime Minister's Office. He is currently Joint Secretary in the Rajya Sabha Secretariat. The views expressed by him are personal and not that of Rajya Sabha Secretariat.