GandhiTopia

Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

The Father of the Indian nation, and the apostle of nonviolence. He worked for India's independence from the British rule. And gave us the awesome power of nonviolence.
A social reformer, he taught the world the eternal values of love and truth. His fight for human rights, protection of environment and religious tolerance was mankind's finest hour.

Although acknowledged as one of the greatest personalities of the 20th century it has been difficult to get a proper visual impression of Mahatma Gandhi so far in lack of adequate photographic material. One reason for this was that the most comprehensive photo collection of over 9,000 photographs was possessed by Vithalbhai K. Jhaveri, a Mumbai-based biographer of Gandhi. He made it his life's mission to collect photographs of the Mahatma – his life, time and work, from sources around the world. Some of these photographs Jhaveri used for his own exhibitions, films and publications in India, but the majority of images had never been exposed to the public. After Jhaveri's death in 1985, I visited his estate in Mumbai and found the photographs stuffed in a huge wooden overseas trunk on a terrace next to the seashore. Due to the high humidity in Mumbai some photographs were already damaged beyond repair. Jhaveri's family agreed to give the - just - surviving photographs a preservation treatment and to catalogue them scientifically. As none of the Indian institutions approached was prepared to do the needful the photographs were sent to me to Germany where I did the necessary works within five years.

A similar fate had Kanu Gandhi's collection which is the largest photo collection by a photographer of Mahatma Gandhi. Kanu Gandhi, grand-nephew of Gandhi, was with the Mahatma for the last 12 years of his life. He was the only one allowed to take Gandhi's photograph at any time. He was thus able to capture Mahatma Gandhi in all his moods and moments. In 1985 I met Kanu Gandhi at his home in Rajkot (Gujarat/India). Proudly he showed me his precious photographs. After Kanu Gandhi's death in the following year I paid a condolence visit to his widow Abha, who was known as one of the two 'living walking sticks' Gandhi used to lean on during the last years of his life, and in whose arms Gandhi died. During Kanu Gandhi's life nobody was allowed to enter his photo lab. Now, after his death, it needed to be cleared. When asked what she was going to do with the thousands of photographs of Gandhi laying around in shelves, cupboards and even on the floor, Abha said that she would throw them away as they were of no use for her, because she lived with Gandhi and therefore does not need photographs in order to remember those precious days with Bapu (father). I convinced her not to do so as for others these photographs would be valuable in order to get a realistic picture of the Mahatma. Then an arrangement was found to preserve the photographs and negatives which document Gandhi's later life in the most remarkable way.

Now these two and several other collections form part of the webarchive GandhiMedia – www.gandhimedia.org

On GandhiMedia rare audio visual content about Mahatma Gandhi and India's freedom struggle can be found - largely with a possibility of immediate download in high resolution.

The family of Mahatma Gandhi contributed to GandhiMedia by making precious and rare material available and so did journalists, Gandhi's followers and associates, freedom fighters, archives, museums and leading researchers in India and abroad.Therefore, this archive forms the specific legacy of the generation of India's independence movement to the present and coming generations. GandhiMedia is dedicated to the conscience of humanity.

May it contribute to a culture of peace and nonviolence which is so badly needed to save this planet!

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Peter Rühe is CEO of GandhiServe and also the founder and acting chairperson of GandhiServe Foundation and web admin of GandhiTopia.

GandhiServe – www.gandhiserve.com - is a not-for-profit enterprise registered at Berlin, Germany. It has been established in 1998 with the aim to help promoting Gandhian values throughout the world. GandhiServe offers products and services relating to Mahatma Gandhi and India's independence movement. GandhiServe mainly operates through its webportal GandhiMedia – www.gandhimedia.org.

GandhiServe firmly believes in and follows the principles of simplicity, self-support and trusteeship as propagated by Mahatma Gandhi.

It is GandhiServe's policy that all gains are to be used to further the promotion of Gandhian values, namely through the charitable GandhiServe Foundation – www.gandhiserve.org. The foundation funds its educational and research activities largely by the financial support of GandhiServe.

One of the foundations prime web activities is the Gandhian social network GandhiTopia – www.gandhitopia.org

Contact: Peter Rühe – peter.ruehe.org – ruehe@gmx.com

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