By Niti Singh
October 2, 2019 marks the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Albert Einstein had said of the Mahatma: “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.” The Mahatma was truly a modern visionary, and from politics to fashion, food and wellness, one can see that in myriad ways. If we look around at all the modern buzzwords–recycling, frugality, non-violence, slow fashion, handwoven, hand spun, self-reliance, fasting, sustainability, organic food, minimalism, yoga, we realise that the Mahatma had been talking about it all and had adopted all these into his life way before these became viral on social media.
For many luxury is something that they are accustomed to, but no matter how large the bank balance, it’s no guarantee to peace, or mind-body health. The age of excess is leaving us hollow, unhealthy and disenchanted, and we are running to find more simple solutions, to de-clutter our lives and live better.
Social media, meant to bring us closer, is having the opposite effect. Social media platforms end up as popularity contests, and social capital, defined by the likes on one’s Facebook or Instagram page, has the potential to distort both our self-esteem and society. In today’s times, the Mahatma’s way of life offers a refreshing solution to many problems.
The Mahatma taught us to walk before fitness apps told us to do so. The Mahatma taught us slow fashion before it became a fashion mainstream. Eat local–the Mahatma’s message for good health—stated much before celebrity nutritionists told us to do so. “The earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed,” the Mahtama said prophetically. Unfortunately, we were greedy. Today, the world is talking about yoga; the Mahatma had incorporated this into his life over a century back.
On my visits to my family home at Kausani, a tea estate five hours from Nainital, I see the hill folk truly incorporating ‘local’ in their everyday life, in their food, shelter and clothes–similar to the Sevagram ecosystem of Gandhi. Unfortunately, our politicians have offered nothing to the youth there, and that way of life is soon going to be relegated to a touristy interest.
It was greed that made us move away from simplicity; and now simplicity is the reigning panacea as rampant materialism has brought no joy for us. The only difference now is that simplicity comes with a price tag. We should have followed the Mahatma before letting false gods prey on us.