Dr. Geeta Radhakrishna Menon

Gold Star - 97,992 Points (3rd August 1950 / Mumbai)

Mahatma Gandhi 43 - Khadi - A Symbol Of Freedom - Poem by Dr. Geeta Radhakrishna Menon

Khadi - the hand-made fabric of India,
A symbol of national dignity,
Gained recognition in the early 20th century!
It was a marathon Gandhian effort
That rejuvenated and resurrected
The Charkha or the spinning wheel!

Khadi - the hand spun, hand woven cloth
Bestowed a distinct identity
That made no distinction between
The upper class and the lower class!
Wearing a Khadi garment meant
Unity in diversity of the Indian people!

The birth of Khadi took place
In Sabarmati Ashram!
Initiated and pursued by Gandhiji
All the Ashram members resolved
To wear hand woven clothes of
Indian yarn only!

Though the decision was taken
To spin their own yarn,
A preparation was needed!
The first step was to get a spinning wheel
Then, to learn the art of weaving
From an experienced spinner

In 1917, when Gandhiji presided over the
Broach Educational Conference,
He met a remarkable lady named
Gangabehn Mazumdar!
This gracious lady promised to get hold of
A spinning wheel known in India as ‘Charkha'!

In a place named Vijapur in Baroda
They were successful in getting a Charkha!
Many had Charkhas in their homes,
But had abandoned them in their store rooms,
As there was no demand for hand woven cloth.
It had become wasted labour with no income!

When Gangabehn met these spinners,
They were eager to resume spinning.
If only they got a supply of slivers,
They could start spinning the Charkha!
Gandhiji managed and arranged for a supply
Of slivers from Umar Sobani's mill!

But this was not a long term solution.
They could not continuously demand
A supply of slivers from the same mill!
It was Gangabehn again, who solved the issue
She engaged a carder to prepare cotton, while
The youngsters got trained to make slivers!

Thus, the spinning wheel became
An integral part of the Sabarmati Ashram!
It spread its wings to other parts of India
As a major occupation, self reliant and self sufficient!
It represented freedom from colonialism, simultaneously
Providing a state of economic independence!

Khadi represented not just a cloth or a fabric
But a symbol of Swadeshi movement!
A movement of labour towards communal unity,
A unity of responsibility with national integrity
A unity of similarity in ideals and goals
A sublime symbol of freedom!

Topic(s) of this poem: personality

Comments about Mahatma Gandhi 43 - Khadi - A Symbol Of Freedom by Dr. Geeta Radhakrishna Menon

  • Kumarmani MahakulKumarmani Mahakul (6/18/2017 9:46:00 PM)

    Khadi represented not just a cloth or a fabric
    But a symbol of Swadeshi movement!
    A movement of labour towards communal unity,
    A unity of responsibility with national integrity
    A unity of similarity in ideals and goals
    A sublime symbol of freedom! .. a best historical poem ending with national integrity and freedom. Many thanks dear Dr. Geeta for posting this with the photo of honourable Gandhiji on Charkha.

    Geeta Radhakrishna MenonGeeta Radhakrishna Menon(6/19/2017 1:51:00 AM)

    Thank you so much Kumarmaniji.
    It is always a joy for me to have your comment on my page specially on the Gandhi poems.
    My gratitude for your consistent support. I value them a lot.

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  • Glen KappyGlen Kappy (6/16/2017 7:52:00 AM)


    it's been a while since i read one of your gandhi poems, but, as before, i have learned things from reading this one.

    i had to look up slivers to learn of a meaning for them i wasn't familiar with. and i was unfamiliar with the words khadi and charkha.

    you telling of gangabehn mazumdar reminds me that no one's achievements stand alone as if they happened without the help of many, of community.

    i have been thinking lately that here in the u.s. we need to change our thinking about technology. machines have taken the work from many people and left them unemployed. we have to weigh the effects, the human toll, of doing this. machines may produce things faster, but what are all the ramifications of work and dignity being taken from people?

    one of my favorite artists is renoir. and i learned from reading his son's biography of him that he especially valued things made by human hands. this makes me think about what attaches to the things we use.

    thank you for teaching me things again.


    Geeta Radhakrishna MenonGeeta Radhakrishna Menon(6/19/2017 1:45:00 AM)

    Hi Glen,
    I am happy you took time to read this long poem. I am grateful.

    These poems of mine are long as i want to bring in small details of history which are significant. For instance: Gangabehn who played a key role in this movement cannot be forgotten. In other poems of Gandhiji too, i have mentioned names of people who helped and supported Gandhiji in his Satyagraha Struggle. These are the small rivers that merged with the big Ocean. it was not a single effort but a co-ordinated effort.

    Another good point that you mentioned is about working with hands. The machines have dominated the human life. As such the dignity of human labour is lost.

    I love the parallels you have brought in from the Bible. It is a great learning for me, Glen!
    It goes to show that though the paths you take may be different but the ultimate goal in 0ne.

    You have brought in aesthetic beauty in your comment by the mention of Renoir. I have not read his son's biography. I shall read it if i am able to get hold of the book.

    Thank you so much for sharing such wonderful thoughts.
    Praise the Lord!

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Poem Edited: Wednesday, June 14, 2017

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