This Day in History (25-May-1915) – The Satyagraha Ashram: (Also known as the Sabarmati Ashram) was founded

On his return from South Africa, Gandhi’s first Ashram in India was established on 25 May 1915, in the Kochrab Bungalow of Jivanlal Desai, a barrister,  at Ahmedabad. The Ashram was then shifted in 1917 to a piece of open land on the banks of the river Sabarmati where Gandhiji wanted to do some experiments in living e.g. farming, animal husbandry, cow breeding, Khadi and related constructive activities. Mythologically, it was the ashram site of Dadhichi Rishi who had donated his bones for a righteous war. The site was between a jail and a crematorium as Gandhiji believed that a satyagrahi has to invariably go to either place. “This is the right place for our activities to carry on the search for Truth and develop Fearlessness- for on one side, are the iron bolts of the foreigners, and on the other, thunderbolts of Mother Nature”.- This is how Gandhiji described the site of Sabarmati Ashram when he first visited the place.

The site of 36 acres was a waste land full of snakes, but the order was not to kill them. The Satyagraha Ashram, later renamed as Harijan Ashram, was started in all earnest with a two-fold purpose- one was to carry on the search for Truth, and the other was to create a non-violent group of workers, who would organize and help to secure freedom for the country.

It was also from here that Gandhi launched the famous Dandi march 241 miles from the Ashram  in protest of the British Salt Law, which taxed Indian salt in an effort to promote sales of British salt in India. This mass awakening filled the British jails with 60 000 freedom fighters. Later the government seized their property, Gandhi, in sympathy with them, responded by asking the Government to forfeit the Ashram. Then Government, however, did not oblige. He had by now already decided to disband the Ashram, which later became asserted place after the detention of many freedom fighters, and then some local citizens decided to preserve it. In 1930 he vowed that he would not return to the Ashram until India won independence. However he could not return to Ashram post indepenence.



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