Happy Gandhi and Shastri Jayanti


Coverpage of the magazine “Vivek Vikas” dated October 1968 wishing the birthdays of Mahatma Gandhi & Lal Bahadur Shastri.

Today being the 2nd of October, lets peek into few childhood anecdotes of the birthday boys 🙂

I would like to narrate 4 anecdotes (2 for each leader) from their childhood which demonstrates their character.
Honesty & Discipline of Gandhi.
Self-respect & Ethics of Shastri.

We will later see how it is thought provoking and what is our take away from these stories.

Gandhi’s Honesty: Ever since his childhood, Gandhi had the great quality of being honest and he was ready to sacrifice anything else for the sake of honesty. Once, a School inspector visited his class and gave them few words for dictation. Gandhi spelled one of the words incorrectly (The word “Kettle”). The class teacher gently told Gandhi to copy the correct spelling from his friend but Gandhi refused. After the test, the angry teacher told Gandhi that he was a disgrace to the class because he had not listened to him, for which Gandhi replied “I dont mind being a disgrace but I cannot be dishonest.”

Shastri’s Self respect: Lal Bahadur went with his friends to a fair across the river Ganga on a boat. After visiting the fair, he did not have any money for the boat return fare. His self respect did not allow him to ask for money from his friends. So without their notice, he managed to slowly disappear from them and jumped into the river!! He courageously swam across the river and reached the banks safely.

Gandhi’s Discipline: Gandhi was late for his Gymnastics class by almost an hour. The teacher had marked him absent and also imposed a penalty on him. Gandhi defended himself by saying that he was looking after his ailing father and the clouds had misguided him with the time (Gandhi, like most of the people in those days, relied on sunlight, cloud movements to track time). The teacher dismissed these and called him a liar for having given such excuses. It was this incident which made Gandhi realize that anyone who wanted to be truthful had to be mindful of everything including discipline & punctuality.

Shastri’s Ethics: Lal Bahadur went to an Orchard with his friends. While most of his friends climbed up the tree to have some fun, Lal Bahadur went around the plants, plucking some flowers. In the meantime, the gardener came to the garden and all of Lal Bahadur’s friends (who had seen the gardener coming) had run away leaving him alone. The gardener caught Lal Bahadur and started beating him for stealing in the garden. Lal Bahadur wept and requested the gardener not to beat him because he was an orphan. The gardener calmed down and with pity told him that because he is an orphan, he has to learn better behavior. These words left a deep mark on Lal Bahadur’s mind and he promised himself to behave better in future and he went on to become the most well behaved & ethical political leader the country has ever seen.

Ok. So we saw a rare picture of a vintage magazine cover. We learnt about 4 qualities of 2 leaders through informative anecdotes. But what is thought provoking and what is our takeaway from this?

As we see from the first 2 anecdotes, both the leaders had some qualities since their birth and they demonstrated those in their childhood itself. But as we see from the second 2 anecdotes, they developed some qualities voluntarily after they were criticized. They took the positive criticism so seriously, it changed their lives forever to become better.

Nobody is born perfect. But it is in their hands to strive to be perfect. If we extend that philosophy to our lives, we see that we all have certain qualities (some are inherent, some inherited, some inducted & some inculcated). But it is in our hands now to become better. One such way to become better is by listening to our critics. Some say “Take criticism with a pinch of salt”. But as history teaches us, people have broken their barriers only after taking their positive criticism seriously and working on it.

Oct 2nd would be the happiest day of the year for India because two of her great sons have their birthdays on that same day. Two great sons who were always simple, soft spoken & down to earth and went on to become great leaders, rescuing her from crisis of their era (Gandhi rescued from British, Shastri rescued from Food crisis) leading to victory.
Gandhi showed the importance of non-violence and Shastri showed the importance of farmer.

Wishing all of you a very happy “Gandhi Jayanti” & “Shastri Jayanti”.