A Pair Of Spectacles, And…
The pair of spectacles, made famous by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948), the Indian lawyer, Anti-Colonial Nationalist, and Political Ethicist who employed Nonviolent Resistance to lead the successful campaign for India’s Independence from British Rule, was sold at auction in Manhattan, New York on March 5, 2009. The buyer was Indian Millionaire Vijay Vittal Mallya. The Auction House was crowded with media persons and about a dozen of potential buyers on that day. Earlier, they had written to the Auction House, expressing their desire to buy Mahatma Gandhi’s glasses. The Government of India had tried its best to stop the auction, but failed. Finally, Mallya – the Business Tycoon and former Member of Parliament who is currently the subject of an extradition effort by the Government of India to get him to return from the UK to face charges of financial crimes in India – won the famous spectacles at the auction for INR 4,188,363 (the base price was USD 40,000)!
Gandhi had reportedly bought the spectacles while studying Law in Britain in the 1890s. It is said that India’s Father of the Nation presented his favourite round metal frame glasses to a Colonel in 1930. While handing over the glasses, Gandhi told the Colonel that they were the eyes that had given him “Vision of Free India“. The recipient was Colonel His Highness Sri Diwan Nawab Sir Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III Rasul Khanji, the Nawab Sahib of Junagadh, who had left for Pakistan at the time of Partition of the Indian Subcontinent.
In her memoirs, Manuben – the grandniece of Gandhi – mentioned the details of what happened in New Delhi on January 30, 1948. The Mahatma began his day with the recitation of the Bhagavad Gita at the Birla House. Later, he penned down some notes. His weight was measured soon after he took the bath. His weight was 49.7kg at the age of 78. When two people came to meet Gandhi in the afternoon, he told Manuben: “Tell them that I will meet after the evening prayer, if I stay alive.” It is to be noted a grenade was hurled at Birla House during a meeting 10 days ago (on January 20)! Fortunately, a weak Gandhi arrived at the meeting 10 minutes late on that day with Manuben and Abhaben, the two most recognised faces in Indian History, as they were always by Mahatma’s side as his “walking stick” in his last two years.
On January 30, it came to the eyes of Manuben that a young man, all of a sudden, was pushing the crowd to come closer to Gandhi when the latter was on his way to the prayer hall. At 5:17pm (local time), the Mahatma was shot four times by Nathuram Godse at Birla House. Then, she saw Gandhi with folded hands, saying his final two words: “Hey Ram!“
The manner in which the entire Nation, regardless of race, religion and caste, mourned the next day is rare in history. No one cooked at home on January 31, 1948. The person, who had fought for the Truth throughout his life, was not afraid to lay down his life for the sake of Truth. In her 68-page memoir, Manuben wrote: “While the flames on the funeral pyre were consuming Bapu’s body, I felt like sitting till well after the funeral was over. Sardar Patel comforted me and took me to his home. It was just unimaginable for me. Bapu was there two days ago, yesterday at least his body was there, and today, I am all alone. I am totally distraught.“
Unfortunately, Gandhi’s India is one of the most corrupt countries in the world today. The person, who owns the spectacles of the Father of the Nation, has taken shelter in Britain after orchestrating a defalcation of huge amount of money. It is, hence, felt that today, India badly needs the Vision, sense of Truth, and actions that had governed the wearer of those glasses…
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