A controversy brews over the date of foundation of Mahatma Gandhi’s first Satyagrah ashram set up in Kochrab in Ahmedabad, popularly known as “Kochrab Ashram”. The state government is organising an event on Wednesday to mark the 100 years of its foundation on Wednesday, along with the Gujarat Vidyapith, a deemed university started by Gandhi, Gujarat Sahitya Academy and AMC. On the other hand, Vidyapith’s official function will be held on May 25, the date varsity has been celebrating since the beginning.
The Vidyapith officials said that the function is “just the beginning of celebrations of centenary year of asharm’s foundation” but the varsity will hold its official function on May 25. Vidyapith is the custodian of the Kochrab Ashram located at Ashram Road in Paldi area. This is the first ashram set up by Gandhi after he returned from South Africa. It was eventually shifted to the banks of Sabarmati river on June 17, 1917 where it exists now and is known as Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram.
However, historian Rizwan Kadri says that according to his “finding”, the Ashram was started by Gandhi on May 20, 1915. Kadri’s conclusion is based on The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi. However, Vidyapith’s registrar, Rajendra Khimani, told this paper that the varsity had communicated the government that the foundation day of ashram was on May 25 and an event was being organised for which invites had been circulated about a month ago .
“There is no controversy. The academy and AMC approached us to celebrate the 100 years of ashram on May 20 so we are part of it. The government’s invitation card doesn’t say that May 20 is the day when ashram was founded,” Khimani said.
Kadri’s “finding” is based on The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, (volume 13, page 169) wherein Gandhi says, “Reached Ahmedabad in the morning. Collected our things. Had a pot carried to the new house and performed Vastu.” Kadri said that his finding is based on the document and its not “his say”.
Contrary to Kadri’s claim, former vice-chancellor of the varsity Sudarshan Iyenger said that what Gandhi actually said was that he performed pooja, as per Hindu religious practice, before entering a house, but it doesn’t mean that Gandhi declared that house as “Ashram”. Iyenger said that the history is clear that the house Gandhi entered was declared as “Ashram” only on May 25. Iyenger said that authors like Chandulal, in Gandhiji ni Dinwari, mentions that the Ashram was started on May 25. “There is no reason as to why new history is being created,” Iyenger added.