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Walk with Gandhi: Bóthar na Saoirse

‘Civilization is the encouragement of differences.’

Gabriel Rosenstock explains the journey behind his recent collect of illustrated poetry in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

I finally met up with Kashmiri artist Masood Hussain just before Christmas 2019, at GALF (the tenth edition of an arts and literature festival in Goa). I had never spoken to him before and couldn’t e-mail him as Kashmir has been in lock down since August 5th. Now that we have returned to our respective homes, we  can only communicate intermittently as the crisis continues in that beautiful but disputed part of God’s earth. However, we did manage to get another project off the ground, in these stricken times:https://thewire.in/culture/art-poetry-covid-19-pandemic 

The book Walk with Gandhi: Bóthar na Saoirse was published by Gandhi 150 Ireland, a dedicated and visionary committee who, with the help of patrons and friends, celebrated the 150th anniversary of the birth of Gandhi last October in Liberty Hall; this year we also commemorated the 72nd anniversary of his assassination. (His assassin, Godse, has a strong following in India, I regret to say).     

Gandhi has become an ongoing interest for many of us. Not only is he important as an apostle of civil disobedience, his writings on the environment and sustainability are as relevant as ever. Civil disobedience is an important instrument for those who have concerns about the environmental crisis, the fate of minority languages and issues pertaining to freedom and human rights, among others. 

Gandhi Poster Suite 1

Recently I translated some of Gandhi’s sayings and aphorisms for my multicultural blog:
http://roghaghabriel.blogspot.com/2020/01/briathra-gandhi.html Here’s one that I like: ‘Civilization is the encouragement of differences.’ Think about it  . . .

The book Walk with Gandhi: Bóthar na Saoirse was aimed originally at Young Adults but has found a life of its own now among a general readership, at home and abroad. It started off as a book of haiku and commentary, responding to historical photos of Gandhi. Then a Kashmiri friend in New York, Rafiq Kathwari (who, when an Irish resident, was a recipient of the Kavanagh Poetry Award) suggested we switch to artwork: the result was striking water colours by the inimitable Masood Hussain, reflecting events real and imagined in the life of the Mahatma. We have been humbled and overjoyed by the international acclaim.

Gandhi Poster Suite 5

Some of the bilingual haiku and artwork are also available as posters on Etsy:https://www.etsy.com/shop/GandhiHaikuPosters.

I’d love to see a few of them in secondary schools. Gandhi wasn’t faultless – but you could have worse heroes and schoolchildren who get to know and admire Gandhi will be in the company of such luminaries as George Orwell, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, John Lennon, our own George Bernard Shaw and countless others, known and unknown. What a pity he never came to Ireland! (AE wrote to Yeats saying, ‘I got a wire from London saying Gandhi’s visit to Ireland very uncertain and urging me to go over . . .’) 

Gabriel Rosenstock

Walk with Gandhi: Bóthar na Saoirse comes as a hardback, paperback and e-book. https://www.bookdepository.com/Walk-with-Gandhi-Ramachandra-Guha/9781916225404