Monday, April 16, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 133



Gandhi's grandson gives keynote speech 
at festival

Arun Gandhi asks audience to help 'make a different world'

By Ken Fountain
Senior Staff Writer

The grandson of Mahatma K. Gandhi entreated an audience to apply the late Indian spiritual leader's principles of non violence in their own lives.

Arun Gandhi, who with his wife Sunanda founded the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, was the keynote speaker at Saturday's Festival of India.

The festival, which was sponsored by the UH chapter of Delta Epsilon Psi, a fraternity of students of South Asian descent, was held at Texas Southern University.

"I know there's a lot of violence in the world today," Gandhi said. "There's a lot of hate, a lot of prejudice, a lot of discrimination for one reason or the other."

Gandhi said that he had been going around trying to teach people what the philosophy of non violence is, so they can be applied for use to make a difference in the world.

Arun Gandhi, grandson of spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi, spoke to a crowd of college students about applying the principles of nonviolence at a festival which was sponsored by the UH chapter of Delta Epsilon Psi.

Kusum Desai/
The Daily Cougar

"You are young," Gandhi told the crowd, composed of students from many Texas universities. "You are the leaders of tomorrow, the inheritors of this world. It is up to you to make the right choices, so that we can make a different world."

"I hope you will learn to do this," he continued. "Don't destroy your lives, or the life of this Earth. Let us all try to rebuild this Earth, by rebuilding ourselves first."

Gandhi said he learned two very important lessons from his grandfather.

"First is how to understand anger, and use it positively. Now anger is one of the things that causes so much violence in society, and within ourselves," he said. "Grandfather told me that anger is like electricity -- it's just as powerful and just as useful as electricity is, but only if we use it intelligently, and with respect.

"But if we abuse electricity, then we destroy ourselves and everything around us," he said. "So just as we channel electricity and bring it into our lives, we must channel anger so that we can use it positively."

He said his grandfather taught him to keep an "anger journal," in which, instead of venting his anger at someone, he would write it down "with the intention of finding a solution to the problem, and then commit (himself) to finding a solution."

Gandhi said that the second thing he learned was the importance of building relationships, adding that in today's fast-paced world, relationships are based on selfishness and self-interest. 

"That is a very negative way of building relationships, and that's why they break off so quickly, and they generate violence and anger within us," he said.

He said that relationships must be built on four principles:

respect, understanding, acceptance and appreciation.

"We have to respect ourselves, respect each other, and respect our connection with all of Creation," he said. "We are not independent. We are interdependent and interrelated, and what happens to one happens to the other."

Gandhi told the audience that human beings are not here by accident, but to fulfill a purpose. 

"And we can fulfill that purpose only when we know what our role in Creation is," he said. "From that understanding we reach an acceptance of our differences. And then we are able to look at each other as human beings, and not by the color of our skin, or our race or gender. And it's only when we are able to look at each other as human beings that we can appreciate our own humanity."

"Life is full of fun, sure," Gandhi said. "But also remember that life is full of a lot of responsibilities. We need to create a world that we can all be proud of, and that future generations can be proud of. I hope that you will make the right choices, and help create a world of peace and harmony."

The festival, called Ekakta (which means "unity"), included acts by students from several Texas universities that represented a masala of musical and dance genres from traditional Indian music to Bollywood-style dancing to rock and hip-hop.

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