Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, is no stranger to Oregon. In fact, he once taught a six-week summer course at Portland State University. Gandhi returns to Oregon on Feb. 21, when he will give a talk at LCC called, “Lessons from My Grandfather.”
When Gandhi was 12, he moved in with his grandfather and lived with him for about 18 months. During that time, he directly witnessed the famous life principles of nonviolence that his grandfather demonstrated in day-to-day life, and the experience deeply impacted his own life choices.
“He taught me many important lessons, which gave me insight into his philosophies when I grew up,” Gandhi says. “I think these are the kinds of lessons that everybody needs to learn to achieve daily peace.”
Gandhi carried his grandfather’s message with him when he worked for 30 years as a journalist for The Times of India, focusing on social and political issues. After moving to the United States in 1987, his humanitarian efforts continued.
Gandhi founded the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute in 2008, which provides underprivileged children in India with the opportunity to gain basic education in a safe environment.
“We have millions of children around the world who live in poverty,” Gandhi says. “They are trapped, and their life is misery. We try to find ways to build schools to give these kids an opportunity to get out of poverty.” Gandhi says the institute is building its first school in a village where several hundred children have already been rescued by the organization.
More recently, Gandhi has taken interest in anti-fracking campaigns. After witnessing fracking in Pennsylvania, he says he wants people to realize how harmful it is to drain the planet of resources. “This kind of greed and selfishness must end,” he says. “All these natural resources that we have are not simply for exploitation. We have to use them in a sensible way so that we save them for future generations, too.”
Gandhi says his grandfather would disapprove of modern wastefulness. “He was conscious of this a century ago,” Gandhi says. “In his life, he never wasted anything. I was living with him when he got bags of letters from around the world. We opened the envelopes very carefully so he could use the back of the envelope to write letters.”
Through outreach and education, Gandhi continues to champion his grandfather’s message of peace. “A lot of people seem to think that Grandfather’s philosophy of nonviolence is a weapon or strategy, but I don’t think so,” Gandhi says. “It’s a way of life.” His free talk at LCC will begin at 7 pm in the Center for Meeting and Learning, Building 19, Rooms 103-104.
— Amy Schneider