When you walk back downstairs, you notice a set of posters on the wall, each framed like a painting. In one of them, Gandhi talks about non-violence, and the role of women. Here's what he says:
Speaking to a group of women in Italy, Gandhi apparently said "The beauty of non-violent war is that women can play the same part in it as men. In a violent war women have no such privilege." That was true, of course, in India's struggle for independence. Indian women played a large role in Gandhi's fight for freedom, there were many women in all his campaigns. It was a non-violent movement, that made it easier for women to participate equally, and walk shoulder-to-shoulder with their male counterparts. You had to be brave, to face the lathis and batons, but you did not need the muscles to hit back.
In a meeting in Paris, he said "I have no doubt that (women) can do infinitely more than men against war. Answer for yourselves what your great soldiers and generals would do, if their wives and daughters and mothers refused to countenance their participation in militarism in any shape or form." His statement was based on his observation of his wife Kasturba. It was Kasturba's passive resistance to some of Gandhi's unreasonable demands that made him change himself, from a domineering traditional husband to a more considerate one.
I'm a little confused about this stuff. On the one hand, I believe in equality of opportunity in all spheres, including the armed forces. Today, we have more and more Indian women entering the armed forces and the police. On the other hand, here is Gandhi, asking women to stand up for non-violence.
So what do you think? Do you agree with Gandhi? Is his view of women as essentially peace-loving creatures correct? Is passive resistance the way to go, or is it just an old fashioned idea? If women took a stronger stance against wars, will there be fewer wars?
No matter what your views, Mani Bhavan is worth visiting. It is inspiring, thought-provoking and definitely a must-see place on your itinerary.