Gandhi Smarak Sanghralaya -A memorial for the saint or the sinner?

Charles Correa believed that people living in warm climates develop very specific relationships to their en­vironment. During the day we need but minimal protection, such as a chhatri (an overhead canopy); in the early morning and at night, the best place to be is under the open sky. We relate more to open environment than the colder countries where it’s required to be inside.It liberates us to be out in the open and is integral for our existence.We have architecture that focuses on built around the open .For example the South Indian temples which have pradakshina path around the garbha griha or jama masjid in Delhi that has large no.of open spaces surrounded by some built just so to make one feel inside the built.Our relation of open to the built is very important and that inspired Correa to design the Gandhi memorial.Its a 6*6 mt grid which opens and closes in different places.The built is asymmetric and is analogous to the village typology and it opens into a water court as it is hot in Ahmedabad .The material used is brick, stone and wood.The structure has no glass windows as Gandhi was against modern industrialized products and therefore has wooden louvres(ironic as the man was fighting for a change but himself resisted it).The grid gives us possiblity of expanding the structure just the way village would expand making it more oraganic.The relationship of the built form to the open spaces is nicely achieved and makes the grid more free flowing . The quality of light coming against the central water court is pleasurable.
On a philosophical level it tries to draw in inspiration from Gandhi ‘s life that is ;the architecture to be pure and clean and no use of anything ‘ industrially modern’ or any kind of Western influence. But the real question here becomes was the idea of propagating Gandhi as a simple and pure person really true in fact or just a propaganda? Architecturally it is appealing but when it says it has been inspired from Gandhi’s idea of simplicity and was made in his honor ,was the building really true to it’s philosophy or was it a propaganda in itself.
To the world he was the spiritual leader of India’s independence movement, a pioneer of non-violent resistance and father of the Indian nation.
His journey that began from Satyagrah in South Africa was in the defense of the rights of native people. Nothing could be further from truth than this blatant lie. How could Gandhi, a diehard supporter of the caste system think of the welfare of African blacks he regarded lower than the Untouchables of India ? His Satyagrah was for the better treatment of Indians, who, according to Gandhi were treated the same way as savage Kaffirs (native people) were. In his stay of twenty years in South Africa, he had no social contacts with the Kaffirs, as he did not identify with them in daily affairs of life. He was horrified when he was put in the same jail ward. It was the jail experience, which brought out his racism in the open.
He proclaimed that the British Empire was for the welfare of the whole world and he accepted their superiority and predominance. But he reminded the white people that upper caste Indians share with the Europeans a common heritage – the blood of the noble Aryan race. According to him it is Aryan blood, which is responsible for the advancement of human civilization.
The Russian Revolution of 1914 spurted national movements against colonial rule. The British brought Gandhi back to India to sabotage Indian national movement against British rule. The congress Party dominated by Gandhi was set up under the patronage of the British authorities. He urged the Indian people to support the British by enlisting in the army during World War I. In his letter he wrote to the Viceroy in1930, he said, ” One of his reason for launching the Civil Disobedient Movement is to contain the violence of revolutionaries”

It is one of the biggest fabrications of the twentieth century that Gandhi won Indian freedom without spilling a drop of blood. The truth is that it was the aftermath of World War II and the formation of the Indian National Army that forced the British government to dismantle its Colonial Empire. Moreover, it was Gandhi and his Hindu dominated Congress party that engineered the partition of the country on communal lines, as the Muslim dominant states stood in the way of high caste Hindus to set up their Ram Raj (mythical Hindu kingdom) based on caste ideology. Additionally, the Partition of India in 1947 is one of the major upheavals of the twentieth century.
Gandhi was a complex man and is different from the image that has been portrayed.In the time when the building was built and inaugurated in 1963 by Jawaharlal Nehru , it was the time when nation needed an ideal figure ,i.e a man who resorts to non violent methods and who has achieved peace in every way which means he has let go of all his desires and has also opted celibacy as the way of living and that this kind of man was going to lead everyone to freedom and maybe that is what the nation needed then.The nation needed less of controversies then when it was already so fragmented and it didnt need anymore reasons to be broken down further.But in today’s time the building stands obsolete.A memorial based on the philosophy of Gandhi can’t be as simple as the Gandhi ashram .It has to be relooked and to accommodate the multiple complexities that he has had and maybe if today it was built it might not have been built the same way if it was in made in an honor of his memory.

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