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Mumbai played a very prominent part in India’s struggle for freedom. Gandhiji was rightly proud of the patriotic and cosmopolitan citizens of Mumbai.

Revisiting Mani Bhavan On March 3, 1959, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru observed: “Mani Bhavan in Bombay will ever remain a precious memory to all those who visited it on many occasions when Gandhiji used to stay there. I am glad therefore, that this house is being converted into a Gandhi Memorial”.

Mani Bhavan, a modest two-storied building on the Laburnum Road in the comparatively quiet locality called Gamdevi, served for about seventeen eventful years (1917-1934) as the nerve centre in Bombay for Gandhiji’s activities. It belonged to Shri Revashankar Jagjeevan Jhaveri who was an ardent devotee of Gandhiji and his affectionate host during that period. Today Mani Bhavan is a hallowed memorial to Gandhiji, to his stay here and to the activities he initiated from here.

Mani Bhavan has a story to tell: it housed Gandhiji frequently during the times when he grew in stature and strength, from an agitator to a world figure by successfully introducing Satyagraha (individual as well as mass) as a new and effective weapon to fight all evil and injustice. Mani Bhavan was the epicenter of India’s struggle for freedom, especially between 1917 to 1934.

It was from here that first phase of non-violent freedom struggle was launched. In the latter part of 1918 while he was recuperating in Mani Bhavan, Gandhiji took his first lessons in carding from a person who used to pass by Mani Bhavan. According to him, the hum of charkha “had no small share in restoring him to health” He yielded to Kasturba’s suggestion and began taking goat’s milk here when his health was very critical in January 1919.

Satyagraha against the Rowlatt Act was launched from Mani Bhavan in March, 1919. With a view to defy the Indian Press Act, it was also from here that Gandhiji commenced his weekly bulletin “Satyagrahi” on April 7, 1919.

After the disturbance and disorderly scenes at the time of the boycott of the visit of the Prince of Wales on November 17, 1921, Gandhiji started his historic fast at Mani Bhavan on 19th November 1921 to restore peace in the city of Bombay. He broke his fast on November 22, after normalcy was restored in the city.

The Congress Working Committee met at Mani Bhavan on June 9, 1931. On August 1931, Gandhiji went as the sole representative of the Congress to the Round Table Conference in London. He returned frustrated to Bombay on December 28, 1931. Thereafter, he discussed the situation with the Working Committee of the Congress which met at Mani Bhavan and took the decision to launch civil disobedience for on December 31, 1931. Gandhiji was arrested from his tent on the terrace of Mani Bhavan in the morning of January 4, 1932. On June 17 and 18, 1934, the Congress Working Committee held its adjourned meeting at Mani Bhavan.

Mani Bhavan is a place where Gandhiji lived and interacted with his colleagues to mould the freedom movement in the image of the cherished ideals of Truth and Non-violence. It was from Mani Bhavan that his followers and devotees went forth in the world inspired and charged with a sense of service and sacrifice. Even today, Mani Bhavan is a source of inspiration for the lovers of freedom and peace the world over.

This heritage building of national importance is a tourist attraction. It is visited daily by a large number of visitors from India and abroad. Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya is open to public on all days between 9.30 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.

The ground floor houses the office of the Museum and the Library that has a rich collection of about 40,000 books in Reference and Lending sections. Many scholars, students, teachers and participants of the Gandhi Jayanti Competitions use the library for reference and reading.

At the display counter are available some important books by and on Gandhiji, Gandhi postage stamps issued by India and other countries, and mementos.

On the first floor is the auditorium where films on Gandhiji are shown from time to time and recordings of his speeches are played on request. It is also used for holding meetings, seminars, discussions and various competitions held for school and college students. On the first floor is also located the office of the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, Mumbai.

On the second floor, the room where Gandhiji lived and worked is preserved in its original setting. Adjoining Gandhiji’s Room is the exhibition depicting Gandhiji’s life through miniature figures.

Mani Bhavan also hosts several important meetings of social workers, concerned citizens, Sarvodaya workers, students and teachers.

 

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