Mahatma Gandhi observing leper patient Parchure Shastri being examined by an outside medical doctor at Satyagraha Ashram, Sevagram, 1940.
Why is this picture in colour?
PARCHURE SHASTRI NURSING A FRIEND AFFLICTED BY LEPROSY
Gandhi was in the habit of taking a brisk walk every evening. He would walk for three or four miles, covering the distance in about three quarters of an hour. Accompanying him on the walk would be some members of the Ashram community, children and some visitors to whom he wanted to talk during the walk, thus saving on the time that he would otherwise have had to find from his heavy schedule of work. The walk was not merely a stint of exercise but also a period of relaxation. Gandhi would be up to his pranks with children or would be provoking laugher with his banter and wit. On a cold December day in 1939, as he stepped out of the Ashram for his walk, he found a human form with a bundle in his hands about to enter the Ashram. On seeing Gandhi, the visitor halted six steps away, kept his bundle down and did obeisance to Gandhi. Gandhi looked grave, a thick pall of sorrow fell on his face. He recognized the man before him. It was Parchure Shastri, a famous Sanskrit Scholar and poet who had been with him in the Yervada Jail in 1922. In these years, Shashi had contacted a vicious form of leprosy. He had tried treatment at many hospitals, and with many doctors. Nothing had helped. He wanted to disappear from view and meet what was in store for him. But before making his final exit, he wanted to have a darshan (glimpse) of Gandhi. So he had written to Gandhi asking for permission to meet him. In the meanwhile, the Second World War had broken out. It was feared that Gandhi might be compelled t... read more
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