Founded on Vaishakha Shudi 11, Samvat 1971, — May 25, 1915 — at Kochrab,
Ahmedabad and since removed to Sabarmati, a junction station near Ahmedabad.
The object of this Ashram is that its members should qualify themselves for, and
make a constant endeavour towards, the service of the country, not inconsistent with the universal welfare.
The following observances are essential for the fulfillment of the above object:
Truth is not fulfilled by mere abstinence from telling or practising an untruth in
ordinary relations with fellow-men. But Truth is God, the one and only
Reality. All other observances take their rise from the quest for, and the
worship of, Truth. Worshippers of Truth must not resort to untruth, even for
what they may believe to be the good of the country, and they may be
required, like Prahlad, civilly to disobey the orders even of parents and
elders in virtue of their paramount loyalty to Truth.
2. Non-violence or Love
Mere non-killing is not enough. The active part of Non-violence is Love. The law
of Love requires equal consideration for all life from the tiniest insect to
the highest man. One who follows this law must not be angry even with the
perpetrator of the greatest imaginable wrong, but must love him, wish him
well and serve him. Although he must thus love the wrong-doer, he must never
submit to his wrong or his injustice, but must oppose it with all his might,
and must patiently and without resentment suffer all the hardships to which
the wrong-doer may subject him in punishment for his opposition.
3. Chastity (Brahmacharya)
Observance of the foregoing principles is impossible without the observance
of celibacy. It is not enough that one should not look upon any woman or man
with a lustful eye; animal passion must be so controlled as to be excluded
even from the mind. If married, one must not have a carnal mind regarding
one's wife or husband, but must consider her or him as one's lifelong
friend, and establish relationship of perfect purity. A sinful touch,
gesture or word is a direct breach of this principle.
4. Control of the Palate
The observance of brahmacharya has been found, from experience, to be
extremely difficult so long as one has not acquired mastery over taste.
Control of the palate has therefore been placed as a principle by itself.
Eating is necessary only for sustaining the body and keeping it a fit
instrument for service, and must never be practised for self-indulgence.
Food must therefore be taken, like medicine, under proper restraint. In
pursuance of this principle one must eschew exciting foods, such as spices
and condiments. Meat, liquor, tobacco, bhang etc. are excluded from
the Ashram. This principle requires abstinence from feasts or dinners which
have pleasure as their object.
It is not enough not to take another's property without his permission. One
becomes guilty of theft even by using differently anything which one has
received in trust for use in a particular way, as well as by using a thing
longer than the period for which it has been lent. It is also theft if one
receives anything which he does not really need. The fine truth at the
bottom of this principle is that Nature provides just enough and no more,
for our daily need.
6. Non-possession or Poverty
This principle is really a part of No. V. Just as one must not receive, so must
one not possess anything which one does not really need. It would be a
breach of this principle to possess unnecessary foodstuffs, clothing, or
furniture. For instance one must not keep a chair if one can do without it.
In observing this principle one is led to a progressive simplification of
one's own life.
7. Physical Labour
Physical labour is essential for the observance of Non- stealing and
Non-possession. Man can be saved from injuring society, as well as himself,
only if he sustains his physical existence by physical labour. Able-bodied
adults must do all their personal work themselves, and must not be served by
others, except for proper reasons. But they must at the same time remember,
that service of children, as well as of the disabled, the old and the sick,
is a duty incumbent on every person who has the required strength.
Man is not omnipotent. He therefore serves the world best by first serving his
neighbour. This is Swadeshi, a principle which is broken when one professes
to serve those who are more remote in preference to those who are near.
Observance of Swadeshi makes for order in the world ; the breach of it leads
to chaos. Following this principle, one must as far as possible purchase
one's requirements locally and not buy things imported from foreign lands,
which can easily be manufactured in the country. There is no place for
self-interest in Swadeshi, which enjoins the sacrifice of oneself for the
family, of the family for the village, of the village for the country, and
of the country for humanity.
One cannot follow Truth or Love so long as one is subject to fear. As there is
at present a reign* of fear in the country, meditation on and cultivation of
fearlessness have a particular importance. Hence its separate mention as an
observance. A seeker after Truth must give up the fear of parents, caste,
government, robbers etc., and he must not be frightened by poverty or death.
10. Removal of Untouchability
Untouchability, which has taken such deep root in Hinduism, is altogether irreligious. Its
removal has therefore been treated as an independent principle. The
so-called untouchables have an equal place in the Ashram with other classes.
The Ashram does not believe in caste which, it considers, has injured
Hinduism, because its implications of superior and inferior status, and of
pollution by contact are contrary to the law of Love. The Ashram however
believes in varnashrama dharma. The division of varncis is
based upon occupation, and therefore, a person should maintain himself by
following the hereditary occupation, not inconsistent with fundamental
morals, and should devote all his spare time and energy to the acquisition
and advancement of true knowledge. The ashramas (the four stages)
spoken of in the smritis are conducive to the welfare of mankind.
Though, therefore, the Ashram believes in varnashrama dharma. there
is no place in it for distinction of varnas as the Ashram life is
conceived in the light of the comprehensive and non-formal sannyasa
of the Bhagavadgita.
The Ashram believes that the principal faiths of the world constitute a
revelation of Truth, but as they have all been outlined by imperfect man,
they have been affected by imperfections and alloyed with untruth. One must
therefore entertain the same respect for the religious faiths of others as
one accords to one's own. Where such tolerance becomes a law of life,
conflict between different faiths .becomes impossible, and so does all
effort to convert other people to one's own faith. One can only pray that
the defects in the various faiths may be overcome, and that they may
advance, side by side, towards perfection.
As a result of and in order to help fulfillment of these observances, the
following activities are carried on in the Ashram :
The social (as distinguished from the individual) activities of the Ashram
commence every day with the congregational morning worship at 4: 15 to 4: 45
and close with the evening prayer at 7 to 7: 30. All inmates are expected to
attend the worship. This worship has been conceived as an aid to self-
purification and dedication of one's all to God.
II. Sanitary Service
This is an essential and sacred service and yet it is looked down upon in
society, with the result that it is generally neglected and affords
considerable scope for improvement. The Ashram, therefore, lays special
stress upon engaging no outside labour for this work. The members themselves
attend in turns to the whole of the sanitation. New entrants are generally
first of all attached to this department. Trenches are sunk to the depth of
nine inches, and the nightsoil is buried in them and covered with the
excavated earth. It thus becomes converted into valuable manure. Calls of
nature are attended to only at places assigned for the purpose. Care is
taken that the roads and paths should not be spoilt by spitting or
III. Sacrificial Spinning
Today Indians most urgent problem is the growing starvation of her millions, which
is chiefly due to the deliberate destruction, by alien rule, of her
principal auxiliary industry of hand-spinning. With a view to its
rehabilitation in national life, spinning has been made the central activity
of the Ashram, and is compulsory for all members as a national sacrifice.
The following are the various branches of work in this department:
I. Cotton cultivation
II. Workshop for making and repairing spinning wheels, spindles, carding bows et cetera;
VI. Weaving cloth, carpets, tape, rope, et cetera;
VII. Dyeing and printing.
Cotton for the khadi work and fodder crops for the cattle are the chief
activities of this department. Vegetables fruit are also grown in order to
make the Ashram as far as possible self-contained.
An attempt is being made to convert into a model dairy the Ashram dairy which
supplies milk to the inmates. Since last year this dairy is being carried on
in consonance with the principles of and with the pecuniary help of the
All-India Cow Protection Association, but as an integral part of the Ashram
itself. There are at present 27 cows, 47 calves and young stock, 10 bullocks
and 4 bulls. The average daily output of milk is 200 pounds.
At the instance and with the help of the All-India Cow Protection Association,
a tannery has been established for the tanning of dead-cattle hides. There
is attached to it a sandal and shoe-making department. The dairy and tannery
have been established because the Ashram believes, in spite of the claim
Hindus make to the protection of the cow, that Indian cattle will further
and further deteriorate and ultimately die out, carrying man along with
them, unless vigorous attention is paid to cattle-breeding, cattle-feeding
and the utilization in the country of dead-cattle hides.
VII. National Education
An attempt is made in the Ashram to import such education as is conducive to
national welfare. In order that spiritual, intellectual and physical
development may proceed side by side, an atmosphere of industry has been
created, and letters are not given more than their due importance. Character
building is attended to in the smallest detail. 'Untouchable' children are
freely admitted. Women are given special attention with a view to improving
their status, and they are accorded the same opportunities for self-culture
as the men. The Ashram accepts the following principles of the Gujarat
- The principal object of the Vidyapith shall be to prepare workers of character,
ability, education and conscientiousness, necessary for the conduct of the
movements connected with the attainment of Swaraj.
- All the institutions conducted by and affiliated to the Vidyapith shall be fully
non-co-operating and shall therefore have nothing to do with any help from
- Whereas the Vidyapith has come into being in connection with the Swaraj
movement, and non-violent non- co-operation as a means thereof, its teachers
and trustees shall restrict themselves to those means only which are not
inconsistent with truth and non-violence and shall consciously strive to
carry them out.
- The teachers and the trustees of the Vidyapith, as also all the institutions
affiliated to it, shall regard untouchability as a blot on Hinduism, shall
strive to the best of their power for its removal, and shall not exclude a
boy or girl for reason of his or her untouchability nor shall give him or
her differential treatment having once accorded admission to him or her.
- The teachers and the trustees of, and all the institutions affiliated to, the Vidyapith shall regard hand spinning as an essential part of the Swaraj
movement and shall therefore spin regularly, except when disabled, and shall habitually wear Khadi.
- The language of the province shall have the principal place in the Vidyapith and
shall be the medium of instruction.
Explanation : Languages other than Gujarati may be taught by direct method.
- The teaching of Hindi-Hindustani shall be compulsory in the curricula of the Vidyapith.
- Manual training shall receive the same importance as intellectual training
and only such occupations as are useful for the life of the nation shall be taught.
- Whereas the growth of the nation depends not on its cities but its villages,
the bulk of the funds of the Vidyapith and a majority of the teachers of the Vidyapith shall be employed in the propagation of education conducive to the
welfare of the villages.
- In laying down the curricula, the needs of village dwellers shall have principal consideration.
- There shall be complete toleration of all established religions in all institutions conducted by and affiliated to the Vidyapith; and for the
spiritual development of the pupils, religious instruction shall be imparted in consonance with truth and non-violence.
- For the physical development of the nation physical exercise and physical
training shall be compulsory in all the institutions conducted by and affiliated to the Vidyapith.
Note : Hindi-Hindustani means the language commonly spoken by the masses of the North — both Hindu and Musalman — and written in the Devanagari or the
VIII. Khadi Technical School
A separate technical school is conducted, which prepares candidates for the
Khadi Service on behalf of the All-India Spinners' Association... The curriculum is as follows:
21 weeks spinning...
7 weeks carding...
2 weeks ginning...
The average monthly food bill per student amounts to about 12 rupees...
4:15 to 4.45
5 to 6:10
6:10 to 6:30
6.30 to 7
7 to 10:30
10:45 to 11:15
11:15 to 12
12 to 4:30
4.30 to 5:30
5:30 to 6
6 to 7
7 to 7:30
7.30 to 9
Rising from bed
Bath, exercise, study
Women's prayer class
Body labour, education and sanitation
Body labour including classes
Note : These hours are subject to change whenever necessary.
 A reference to British rule in India. V. G. D.
2. Refers to the British Government. V. G. D.