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Rules for Sevagram Ashram
Life members of the Ashram are those who believe in the necessity of keeping the eleven observances, and endeavour to do so to the best of their ability, and who will stay in the Ashram even after Gandhiji's death and render lifelong service through the activities of the Ashram.
The names of those who come under this category should be placed on record. They should sign the following pledge:
"We the undersigned believe in the necessity of keeping the eleven observances, and will endeavour to do so to the best of our ability. We will live in the Ashram till death even when Gandhiji is no longer with us in the flesh and will perform the duties assigned to us."
The second class of inmates is those who have joined the Ashram for service. They are non-permanent members. And the third class is visitors and guests who come to the Ashram for a short time.
One of the life members shall be the manager. He will be selected by Gandhiji. After his [Gandhiji's] death, and on the manager ceasing for some reason to hold that office, the life members shall elect a new manager.
The manager shall have charge of the entire administration of the Ashram and assign to the inmates their respective duties. As far as possible, the manager will try to obtain the consent of the life members in doing this.
The Ashram accounts shall be duly kept, and audited once a year. The statement of accounts shall be sent to the trustees of the Ashram and to the President of the Gandhi Seva Sangh.
The rules deducible from the observances and essential for a well-regulated Ashram life are as follows:
All members whether permanent or otherwise will turn every minute of their time to good account. They will take part in every corporate activity of the Ashram. When free from Ashram work they will spin or carry out some other process connected with cotton. They will prosecute their private studies from 8 to 9 p.m., or during daytime, when they have no Ashram work to do and have spun for at least one hour.
They may not spin when they are ill or otherwise unable to spin owing to circumstances beyond their control.
No one should talk idly or in a loud voice. The Ashram must bear the impress of perfect peace as well as of truth. Our relations with one another must be characterized by affection and restraint and with guests and visitors by courtesy. Whether a visitor is dressed in rags or in gorgeous robes, we should treat him with uniform respect. We must not make any distinction between the rich and the poor, the noble and the simple. This does not mean that we may expect a delicately nurtured guest to live as simply as ourselves. That is to say, in waiting upon guests, we must always take into consideration their habitual mode of life. This is true courtesy. If an unknown visitor arrives at the Ashram we must ask him the purpose of his visit, and if necessary, take him to the manager.
Our every word and every act should be well thought out. Whatever we do we must do with a will and complete identification with what we are doing at the moment. For instance we must not talk at meals or while cutting vegetables.
Food must be taken like medicine, under proper restraint, only for sustaining the body and keeping it a fit instrument for service. We must therefore take food in moderation or even abstemiously. We must be content with what food we get. If it is insufficiently or badly cooked, we must not talk about it at meals, but courteously speak about it later to the manager of the kitchen. Bad or imperfectly cooked food should not be eaten.
We must not smack the lips while eating. We must eat our food slowly, decorously and neatly in a spirit of thankfulness to God.
Everyone must wash his own dish thoroughly and keep it in its place.
Guests and visitors are requested to bring their own plate, drinking pot, bowls and spoon, as well as lantern, bedding, mosquito net and napkins. They must not have more clothes than necessary. Their clothes should be made of khadi. Other things must be as far as possible village-made or at least Swadeshi.
Everything must be kept in its proper place. All refuse must be put into the dustbin.
Water must not be wasted. Boiled water is used for drinking purposes. Pots and pans are finally washed with boiled water. Unboiled water of the Ashram wells is not safe to drink. It is necessary to learn the distinction between boiling water and hot water. Boiling water is that with which pulses are cooked, and which gives out lots of steam. No one can drink boiling water.
We should not spit or clean the nose on the road, but only in an out of the way place where no one is likely to walk.
Nature's needs must be attended to only at the appointed place. It is necessary to clean oneself after answering both the calls of nature. The receptacle for the solid contents is, as it should always be, different from that for the liquid contents of latrines. After a visit to the latrine, we must wash our hands with pure earth and pure water and wipe them with a clean napkin. The night soil must be fully covered with dry earth so as not to attract flies and in such a way that nothing but dry earth is visible.
One must sit carefully on the latrine seat, so that the seat does not get dirty. A lantern must be carried if it is dark.
Everything which can attract the fly should be properly covered.
The teeth must be cleaned with care at the proper place. The end of the twig must be well chewed into a soft brush, and the teeth and the gums must be brushed with it both ways. The saliva discharged during brushing, must be spitted out. After the teeth are well brushed, the twig must be split into two to clean the tongue with- Then the mouth should be carefully washed. The split twigs should be washed well, and collected in a pot. When they dry up, they should be used for starting a fire, the idea being that nothing which can be used should be thrown away.
Waste paper, which cannot be used for writing on the other side, should be burned. Nothing else should be mixed with it.
The fragments of vegetables must be kept separate and converted into manure.
Broken glass should be thrown into a pit at a safe distance from houses.
(Translated from Gandhiji's original hindustani)
Harijan, October 31, 1948