Today marks the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Fondly known as Bapu, Gandhi who led the Indian independence struggle through his principles of non-violence and ahimsa continues to inspire millions across the globe including Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King Junior and Barack Obama.
Obama, who scripted history by becoming the first black President of the US in 2009, has often talked about the influence Mahatma Gandhi had on his life. The former US president also had a photo of the Indian freedom leader on the wall of his Senate office.
Invoking Gandhi, Obama said he found inspiration in his principle of “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” “I am greatly influenced by a man from your nation whose message of love and justice shows us the way ahead. Just as he (Gandhi) summoned Indians to seek their destiny, he influenced champions of equality in my own country including Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King called Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence and resistance as the only logical and moral approach in the struggle for justice and progress,” he said during his address in the Indian Parliament. He also said that Gandhi’s message was instrumental in making him the president of the United States.
“I am filled with hope and inspiration as I have the privilege to view this testament to Gandhi’s life. He is a hero not just to India but to the world,” Obama wrote in the visitor’s book at the Mani Bhavan – where Gandhi stayed during his visit to Bombay.
Calling Gandhi a rare gift to the world, Obama in the visitor’s book at the Rajghat memorial wrote, “What Dr Martin Luther King Jr. said that remains true today: The spirit of Gandhi is very much alive in India today and it remains a rare gift to the world. May we always live in this spirit of love and peace among all people and nations.” He has mentioned Gandhi on several occasions, even in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 2009.