Gandhi resided at the Sabarmati Ashram (also known as the Harijan Ashram) from 1917 until 1930 and served as one of the main centers of the Indian freedom struggle. The Ashram was established with a dual mission: 1) To serve as an institution that would carry on a search for truth and 2) a platform to bring together a group of workers committed to non-violence who would help secure freedom for India.
The Ashram, sprawled over 36 acres, was a human laboratory where Gandhi could test his moral and spiritual hypotheses. It was a family not linked by blood or property, but by an allegiance to common ideals. These main objectives of Sabarmati were as follows: Education, Truth (Non-Violence and Love), Celibacy, Control of the palate (no liquor or meat), No Stealing, Non-Possession (simple living high thinking), Use of home-made articles, Conquer of Fear, and the eradication of untouchabiilty. By conceiving such a vision Gandhi and his followers hoped to foster a new social construct of truth and non-violence that would help to revolutionize the existing patterns of society. Over the years, the Ashram became home to the ideology that set India free. It aided countless other nations and people in their own battles against oppressive forces.
The first struggle Gandhi headed from the Sabarmati Ashram was for the textile workers strike. There was a complete deadlock between the mill owners and the inadequately paid workers. It was difficult for the workers not to become angry, as they were starving. However, Gandhi joined with them in fast, and later used the strikers to found a Weavers School at Sabarmati.
Gandhi’s charkha and untouchability campaign brought the majority of the deprived masses of India into the national mainstream. Also during his time at Sabarmati, Gandhi was jailed for 6 years in the nearby prison and published his now famous autobiography, "My Experiments With Truth", after his release.
The most famous and epic chapter of the Sabarmati Ashram came in the way Gandhi bid farewell to it. On March 12, 1930, directed by his ‘inner voice,’ Gandhiji embarked on a 240 mile walk with 79 selected followers to break the Salt Tax, imposed by the British. This, known in history as The Dandi Salt March, united the country and set into motion the events that would later free a nation. Gandhi was no longer referred to as Mohandas, but as Mahatma, or ‘Great Soul.’ Gandhi has said he would never return to Sabarmati until India achieved Independence. He did, though on a somber note, see India gain Independence on August 15, 1947; but was unable to return to Sabarmati, as he was assassinated on January 30, 1948.
Today, the Ashram serves as a source of inspiration and guidance, and stands as a monument to Gandhi’s life mission and a testimony to others who have fought a similar struggle.