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Gandhi and a Way of Life

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To examine Gandhi’s worldview.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a leader and five speakers. Practise ahead of the assembly.
  • Find an image of Mahatma Gandhi and have the means to display it during the assembly.
  • You may wish to play a short clip from the film Gandhi, but this is optional.
  • Familiarize yourself with the key facts about Mahatma Ghandhi's life and philosophy.

Assembly

Leader: Dispaly the image of Mahatma Gandhi. Ask Reader 1 to stand beside the screen and Reader 2 to stand some distance away.

Speaker 1: Mahatma Gandhi once said, 'If my faith burns bright, as I hope it will even if I stand alone, I shall be alive in the grave, and what is more, speaking from it.'

Speaker 2: Martin Luther King once said, 'Gandhi was inevitable. If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought and acted inspired by the vision of humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony. We may ignore Gandhi at our own risk.'

Leader: As we heard, the first statement was made by Mahatma Gandhi himself. The second was made by Martin Luther King about Gandhi. What do these men have in common?

Answers may include that both men believed in non-violence, but met violent deaths, they believed that their actions were worth dying for, although neither of them set out to die and both are remembered as inspirational figures today, even though they died many years ago.

In this assembly, we will be focusing on Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi is one of the most recognizable figures to have come from India. He is seen as one of the greatest gurus.

Why is Gandhi thought of in this way?

To help us understand the answer to this question, I want to ask you a few other questions. I  would like you to answer honestly, telling me what you think.

Ask the following questions, giving time for the students to think about their answers.

- Have you ever been very, very hungry?
- Would you be prepared to go without and be hungry in order to protect someone else's rights?
- Would you be happy to get into trouble on someone else's behalf?
- Would you think it was worth going to prison more than once for what you believe in?
- What would you think of someone who was prepared to do all these things?

Invite Speakers 3, 4 and 5 to the front. Ask them the following questions.

What would your answers to the last question be?
What would you think of someone who was prepared to go to such lengths to help other people?

Speaker 3: Sounds a bit stupid to me! What's the point?

Speaker 4: Well, I'd like to be like that, but I'm not too sure I'd really manage to carry it out when it came to it.

Speaker 5: Um  . . .  I really don't know  . . .

Leader: Whether wondering about its effectiveness, like our first speaker, or reacting with admiration, like our second, people are often fascinated by those who make a big impact.

In the first part of the twentieth century, Gandhi, like Martin Luther King in later years, fought against apartheid. Gandhi had worked in South Africa as a lawyer and experienced apartheid at first hand. In India, there was the caste system. It was there that Gandhi championed the rights of the Untouchables - the lowest caste - by going on hunger strike.

In some ways, Gandhi is linked in many people's minds with India itself. His gaunt figure is seen as both vulnerable and triumphant. On the one hand, he seems to stand for non-violence, the sacred cows that wander unharmed in the streets, a general belief in the sanctity of life and a prayerful attitude to the world around, a recognition that man does not have to have many material things to live well. On the other hand, he is a reminder that grinding oppression, rivalry, war, unfairness and the other things that Gandhi tried to change are still with us.

Time for reflection

Leader: Does all this have any relevance today?

We live more and more in a global community. India is about seven hours away by plane and we can reach almost any other place in the world in a fairly short period of time. Unfortunately, our world is still torn apart by war and prejudice. Maybe we all need to take more notice of the words of Martin Luther King we heard earlier.

Speaker 2: 'Gandhi was inevitable. If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought and acted inspired by the vision of humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony. We may ignore Gandhi at our own risk.'

Leader: Gandhi believed that meditation and quietness were essential tools in prayer.

We will now spend some time in quiet, reflecting on the world that Gandhi wanted to see.

During this time, read the following quotations from Gandhi at intervals:

'Live simply so that others may simply live.'
'You must be the change you wish to see in the world.'

Pause.

Let's now listen to the words of Martin Luther King once more.

Speaker 2: 'Gandhi was inevitable. If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought and acted inspired by the vision of humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony. We may ignore Gandhi at our own risk.'

Publication date: February 2016   (Vol.18 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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