Italian Gandhi in 1936: Lanza Del Vasto

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Italian Gandhi in 1936: Lanza Del Vasto

| Updated: May 30, 2024 13:37

Born in Italy in September 1901, Lanza del Vasto came to know about Mahatma Gandhi through the writings of Romain Rolland, a French indophile. Lanza visited India in 1936 and spent six months with the Mahatma, taking part in the Indian Independence movement.

A catholic by faith, Lanza Del Vasto undertook the pilgrimage to the sources of the Ganges and the Yamuna rivers in the Himalayas. His spiritual quest led him to work for inter-religious dialogue, ecological activism, and nonviolence. He wrote a hugely popular book titled ” Return to the Source” later in 1943.

22nd September 1931: An admiring East End crowd gathers to witness the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi), in Canning Town, East London, as he calls upon Charlie Chaplin. Gandhi is in England in his capacity as leader of the Indian National Congress attending the London Round Table Conference on Indian constitutional reform. (Photo by London Express/Getty Images)

Returning to Europe in 1938, at the beginning of the world war, Lanza went to Paris. Inspired by Mahtma Gandhi’s experiments with the Ashram life in South Africa and India, Lanza founded the Community of the Ark in South France in in1948. The commune of the Ark works on the principles of simple living and high thinking. The members of the commune live together as a close-knit group and engage in activities such as farming, pottery making, etc. for livelihood. They share a common kitchen.

Lanza Del Vasto is one of the many people outside India on whom Mahatma Gandhi had a mesmerizing effect. On the death of Gandhiji, Albert Einstein said, ” Generations to come will find it hard to believe that such a man ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”

Ultimately, what the inimitable George Bernard Shaw said about the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi sounds most relevant. He said, ” It is dangerous to be too good.”

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