CHENNAI: Amid the hustle and bustle of Venkatanarayana Road and inside Thakkar Bapa Vidyalaya is a small building that houses more than 10,000 books exclusively written on or by Gandhi. Established in 1978, the Gandhi Study Centre has actively been spreading out the messages of the Father of the Nation, especially among the students, but is unknown to many.
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The Centre was founded by TD Tirumalai, a staunch follower of Gandhi and was maintained by him till he died in 1993. “Tirumalai was a freedom fighter who organised courses on Gandhian thought and went from door-to-door selling Gandhi’s autobiography before setting up the centre. His goal was to make people aware of Gandhi’s ideas and thoughts. The Gandhi Centre’s prime objectives are the same — to revive the spirit of love and friendship generated by Gandhi in his life and to present a new lifestyle,” says M Prema, the current co-ordinator.
Though it is not known to many, the Centre still has regular visitors, Prema says. “We have people who come here just to know about Gandhi, researchers to publish articles and magazines and film actors for their movies. Actor Kamal Haasan gathered information for Hey Ram from this Centre,” she says.
The study centre’s vast collection is not just for knowledge and research, however. The pacifist’s words have changed lives, says Prema. “A Supreme Court judge ordered a north Madras MLA to come to the Centre every day for 15 days and learn more about Gandhi. On the first day, he parked his car at the entrance and was very egoistic and, unwilling to listen to anything or anyone. As days passed by, his attitude towards life completely changed. He started walking, greeting everyone with a smile and spreading love,” she says.
The Centre also offers a correspondence course, ‘Let Us Know Gandhi’, on the life and works of Mahatma Gandhi; screens documentaries in schools, colleges and public places, holds exhibitions with rare pictures of Gandhi, and workshops for teachers to assist them in educating students on Gandhi’s life.
For more information, visit www.gandhistudycentre.org