Gandhi Goes for $1.8 Million

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Gandhi Goes for $1.8 Million

Yesterday afternoon five of Mahatma Gandhi's personal effects were sold at an auction in New York for $1.8 million dollars. The items included his wire frame glasses with case, sandals, pocket watch, brass bowl and plate. The seller was American documentary filmmaker and self-proclaimed pacifist James Otis, who collects items from non-violent movements around the world.


When Gandhi's items went up for sale, the Indian Government went into an uproar feeling that the belongings of India's most spiritually and politically influential figure represent India's independence and fundamentally belong to India. Tense negotiations between Otis and the Indian government ensued, where at one point Otis said that he would sell the items to India on condition that the government provide better health care to its people. The Indian government declared "infringement of sovereignty" and negotiations struggled on. In the end, the items were sold to VJ Mallya, a wealthy Indian business man who will donate the items to the Indian government and Otis will put the money of his sale toward promoting pacifism.

India sees the return of these items as the return of their national treasure, Mohandas K. Gandhi, who led the first non-violent movement in modern history. Some see these objects as spiritual relics. In India, the sandals of a holy person are a place of pilgrimage and the root of great blessings.

Comments [6]

rovermom's picture

I remember that, Grace. I

I remember that, Grace. I knew that practiced non-materialism - and in a way, taught it by his actions. I just figured he was about non-materialism....and yet, his past items are forced upon as being materialistic Ghandi. He wasn't attached to these things. But people made these attached to him.

I guess that is what I'm trying to say. He lived in practice of simplicity and non-materialism, and looked at these items as just material - and not an attachment to him. But we, in his death have went and buried his practice and attached these to him.

It's just ironic....

good blog by the way Smile

Grace Moon's picture

Gandhi taught non-violence...

Gandhi taught non-violence... he himself practiced non-materialism, i don't think he insisted it upon anyone else except his wife who was pissed off about it during the early part of their marriage.

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rovermom's picture

Yeah but isn't this kind of

Yeah but isn't this kind of against what Ghandi was teaching? Or am I mixing that up with Buddhism?

Attachment to materialism, it's kind of against simplicity.

Though, I do like that Otis was trying to lift up the sick - bribing isn't really pacifism. But Otis still did good by donating the money.

mysticsmb's picture

Wonder if Otis has any

Wonder if Otis has any treasures he could sell the American gov't on the condition that it provide better health care for its people. Smile

Tex's picture

I agree - extremely glad that

I agree - extremely glad that the items are going back to India where they will be preserved - the value of the items doing good. Now that's coming from someone who thinks that human material items being astronomically valued and viewed as treasures is a bunch of bunk....

Twitter Time @kdhales

Kelly McCartney's picture

His great-grandson or some

His great-grandson or some relative like that had been trying to raise money to buy them, too. Sounds like everything came out okay and fairly greed-less.

Some of his ashes are enshrined at the Self-Realization Fellowship's Lake Shrine in Santa Monica. I used to go hang out with him there. He's my hero.

Won't you be my neighbor? @theKELword