Gandhiji walked all his life to face mounting challenges


The act of walking, which Mahatma Gandhi called “the prince of exercises,” helped him handle not only daily tough situations but also liberated him from daily crises. He ingeniously used walking  as a customary praxis to build his political agenda and seek truth. Upon his return to India, on the advice of Gokhale, he travelled many parts of India by train and covered much of interior places on foot.


According to Dr. Sanil Viswanathan Nair, professor of philosophy at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi,  ''Gandhi was both a political leader and a writer who was dedicated to long walks, part of the daily routine of ashram life in India. This combination also made Gandhi quite inviting to be taken seriously as a philosopher, though he was not an academic philosopher''.....''Gandhi used walking as a form of emancipation from the crises he would encounter on an everyday basis - crises he would encounter while living the life of a mahatma in his ashram or those which he would encounter as a political leader fighting for India’s independence.'' Waking was his forte and he used it as a tool for his experiment with truth and tolerance. At that point of time much of the Indian population in rural space moved from one  place to nearby places like small towns  by walking. To Gandhiji walking was an integral part of his routine life and ethos and his long stride and gait had an aura about him and his firm determination  with which he took his political movements forward. 

M.K. Gandhi,

In 1930 at the age of 60, Gandhi's arduous  walk covering 231 miles from his ashram to Dandi  coast  to break the law of salt tax imposed by the British government and his trip to  Noakhali and Tipperah districts, from November 1946 to February 1947, Bengal in the midst of communal violence  are examples of his experiments in  civil disobedience and truth by way of walking.  

Gandhiji walked 18 km a day and avoided trains and other modes of transport as much as he could. For roughly 40 years he had spent his life like this way.  Health records published in the journal -Indian Council of Medical Research  also revealed that he walked a total of 79,000 km during his political campaigns from 1913 to 1948. 

 He never used hand rickshaws and palanquin. To him walking was a way to condition his mind and  body and to seek higher  levels of tolerance. Strong body means sound mind that can think clearly. It is further supported from fasting and observing silence.  Subjecting the body to various austerities would promote self-control over oneself.  He got the attention of the alienated people to observe silence with a view to connecting  with themselves and a d be attentive to the rhythms of their bodies. The acts of satyagraha, civil resistance or obedience  need strong body and mind and disciplined people wish rigorous training  can achieve their political goals. Long walk is a way to condition the body  and it is the norm of Gandhian philosophy. Spearheading countrywide mass movements against the British, surviving severe fasts and being sentenced to jail no less than 10 times - all these are too much for an old man.  None of this would have been possible without remarkable reserves of endurance, mental prowess supported by disciplined body.

 “This little man, so frail in appearance, is tireless, and fatigue is a word which does not exist in his vocabulary.”...French writer and Nobel winner, Romain Rolland,