Mahatma Gandhi leaves the Tolstoy Farm 1913

Mahatma Gandhi and friends at Tolstoy farm   Source: www.agefotostock.comMahatma Gandhi and friends at Tolstoy farm Source: www.agefotostock.com

Date: 2 January, 1913

Mahatma Gandhi , a champion of passive resistance and non-violent campaigns left the Tolstoy Farm in Transvaal (now known as the Gauteng Province). After being with numerous people, he left behind only his friend Hermann Kallenbach and a few Africans who lived there. The farm, initially known as Roodepoort No. 49 was a 1100 acre piece of land purchased by Kallenbach from a Johannesburg Town Councillor L. V. Partridge for £2,000 on 30 May 1910. There were an estimated 1,000 fruit-bearing trees with peaches, apricots, figs, almonds, walnuts and a small plantation of eucalyptus trees.

Gandhi was inspired by Tolstoy's writings who advocated non-violence  as an appropriate response to aggression and fore grounded the need for equitable treatment of the poor and working class. Thus the farm was named Tolstoy Farm because of Ghandi and Kallenbach's deep admiration for Count Leo Tolstoy. One of the aims of establishing the farm was to serve as training ground for new members of the passive resistance movement, prisoners and as a haven for their families.

Tolstoy farm housed a diverse group of people who included Gujaratis, Tamils, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Parsis and African families. At its height, Tolstoy Farm supported a community of about fifty adults and thirty children. After the suspension of passive resistance, most of the families left the farm.

Gandhi wrote of Tolstoy Farm: "I have serious doubts as to whether the struggle could have been prosecuted for eight years, whether we could have secured larger funds, and whether the thousands of men who participated in the last phase of the struggle would have borne their share of it, if there had been no Tolstoy Farm." (Kirti Menon, Broucher, in The Story of Tolstoy Farm)

 

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