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Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Gandhi - India's Spinning Wheel Revolution

I claim that in losing the spinning wheel we lost our left lung. We are, therefore, suffering from galloping consumption. The restoration of the wheel arrests the progress of the fell disease. - Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi advocated the boycott of the machine made European clothing as it caused large scale unemployment in India.  Gandhi believed all people should be treated fairly.  He and others believed India should have its freedom from English rulers and their army.  The English rulers had cotton grown in India.  This cotton would be picked and packed by Indians and put on to ships to be sent to England where it was spun into thread and woven into cloth.  It would then be shipped back to India to be sold back to the Indian people at high prices.  In fact the English had laws that forced Indians to buy only this cloth.
This is an Amazonian  woman spinning with a drop spindle.
Humans across the globe have been making their own cloth for thousands of years.
It is a basic human need and right to create cloth and clothes for ourselves.
  Gandhi saw this injustice of this cloth making prohibition and learned how to spin and weave his own cloth.  He took to making and wearing white robes from hand-made cloth called Khadi that was inexpensive and suitable for poor Indians. Most importantly, it showed Indians how to be self-reliant. Gandhi and his followers taught thousands and thousands of people how to spin in their fight for Indian independence over English rule.  As the English couldn't make money out of the Indians they enforced laws and Gandhi and his followers were thrown in jail for spinning and weaving.
Gandhi and his followers refused to stop spinning and weaving and kept breaking the law and would get jailed time and time again.  This protest eventually made global news as Gandhi's movement and followers grew.   This was one of many non-violent protests of mass civil disobedience that created great change and benefit for the Indian people as finally the laws were changed to allow Indians to make their own cloth.

This five second video clip shows Indian women Spinning in the 1930s during the Independence sruggle.

Gandhi is responsible for the widespread use of the Charkha spinning wheel in India, these are small, portable, table top wheels that are turned by the hand.
The Indian Book Charkha Spinning wheel
Folded into the size of a small briefcase

The Charkha spinning wheel featured as a symbol of Independence on the the Indian flag proposed by Gandhi in 1921.

Red represented sacrifice.
Green stood for hope.
White was the purity of the people.
The Spinning Wheel a powerful symbol of independence, freedom, work, virtue and the never ending cycle of life.

From 1923 - 1947 The new Swaraj flag was adopted and helped lead to India's fight for independence from Britain.

 The Red coloour was changed to Saffron in the Tricolour - Saffron is a relatively rare and expensive spice used in Indian cooking.

In 1947 India did gain independence from Britain.  The Indian National flag was altered again and remains this way today.

The wheel is a Dharmic Chokra.  Dharma is the eternal law for positive living through cyclic reincarnation.  It is the basic concept that the religions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism follow.

Gandhi worked on his spinning wheel until his last days, claiming that he felt like he was eating stolen food if he did not work.

Shown above: Photographer Margate Bourke-White's famous picture of Gandhi taken for the LIFE Magazine.

Gandhi was was known to Millions as 'The Great Soul' and 'The Father of the Nation'.  He was assassinated on January 30th 1948.

Happy Spinning.  :)  


  1. Lovely post, Lucy. I'm happy and surprised at your interest with India. :) Its nice!
    You must visit India.

  2. Thank you for your encouraging comment. I pop over to India regularly whenever I read your blog. I am not much of a traveller or an adventurer. I find the internet is a great learning tool. :)

  3. a wonderful post to read with my breakfast :o)

  4. Hi Lucy! Great to hear about India from you:) I am an Indian and I agree with your thoughts. Gandhi was a leader globally known who also worked in South Africa for people's rights. He taught how to be self sufficient and India was number one in textiles globally until recently when China took over.

    1. Preeti thank you for leaving a comment. I really should learn more about Gandhi he was a fascinating man. I also love to find out about India and Indian culture. xxx

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