S Africa ends week of yoga activities at Gandhi's Tolstoy Farm

Johannesburg
26 Jun 2017

A week of public yoga events to mark the International Day of Yoga have ended at Tolstoy Farm, the commune established by Mahatma Gandhi during his stay in this South African city. More than 30 events over the past week in all major cities of South Africa saw tens of thousands of people from all communities participate in yoga activities arranged by the Indian missions in the country in collaboration with community organisations and local yoga schools. "It is a privilege for us to have the closing ceremony of the third annual International Day of Yoga at such a place where we are paying homage to Gandhiji at this iconic Tolstoy Farm," said Indian Consul General Dr K J Srinivasa.
Srinivasa explained to scores of mainly Black African children and adults as well as members of the local Gayathri Parivar organisation how the UN had accepted a proposal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that June 21 be declared the Internationa Day of Yoga. "Yoga is a good balance of your mind, body and intellect. The universal values of yoga bring about peace and harmony as a unifier that is not exclusive to any religion or country," he added. Veteran freedom activist Prema Naidoo recalled how his grandfather Thambi Naidoo, the righthand man to Gandhi, had lived on the farm and espoused the values of yoga which gave them the strength to fight the oppression of the time.
"I am confident that yoga and meditation were practices that those living on Tolstoy Farm were accustomed to," Naidoo said as he called on his countrymen to use yoga to help alleviate the social ills that were so dominant in South Africa today. "Yoga allows us to rejuvenate ourselves and tackle the challenges that lay ahead of us. It is a practice that should be introduced in all schools," Naidoo suggested. Before the participants were led through an hour of yoga exercises, Kirti Menon, a great- granddaughter of Gandhi, said Tolstoy Farm was a good place to do so. "All those years ago in another century, the young Gandhi and his companions walked every day to the centre of Johanensburg, more than 20 kilometres away," Menon recalled. "As you go through the physical and mental motions of yoga as well as the spiritual connection, irrespective of what religion you belong to, or even nor religion at all, one begins to feel the connection between the mind, body and soul," Menon said.
Hermann Kallenbach, a white farmer, was so impressed with the peaceful way of life at Phoenix that he offered Gandhi his own big farm near Johannesburg to the cummunity. Tolstoy Farm, some 30 km from Johannesburg, became the headquarters of Gandhi's campaign of satyagraha (non- violence). This campaign was a reaction to the discrimination against Indians in Transvaal. (PTI)