Anji Marvels at Mahatma's Influence

Article excerpt

"Generations to come will scarcely believe such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood."

- Albert Einstein, talking about Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

ANJI Gandhi's great-great-grandfather was assassinated in New Delhi, India, 49 years ago by a young Hindu fanatic. He was 78. This year marks the 50th anniversary of India's independence from Britain, a revolutionary movement led by Gandhi. For the Mahatma (for great soul), the revolution's aftermath was bittersweet, and more than a little disappointing. Rioting and bloodshed between Hindus and Muslims went on despite Gandhi's fasting and appeals. And the communal rioting - and hideous massacres - led to a separatism between Hindus and Muslims that ended in the creation of Pakistan. In this highly charged atmosphere, Gandhi, the mediator and reconciler, would be blamed by both sides. The Mahatma was a captivating figure. Richard Attenborough's 1982 epic movie "Gandhi" (starring Ben Kingsley) won eight Oscars, and rekindled interest in Gandhi's life. His great-great-granddaughter, Anji, has seen the movie six times. Anji - short for her given name of Anjali - is still amazed at the worldwide influence of Gandhi, as evidenced by the quote from Einstein. "Also the violence he endured," she said. "And the fact that he was a lawyer in South Africa." As the preeminent figure in Indian nationalism, Gandhi really set in motion the eventual dissolution of the British Empire. …