Page:Mahatma Gandhi, his life, writings and speeches.djvu/50

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He was at once on fire with the author's idea of country settlements and shortly after the plague subsided, Mr. Gandhi went to Natal and purchased a piece of land at Phoenix, a place situated "on the hill sides of a rich grassy country." Houses were built and a village sprang up on the mountain side. In this 'settlement' Mr. Gandhi sought to enshrine his ideal of the simple life. It was to be a retreat from the bustle of city life where men and women might by communion with nature seek to divest their life and mind of all artificial trappings and come nearer to the source of their own being. It was to be an ashrama, a spot of sanctity and peace. Its members were to be a spiritual brotherhood and were to know no differences of rank. To all alike labour was to be a privilege and a joy. All had to dig, plough and cultivate the adjoining land with their own hands. Mr. Gandhi himself when he was in South Africa used to go to the village during his moments of leisure and take part in the work of cultivation like anybody else. But he had to fulfil this sublime idealistic impulse of his at immense pecuniary sacrifice, for the scheme, we are told "absolutely impoverished him."