November 6th, 2010
11:31 AM ET
12 years ago

Obama pays homage to Gandhi

Mumbai, India (CNN) - For a man who used to hang a framed picture of Mahatma Gandhi in his Senate office, President Obama declared that checking out a museum honoring the Indian independence hero's legacy was "pretty cool" on Saturday.

Shortly after landing here for his first stop on a 10-day tour of Asia, the president and first lady Michelle Obama quickly headed over to this city's Gandhi Museum, a three-story home where Gandhi stayed when he was in Mumbai. It's now full of historic photos and posters as well as a library with about 50,000 Gandhi-related works.

This was like manna from heaven for the president, who once declared that the one person living or dead that he'd love to have dinner with would be Gandhi.

"Now it would probably be a really small meal, because he didn't eat a lot," Obama joked then about Gandhi's fasting.

Saturday Obama was particularly tickled about getting to sign a guest book at the museum and taking a peek at an older guest book that was signed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who also saw Gandhi as an inspiration for the civil rights movement in America.

"Pretty cool 1959," the president said after seeing King's signature.

The president spent several minutes in the library, which has Gandhi quotations on the walls such as, "Freedom is like a birth."

Obama seemed particularly moved by another quotation: "To call women the weaker sex is a libel. It is man's injustice to women ... If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with women."

"Look at that," said the president.

"It's my favorite," responded his guide, Dr. Usha Thakkar, a trustee of the museum.

When he signed the guest book, Obama left this inscription: "I am filled with hope and inspiration as I have the privilege to visit this testament to Gandhi. He is a hero not just to India, but to the world."

Mrs. Obama wrote simply, "This visit will be one that I will always remember ..."

The Obama tribute to Gandhi will continue Sunday, when the first couple lays a wreath at his gravesite.

And on their way out of the museum, the president said the couple would definitely be back someday, next time with their daughters.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. proud military mom

    I do wish the president could have honored our fallen military with his presence at Arlington this Memorial Day! He is all show abroad. His ignorance will be his demise and legacy.

    November 6, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  2. taebek

    For the record, Gandhi's ashes were spread in the Ganges. He has no gravesite, as such, but does have a memorial in New Delhi.

    November 6, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  3. NVa Native

    Very cool.
    Must make the right-wingers skin crawl – which is extremely cool.
    Gandhi was a great person in the history of the world. Too bad so many Americans selfishly don't consider themselves citizens of the world.

    November 6, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Republicans have taken a very negative issue with Mr. President's travels which is all they offer in their so-called "pledge to America", more of the same negativity.

    November 6, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  5. Ariely

    Mr President Obama "The change"

    Pasted from Indian newspapers-Mumbai doctors:

    Terrorist Torture of Jewish Victims 'Beyond Words'

    Tied up and tortured before killed. I have seen so many dead bodies in my life, and was yet traumatized. The bodies bore such signs of violence that I am still unable to put my thoughts to words

    President Obama "The change"
    Pls reconsider continuing your concessions to Muslims countries without a parallel response from Muslims countries.
    Muslim countries should offer the same rights and protection they get worldwide to the infidels in Muslim countries

    November 6, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  6. Josh

    Ghandi was a great leader of peace. Like President Obama. These are the type leaders that are considered WORLD
    leaders. Leaders that people follow because of truth in peace for all humankind. Not leaders with evil agendas like Hitler and
    Mitch "Imperial Grand Wizard wannabee" McConnell.

    November 6, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  7. DorisV

    Gandhi is my hero also. My favorite quote is "We must be the change we wish to see in the world". Have it on a sticker on my vehicle. So glad our president and first lady visited there and will also lay flowers at his grave.

    November 6, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  8. Vivian M.

    I am sure the right wing trolls will attack Obama for having any association with Ghandi. I personally am very proud of President Obama. He is a great leader. Elections are not a referendum on leadership, history is/ Obama will go down in history as a great American president.

    November 6, 2010 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  9. George of the jungle

    classy couple. They are doing good work around the world

    November 6, 2010 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  10. Vince

    If nonviolence is the law of our being, then the preliminary use of force is immoral, just as Ayn Rand stated years ago. Which means, of course, that government confiscating portions of wealth by threat of force for redistribution is contrary to the law of our being, which is nonviolence.

    November 6, 2010 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  11. Nicole from Ohio

    Mr. President you are truly a class act and I am so happy that you are my president! I hope that you will continue to be the beacon of hope for so many people around the world. It's just too bad that Washington, D.C. is full of corrupt cowards like John Boehner, Mitch Mcconnell, etc. You stand above all of them with your intellect, graciousness and class. Now, with that being said, I hope that you TEAR THEM A NEW ONE for the next 2 years!! They deserve it!

    November 6, 2010 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  12. Debra

    Thank you Mr. President. There is no way you will get all the jobs back we lost but at least you are trying. And oh, if nobody else notice, I realize that we added 1.1 million jobs to this economy since you took office.

    November 6, 2010 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  13. Real American

    From One Brilliant, And Humble Man till Another. You go Mr.President may God bless you and your Family

    November 7, 2010 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  14. Get A Grip

    Hey, who wouldn't enjoy a very expensive vacation when someone else is paying for it! These people couldn't care less what it cost, after all it's only the hard working American taxpayer paying for it. Sure wish I could afford a vacation. I'll even take a week at Disney World, but since I can't afford it the family won't be going.

    November 7, 2010 12:35 am at 12:35 am |