Connection with Gandhiji
The first ashram was established by Gandhiji in India. It was established on May 25, 1915 and shifted to Sabarmati on June 17, 1917.
After staying in South Africa for 21 years, experimenting with ashram life at Phoenix Settlement and Tolstoy Farm, Gandhiji returned to India in January, 1915. After touring extensively in India, he decided to establish an Ashram in Ahmedabad. The reason for this choice, in his own words:
“I had a predilection for Ahmedabad. Being a Gujarati I thought I should be able to render the greatest service to the country through the Gujarati language. And then, as Ahmedabad was an ancient center of handloom weaving, it was likely to be the most favorable field for the revival of the cottage industry of hand-spinning. There was also the hope that the city being the capital of Gujarat, monetary help from its wealthy citizens would be more available here than elsewhere."- The Story of My Experiments with Truth: p. 482
Barrister Jivanlal Desai offered his Kochrab bungalow on rent to start the Ashram. The Satyagraha Ashram was founded near Kochrab village on 25 May, 1915. Gandhiji also prepared a draft of rules and observances to be followed by the Ashramites, which were later adopted as Ashram observances. About 25 men & women, associates of Gandhiji in South Africa including Maganlal Gandhi, became the initial members of the Ashram Community.
When Gandhiji admitted a Dalit family, Dudhabhai, Daanibehn, and their daughter Lakshmi, as Ashram members, the decision created a storm both within and outside the Ashram. All monetary help also ceased. But Gandhiji remained adamant. He did not budge from his support for the family and was ready to close down the Ashram. At this point, Ambalal Sarabhai made a donation of Rs. Thirteen thousand and saved the Ashram from the financial crisis. (Please see ‘additional details’ for more on this episode)
Shifting of the Ashram
Gandhiji wrote: “At that time the Ashram was in Kochrab village near Ahmedabad. Plague broke out in this village, and I saw the evident danger to the safety of Ashram children…Our ideal was to have the Ashram at a safe distance both from the town and village and yet a manageable distance from either. And we were determined, someday, to settle on the ground of our own. The Plague, I felt, was sufficient to quit Kochrab.”
- The Story of My Experiments with Truth: p. 523
This is a two-storied structure. On the ground floor, there are three rooms, Gandhiji's room, Kasturba's room, and the Guest room. The first floor has a large room, which at present houses a library. The grounds contain the ashram kitchen, guest rooms, and the prayer place.