On Thursday, July 9th, 2015, I had the honor of interviewing Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, 81-year-old Arun Gandhi, alongside my dear teacher 96-year-old Tao Porchon-Lynch. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be in the presence of two people who had first-hand experiences with the “great soul”, Mohandas Gandhi.
Both Arun and Tao have a philosophical lineage that is similar–influenced by Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo and Mohandas Gandhi. Yet, they grew up in very different environments. Born in 1918, Tao’s childhood backdrop was the idyllic French colony of Pondicherry in India. Her uncle, Vital Porchon, built many of the important railroad lines in Asia and Africa. He also knew all three of those great men, Vivekananda, Aurobindo and Mahatma Gandhi. At around 12 years old, Tao participated in the historic 1930 Salt March with her uncle and Gandhi, and then marched again with him when she was around 18. Arun was born in Durban, South Africa in 1934 under the apartheid laws and grew up in his grandfather’s ashram there. At 12 years old, he was sent to India to live with and learn from his grandfather after enduring bigoted attacks from European-African youths for not being “White” and from Native Africans for not being “Black”. All of that shaped his views on justice and equality. He now calls himself a “peace farmer” planting seeds of nonviolence in the minds of people, especially young ones.
Our conversation touched upon many subjects from Mahatma Gandhi, nonviolence and social change to spirituality, Oneness and education. The footage will be used as part of the Conversation with a Master series, as well as excerpts for Tao’s documentary, There Is Nothing You Cannot Do. The documentary is about human potential and the power we have to overcome obstacles, fear, loss and even war and come through the other side with hope, light, compassion and love. It’s illustrated by Tao’s journey and yet it’s a much bigger dialogue. Therefore, we are curating and filming special conversations between Tao and notable people who relate to her story and/or can speak to the power of potential. We are also looking to retrace Tao’s steps in key places such as India and Europe, primarily England and France (i.e. capture her views on WWII, being a French Resistance fighter, couture modeling).
For more on Tao, go to www.TheTaoExperience.com and be sure to check out Tao’s autobiography, Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master. For more on Arun Gandhi, go to ArunGandhi.net. Much thanks to Gretchen Robinson and Matt Venuti for setting up the meet-and-greet with Arun, and to Andrew Campbell from Paper Moon Productions for spending the afternoon with us filming. The video footage will be edited and shared in the finished forms. Here are a few more pictures from the day…