Gandhi lay drastically ill with the Spanish Flu almost 100 years ago

As India fights to contain the Corona Virus (pictured are temperature checks on visitors to the Bombay Stock Exchange) it has been announced that the historic Sabarmati Ashram (a former home of Mahatma Gandhi) will remain closed for visitors from March 19 till March 29 in view of the coronavirus threat, the trust managing the complex said on Wednesday. The ashram receives a large number of visitors everyday.

The closure comes almost 100 years after the great Mahatma Gandhi lay ill in this ashram – with the Spanish Flu (1918).

Sabarmati Ashram is located in the Sabarmati suburb of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, adjoining the Ashram Road, on the banks of the River Sabarmati.

I was there one year ago – a quiet, beautiful and emotional experience coming closer to the great Mahatma.


“All interest in living has ceased”, Mahatma Gandhi, battling a vile flu in 1918, told a confidante.

The highly infectious Spanish flu had swept through the ashram in Gujarat where 48-year-old Gandhi was living, four years after he had returned from South Africa. He rested, stuck to a liquid diet during “this protracted and first long illness” of his life. When news of his illness spread, a local newspaper wrote: “Gandhi’s life does not belong to him – it belongs to India”.

Fortunately for India and the world, Gandhi recovered. However, tragically the Spanish Flu killed between 17 and 18 million Indians.

Our thoughts are with India as it now battles to limit the Corona Virus – so far, all indications are that measures are succeeding.


Author: Stephen Manallack

Former President, Australia India Business Council, Victoria and Author, You Can Communicate; Riding the Elephant; Soft Skills for a Flat World (published by Tata McGraw-Hill INDIA); Communicating Your Personal Brand. Director, EastWest Academy Pty Ltd and Trainer/Speaker/Mentor in Leadership, Communication and Cross Cultural Communication. Passionate campaigner for closer western relations with India. Stephen Manallack is a specialist on “Doing Business with India” and advisor/trainer on “Cross-Cultural Understanding”. He is a Director of EastWest Academy Pty Ltd which provides strategic advice and counsel regarding business relations with India. A regular speaker in India on leadership and global communication, his most recent speaking tour included a speech to students of the elite Indian university, Amity University, in Noida. He also spoke at a major Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) global summit, the PR Consultants Association of India in Delhi, the Symbiosis University in Pune and Cross-Cultural Training for Sundaram Business Services in Chennai. He has visited India on business missions on 10 occasions and led three major trade missions there. He provides cross-cultural training – Asia and the west.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: