Atul Kothari, the founding Trustee of EGMH, grew up in India, in the Sabarmati suburb (location of the original Gandhi Ashram) of Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Atul left India in 1974 to seek higher education in the United States. This seemed backwards to him, as he recalled how India was once the epicenter of the world, with people clamoring to visit. He wondered, “Why this reverse flow?” For many years, he believed it was due to the western world working to advance the fields of science and technology, while India focused on the pursuit of spirituality.
Atul asked himself a new question, “What is science and technology?” Realizing it is nothing more than the relentless pursuit of physical truth, he asked himself, “Who was the greatest practitioner of truth?” Mahatma Gandhi came to mind. It was then that Atul read the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, and discovered the essence of life is to practice one’s own truth nonviolently. It was his “aha moment.” Gandhi notably said, “Be the change you wish to see.” Atul Kothari contemplated what he could do to spread this simple idea of practicing your truth nonviolently.
Atul and a dedicated cadre of like‐minded individuals formed the Mahatma Gandhi Library (renamed the Eternal Gandhi Museum Houston in 2019) to honor Mahatma Gandhi, study his teachings, and give back to the community through activities and events that shared teachings of nonviolent conflict resolution.
EGMH inaugurated Mahatma Gandhi Week, a weeklong celebration of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday.
The event became a citywide celebration, culminating with “1000 Lights for Peace.” Eternal Gandhi Museum Houston also hosts Mahatma Gandhi’s Shraddhanjali, a Memorial Service, with Unity of Houston, Arya Samaj Greater Houston, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, The Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center, Mind Body Spirit Institute, and Houston Baha’i Center. It is observed annually on the Saturday following January 30th, the day Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated.
Motivated by the synergies of their existing programs and diverse partnerships, the Board of Trustees decided to open a museum in Houston. Meetings with Aditya Birla Group, founder and patron of the Eternal Gandhi Multimedia Museum in New Delhi, India, resulted in the gnerous donation of multimedia exhibits valued at $500,000, followed in January 2017 by a signed memorandum of understanding, granting exclusive rights to build and open the only Eternal Gandhi Museum in North America.
The “1000 Lights for Peace” celebration on October 6, 2019, was the culmination of the yearlong Sesquicentennial Mahatma Gandhi Birthday Celebration. Supported in part by the Houston Arts Alliance, the “1000 Lights for Peace” included keynotes from Mayor Sylvester Turner of the City of Houston and Commissioner Rodney Ellis of Harris County Precinct 1.
“Nurturing intercultural understanding and relationships is [an area that is] our weakest. …We want more than just festivals or events.”
– Dr. Pamela Lewis (PhD), Board of Directors, Compassionate Houston
“I have studied Gandhi all my life. Gandhi’s teachings add value to many groups of people. It is empowering for the young people and citizens.”
– KP George, Fort Bend County Judge