Embassy of India

Press Release

Agriculture MOS  Mohanbhai Kundariya unveils Sculpture of Mahatma Gandhi in Lithuania

A sculptural composition of Mahatma Gandhi and his friend, Herman Kallenbach was unveiled on October 02 in Lithuania in a colourful and emotional ceremony. The event took place in Kallenbach’s birthplace, Rusne, 300 kilometres from the capital city, Vilnius. Kallenbach became a close friend and confidant of Bapu in South Africa after they first met in 1904. The unveiling was jointly done by the Lithuanian Prime Minister Mr. Algirdas Butkevičius and Indian Minister of State Mohanbhai Kundariya. Also present at the ceremony were Mr. Tushar Gandhi, great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Mr. Eli Sarid, great grand nephew of Kallenbach, Mr. Vilius Martusevičius, Vice Agriculture Minister of Lithuania, Mr. Ajay Bisaria, Ambassador of India to Lithuania, Mr. Laimonas Talat-Kelpsa Ambassador of Lithuania to India, Wind Commander Rajinder Chaudhary, Honorary Consul of India, Mr. Yusuf Hamied, Chairman of Cipla, various dignitaries from Lithuania and a number of Indian students in Lithuania. Mr Hamied sponsored the sculpture in the memory of his Lithuanian mother.

Speaking at the historic event, Mr. Kundariya said that the beautiful sculpture reminded us that Mahatma Gandhi and Hermann Kallenbach became close friends to share a vision for a better world, a world free of oppression, of occupiers, of colonial powers. The full text of his speech is below:

“Excellency Mr. Prime Minister,

Excellency Ambassador Talat- Kelpsa,

Excellency Ambassador Ajay Bisaria,

Mr. Tushar Gandhi and Mr Eli Sarid,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentleman,

It is a deep honour for me to represent the Government and the people of India on this historic afternoon. We today unveil a monument not just to the father of the Indian nation, Mahatma Gandhi, but also to a unique friendship between two great souls, Gandhi and Kallenbach, and to a fascinating historical connection between India and Lithuania.  It is my privilege to convey the greetings of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, and my own greetings to you, Mr. Prime Minister. I thank you for this overwhelming gesture of friendship by your government. I would like to specially thank His Excellency the Ambassador of Lithuania to India, because of whose perseverance and efforts, this little known historical connection has now been immortalised.

          This beautiful sculpture reminds us that Mahatma Gandhi and Hermann Kallenbach became close friends to share a vision for a better world, a world free of oppression, of occupiers, of colonial powers. They shared ideals and ideas of freedom and humanism that were identical and eternal. They discovered the power of ‘Satyagraha’, of peaceful and non-violent struggle, that have made today’s world a better place. 

Standing today in the birthplace of the great Kallenbach, I feel grateful for the inspiration and support he provided in the journey that made Gandhi the great soul: the Mahatma. I feel privileged that I come from Gujarat, the state where Mahatma Gandhi was born, and began a march on the pages of history that transformed India and many parts of the world.

          Nearly 44 years after India’s independence, Lithuania too was inspired by the struggle for freedom through non-violent means. The human chain led by Lithuania with two other Baltic neighbours, was based on the Gandhian principle of peaceful resistance. It brought freedom to this beautiful country, linked with India by language, culture and ideals of non-violence.

          I am honoured, Mr. Prime Minister, to share this historic moment with Mr Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of the Mahatma and Mr. Eli Sarid, the great grand nephew of Hermann Kallenbach. Both of you gentlemen are inheritors of a beautiful legacy and have brought the blessings of these immortal soulmates here today.

          I also extend my warmest good wishes to the creator of this wonderful sculptural composition, which captures a unique bond of friendship. May I thank you again, Mr. Prime Minister and Ambassador Talat Kelpsa, for inviting me here for the unveiling of this monument. I feel blessed by these noble soul-mates.

          Jai Hind - Jai Lithuania.”



October 02, 2015