The ashram way living was very important in the life of Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi started his public life in South Africa or in his homeland from an Ashram. By establishing the Phoenix Farm and the Tolstoy Farm in South Africa, Gandhi introduced a new concept of simple living and high thinking in public life. When Mahatma Gandhi returned to India in 1915, he decided to further develop the Ashram way of living and started Kochrab Ashram at Kochrab village on 25th May, 1915 in the bungalow of Jeevanlal Vrajray Desai (Barrister) which he took on rent.
In the beginning of Kochrab Ashram, 20-25 people lived with Gandhiji. Kochrab Ashram served as a communal living space where Gandhiji and his followers could practice and propagate their ideals. Residents of the ashram were expected to lead a simple and disciplined life, focused on self-improvement, self-sufficiency, and community service. The principles of truth, nonviolence, and harmony were at the core of daily life at the ashram.
It was from this ashram that he started propagating his ideas about Khadi, equality with the poor, Hindi as the national language, independence and self-reliance. Ashram residents used to study spinning, weaving, craft and carpentry. As there was an insistence on not having servants in the ashram, the ashram residents used to do all the work like filling water, cleaning toilets, grinding, cooking by themselves etc.
Gandhiji stayed at the Kochrab Ashram for two years (1915 – 1917), after which the Ashram was relocated and moved on the banks of the river Sabarmati.
The Ashram remained in its original condition till 1950s. As the first ashram founded by Gandhiji in India, it has been developed as a memorial and used as a center for the creative activities that Gandhiji loved. From October 4, 1953 Gujarat Vidyapith was entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining the ashram which continues till date.
Satyagraha Ashram Kochrab today has a distinguished legacy. The Ashram has Gandhiji’s room, Kasturba’s room, library, kitchen, store room, washroom as well as a newly constructed activity center that inspires visitors to be guided by Mahatma Gandhi’s thoughts and actions.