One evening at the Sevagram ashram, hundreds of people had gathered for the night prayer meeting. The sun was about to set and it was the time when snakes begin to come out after the fierce heat of the Indian day. This evening a cobra was seen gliding toward the gathering. A cobra's bite is swift and deadly, and in the villages of India, where medical help is usually far away, such snakes strike terror into everyone. A ripple of panic began to seep through the crowd, and there was danger that some might be trampled if the terror spread. But Gandhiji quietly showed a sign not to move.
Gandhiji was seated on the platform. He wore only his dhoti or loincloth; legs, chest, and arms were bare. While the crowd held its breath and watched, the cobra made its way straight for Gandhiji and slowly began to crawl up over his thighs. There was a long moment of silence in which no one dared to move or make a sound. Gandhiji must have been repeating his mantram, Rama, Rama, Rama. Even the cobra lost all trace of fear. In its own way it must have sensed it was in the presence of someone who would never cause it suffering. Slowly, quietly it crawled away, leaving everyone unharmed.