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‘Ahimsa’ and ‘Satyagraha’ : Why Gandhi Still Matters?

Mahatma (great soul) Gandhi’s vision stands for ‘ahimsa’(non-violence) and ‘Satyagraha’ (holding of truth). It is absolutely the beacon of his spirituality. His searching for peace and bliss are within the realm of ahimsa and satyagraha. Although his works are confined for the political movement for India’s freedom as the political leader, his practice for life is enshrined as the political saint of India. His devotion and self-sacrifice for the universe are the revelation of his sainthood. We see that Mahatma Gandhi’s appearance was a radiation of physical, mental, and spiritual health like a saint. No other leader like him in the world occupies the hearts of millions because he was the “great soul”. His ‘Satyagraha’ has been the famous movement so far human civilization is concerned.

He observed eleven vows in a spirit of humility  –  “Nonviolence; Truth; Non-Stealing; Celibacy; Non-Possession; Body-labor; Control of the Palate; Fearlessness; Equal Respect for all Religions; Swadeshi; Freedom from Untouchability”. This saint was able to detach his mind from the sense at will. His style tells so.  He was about fifty years of public service with imprisonment and other harsh realities in the political world which had increased ‘his balance, open-mindedness, sanity, and humorous appreciation of the quaint human spectacle’. To him every living being in this world needs kindly touch of beauty.

According to his view, ‘ahimsa’ means ‘the avoidance of harm to any living creature in thought or deed’. To him love is only source to overcome any type of obstacle. He explained this beautiful idea with following example, ‘I could not kill a cobra without violating two of my vows- fearlessness, and non-killing. I would rather try inwardly to calm the snake by vibrations of love. I cannot possibly lower my standards to suit my circumstances’.

To him non-violence is the law of life, and law of love is ‘far greater science than any modern science.’ ‘It is the man’s highest conscience’. ‘To him forgiveness is holiness and it is the might of the mighty, forgiveness is sacrifice; forgiveness is quiet of mind. Thus, non-violence is the natural outgrowth of the law of forgiveness and love’. That’s why, he proclaimed, “one should be prepared, like Jesus, to shed his own, not others’, blood. Eventually, there will be less blood split in the world”.

‘His nationalism was as broad as the universe. It included the well-being of the whole world’. His nonviolent weapons-non-cooperation was against injustice. His dedication for untouchables was so fearless that he said, ‘ if there be a rebirth in store for me, I wish to be born a pariah in the midst of pariahs, because thereby I would be able to render them more effective service’. This exceptional man as well as gentle prophet believes in the inherent nobility of man. Failure never made him disappointed. He wrote, ‘ even if the opponent plays him false twenty times, the ‘satyagrahis’ is ready to trust him the twenty-first time, for an implicit trust in human nature is the very essence of the creed’. He declared, ‘ I am fighting for nothing less than world peace, if the Indian movement is carried to success on a nonviolent Satyagraha basis, it will give a new meaning to patriotism and, if I may say so in all humility, to life itself’.

Lastly, we may quote Lao-tzu, ‘the more weapons of violence, the more misery to mankind, the triumph of violence ends in a festival of mourning’. F. D. Roosevelt pointed out, ‘victory and defeat were alike sterile. That lesson the world should have learned’, after the Great War (I).

But today’s India as well as the world is more aggressive. Violence has become the weapon of buying peace. The whole world might be faced another war of greed and intolerance. Then, what would be the lesson of Gandhiji?

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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