Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Mahatma - from my perspective

As a youngster, I always hated Gandhi. For reasons that do not seem too obvious to me now. I just could not understand why someone would not support Subhash Chandra Bose when he was engaged in gun-battle with the British. Why would someone not retaliate when innocents were being jailed, tortured and even killed? These questions were coming from a child who could not understand the greatness of the principle of Non-Violence. At times, I would even go to the extent of endorse Nathuram Godse for killing the Mahatma.

I don’t exactly remember when this happened. I was talking to someone about Gandhiji and was exchanging heated arguments (to be true, it was just me who was arrogant). He then said something that struck my mind really hard. He said, “Take a plain white cloth and sprinkle a little bit of ink in the middle of it. Ask anyone to take a look at it and ask them what they see. They would say – ink spots. Hardly anyone looks at the white cloth but nobody fails to notice the ink spots”. “Gandhiji is a personality far beyond our analysis. We often ignore plethora of things he did for the country and keep our eyes fixed on some of his mistakes”. This thought kind of enlightened me. It was nothing miraculous or anything even close to being miraculous. But it gave me a different way of looking at things. Some people choose to call it as “Dimensional Thinking” or “perspective thinking”.

This incident forced me into reading more about Gandhiji and the history of those times. I read almost everything that was accessible to me at that point in time. Ranging from criticism, third party view, views of some of the British officers, praise etc.

Now I think, to some extent I understand what Gandhiji was and the difference he made to our society, our nation and to the entire world at large. While trying to understand a personality as great as Gandhiji, we must keep one thing in mind – Gandhiji was not GOD. He was a human being. And it is unfair if we expect a human being not to make any mistakes throughout his life. Everyone makes mistakes. We need to be wise enough to look at the larger picture and not confine our vision only the mistakes that he made (if I can take the liberty to say so).

As I write this today, I know and I understand that there are many (not just youngsters) who do not think Gandhian principles are applicable now. Today, on his 138th birthday, I am announcing a series of essays that I am going to write on my blogs about Gandhiji. This is an attempt to make people aware of what Gandhi was and how his principles can still change the way we carry on with our lives and how we can use them to make the world a better, safer place to live in.

Hindi version of this essay is available on my other blog.

6 comments:

Santosh Chapaneri said...

thats interesting stuff....looking forward to the series of articles on Gandhiji. btw, the non-violence principle is indeed important. I take it from a spiritual perspective and would like to emphasize that this ahimsa principle should be applicable to all living entities and not just humans. why are slaughterhouses still maintained at the same time when we talk of nonviolence?

Anil said...

First there is a time when we believe everything, then for a little while we believe with discrimination, then we believe nothing whatever, and then we believe everything again - and, moreover, give reasons why we believe.

Wish to see your articles soon, All the best.

Deobrat Singh said...

I kind of expected to see a comment trying to generalize non-violence and extending it to all forms of violence. This is one of the things that I have always agreed with and will definitely continue to agree with.

I'd like to confess that I have contributed to this kind of violence by being a non-vegetarian. But now (since last few months) I have reverted back to being a vegetarian (nobody is a born non-vegetarian... thats the reason I say - I reverted back).

One more thing - I want to set the expectations right. While I maintain that the purpose of my essays is to created an understanding of how political reforms can be achieved (in the present conditions) through Gandhian principles, we must not forget that most of the Gandhian principles are nothing but methods of self-purification (which essentially are derived from spirituality).
In my essays I may move back and forth between religion, spirituality, politics and self-improvement. Anything that it takes to convey the message.

Rohit said...

I agree with your observation, but i see it a bit differently. Mahatma Gandhi was (or is) great not only because of his Non-Violence principle but because he stuck to his principles. What makes him great is that he was able to see the path which will take us to Independence. For him non-violence or even non-cooperation movement did not mean sitting idle but doing something to make the society really Independent, a society which can really self-sustain, even after independence is achieved. I got this feeling because everytime he advocated non-violence and non-cooperation, he also pushed for self-sustainence and real independence
One thing that i feel is that non-violence that he advocated did not mean non-violence in absolute form, but non-violence where violence is not needed. What i am referring to is that we cannot really have non-violent armed forces or for that matter, wars (when pushed upon us ..). Yes these are the extreme conditions. And that is why he was great, he saw, in the times when it was easy to take to violence, that non-violence is the way, and not a civil war ...
Just stumbled upon ur page, and looking forward to the series of Essays ...

Deobrat Singh said...

From what I have studied so far... all the methods that Gandhiji used could be rooted back to a simple strategy called self purification. Non-violence as explained by Gandhiji is not just "non-retaliation" it is when you are well capable of retaliation but you refrain to do so. This requires a lot of mental strenght which is derived from the process of self-purification.
Its little difficult to explain it right now... will try to cover these things in detail in the essays coming up

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