GANDHI JI : A GREAT VISIONARY AND APOSTLE OF PEACE
While there persists uneasy calm in the world today, the ideals for which Gandhiji stood for are more relevant now than ever. When the threats of use of ultimate weapon of mass destruction are being hurled by some countries, there is a crying need for peace globally. Gandhian thoughts of non-violence and Satyagraha (mobilization of masses by non-use of force) could help alleviate the situation and save the humanity from destructive path the world is heading. First it was the fear of Covid-19 pandemic (man-made or natural), and now the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine which may engulf the world as a whole in uncertainty and hopelessness. It has caused food shortage, price hike of petroleum products etc. but there is no sight of an end of this war despite large scale deaths and destruction of men and material. The UNO, seemingly, is not able to do much to stop the ongoing war therefore, the ideals and ideas espoused by Bapuji, Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Abraham Loncoln, Mother Taresa and many others. The more we follow their ideas/ideals, the more secure the world would be today.
In essence, Gandhiji’s message and teachings have universal appeal. His method of mass movement or mobilization of masses (Satyagraha) with non-violent means is well known Even UNGA (United National General Assembly), in its resolution on 15th June 2007 adopted a resolution, declaring this day as the International Day of Non-Violence- a rightful and justifiable tribute to a great personality known for his simple living and high thinking.
His universal message of peace, non-violence influenced many renowned world leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama, Barack Obama and many others.
Importantly, there are so many renowned rulers who ruled different nations- some with iron hand while others humane touch and considerations. But there were also a few personages who left indelible impression on the hearts and minds of masses for good. Gandhiji was such a rare gift to the humanity. He lives in the psyche of our people because of his rarest of rare contributions with universal appeal.
Born on 2nd October 1869, in Porbandar, Gujarat, he is variously known as Bapuji, the father of Indian nation. His full name is Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. After his university education, he went to London for further education as a Barrister and came back to India in 1891. In 1893, he accepted a job in a law firm in Durwan (South Africa).
Gandhiji’s non-violence philosophy, fasts, non-operation paid dividends in getting us freedom from the oppression of colonialism and imperialism. It strengthened the popular the roots of sovereignty of political and economic rights. Besides he is also called the father of human rights movement.
RELEVANCE OF GANDHIJI’S MESSAGE OF NON-VIOLENCE
The message of non-violence, free from any coercion has special significance today than ever after the use of force and violence on the masses in Afghanistan after Talibans took over the power in Kabul. The human rights of women and minorities are being suppressed and there is prevalence of violence in all sphere of activities. The world at large should realize so that human rights of all without any discrimination is respected protected where so ever rights of human beings are violated.
Gandhiji raised his voice against the racial prejudices, oppression, hate mongers based on religion and narrow political consideration along with human exploitation. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. opined: ‘Gandhi was inevitable. If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought and acted, inspired by the vision of humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony. We may ignore him at our own risk.’ Thomas Merton described him as ‘a bridge between humanity and spirituality’.
On this day, an Inter-Faith Prayer is held at Gandhi Smriti, Tees January Marg, New Delhi. Prayers and floral tributes will also be conducted for him at Raj Ghat where Gandhiji was cremated. In various colleges and schools various competitions in the form of debates on Gandhian Thoughts and painting competitions too are held. While I was studying in a village school, we used to take part in various functions including debates, painting, poetry recitation on the life and universal message of Bapuji etc.
DIFFERENT FIGHTS AROUND THE WORLD AND THE GANDHIAN THOUGHTS
The hall-mark of Gandhian philosophy centered around non-violence or non-use of force to settle boundary disputes. He was against the thought of settling issues by killing others or browbeating smaller countries and grab their land by transgression. The role of China, exhibiting impatience and creating problems for its neighbours by grabbing their lands by force is the case in point. Then there are conflicts in other parts of the world which are proving that violence could prove counter-productive for the peace and prosperity of the world at large. All these are against the principles of Gandhi’s philosophy. In essence, with cooperation and consensus, we can solve our prevailing problems but with non-violence, we can create more differences and dissension around the world. It should be kept in mind that terrorism and extremism solve no problem. It will create more problem for the humanity at large.
RENDERING ASSISTANCE TO THE POVERTY RIDDEN PEOPLE
Importantly, it would be the best tribute for the great visionary, a great thinker, and a leader who is known for his inclusive philosophy if we render needful assistance to the poor and downtrodden in the society. Gandhiji, during his lifetime, fought for the rights of Dalits and down-trodden besides he was a man of masses who had a vision for all of them. Babu Gandhi thoughts and philosophy of life could guide us as to how best we can render help to the downtrodden and masses affected by the covid-19 pandemic.
WHY GANDIJI’S PHILOSOPHY DENDEARED HIM TO THE PEOPLE?
Bapuji firmly believed that hatred should not be met with hatred, violence with violence, greed with greed, evil with evil. We should love even our enemies. His philosophy of ‘hate the sin but not the sinner’ should be followed by all. He was opposed to use of force, hatred and vindictiveness. He was a great innovative and a visionary, a great fighter for cause of poor and downtrodden. He believed that no tangible solutions could be brought about by the use of force. On the other hand, through violence we complicate the problems, he asserted. That is why he was loved by all. He had a universal appeal.
GANDHIAN RELIGIOUS PHILOSOPHY
The world have only a few chosen few who have made their mark to change the destinies of general masses through their thoughts and actions. The Gandhian thoughts based on the universal love and tolerance, entirely on profound love and affection without any bias of caste, creed, colour, religion, region and any other parochial considerations.
It would be in the fitness of things to infer that distinctions based on race, caste, creed, colour, region etc have no place in Gandhian thoughts and philosophy. He admired and respected all the religions of the world. He did not like racism, fanaticism, intolerance, selfishness, etc. He propounded God consciousness, religious minded without any discrimination for other religions.
According to him, God was kind, just and loving and always responded to prayers and love. Gandhiji was immensely influenced by Bhagwad Gita and its preaching contained therein. For him, God was truth and love. His faith in God was not shaken. He thoroughly believed in principle of Karma and believed that we get reward for our good karmic deeds and punishment for the bad deeds. He believed in the percept that man was responsible for his own destiny which could be shaped by an individual through his words and deeds. Essentially, humanity was the foundation or cornerstone of his philosophy.
UNIVERSAL LOVE AND BROTHERHOOD
Gandhian philosophy is based on the universal love and tolerance including reverence for all the religions. He disliked any distinction based on race, colour, nationality and sect. While following his own religious beliefs to the hilt, he respected all religions equally. His belief in the secularism was unparalleled. He considered humans of all hues the same and saw untouchbility as the sin as he thought that God has created man without any bias.
TEACHING OF SATYAGRAH (NON-USE OF FORCE)
He always preached the policy of non-use-of-force (Satyagrah, non-violence). He firmly believed that non-violence is not a weapon of weak but of the strong ones who would not tolerate any manifestation of evil or injustice and would reasonably suffer while fighting non-violently. He was of the opinion that man was a spiritual being and love and non-violence were the part of his life. He considered non-violence/non-use of force (Satyagrah) as the loft weapon. It is considered as a morally superior weapon but through its use, it could do wonders when used judiciously. Even Nehru agreed that this weapon could do wonderful service if used sensibly.
GANDHIJI WAS A REALIST ALONG WITH IDEALIST
Gandhiji was a great realist with idealistic mindset. His thoughts were always on the higher plane. He believed that Satyagrah was possible – the power of which he made heroes out of men of no consequence in real life. This is the reason that we call him as a great reformer with vision.
IDEA OF WORLD GOVERNMENT
Ganghiji was of the view that World Government could eliminate injustice and oppression prevalent in all the societies of the world. This type of Government could establish the rule of law among nations and prevent exploitation.
GANDHI BELIEVED IN SIMPLE LIVING AND HIGH THINKING
Gandhiji was in favour of simple and noble way of living and lauded the role of cottage and small scale industries, village and self-sufficiency, respect for manual labour and self-labour. He was not for materialism as a way of living but simple way of living through richness in thoughts.
HE WANTED THAT ALL SHOULD EARN HIS/HER EARNINGS WITH SELF RESPECT
He wanted everybody to be employed and assured of the basic conditions of good life. He viewed that everybody should get food, clothing and shelter as per his/her needs. He was not opposed to the use of machinery to serve man but this machinery should not enslave man to the machine. He loved and respected manual labour. He opined that everybody should be independent in the moral and spiritual sense of terms.
PLACE OF WOMEN IN GANDHIAN THOUGHTS
He never subscribed to the idea that women were in any way inferior to men or less intelligent or less in her wisdom in comparison with men folks. He opined that widows have as much right to marry again as the widowers. He was the proponent of education of girl-child. He was against child marriage. He did not like the use of intoxicants and drugs because these weaken humans.
GANDHIAN THOUGHT ON EDUCATION AND CASTE SYSTEM
Gandhiji’s views on education were also inspired by the consideration for forming a sound character based on simplicity and high thinking. He rejected the caste system based on birth as morally wrong. He was strongly against exploitation of the labour class but he was against strikes and unrest for getting their demands fulfilled.
GANDHIAN THOUGHTS ON VILLAGE LIFE
He was aware that 70 percent of the population lived in the villages. He advocated village autonomy, independent and self-governing through panchayati system (choosing their own Surpanchs and Panchs through voting and a loose federation of villages for the satisfaction of their daily needs. He opined that the general masses should be free and not slaves of a centralized authority.
We should consider Gandhi views on autonomous village, his advocacy of cottage industries, charkha and khaddi, his general opposition to mass production are worth emulation for raising the standard of the village life. He opined that we cannot ignore the villages for inclusive /holistic development of India.
The idea of Gandhian philosophy are given below:-
• Hate the sin and not the sinner.
• Simple living and high thinking were essential for us all.
• Non-use of force or violence to settle issue confronting us.
• All should profess their religious faiths without any outside influence.
• Villages are the mainstay of India because more than 70% of people lived in villages only therefore we have to raise the standard of villagers through Panchayati Raj and giving autonomy to the villagers to form their own methodology of governance. For this, cottage and small scale industries are to be given fillip.
• Satyagrah should be used whenever there is a need for its use.
Indiscriminate use of Satyagrah could tangle the issues.
• Gandhiji believed that man was responsible for his own destiny through his work ethics or Karmic deeds.
• Gandhiji believed in Hindu religious philosophy without any discrimination to other religions. He respected all the great religions of the world.
• In his scheme of things, women should be given a high pedestal as they are not less in any sphere. They should be given equal opportunity in education for their upliftment and growth and development.
• He was realist and idealistic in real sense of terms.
• He disliked any distinction based on race, colour, region, nationality and sect etc.
• He did not like racism, fanaticism, intolerance, selfishness, etc.
• He propounded God consciousness, religious mindedness without any discrimination for other religions.
• He believed in the philosophy of non-violence for getting things done.
• He thoroughly believed in principle of Karma and believed that we get reward for our good karmic deeds and punishment for the bad deeds.