Essay on Gandhi and Nonviolence

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The Gandhian strategy is the combination of truth, sacrifice, non-violence, selfless service, and cooperation. According to Gandhi, one should be brave and not a coward. He should present his views, suggestions, and thoughts without being violent. One should fight a war with the weapons of truth and nonviolence. Gandhi said that “There is no god higher than truth.” According to Gandhi’s thoughts, non-violence is the ultimate solution to every kind of problem in the world.

In the present scenario, Satyagraha is more than a political tool of resistance. It is a holistic approach to life, based on the ideals of truth and moral courage. The similarities of the Satyagraha to some of the greatest philosophical and religious tenets of the world have been observed and much written about. Gandhi’s system of Satyagraha was based on nonviolence, noncooperation, truth, and honesty. Gandhi used nonviolence in India’s freedom struggle as the main weapon and India became independent from British rule. In present times, there are some live examples that show the success of Non- violent resistance by using the Gandhian strategy. Mahatma Gandhi was against any form of exploitation and injustice. According to him, evils must be opposed at any cost. But he insisted that the weapons must be non-violent and moral ones. The adoption of a peaceful method made one superior and put the enemy at a disadvantage but the condition is the opponent must be dealt with with mutual respect and love. Gandhi believed that only through love an enemy could be permanently won.

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In quite simple and clear words, Gandhism consists of the ideas, which Mahatma Gandhi put forth before the human world. Along with that, to the maximum possible extent, Mahatma Gandhi treated his individual life in accordance with these ideas. Clearly, Gandhism is a mixture of Gandhi’s concepts and practices. I do not hold merely his theory to be Gandhism. The basic ground ship of Gandhism happens to be non-violence. Non-violence is the most ancient eternal value. This non-violence is the ground of the ancient-most civilization and culture of India. Mahatma Gandhi said on this very account while making his concepts and practices based on non-violence: “I have nothing new to teach you… Truth and non-violence are as old as a hill.” As we know, non-violence and truth are two sides of the same coin. After knowing Gandhism, it is imperative for us to know clearly the concept of non-violence also as it accords the ground for Gandhism. Gandhi’s importance in the political world scenario is twofold. First, he retrieved non-violence as a powerful political tool and secondly manifestation of a higher spiritual goal, culmination in world peace. For Gandhi, means were as important as the end and there could be only one means - that of non-violence.

As a situation opposite to violence is non-violence, we can firmly state, “Total non-violence consists in not hurting some other one’s intellect, speech or action per own thought, utterance or deeds and not to deprive someone of his life.” Mahatma Gandhi fully agrees with the above-mentioned derivation of non-violence. He himself has said, “Non-violence is not a concrete thing as it has generally been enunciated. Undoubtedly, it is a part of non-violence to abstain from hurting some living being, but it is only an iota pertaining to its identity. The principle of non-violence is shattered by every evil thought, false utterance, hate, or wishing something bad to someone. It is also shattered per possession of necessary worldly things.” In this chain Mahatma Gandhi clarified in an edition of Young India: “…To hurt someone, to think of some evil unto someone or to snatch one’s life under anger or selfishness, is violence. In contrast, purest non-violence involves a tendency and presuming towards spiritual or physical benefit unto everyone without selfishness and with pure thought after cool and clear deliberations… The ultimate yardstick of violence or non-violence is the spirit behind the action.” There are many examples of their use like resistance, non-violent resistance, and civil revolution. Mahatma Gandhi had to struggle his whole life, but he was never disappointed, he continued his innate faith in non-violence and his belief in the methods of Satyagraha. The significance of Satyagraha was soon accepted worldwide. Martin Luther King adopted the methods of Satyagraha in his fight against the racial discrimination of the American authorities in 1950. Gandhism is very much contextual today on this accord. It is significant. We should grasp the importance of Gandhism while analyzing it.

Presently a big portion of the world happens to be under a Democratic system of Government. Theoretically, this system stands out to be the best up to now. This is a truth. It is the best because people are connected with it directly or indirectly at every level. Not only this, it is this very system, which provides maximum opportunities for public progress and development. People can decide in this system the mode of their welfare. However, even though being theoretically the best system of government, if we peruse the democratic nations, we, first of all, find that there is non-equal development of the citizens. We subsequently find that these nations are more or less victimized by regionalism. All citizens must have equal development and they should have communal harmony towards making all citizens collective and unified partners in progress. But, in reality, it is not so. It is essential that the nations of a democratic system of government should be free from the above-mentioned problems, and must be capable of ensuring equal development of their all citizens and the citizens concerned must march forward on a path of progress in a unified way along with rendering contribution to world peace.

Gandhi demonstrated to a world, weary with wars and continuing destruction that adherence to Truth and Nonviolence is not meant for individuals alone but can be applied in global affairs too. Gandhi’s vision for the country and his dreams for the community as a whole still hold good for India. He got the community to absorb and reflect on the true values of humanity and to participate in tasks that would promote the greater good. These issues are still relevant to what free India is and represents. The main cause of worry today is intolerance and hatred leading to violence and it is here the values of Gandhi need to be adhered to with more passion.

Gandhian Strategy

Gandhian strategy is mainly comprised with:

  1. Satyagraha
  2. Truth and honesty
  3. Non-violence
  4. Co-operation
  5. Peace and love

“Satyagraha’s goal is winning over people’s hearts, and this can be achieved only with tremendous patience,” Satyagraha is more than a political tool of resistance. The similarities of the Satyagraha to some of the greatest philosophical and religious tenets of the world have been observed and much written about. However, in the specific context of India, Satyagraha was an immense influence. It went a long way in instilling among the Indians dignity for hard labor and mutual respect. In the traditional Indian society torn apart by caste and creed-based discriminations, Satyagraha stated that no work was lowly. It championed secularism and went a long way in eradicating untouchability from the heart of India's typically stratified society. Satyagraha glorified the role of women as important members of society. All in all, Satyagraha instilled in the Indian mind a dignity and self-respect that is yet unprecedented in its modern history.

Gandhi’s system of Satyagraha was based on nonviolence, non-cooperation, truth, and honesty. Gandhi used non-violence in India’s freedom struggle as the main weapon and India became independent from British rule.

Gandhism is more about the spirit of Gandhi’s journey to discover the truth, than what he finally considered to be the truth. It is the foundation of Gandhi’s teachings, and the spirit of his whole life to examine and understand oneself, and not take anybody or any ideology for granted. Gandhi said: “The Truth is far more powerful than any weapon of mass destruction.” Truth or 'Satya' was the sovereign principle of Mahatma Gandhi's life. The Mahatma's life was an eternal conquest to discover the truth and his journey to that end was marked by experiments on himself and learning from his own mistakes. Fittingly his autobiography was titled 'My Experiments with Truth.' Gandhi strictly maintained that the concept of truth is above and beyond all other considerations and one must unfailingly embrace truth throughout one life.

Gandhi pioneered the term Satyagraha which literally translates to 'an endeavor for truth.' In the context of the Indian freedom movement, Satyagraha meant the resistance to British oppression through mass civil obedience. The tenets of Truth or Satya and nonviolence were pivotal to the Satyagraha movement and Gandhi ensured that the millions of Indians seeking an end to British rule adhered to these basic principles steadfastly.

Gandhian strategy is the collection of inspirations, principles, beliefs, and philosophy. The fundamentals of Gandhi’s nonviolence theory, Jainism, and Buddhism were the most important influence. Both Jainism and Buddhism preached non-violence as the basic principle of existence. Gandhi was also influenced By Bhagavad Gita with its stress on nonattachment and selfless action, Christianity, along with its message of love and compassion, which extended even to one’s enemies, was another important influence on Gandhi’s life. Gandhi’s life was based on truth, honesty, and moral courage.

Mahatma Gandhi was a great national hero, who served the nation with truth and non-violence. Gandhi was against violence. He always disliked war on the ground of its violent nature. That’s why when the Second World War began in 1939; he opposed the stand of the British government dragging India into war without consulting Indian leaders. Gandhi was in favor of non-violence; therefore he was against in any cooperation in war efforts. According to Gandhi, the use of non-violence consists of anger, selfishness, hatred, and enmity. According to him, violence cannot do anything good to human beings. A Gandhian strategy for confronting terrorism, therefore, would consist of the following:

Stop an act of violence in its tracks. The effort to do so should be nonviolent but forceful. To focus solely on acts of terrorism, Gandhi argued, would be like being concerned with weapons in an effort to stop the spread of racial hatred. Gandhi thought the sensible approach would be to confront the ideas and alleviate the conditions that motivated people to undertake such desperate operations in the first place.

As we know, non-violence and truth go side by side. After knowing Gandhism, it is imperative for us to know clearly the concept of non-violence also as it accords the ground for Gandhian.

In modern times, nonviolent methods of action have been a powerful tool for social protest. There are many examples of non-violence like civil resistance, non-violence resistance, and civil revolution. Here certain movements particularly influenced by a philosophy of nonviolence should be mentioned, including Mahatma Gandhi led a decades-long nonviolent struggle against British rule in India, which eventually helped India win its independence in 1947, Gandhi had to pay for his ideals with his life, but he never veered from his innate faith in non-violence and his belief in the methods of Satyagraha. The significance of Satyagraha was soon accepted worldwide. Martin Luther King adopted the methods of Satyagraha in his fight against the racial discrimination of the American authorities in 1950.

He dreamt of ethics and values practiced in daily life. But more than half a century after independence is it really so? But should we judge Gandhi and nonviolence only by the test of short-term success? If there lies inbound strength in truth that could free us from the chains of British rule then why can’t it rid us of the corruption prevalent everywhere? It’s not the principles that have become irrelevant rather it is the impatient nature of today’s progress that has made “corruption” so popular. Violence is definitely not the answer to burning issues. The need for the day is to shut down the egoistic attitude and mutual distrust. Non-violence can be a good force if practiced. If we “shoot the messenger” we can’t progress. There is no room for patronage among equals. M. N. Roy, who founded Radical Humanism, said: “When a man really wants freedom and to live in a democratic society he may not be able to free the whole world... but he can to a large extent at least free himself by behaving as a rational and moral being, and if he can do this, others around him can do the same, and these again will spread freedom by their example.” If that is the goal, then Gandhi is more relevant than ever. In present times, there are some live examples that show the success of Non-violence resistance by using the Gandhian strategy.

Gandhi dreamed of a new world of non-violence with an overall peaceful environment. Non-violence is a universal phenomenon and it has great relevance and significance. It is the ultimate solution to all kinds of problems and conflicts in society, nations, and the world. However, its result depends upon its understanding and proper application. The present scenario of violence and exploitation all over the world has raised an important issue. Any nation which has suffered from communalism, dictatorship, corruption, and power games really needs to go back to Gandhi’s conviction of nonviolence and truth as his mission. By adopting nonviolence, social, political, economic, and religious conflicts shall be removed. Undoubtedly, the social doctrine of non-violence that has emerged from Gandhian ideas has now become the key to forging and sustaining the new social and political order. Today, there is a need to adopt Gandhian philosophy and ideology in overall world to remove all kinds of problems and create a peaceful environment. Gandhi is not the past, he is the future.

References

  1. Jai Narain Sharma, “Indian society of Gandhian studies”, Journal of Gandhian Studies, Vol. 5, 2007.
  2. Jain, N.K., WTO Concept Challenges and Global development.
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