The Relevance of Gandhi For All Times
By Ravi Kumar (General Open Category)
MAHATMA GANDHI - the greatest of our leaders. He lit the imagination of the entire nation. There is a basic lesson of Indian History. Our people have always taken their moral standards from their rulers; the people have risen to great heights when they have basked in the glow of noble kings or leaders. The present generation is waiting for a leader who will make it relearn the moral values, and who will inculcate in the people, as Gandhi did, a sense of the responsibilities which fall on every citizen of a free society.
The waste of human ability energy and money on armament will continue unabated, and diversion of world resources to development will remain a pipe dream, so long as man does not learn the great lesson which Gandhi preached so convincingly in our own times-viz. non-violence is the law of our species. The diversion of world resources to development stands no practical chance of being heeded unless and until the balance of terror is replaced by the balance of terror is replaced, by the balance of reason.
Although it is true that India has been an integrated nation since olden times; it is also true that on the present context Gandhian values have special significance for national integration. Today communal amity has become essential for national integration and hence Gandhi gave it the highest priority. By communal unity Gandhiji did not mean merely paying lip service to 'bhaibhai-ism'. He meant it to be an unbreakable heart unity'. In the religious context Gandhi emphasized that communal unity has to be based on equal respect for all religions. Everyone, Gandhi said, must have the same regard for other faiths as he had for his own. Such respect would not only remove religious rifts but lead to a realization of the fact that religion was a stabilizing force, not a disturbing element. Gandhi's basic axiom was that religion since the scriptures of all religions point only in one direction of goodwill, openness and understanding between men and men and between community and community.
Gandhiji regarded education as the light of life and the very source from which was created an awareness of oneness. Gandhi believed that the universality of religion can best be realized through the universlization of education, and that such universalization was the spring board for national integration. Harmony is not brought about about overnight. Gandhi advocated the process of patience, persuasion and perseverance for attainment of peace and love for harmony and was firmly convinced of the worth of gentleness as panacea for all evils. Communal harmony had the pride of place in Gandhi's constructive programme. He taught us the dignity of labour as a leveling social factor that contributed to a national outlook in keeping with the vision of new India. he always believed that a nation built on the foundation of non-violence would be able to withstand attacks on its-integrity from within and without.
Gandhi pleaded for the humanization of knowledge for immunization against the ideas of distrust among the communities of the nations and the nationalities of the world. He wanted to take the country from areas of hostility into areas of harmony of faiths through tolerance, so that we could work towards understanding each other. His mass contact programme was specifically aimed at generating a climate of confidence and competition and eliminating misgiving and misconceptions, conflicts and confrontation.
Gandhi also held that bridging the gulf between the well off and the rest was as essential for national integration as inter-religious record. HE said that we must work for economic equality and social justice, which would remove the ills caused by distress and bitterness. He said that we must work for economic equality and social justice, which would remove the ills caused by distress and bitterness. He stressed that the foundation of equality, the core of harmony will have to be laid here now and built up brick by brick through ethical and economic satisfaction of the masses.
Gandhian Relevance - A Phenomenal Success: It is 54 years since Gandhi was assassinated and there are all kinds of discussion in India and abroad on what Gandhi left for humanity and whether many of his teachings would survive the test of time. What even the passionate critic of Gandhi cannot miss is the string of activities along Gandhian lines one can see in almost all countries of the World now. If not in very significant measure there are very few countries in the world where something or the other in the name of Gandhi is not being organized. In short there is a global non-violent awakening after Gandhi. What is the relevance of Gandhi in this all-pervading materialistic, agnostic and consumerist culture? It is precisely these three tendencies Gandhi fought all his life.
There is no denying the fact that Gandhi was deep rooted in his cultural and religious traditions. The phenomenal success Gandhi registered in far away South Africa fighting for human rights and civil liberties and later the adoption of the Gandhian techniques by Nelson Mandela and the subsequent revelations made by the former South African president De Klerk that he was greatly influenced by Gandhi's principles.
The year 1994 bore witness to the efficacy strategies and philosophy as could be seen from the manner in which the fight Gandhi began 100 years ago in South Africa i.e. in 1903 bearing fruits when the blacks and the whites in South Africa were able to work out a satisfactory solution to a peaceful transfer of power which resulted in the holding of elections and Dr. nelson Mandela taking over the reins of power. In the American continent Martin Luther King's heroic fight for civil liberties on the Gandhian lines and his own admission that it was from Gandhi that he learnt his operational tactics also is not an isolated instance of the relevance of the Gandhian tactics Martin Luther King (Jr.) said, "If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought and acted, inspired by the version of a humanity evolving towards a world of peace and harmony. WE may ignore him at our own risk."
Gandhi's contribution to the political awakening and freedom movement in different parts of the world and adoption of non-violence strategies which help both the opposing groups respect each other's sentiments and accommodating the news of others as much in common with UNESCO's decision to propagate the message of tolerance for humanity survival. Asia and African Continent particularly has seen peaceful transition power of power and social change, thanks to Gandhi's initiatives and teachings.
The name of Mahatma Gandhi transcends the bounds of race, religion and nation- states, and has emerged as the prophetic voice of the 21st century. he is remembered for his passionate adherence to the practice of non-violence and his supreme humanism. After the great Buddha and Jesus he once again demonstrated that non-violence could also be an effective instruments of social change.
Gandhi successfully demonstrated to a world, weary with wars and continuing destruction that adherence to Truth and Non-violence is not meant for individual behaviour alone but can be applied in global affairs too.
I can do no better than to quote the immortal tribute of India's first prime minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, at the time of Gandhi's passing, "The light has gone out of our lives". Now we have to try and see what we can do with our limitations to overcome what Gandhiji described as the seven social sins:
Politics Without Principles.
Wealth Without Work.
Commerce Without Morality
Education Without Character
Pleasure Without Conscience.
Science Without Humanity.
Worship Without Sacrifice.
We can sum it all up by saying that it was Gandhi who, through his dedication, lifted the country from the British policy of 'divide and rule' and let the Indian masses form rivalries to reconciliation and from hostility to harmony. And in this the Mahatma was ably supported by his great disciples- Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad and many others.
Relevance of Gandhian values in the 21st century
Let us first consider what really are values. These are, the general norms we set for ourselves to live our routine lives in the family, in society, in office and in the nation. In all these aspects of life, we all need some guidelines, and it is these guidelines that we set for ourselves that are called values. When we thus talk of values, we mean what are the basic standards of behaviour we have set for our lives, for, without a clear cut pathway it would be difficult to tread.
We are presently here to discuss Gandhian values, and their relevance in the 21st Century. At this juncture, I’d like to say that, there are some values of behaviour that can never become irrelevant, no matter what the scenario, and no matter what the Century. Let us find out what are the basic values which we call as Gandhian. What were these values, which were relevant in the beginning of the 20th Century, and have lost their hue in the 21st century. These values were, simplicity, merging with the common man, non-violence and prayer. As far as these values are concerned not even the hardest of criminals will call any of them bad or irrelevant but, the moot point is that, can we follow these values in today’s scenario? However there should not be any problem in following at least some of these values if not all of them. Now, let us take each of these above mentioned values and try to study their utility in the present century.
Simplicity, well, I daresay that, it is not possible to find a single person who is simple in dress, in manners and behaviour. This is not because we cannot remain in the society if we are simple in thought and deep but, it is that we ourselves do not wish to be simple. This attitude is because we are aping the west in all its entirety. It is not that simple people are not seen or that they are not liked or are shunned by society but, the fact is that they do not become centres of attraction, and, today, we prefer to be centres of attraction rather than be our true selves. This means that we are not simple because we do not want to, and not that it is not possible to exist if we are simple. If we have left the beauty of simplicity because we want to, we cannot say that the value is not relevant, but that we do not cherish the value. However friends, if we want to be centres of attraction, where could we find a greater centre than the Gandhi, the 20th century produced. Wouldn’t we all like to be as attractive as him, would we not like to get his name and fame? All this he managed to get inspite of his extreme simplicity. So, how can we say that this value is not necessary now. Even in later times we have had simple people getting name and fame, people like Vinobha Bhave, Mother Teresa and then, Baba Amte. This goes to prove that centres of attraction are made by other qualities which do not get stopped because people are simple. Thus we can hardly underestimate the value of simplicity. It is this, which may be, gives and individual more time to work on things more substantial, and prove his worth. We can not say that simplicity is not of use now, as there are no simple people, here. I would say that, in a crowd of made up beauties, a simple person would be an oasis in the desert of show and show biz., Once a person is simple he has no qualms in mixing with the lowest of the low and this makes him really well known and popular. Just see the simple Mother Teresa what laurels she got throughout the world, how can we then say that the value of simplicity is redundant now. It is this value of being simple in head and heart, that will always have its monumental importance, no matter what the century.
Regarding the value of non-violence, I daresay that, even to-day, if all of us, yes, all of us decide to become non-violent because others are violent. Let us ponder for a moment, are we succeeding in returning violence for violence? The net result is an increase in violence the next thing we must analyse is, are we achieving any worthy ends by being violent? I’m sure all of you will agree that, violence only begets violence and it ends there, bearing no fruit at all. Then it is for us to understand that violence is only an experiment in futility, resulting only in death and disaster. We should try to find out ways and means to stop the existing vilolence instead of, joining the bandwagon of violent people saying that, we have to be so because others are violent, this is no practical approach to the problem of violence. I an sure that, even to day if we all decide to remain non-violent, we will all be happier and we will understand that these values of Gandhiji are not for any one period of away their utility. Such sterling qualities will always be relevant but with a rejoinder that, all of us follow them just as meticulously as we are following the present qualities of degradation.