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Mahatma Gandhi, as I Appreciate the Man

Since today it’s Gandhi Jayanti, all newspapers and news channels have been displaying content on Mahatma Gandhi’s life, his thoughts and the messages he gave to the world on the various matters that directly or indirectly influence the human life. The write ups of several senior journalists, editors and experts on Gandhian thoughts are stimulating enough for me to attempt to conjure up and present my thoughts about this great man.

I was in school when I first read about Gandhi. Just like the rest of my friends in class, I was more concerned about scoring well-enough marks in my exams rather than ‘actually’ understanding the messages of Mahatma Gandhi. Appreciating his philosophy behind the call for Non-violence and Satyagraha was an uphill task for almost all of us, then. However, I used to feel ‘something’ whenever, on the occasions of Gandhi Jayanti and the Independence-Day function, our chief guests and principal used to praise the deeds of Mahatma Gandhi. Those school functions actually kept hanging in the inner space of my world, or simply my memory, for a long time. However, the struggles of adult age forced me to come out of my dream world and look for sustainable job opportunities. So my understanding of Mahatma Gandhi is the outcome of my job search, as I have prepared for the entrance exams devised to get the government jobs.

Today, I can claim that there has developed a ‘see change’ in my understanding of Mahatma Gandhi and his philosophy behind the main principles of his life—Non-violence and Satyagraha. My preparation for the civil services exams, and consequent extensive reading, with history as the main subject, is the cause behind my ‘little’ understanding of the principles and philosophies forwarded by this great man. I still remember how we used to discuss the causes, as explained by the Man (Mahatma Gandhi) himself, of starting and then suddenly calling off a successful Satyagraha. I feel that this man was really a genius. He worked very hard for training the Indian masses to realize their worth. Actually, it would not be wrong to say that Mahatma Gandhi did not oppose or fight the British; rather, he opposed and fought against the ignorance of the then Indian masses. He devised ‘a magical wand’ that made the Indian masses realize the power of unity. He bought the people belonging to all religions under the single religion, i.e. nationalism.

Mahatma Gandhi

During Mahatma Gandhi’s life time, a major part of the Indian masses used to live in villages. Almost all of these people were illiterate. They were driven by the conventional dogmas and traditional ways of claiming their birth rights. They remained, more or less, utterly uninfluenced by the thoughts and philosophies of the political leaders that appeared before Mahatma Gandhi. However, despite these odds, Mahatma Gandhi was successfully able to deliver his messages of Non-violence and Satyagraha to the same illiterate masses. A totally different level of communication was required to address and conjure up the village-dwelling population of India. So Mahatma Gandhi did that. He showed that he had the mettle to garner their support for the India’s freedom struggle. In contrast, Mahatma Gandhi knew that the same skills of communication will help very little in linking the middle and higher classes of the then Indian society to the freedom struggle. Considering that fact that these classes prefered written material in addition to the speeches, Mahatma Gandhi used his writing as a powerful tool in soliciting the contribution of these town and city-dwellers.

While the common men were trying to comprehend the messages delivered by him, Mahatma Gandhi was busy in managing and training the contemporary Indian leadership, which comprised many senior political leaders, along with the likes of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and Shubhas Bose. Mahatma Gandhi did not keep his effort of enlightening and engaging the Indian leadership for ‘the limited edition’. He regularly communicated with the top world leaders of his times, including Hitler, through his letters. This quality was unfounded, and is still absent, in many of his contemporaries and, the present-day Indian, leaders.

With all these activities, Mahatma Gandhi did not only work for the Indian freedom struggle, but (I think) he also worked for the foreign relations of the country. He built a very good reputation with the influential leaders of the world. It was really ‘magical’ during those days. Thus, this popular view is completely agreeable that Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophies of Non-violence and Satyagraha, which we all recently witnessed during Anna Hazare’s campaign in New Delhi (see my previous post Who Guides Anna Hazare?), are more than relevant in today’s world of globalization, inflation and terrorism. Hence, I thank all my responsible teachers, competent classmates and authors, whose books I have read, for developing my understanding about this great man, i.e. Mahatma Gandhi.


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