Remembering the Mahatma: Gandhi and Ahimsa

As a generation today, we have succumbed ourselves to the altar of negativity, pessimism and mediocrity. The notion of an idealistic and quixotic society seems to have dried off. People are becoming more and more ‘practical’, so to speak. Self-justification of one’s actions and mindless formulation of the ideals of life is rampant. In such a surcharged environment, it is often argued that principles having a utopian basis like ‘ahimsa’ have become anachronistic. Albeit such wrangles are large in number today, they lack a reasonable justification to their factuality. Thus, it would be wrong to say that the principles which have guided us all along the way, the moral fibre that makes us capable of taking determined and daring decisions in life and the ethics that we based our national struggle on have been lost.

In a similar manner, just because people hold opinions against such methods, it does not suggest a deviation from or obsoleting of Non- Violence. It might be argued that the values preached by the Mahatma are not followed by many people nowadays but this is furthermore a reason why such values have altogether become even more significant in the present milieu. All religions practiced today preach men not to submit to their lowly temptations of rage and rampage but to treat all living entities with compassion and non-violence. Let alone men, it is such a beautiful aspect of our culture that we step back a foot if there is even an ant below it. To talk about whether ahimsa still persists today thus seems irrelevant from a philosophical point of view, but there is also a need to analyse this factually and objectively.

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What is Ahimsa?-one might ask. Is it the adopting of dormancy when faced with tempestuous situations? Or is it a behavioural persona characterised with a ‘devil may care’ attitude that the present generation so boldly boasts of? For the author of this article, Ahimsa is a way of life that makes a person complete in his interactions towards all of the world and towards all of its beings alike; the person no longer remains a bias to any particular dimension of his character but instead becomes a complete round. Ahimsa is not merely a negative state of harmlessness, but it is positive state of love, of doing good even to the evil-doer. Mahatma Gandhi believed that there was no other God than Truth, and that the only means for realization of Truth was Ahimsa. The Mahatma always defined a strong line between non-violence and a fight for rights. It is not in the nature of non-violence theory to keep on bearing cruelty and oppression at the hands of the oppressor. On the contrary, it goes without saying that the Mahatma used the same weapon to fight the greatest war of Indian history!

India has still not given up its belief in Ahimsa as a primary weapon in the war of creating an idiosyncratic identity for itself in the world sphere. Our nation is a paradigm to all countries in the manner in which it treats even those who try to harm us. The manner in which India dealt with the case of Ajmal Kasab, one of the terrorists involved in the 26/11 attacks shows the open-heartedness of India and Indians for Ahimsa towards even our enemies. Some may argue that steps like these signify a weakness in the way India deals with Justice and that the savage ferocity of these murderers should be met with an iron hand to set an example in-front of the world. But we are not savages after-all and we do not believe in setting examples of inhumanity and barbarity. We still believe in solving our disputes with non-violence. India has always adopted Non-violence in matters of international relations. The Non-Proliferation treaty, backing up of complete disarmament are all tantamount to the fact that Non-violence still is a very potent strategy and hasn’t lost its blade by even an inch.

There are multiple examples to show that Gandhian non-violence is still professed and practised in all spheres of life today. The way India caters to the handling of its foreign relations is a major one. And why to talk of India only? The whole world has recognised the power of non-violence. The setting up of the U.N., its recognition by almost all countries of the world and its approach towards finding peaceful solutions to all world problems is exemplary. Of course it might be argued again that many powerful nations still have to take to war as a last option but it is almost always a consequence of greed driven unscrupulous methods involved therein. Once again, nine words immortalised by the Mahatma reflect upon it as- “The world is not enough for even one man’s greed”.

The world perspective towards non-violence and how it is such a prodigious solution to the quest of world peace is a worthy example to cite in talks of intellectual, political and analytical reasoning. But the world we live and breathe in, the world of three dimensions we encounter in our day-to-day life does not deal in such a scientific manner. We do not need to go so far to prove that non-violence is still in our hearts and in our veins and that it remains an integral part of the morals that constitute our self.

The greatest examples of this are our parents, our teachers and our elders who have lived their lives in a world far more difficult and far more strenuous than ours. After undergoing all this, when they still teach children that fighting is never a solution to a problem and that an attempt to a peaceful and non-violent solution only can satisfy all parties and solve their problems then the author does not think that a more potent and a more fundamental proof can be given to justify that Non-Violence has indeed stood the test of time. Perhaps we do not need a proof of this, perhaps we only need to wait for our next generation to make ourselves realise this. It is a belief of the author, that we, in all probability, will teach our children to follow the same path of truth and non-violence. It is said that ideals are affordable in times of happiness and contentment, that its practice is confined within a comfort zone only but there is a greater lesson to learn here that when all has failed, we resort to the same basics we did not apply first-hand. Ahimsa is one of such basis of all such basics. It has not been lost and it never will.

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Shalabh Singh Baghel

What an optimistic thought..great work 🙂

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