Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Key elements of Gandhian thought

Source: Gujarat Vidyapith,
founded by Gandhi in 1920
Today is the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who led the independence movement in the Indian subcontinent in the 1930s and 1940s through means like non-violence and non-cooperation that were, if not unknown, definitely not popular then.

In the more than seven decades since those days, our lifestyles have dramatically changed. But the world largely has remained the same -- in the sense that there is no dearth of either the good or the bad.

There are so many kindhearted souls around doing wonderful things for the world around them. At the same time, on the other side, we still have many life-threatening health issues, conflicts and deaths.

It's pointless trying to imagine how Gandhi would have reacted to some of the present-day political, economic or social situations. Nevertheless, some of the key elements of his personal philosophy are everlasting. Some of them that come to my mind are:

1. Be truthful. What one achieves through deception and lies is temporary. This was the basis of Gandhi's agitation called 'satyagraha'.

2. The force of pacifism is enlightening but that of weapons is blinding.

3. Practise what you preach. That is the way to bring about change in society. Gandhi tried his best to follow this to a tee. It's not easy because it involves a lot of sacrifices. The extent to which Gandhi was able to achieve is simply amazing.

4. Avoid wastage. Everything has a value of its own. Make the full use of whatever we have. Don't let anything go waste. Today we are constantly exhorted to 'reduce, reuse, recycle'. But Gandhi practised it. For example, he would write (how much ever important it was) on the reverse side of envelopes.

5. Give up and gain peace. The more we amass, the more the burden. Let us be driven by our needs and not the wants. Abjure what is not necessary.

There are so many books and movies made on this great man, besides numerous articles available online. Some of my recommendations are:

1. Gandhi, the film directed by Richard Attenborough with Ben Kingsley as Gandhi. Not just that it's a very well-made movie it's so inspirational.

2. Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre. The book is about the runup to the Indian independence on August 15, 1947, and has so many well-researched references to Gandhi, giving us good insights into that amazing human being.

3. Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World, 1914-1948 by Ramachandra Guha. This book explores the complexity of Gandhi's views and throws light on also how others around him viewed him.

Mahatma Gandhi with Albert Einstein
Source: Open Culture that brings together free of cost
high-quality cultural & educational media

I guess nothing best sums up in one sentence on who Gandhi was as Albert Einstein's tribute: “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth."


Destination Infinity said...

The autobiography he wrote long before India got Independence is very insightful as the man tells his own story - mostly his childhood days, struggles in South Africa and the start of what would eventually become the freedom movement in India.

Indian Independence, for which he is most famous, is just a small consequence. What he did for decades before freedom even became a buzz word is far more significant and important in the context of fighting against injustice and oppression for the common man.

In the book, he himself wonders why people associate 'Mahatma' before his name, but if there was one person who deserved it, it was Gandhi.

Destination Infinity

Liz A. said...

A very important figure. We actually discussed him in a 7th grade English class at the start of the school year.

SG said...

I love one of his quotes. Here goes: There are 2 days in the year we cannot do anything, yesterday and tomorrow.

Darla M Sands said...

He and Mother Theresa inspired me early on. And the movie was great! My church youth group saw it in theater. Thanks for evoking that memory. Be well!

Tomichan Matheikal said...

I'd like to add Louis Fischer's biography of Gandhi to your eminent list.

Vallypee said...

What a lovely post. Ghandi was much talked about in South Africa as well, for as you will know, he spent many years there. I like his list of principles and am happy to subscribe to them all. As a child of the sixties, I was brought up with a 'waste not, want not' philosophy and my father would also save used envelopes to write notes on or keep them for shopping lists or small sketches. I'm not quite as careful as that, but I like to do my bit too. A wonderful man and a model for us all.

Susan Kane said...

Until I saw the movie about Ghandi, I really knew nothing about him and that time in history. Thank you for this post. You have inspired me to read more.

rudraprayaga said...

I think he is once or twice a year remembered, otherwise forgotten. If his activities are kept alive, today's juveniles will indirectly learn good lessons. The world order inclines towards evil, now-a-days, at least a good part of it.Gandhi is a panacea for such things. Apt time to write about Gandhiji.

Barbie Holmes said...

Incredibly inspiring! A wonderful man whose history needs to be recounted over and over again. Thank you so much for sharing!

Leanne said...

Thanks for sharing this Pradeep and reminding us of a man who brought so much good into the world. I loved those principles of his that you shared at the end - all just as applicable today as they were back then. They're also applicable on a personal level and on a global level - but we never seem to take on good advice do we?
Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I've shared on my SM :)

Deborah said...

I like the idea of giving up and gaining peace. So true.

Christie Hawkes said...

I love that Einstein quote--so true. Thank you for reminding us of some of Gandhi's guiding principals that could benefit all of us. #MLSTL

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