Mahatma Gandhi's legacy - how the essence of the Mahatma's teachings has been lost


This article celebrates the greatness of Gandhiji. Written just days before his 150th birth anniversary, the article tries to analyze how Gandhi's soul has been killed off in his own country while his name continues to be celebrated.

"Satan's successes are the greatest when he appears with the name of God on his lips."
- Mahatma Gandhi

The actual Father of the Nation

There is very less doubt about the fact that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is one of the greatest Indians of the last century or so. Very few people have been able to gather as much praise around the world as Gandhi has been. Very few people have had such a lasting impact on an entire nation as he has. This is not to say that Gandhi was solely responsible for India attaining freedom. But Gandhi was indeed the factor responsible for making India's freedom movement a truly national phenomenon, inducting simple peasants, industrialists, workers and everyone who would have otherwise passed their days in oblivion. Although he never became a prime minister, he is undoubtedly acknowledged as one of the greatest leaders India has been fortunate to have.

It has been quite a few years since the Mahatma's death. Since his death, the world, and most notably India has veritably changed. It is obvious that in the changed scenario, the perceptions regarding the Mahatma would also change. Having said that, however, it feels quite painful how the Mahatma's image has been sullied by a few people and his ideals have been made fun of. It is almost as if Gandhi's soul is dying a slow and painful death even as his name continues to enjoy token respect.

Non-violence into oblivion

Gandhi was the symbol of non-violence. The quiet strength that his methods of protest exuded are not easy to appreciate in today's world, and for obvious reasons. Otherwise, who could have imagined that a frail old man picking up salt in a seaside village would shake one of the most powerful empires of the world? The strategy that he employed, picking the right moment to start a protest and the right moment to end it (except the blunder in the first phase of the Civil Disobedience movement) and the right method to voice his protest is extraordinary. And what is even more worthy of appreciation is that the British were always put into the dreaded position of "damned if you act, damned if you don't''.

Unfortunately, the strategy of non-violence is mocked at by today's youth. It is believed that such methods are for the weak. It is a case of 21st-century impatience winning against the prudent as well as the morally appropriate methods of the earlier age. And even when some political groups (both political parties and pressure groups) claim to employ peaceful methods of protest, they end up doing what Gandhi once called 'Duragraha' (literally the opposite of Satyagraha) – breaking public buses and private vehicles, forcibly enforcing strikes and attacking the blacklegs.

The destruction of secularism

Mahatma Gandhi was a unique combination of secularism and deep-seated religiosity. He was a believer in Vaishnavism and he derived much of his spiritual beliefs from Hinduism. When I read his autobiography, I found the number of chapters devoted to religious and spiritual discussions simply amazing. Yet he never considered Hinduism to be superior to other religions. He had a great amount of knowledge of almost all religious traditions and therefore he respected all of these religions, be it Vaishnavism, Jainism or Islam or Christianity.

It is worth noting that Gandhi was killed by a religious fanatic. Even while he was alive he was consistently criticized by the Hindu fundamentalists for his policies. Equal flak was faced by Gandhi from the side of the League who constantly dismissed him as a leader of the Hindus. Today as we enter a stage when even mainstream media and big politicians can no longer claim to be completely free of religious bigotry, Gandhi's ideals are worth remembering if we are to stay peacefully as one nation.

The emasculation of Panchayats

Gandhi had very clear ideas about the future polity of India. He wanted Panchayats i.e. village assemblies to be the ultimate decision-makers. This is extremely important because such a strengthening of Panchayats allows the humble villager to be a part of the decision-making process and to keep a check on the decision-makers. Yet what we see in the villages today is very different, probably opposite to what Gandhi had in mind. Although constitutional amendments radically strengthened the Panchayats and the municipalities, their powers and finances are still extremely unsatisfactory. Most of the times they act only as of the implementation wings of the State and Central government schemes. It is important to realize that although Gandhi's vision might seem too radical, proper implementation of such a policy (keep in mind the word 'proper') is the best way to take democracy to the grassroots.

The limits of hypocrisy

The coming second of October marks the 150th birth anniversary of the Mahatma. The honorable PM (the new father of India as referred to by the US President) will declare the country Open Defecation Free on that day. Meanwhile, a couple of children from Madhya Pradesh who were found defecating in the open were recently lynched to death. Routinely I find posts on Twitter that mock Gandhi and even fabricate all sorts of obscene allegations against him. Not too surprisingly, such a person is currently sitting in the Parliament of this country. The people on the other side have not done better. Congress' corruption and greed run completely counter to Gandhian austerity. Yet both sides will never forget to invoke the great man in their grandiloquent speeches. The best way to remember Bapu is to have some harmony in our words and actions. It is perhaps true that some of Gandhi's beliefs were not sensible (especially his economic outlook). Yet it is important to realize that there have not been many people who have been as great as him. Certainly among the current crop of politicians and so-called statesmen, none is as great as him.

This is not a passionate outburst of unreasonable feelings but the words from a person who is very much in his senses.


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Comments

Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao18 Oct 2019 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 5

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as Bapuji, is no doubt, the person who played a very important role in securing the freedom to India. He sacrificed his life for freeing the country from the evil clutches of the British. We are all today breathing the air of independent India because of his untired efforts in securing independence to the country. Many other freedom fighters struggled for independence but more than anybody else his efforts are the greatest.

We all should be thankful to him for his sacrifice. He never opted for any positions. He never wanted to be a king. He lived a very simple life and he was a guiding force for many Indian political leaders of those times. But unfortunately after him, the politics of India has gone bad and now it has a gone to worst from bad.

The author brought out a very good write up on the eve of 150th birthday of this great personality and let us all follow the good deeds of this man and see that we will have a better society to live in.

Author: Umesh07 Nov 2019 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 7

An elaborate article by the author on Gandhiji and his contributions to the Indian freedom struggle. There is no doubt that Gandhiji was a perfect combination of many good things which ordinary mortals like us cannot even imagine. His concepts about coexistence in spite of religious differences was of very high level and many people mistook his intentions of making India a secular and utopian state in the world. He did not believe in singing songs for a particular religion. His policies were right in their own perspective but difficult to follow by the common men. He very well knew that after the division of the land in making of two countries Pakistan and India, there could arise some communal conflicts but he always hoped that people can be taught to live together in a harmonious way and will respect each other's religious freedom. Gandhiji always believed that people can always be changed and motivated to do good deeds rather than remain fighting for religious matters. He was a great optimist and had his own ways to get things done in a proper way and mitigate the national level problems with the consensus of the public.

Unfortunately, in the post independence era there were some selfish anti social elements which instigated the religious feelings of the masses and took some political mileage out of it and the whole labour and efforts of Gandhiji were gone waste. Today, India is one of the worlds greatest democracy surviving with so many religious conflicts and confrontation but we have not followed the policies illustrated by Gandhiji in this matter. Gandhiji believed in the eradication of poverty irrespective of caste, creed and religion and always advocated for the policies benefitting the poor. In the flow of time we have departed from those ideas of that great leader and now landed ourselves in difficult conditions to resolve the religious differences as well as cope up with the religious stubbornness.

Some of the younger people who are not aware of the Gandhiji's potential might undermine his theories but we simply failed to follow what he advocated throughout his life and now we are unnecessarily making him responsible for the problems being encountered today. We have to assess him based on what he achieved at that time by his non violence methods and not by what has happened in India after his death. He is truly the father of the nation.



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