Spellbound spirit of non-violence | Daily News

Mahatma Gandhi

Spellbound spirit of non-violence

When the great Nobel Prize laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, conferred the honorific title Mahatma on Mohandas Karam Chand Gandhi at a public function in Bengal, neither His Majesty the King of England nor the Xenophobic Prime minster, Winston Churchill, would have even dreamt then, that one day they will have to sit along with a half-naked Fakir in the King's palace and negotiate how to bargain to continue their oppressive rule for many more years.

Quit Liberty or Death were the slogans of this freedom fighter, which rang like a death knell to Britain's pet dream to sustain their belief that Sun never sets in the British empire. Incidentally this belligerent belief, nay the myth, was eloquently elucidated many years later by a prominent lawyer/politician, Dr Colvin R de Silva, at a commonwealth assembly hosted in London. When asked to elucidate this myth by someone in the assembly, he said that God doesn't believe the white man in darkness.

Communal differences

Was it design or destiny that propelled Gandhi to the forefront of the Indian freedom movement is a matter for any body’s guess. Whatever said and done, his advent into the Indian political arena boosted the morale and determination of the freedom fighters regardless of political or communal differences.

We commemorate the 150th birth year of this great soul. But a brief introduction of his biography must be included for the benefit of the young generation born decades later. Moreover, it is important to pay our homage to such great men who had sacrificed their lives for the benefit of their fellow mankind.

Mahatma Gandhi was one of those great men who lived and died for the redemption of fellow men from poverty, political freedom, the human dignity and for the salvation of his motherland. This spirit of sacrifice has gradually begun to erode from the minds of the current generation for the past few decades due to the advent of western influence in every walk of their lives. This modern cultural pollution cannot be eliminated overnight since it is deep-rooted in their minds.

Hence it becomes imperative to revisit the ancient true values of life and the greatness of our cultural heritage in every way possible. Hence it becomes more appropriate to review and revisit briefly the biographical data of Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary.

He was born in October in a coastal town in Porbandar, in the district of Gujarat, in north India. He was the sixth child in the family. His parents were strict vegetarians and in their outlook, they were an illustrious example of an Orthodox and conservative Jain cult in their beliefs and practices. By way of caste, they belonged to the grocer's clan. Like shylock in Shakespeare's play, Merchant of Venice, they were very hard bargainers when it comes to business.

Hard bargainer

This trait was an in-built strength in Gandhi until last. British rulers found in him an obdurate and difficult person at all political negotiations. A hard bargainer! Even with Congress leaders, as well as with the colonial tutors, he maintained this spirit regardless of ranks and file. Even with the intransigent Mohamed Ali Jinnah, an astute and a shrewd leader of the Muslim League and the architect for the creation of Pakistan. Both of them hailed from the same town in Gujarat.

He was mediocre at school, but on completion of his study, he opted to go to England to follow a course in Law. On his successful completion of Law degree, he returned to India and practised in Bombay for a brief period. Meantime he had an offer from a Law firm in South Africa to be their legal adviser, particularly for the benefits of the Indian merchant community. A large proportion of the different ethnic Indians merchants were involved in export/import trades. They were longing for the services of a barrister of Indian origin to protect their legal interests. This was the gateway that led Gandhi to become an activist in the Freedom Movement of the Indian National Congress in his latter part of life.

Further, his bitter experience of being thrown out of the train as an outcast, by a xenophobic English passenger, emboldened him to wage a moral crusade against white supremacy right though of his life. South Africa became his training ground for his future battle against the British rule in India. Under no circumstance he had breached his non-violent principles, even though he was subjected to severe humiliation and inhuman treatments by the English barbarians. Yet he was invincible and indomitable and never deviated from his Mission and Goal.

Passive enemy

On his return to India in 1942, he became the beacon light to the Indian Congress leaders and a passive enemy to the colonial rulers. Of course, some fellow members of the Indian Congress didn't see eye to eye with his ideas and principles, particularly Jinnah, Subash Chandra Bose, Sardar Vallbahai Patel, including Jawaharlal Nehru. But they held him in their high esteem, except Jinnah and B he until the very last moment earnestly endeavoured to safe a division of India into two. Though he and Jinnah hailed from the same village, they never saw eye to eye.

Jinnah was for one India at the beginning of the freedom struggle. Subsequently, he felt the Congress leaders were not treating him equally. Gandhi, of course, stood up for Jinnah's presence and Hindu -Muslim unity.


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