FACING BAPU (Gandhian Philosophy)

Sunil Kaushal
If I were to meet Bapu today, would I be able to face him, look him in the eye?
Tongue-tied, my downcast eyes guilt-ridden, bleary, having watched in shame the spectacle of my motherland desecrated, divided, torn limb by limb from body, flailing and struggling for survival, drowning and swallowed by the quagmire of hate.
The India our children live in is not the country my generation grew up in. I shudder to envisage that moment in history had Gandhi been alive today, a dismembered Mahatma watching brother butcher brother. How would he have handled this, he who had put a stop to the violence and bloodshed during the Calcutta riots in 1948 by going on fast?
Today protectors turned predators authorize, execute, and celebrate ethnic cleansing, feast and distribute sweets. Genocide, lynching, and ghettos have become unquestionable, acceptable forms of life in a so-called democratic country. We have become a land of marionettes performing to the jerks of strings manipulated by criminals, rapists, and goons in seats of power.
Who will follow his tenets when they are incapable of even reading his thoughts and writings, let alone emulate him or write like him? How is Bapu’s legacy of non-violence relevant today?
His lesson of Satyagraha, walking the path of Ahimsa, his experiments with Truth, were the spindle around which his life revolved. The charkha, a symbol of the wheel of life, and the spinning of khadi was symbolic of the humility and simplistic life of the Mahatma.
He gave us back our national self-respect creating tremendous cultural upsurge with no room for prejudice as he blessed all with a benevolent smile of tolerance. Today the prejudices are back with the motive of complete extermination. In the name of Ram, unholy ‘holy gurus’ conniving with criminals has made us the laughingstock of the world, the splendor of the crown that Bharat once wore, trammeled under the heels of anarchy and mayhem.
Can there ever be another Mahatma? Did Gandhi ji pay with his life needlessly?  Godse did not snuff out a reverent life just that once, he set a precedent. They kill him daily again and again or incarcerate in the name of Ram.
I bow to his picture, a frail old man, yet so dynamic and determined, mighty as the Himalayas, fighting the great British Empire unarmed. Does that picture speak to the millions today as it did when multitudes followed him wherever he went and hung on every word that he spoke? Or, has it become just a face on Indian currency and 2nd October is just another holiday?
The contemporary relevance of Gandhi and his teachings of brotherhood, compassion, and forgiveness are of far more importance today.
Ask me why!
During his lifetime we were fighting the British. There was a huge number of patriots, educated leaders with the welfare of the common man at heart, reasoning and debating over the correct decisions, trying to balance the welfare of each community, irrespective of religion. An outsider can be ousted from our midst by the sheer power of moral right over our homeland. But, how does one pluck out a part of our own body, disown our own brethren out of a home, where their fathers and forefathers have lived and died, having shed their blood, courted persecution fighting for India’s freedom?
While another Gandhi is certainly what India needs, what about the lessons he left behind for us, of what value was the sacrifice of his life, and the loss of the lives of millions who responded to his call for Satyagraha, non-violence, non-cooperation, and participated in the walks he took for just causes?
What we need is a revival of those values and methods to return India to sanity, and a return of power into capable and caring hands. We are passing through times that should jolt us to a higher level of consciousness, an awakening that if we do not join hands as one nation we will be ripped into shreds that will never be a whole again.
The recent coronavirus pandemic brought out so much strength in humanity and forced us to change inwardly and outwardly, just as a deadly diagnosis ringing the death knell, the parting from or the loss of a dear one would. The human spirit will change the world after a tipping point is reached.
However, much needs to be changed by us Indians to rise to the challenge. Our lifestyle, our food habits, addiction to media, fake identities, degraded mindsets, corruption at every level, hunger for power, and many more such maladies have crept into our veins, corroded our bones, and gripped our minds with impotency that has frozen our reactions as defeatists to barbarism, violence, and injustice.
What is needed is a reversal to old values when virtue was honored and vices condemned. We have to ensure that the coming generations read and learn about leaders like Gandhi ji and other leaders of those times, who carried the public along with them, caring for the welfare of the common man, and not just filling their own coffers to overflowing and more.
If we could snatch back our freedom from the mighty British Empire, so can we now. History proves time and again the fall of the false, the corrupt, and the aggressor. All fascists have met terrible ends – history has repeatedly documented it. To answer all our doubts regarding a change in India’s future, read the past. Our strength lies in moral power and ultimate truth! From amongst us will rise another Gandhi once more.

“The answer my friends, is blowin’ in the wind”- Bob Dylan.

BIO: Dr. Sunil Kaushal, gynecologist, poet, author, translator, and editor, has been translated into French, German, Greek, Punjabi, and Chinese.She is a winner of multiple awards-Nissim Award for her memoirs Gypsy Wanderings & Random Reflections. Women Achiever’s Award 2019.Enchanting Muse & Fellow of the Regal World of Scribes .Her love for life is reflected in her writings and lifestyle.

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