Teachings of Gandhi (Gandhian Philosophy)

Paramita Mukherjee Mullick

Gandhiji and Rabindranath Tagore shared a unique relationship. Tagore addressed Gandhiji as Mahatma, which means great soul. Gandhiji to show respect called Tagore, Gurudev. Gandhiji was indeed a Mahatma, his deeds and teachings are still so relevant in the present scenario.  He was such a great man that he is worshipped even today. There are three temples dedicated to Gandhiji in India, one in Sambalpur in Odisha, one in Nidaghatta in Karnataka and another in Chityal in Telangana.

His memory lingers in the hearts of admirers all over the world. We Indians are so proud that some of the well-known personalities of the twentieth and twenty first century cite Mahatma as their role model. Barack Obama, the former president of the United States of America had once called Gandhi his ‘real hero’. Romain Rolland said,” For many he was like the return of Christ. For others, for independent thinkers, Gandhi was a reincarnation of Jean-Jaques Rosseau and of Tolstoy, denouncing the illusions and crimes of civilization and preaching to men the return to nature, to the simple life, to health”. Others like the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Said, “If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. He lived thoughts and acted inspired by the vision of humanity evolving towards a world of peace and harmony. We may ignore him at our own risk”.

The greatest gift that Gandhiji gave us is the idea of non-violence. He felt that violence perpetuates hatred. To him non-violence was not a weapon of cowardice but a weapon of the brave. Gandhiji was the first leader in history to use the idea of non-violence for a fight for freedom.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi proclaimed that his life was his message. A simple man clad in a hand woven dhoti and chadar and with a stick in his hand, believed that the greatest weapon is one’s own character. Under his leadership the freedom struggle of India became a truly mass movement. Gandhi’s principles of truth and honesty were a result of his childhood exposure to mythological characters like Raja Harish Chandra, a virtuous king who went through harsh tests, yet never deviated from the truth and Prahlad, the boy prince who showed his father the greatness of God.

A train ride in South Africa changed Gandhiji’s life when he was pushed out of the train with his luggage as coloured people were not allowed in the first class compartments. This made him promise to fight racial discrimination.

Satyagraha [truth force] was a powerful weapon adapted by Gandhiji. This concept tremendously helped in the Indian freedom struggle. He had experimented with Satyagraha in South Africa first. Satyagraha embraced civil disobedience and a relentless pursuit of truth and peace. Along with Satyagraha he practiced self-reliance.

Mahatma was greatly influenced by John Ruskin who believed that being peaceful is more important than powerful. Ruskin in his writings argued that peace is more important than earning more and more money. Motivated by this idea, Gandhiji made an ashram in South Africa where his supporters lived a life of no luxuries. Even the famous Tolstoy Farm started by him followed the same principles.

Gopal Krishna Gokhale urged Gandhiji to start Satyagraha in the Indian freedom struggle. Gandhiji helmed the agitations in Champaran in Bihar and Kheda in Gujarat to stop forced indigo cultivation.

Non-cooperation was a highly powerful weapon of protest and mass action introduced by Gandhiji. This became immensely popular after the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre. The purpose of this was to fight British rule in India through peaceful means. It encompassed numerous actions like refusal to buy British goods, encouragement of the use of local handicrafts and picketing liquor shops. Ahimsa or non-violence was the basic norm of non-cooperation. He rallied thousands of Indians towards the cause of Indian independence under the umbrella of non-cooperation.

Gandhiji stated that the soul of India lies in our villages; both in monetary and logistic terms and so no movement can be truly fruitful without the participation of village people.

His great thoughts, his teaching made him the Father of the Nation. Great Britain, against whom he fought for independence, released a stamp in memory of him 21 years after his death. Netherlands has the maximum number of roads named after Gandhi except India. They have 29 roads. Teachings of the Mahatma can fill up volumes of books. I tried to just give an essence of his teachings in this article.

Bio:  Dr. Paramita Mukherjee Mullick is a scientist, a poet, an editor and a literary curator. She has published ten books. Her poems have been translated into forty one languages and have been widely published in national and international journals and anthologies. She promotes peace, multilingual, global and indigenous poetry. Paramita also promotes awareness of conservation and climate change through poetry. She is the President and Initiator of the Mumbai chapter of IPPL. She is also the Cultural Convenor and Literary Coordinator of ISISAR.

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