THE MAHATMA IN THE HERE & NOW (Gandhian Philosophy)

“The light has gone out, I said, and yet I was wrong. For the light that shone in this country was no ordinary light. The light that has illumined this country for these many years will illumine this country for many more years, and a thousand years later, that light will be seen in this country and the world will see it and it will give solace to innumerable hearts.” These immortal words of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, on the death of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948 still ring true.
Today, around 75 years after Bapu’s death, his life and legacy have greater contemporary relevance than ever before.
 Mahatma’s greatest contribution was to bring the mighty British Empire to its knees by using the mite of the ordinary people, with ordinary backgrounds, leading ordinary lives. They were neither great leaders nor powerful politicians, nor were they eminent social workers. They lived in obscurity and died in obscurity.  But it is these unknown freedom fighters who gave us our freedom which today is taken for granted.
The founding fathers of our nation felt that for the first time India would be free from the shackles of foreign rule.  After centuries of bondage India would finally be ruled by its own people. Freedom would bring peace and prosperity. There would be equal opportunities and equal rights. We would live together like one happy family.
Unfortunately, these hopes lie shattered in a million fragments, each piece narrating a tale of a dream lying in rust. I invite you to just look around to breathe, feel and see the universe in which we exist. Never have the times been so fractured, the schisms between people so sharp and the society so insular.
 The word freedom has become a misnomer. Nothing seems to have changed. 
The foreign tyrants have been replaced by domestic despots. 
Only the colour of the skin has altered.
 It is said people get the leaders they deserve. In our case it couldn’t have been truer. Why point a finger only at the rulers? We are all to blame.  But more than anyone else I would blame the generation, now ruling us, which is to a great extent responsible for the present state of affairs.  
Our earlier generation was the ‘We’ and ‘Us’ generation. They always thought in terms of the country, the society and the family. But the current generation and the future one is the ‘I’ generation which cannot see beyond the ‘I ’, ‘Me’ and ‘Myself.
 
What is its basic objective in life - the pursuit of pleasure? If pleasure is the end then the means is money.  So naturally everyone is busy making money as fast as he can and any which way he can.  
For example, there was a time when joining the defence services was a matter of great pride. Now it is viewed like any other career - simply a means to earn money.  The Government now has to issue ads and sell the concept of serving one’s country like one would sell a soap or a condom.  Even the other so called ‘noble’ professions like teaching and medicine have been reduced to money making avenues.
So, is there no hope for our nation?
Yes, there obviously is. Our country is too great to wither away so easily.
 It cannot be destroyed by the selfishness of a generation or two. What it needs is another movement, another revolution.
 
Earlier, we fought a foreign invader. Now we have to fight the enemy within us.  He is the three- headed monster of selfishness, greed and hatred who is devouring the vitals of our society and our country. 
So how do we fight this ogre? 
By discovering the Gandhi in each and every one of us. Bapu stood for the ideals of selflessness, love and contentment. It is these values which will save us. They will lead us from ignorance to knowledge and darkness to light.
The time has come for us to invoke the Gandhi within. We should start another Satyagraha and fight for a new freedom.  A freedom which will finally usher in fresh era of peace, progress and prosperity.
Here when I talk about a new age, I don’t mean an epoch for India and Indians but the entire humanity. 
“I believe in the idea of One World, and there can be no two opinions about it, but that would be possible only if we can recognise the vast wisdom that we have inherited and utilise it in this age of democracy and awakening,” said the Mahatma while addressing the Inter-Asian Relations Conference held at New Delhi on 2 April 1947.
India has made a great start while chairing the G 20 summit. It has played the role of a Vishwa Mitra with the aim of ushering in the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam or “One Earth, One Family, One Future!”
Hopefully the legacy of Bapu will inspire each and everyone of us to usher in a renaissance not only for our society and nation but for humankind as well. 
Finally, I would like to end with what I consider my dream of a universe that would epitomise the vision of the greatest thinker of our times:
(With apologies to Rabindranath Tagore who bestowed  Bapu with the name Mahatma)
Where the heart is filled with peace and  soul full of love
Where violence is an anathema
Where humanity doesn’t exist in silos created by hate
Where honesty is not an option and greed never a choice
Where discipline and diligence become a habit 
Where equality and brotherhood hold sway
Into that haven of liberty, my Father, let my universe awake…


Bio: Ramendra Kumar (Ramen) is an award-winning writer, storyteller and motivational speaker with 49 books. His writings have been translated into 31 languages and included in several textbooks and anthologies in various countries. He was invited to international literary events held in Greece, Denmark, UAE et al, as well as major Indian events including the Jaipur Litfest.
Ramen is an Engineer & an MBA. He retired as General Manager (Corporate Communications), SAIL. He is now a Cancer Warrior and an inspiration to many.
 

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