Mahatma Gandhi, a visionary and a humanitarian of great simplicity
There’s hardly anyone who hasn’t heard of Mohandas Gandhi, better known as Mahatma Gandhi whose image is one of the most recognized in history. As a twentieth century political and spiritual leader, Mahatma Gandhi’s most inspirational message was of non violent protest which he announced to the world with his now famous words “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” This frail looking man that wore only a white piece of cloth wrapped around the lower part of his body is credited as being the pioneer of “Satyagraha” that has now become a popular form of protest in India and other Asian countries. He lived a simple life and led by example the way to campaign for democracy and human rights which was instrumental in helping India gain its independence from the British in 1947.
Gandhi’s Vision for India
Mahatma Gandhi had a vision for India in which there would be no government, no constitution, no army or police force. For him, the ideal country was one that did not have any modern cities, industrialization, and definitely no capitalism or communism. He wished that India would be as it was in the past with self sustaining villages that would depend on agrarian economy and in the absence of civil law; only the collective will of people would reign. His idealistic leanings however were reflective of anarchic principles even though he abhorred violence; and the most important aspect of his ideology was that of tolerance, modesty and religiosity. Gandhi wanted all Indian citizens to consider themselves, as Indians as well as Hindus and Muslims while relearning how all sectors could live together in peace. He tried his level best to make these principles work by founding “ashrams” where he trained his followers to live a disciplined life of labor and prayer in a religious environment. He was very particular that Indians learn to live in a foreground of religious observance and was heard to say “My first complaint is that India is becoming irreligious, we must stop turning away from God”.
His thoughts about Politics and Politicians
Mahatma Gandhi is said to have had a deep dislike of politicians and never thought of himself as a leader. In fact he didn’t believe that he had the attributes to lead people in politics and was always quick to dispel any rumors about his political ambitions. He once wrote that the title “Mahatma Gandhi” meaning “Great Soul” pained him deeply. Although he had no intention of running for office himself, he was always anxious when others tried to seek power; always wondering what their real motives were. Gandhi was very critical about the contemporary political system and had harsh words to describe the western style of democracy and called the British Parliament a “sterile woman” because it had not brought forth anything good. He was very particular that India should not copy Westminster and was fearful that if it does, it will ruin India. Gandhi detested capitalism and what he called its self indulgent aspects. Neither did he think socialism was any better because of its tendency to industrialize everything. Communism, he said was doomed for failure and he disliked its violent undertones as well as its non religious aspect. To him, India could only succeed by returning to the path of morality and self discipline.
The end of a Dream
Ironically perhaps, in spite of his rejection of violence, Mohandas Gandhi was shot dead by a Hindu radical on January 30, 1948 while his killer and accomplice were both executed in 1949. Today, more than six decades later, India is the largest democracy in the world with a globalized economy that has absolutely no part in Gandhi’s vision for his beloved country. None can however forget this down to earth man who lived according to his principles and died before he saw his dreams crumbling. Mahatma Gandhi however will live on in the hearts of the people who love him and revere him for his teachings and sayings; …. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever”