Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The "Great Soul" of India and his "Ahimsa".

This topic is about Mahatma Gandhi who is considered the father of non-violence resistance for the achievement of political objectives. In many of his writings and communications with other persons of his time,he often mentioned the word "Ahimsa". Hence,the first question that comes to mind is: what is "Ahimsa"? "Ahimsa" is a Hindu 's word and means simply "Non-Violence". That is not enough to understand Gandhi's perception of "Ahimsa","Non-Violence". In order to be able to do so,one must absorb and assimilate correctly the following issues:

(1) Gandhi was not only a citizen of India,but also a citizen of the British Empire.

(2) The mighty military power of the British Empire,especially its Navy had ruled the world and Gandhi had to live and accept that giant reality. In other words,he had to deal with his British rulers in a rational way,not in an emotional manner. And he had done so admirably.

(3) Gandhi's Perception of "Ahimsa","Non-Violence".

No need to dwell on points (1) and (2),since anyone who is interested can find their details in the Internet or,better yet,in reliable history books in a good library. Therefore,an attempt will be made below only on point (3) cited above:

(3) Gandhi's Perception of "Ahimsa","Non-Violence:

If one follows carefully Gandhi's statements and communications with others,one may notice that "Ahimsa" meant not only "Non-violence" to Gandhi but also "Love of Humanity". Perhaps,that is why he had never hated the British while he fought their military occupation and certainly their decades of colonization of his beloved India. His statement,"HATE THE SIN,NEVER THE SINNER",may explain his fundamental belief and noble philosophy toward the British as human beings he could not ignore his connection to them through a commonality called "HUMANITY". Therefore,the greatness of Gandhi stems not only from the fact that he forced Great Britain to withdraw from India without firing a single shot,but equally important was the fact that he really never hated the British,the colonizers of his beloved homeland. Hence,his greatness stems from two unique feats: Non-Violence and Love of his fellow human beings who happened to be the British,his colonizers and,in many ways,his tormentors as well.

Human history is full of violence in which empires ascended on the ashes of other empires defeated and the cycle of violence has its own dynamic with no end in sight, until Gandhi came along and proved by adhering firmly to his perception of "Ahimsa" through determination,endurance,patience,diligence,dedication and love for humanity, an empire could be defeated without firing a single shot against it. And as a result a Culture of Non-violence was intruduced. Dr. Martin Luther King of the U.S.A. and Neslson Mandela of South Africa had adopted Gandhi's Culture of Non-Violence and had succeeded in achieving freedom for their people,in varying degrees.

To summarize,one may conclude the following facts about Gandhi and his poverty stricken India:

FACT ONE: In order to comprehend Gandhi's Culture of Non-Violence,there are three pre-requisites that must be fully understood:
(A) Gandhi's as a citizen of India and a citizen of the British empire.
(B) The extent of the military might of Great Britain,especially its Navy which really ruled the world,including,of course,India.
(C) Gandhi Perception of "Ahimsa",meaning Non-Violence.

FACT TWO: Gandhi's greatness stems not only from forcing the British Empire to withdraw from India without firing a single shot against them,but also from the fact that he had never hated them. The proof of that was the fact that he unequivocally supported Britain's war efforts against the Nazi of Germany.

FACT THREE: Until his assassination,he was true to his belief in the superiority of "Ahsima" over or to "Himsa",translation: "Ahimsa,Non-Violence" and "Himsa,Violence".

FACT FOUR: After the British were forced to leave the Indian subcontinent,India emerged as the largest democracy the human kind had ever seen.

FACT FIVE: Economic changes in India have been tailing political changes since poverty is still wide spread. Gandhi's efforts have produced the excellent political changes. What India needs now an ECONOMIC GANDHI.

FACT SIX: Gandhi will remain one of the most towering figures of the 20TH century,whether his critics like or not. Hence,describing him as the "GREAT SOUL" of India fits the occasion,indeed.

For further reading on Mahatma Gandhi,the following books are highly recommended:

Mahatma Gandhi
His Life And Ideas
Charles F. Andrews.

The Gandhi Reader
A Soursebook of His Life and Writing
Edited by
Homer A. Jack.


  1. This is very interesting topic; I enjoyed reading it. Have you taught on the subject?

  2. No,Anonymous,I have not taught a course on Gandhi and his Ahimsa. But,I read every book I could get my hand on,that was written on him. What I have found most interesting are the enormous communications he had exchanged with other leaders and common people. That certainly was a great help for understanding him and his Ahimsa better in an unbias and an objective manner.