By Adarsh Badri:
Gandhi – the name transcends the bounds of religion, race, caste, and culture. Mahatma has emerged as a prominent voice of the twentieth century. “Half naked fakir,” as Churchill called. Mahatma Gandhi is the first person that our textbooks refer to.
Gandhi is on India’s currency notes. His portraits are hung on walls of the government offices. Roads are named after him and many of our political leaders talk about him in their speeches. And, the leading figures of top political parties carry his last name.
Once, when I was conversing with one of my friends about Mahatma Gandhi and the relevance of his ideals in today’s world, I said, “Gandhi should be respected and admired of, but not be followed.” Today’s world does not stand on the principles of non-Violence and ‘satyagraha’. My friend said, “Gandhi has no value if it is not prefixed with ‘Mahatma’ or suffixed with ‘ji’.
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said in a radio address after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi: “Our light has gone out, but the light that shone in this country was no ordinary light. For a thousand years, that light will be seen in this country and the world will see it. Oh that this has happened to us! There was so much more to do.” The assassin was a Hindu fanatic, who disagreed with Gandhi’s ideology. Sad day that was! India lost the Father of the Nation.
To the world, Gandhi gave the lessons of tolerance, non-violence and satyagraha. His principles of ‘ahimsa‘ is a powerful moral force, which indeed is a really great principle. Gandhi has always led all movements against the British in a peaceful manner by either strikes or fasting. Gandhi believed that people should gladly go to jail when they break such laws. He told the people of India to resist the British by peaceful means only.
Many of his ideas have transformed into ideology and many people in India believe in Gandhism. Gandhiji came to India in 1915. He toured across India and realised that the freedom struggle was restricted to elite English-speaking Indians. He transformed the freedom struggle to a mass movement. Mohandas fought for the people without touching weapons like guns and swords.
In the 21st century the relevance of Gandhian philosophy and its validity has undergone various studies and criticisms over the different parts of the globe. The Gandhian era and present India seem to be a complete contrast with one another. Today, many of us no longer believe in the principles of tolerance and non-violence. Nonetheless, we are a nuclear power and even the world has recognised it.
The ideals of Mahatma are questioned in many forums. However, it is wise to say that some of the Gandhi’s teachings are relevant in today’s world while some of them do not suit time and situation. Today, Gandhi is remembered for his passionate adherence to the practice of non-violence and his supreme humanism, in every nook and corner of the world.