Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is often addressed as ‘Mahatma’ which means a “Great Soul”. He was born in Porbandar, Gujarat on 2nd October, 1869. He became instrumental in India’s fight for independence, and his nonviolence and ‘satyagraha’ approach set the foundation of a strong and independent nation, throwing out the British governance completely in the year 1947. If you look for information on Mahatma Gandhi over the internet or books, you will find a lot of people influenced by his work who are now fighting against social and political injustice.
His work influenced a lot of people, and the renowned scientist Albert Einstein was one of his great admirers. Albert Einstein, is considered as one of the greatest minds in the world who played a major role in revolutionising modern Science. His admiration for Mahatma can be seen clearly in a letter he addressed to Mahatma Gandhi, in the year 1931, praising his methods. Gandhi remained an important influence on Einstein’s life and thoughts.
Gandhi’s concept of satyagraha can be defined as a devotion to truth. This concept appealed to Einstein greatly. The primary reason behind this is its principled ground against political expediency and for the type of moral commitment that depends on self-scrutiny and an inquiry into cause and effect. Similar to the counter-intuitive theories of Einstein, Mark Shepard (who wrote the biography of Mahatma Gandhi) defines satyagraha as a hard to grasp concept, especially for those who are used to seeing power in the barrel of a gun.
Known to be a conservative, Albert Einstein had expressed profound regret after publishing an equation that encouraged the development of the nuclear bomb. He also addressed a letter to the US President Franklin Roosevelt, informing him about the risks associated with nuclear bombs.
Looking deeper into Gandhi’s historical records, I came across a letter that Einstein had written to Mahatma, stating his admiration towards the path of peace or ahimsa led by the great Indian leader. In the letter, Einstein repeatedly mentioned how he was awed by the way Gandhi had used non-violence to eliminate injustice and set an example for the entire world. In return, Mahatma Gandhi responded to Einstein with a letter thanking him for appreciating his work and expressed a desire to meet him in person.
Einstein’s letter was originally written in German. Translated from German the letter reads in part:
I am sending you this message with the help of your friend in our home. You have shown the world that victory or success is possible without violence, even with those people who still follow the method of violence. We may hope that the influence of your work spreads beyond the borders of your nation and help in establishing an international authority which is respected by all to take decisions and replace war conflicts.
He died as a victim of one of his principles – the principle of nonviolence. He died because, in a time of disorder and general irritation in the country, he refused armed protection for himself. It was his unshakable belief that the use of force is an evil in itself. Therefore, it must be avoided by those who are striving for supreme justice to this belief. With this belief in his heart and mind, he led a great nation on its path to liberation. He demonstrated that a powerful human following, can be achieved not only through the cunning game of the usual political manoeuvres and tricks but also through the cogent example of morally superior conduct of life.