Thirty January, i.e. Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary, is an occasion to remember his exemplary life and extraordinary sacrifice; A sacrifice that expresses a deeper meaning. It is also ironic that Gandhi’s assassination at the hands of a fundamentalist led to the great culmination of his life story. This is the epic story of an ordinary child Mohandas eventually becoming immortal as a world-peace peace-messenger, while continuing his development. Gandhiji’s entire life journey was like a continuous stream of experiments. The values of truth and non-violence always guided him. He himself stated that both these values were not his fundamental inventions. Gandhiji used to say that these eternal values existed only since nature came into existence.
In his deep quest for self-realization, he embraced the ideas he received from various scriptures, though he himself was a pious Hindu. There was no place for orthodoxy and bigotry in Gandhiji’s religion. In the spiritual texts, Bhagwad Gita was given the highest importance by Gandhiji. The character of Jesus Christ moved him. Sermon on the Mount was his source of inspiration as well as the way of life-making. In addition to Srimad Rajchandra, he has mentioned Leo Tolstoy, John Ruskin and Henry David Thoreau saying that ‘these modern people left a deep impression on my life and overwhelmed me’. Reading a book called Untu This Last written by Ruskin proved to be a transformative moment in Gandhi’s life. His dips were for enlightenment, And his efforts were also towards this goal. Careful study of his deep beliefs makes it clear that the most important path for him to attain salvation was selfless service to humanity.
Gandhiji was truly human. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela are among the many great leaders who dared to follow Gandhiji’s path. Martin Luther King wrote that the true meaning of Jesus’ message ‘love your neighbor’ was made clear to him by Gandhiji’s teachings. It was Gandhiji who taught how to practice this age-old sermon in private and political fields. For Gandhi, non-violence was not merely the absence of violence, but an active force of his non-violence love. Everyone used to come under the purview of that love and especially the opponents. Many scholars campaigning for the rights of the Indian community in South Africa, Especially inspired by Thoreau, Gandhi developed the effective weapon of Satyagraha. Satyagrahi, while remaining firm on the path of truth, also appeals to awaken the divinity inside the oppressor. This also added a moral dimension to the political campaign.
After returning to India from South Africa, he not only used his technique of satyagraha in Champaran, but also taught satyagraha to thousands of oppressed peasants. Fearlessness was his first lesson. When I was the Governor of Bihar, I realized that after a century (of the Champaran movement), Gandhiji’s presence was still intact and his teachings remained relevant even today. Critics of this method of resistance by civil disobedience see it only as a strategy and even question its usefulness in more heterogeneous situations. They ignore Gandhiji and his followers’ intensive training of self-discipline through the eleventh fast (eleven sutras of satyagrahi), Which surprised the whole world with its widespread influence during the Dandi March of 1930. After surveying political movements around the world, scholars have concluded that non-violent resistance has a greater probability of success than terrorist campaigns.
As in our world, there may be difficulties in following the path of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji also had many moments of doubt and despair in his life. Accepting the advice of many of his critics, instead of going to the Himalayas to spend the life of a monk, Gandhi considered it better to go through the agony of self-observation, which led to a great miracle of the modern era. In the shadow of the deep darkness of the tragic partition, Gandhiji went from barefoot village to village in Noakhali, amidst the panic of communal slaughter in Punjab and Bengal, teaching violent groups to follow the path of peace. Ultimately, he was able to extinguish the flames of the riots and thus made the impossible possible. Lord Mountbatten made a memorable mention of it, ‘When the border-force of 55 thousand soldiers in Punjab was drowned in the riots, the Boundary-force of a single man (Gandhi) established peace in Bengal.’
72 years ago, Gandhi was assassinated by a confused man who considered Karuna as cowardice. Through his sacrifice, Gandhiji has always left a memorable message for all of us – love whole and selfless, especially to those who are considered unlawful. During my travels abroad, I am happy to know that Gandhiji’s name carries hope across the world. During my visit to Zambia, I met the first President of the country, Kenneth Konda. He told me how the people of his country used to take inspiration from Gandhi’s ideals in Zambia’s freedom struggle. In today’s environment full of greed and hatred and filled with climate change and uncertainties, there are many reasons to be concerned about our existence in front of humanity. But in most parts of the world the idea is emerging that there is only one way to get out of the crisis, The way shown by Gandhiji. I am confident that more and more people will understand the real message of Gandhiji in today’s context and we will all implement it in our daily conduct.