Tuesday, March 27, 2007


A whole new generation has grown up since India’s freedom, more than five decades have passed since Gandhiji’s physical departure but he seems still alive in millions of hearts across the globe. Pt Nehru explains the phenomena called Gandhi and his enduring charisma that lingers on for time immemorial; he said- “And then came Gandhi. He was like a powerful current of fresh air that made us stretch ourselves and take deep breaths… He did not descend from the top. Gandhiji who was undoubtedly the greatest and the most dominating figure of India was more a man of the people, almost the embodiment of the Indian peasant, though, at the same time he represented the other ancient tradition of India, renunciation and asceticism”.

To think about Mahatma is itself enough to instill wonder and amazement in millions of hearts worldwide; and more so one must be in awe when come to realise even a scrap of his overwhelming personality, his enduring grace and sagacious tryst for Truth in life. That is why world renown scientist Albert Einstein felt about Mahatma: “Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such a man as this, ever in flesh and blood, walked upon this earth.”

The uniqueness of Mahatma betrays all human logic; the way he was identified with the people of India and the veneration he received and will always receive is something phenomenal. A prophet he was whose voice had evoked vigor even in most sullen hearts, whose mere presence had pacified intensely vulnerable riots, whose words enabled men to believe in those long forgotten conventional paths, which at that time was not even conceivable. An aura of ultimate good emanated from him for ages to last; the very touch of this aura dignified the mistakes and wrong though hardly there were any. The words he uttered in November1925 reveals why he was acceptable to all: “I may be wholly wrong. Then the world will be able to write an epitaph over my ashes: ‘well deserved, thou fool!’ But for the time being my error, if it be one, must sustain me. …I shall lose my usefulness the moment I stifle the still small voice within.”

Every year we celebrate his birth anniversary, people pay homage to their father of nation. Many things we read and are told and reiterated time and again about mahatma but with the passing of every single day our social, economic, political and moral life becomes more volatile and lifeless. Modern time is certainly the most complex and duplicitous period in history, where it seems difficult to envisage clearly, what is heading right and what wrong. The world of ours as T. S Eliot rightly denotes has reduced to ‘The Wasteland’: a spiritually infertile land where there is no peace, no certitude nor faith either.

Nevertheless, we are certainly fortunate enough to have a legacy of mahatma. He made us believe in virtues, which were earlier him heard but not realised or practiced. Path and means he adopted were not something indigenous, Satayagraha, Ahimsa, Brahmacharya etc such values had a long acquaintance in our country but one do not find that kind of driving force and enthusiasm merely by a hearing of these values unless one find before oneself its being embodied, realised and practiced to a greater end. Perhaps that is why the Gandhiji’s legacy is immortal because he said, he lived, and he taught what the people of India were and is thirsting for ages.

Long after mahatma’s material departure from this world, there is a growing talk about his relevance today. Does it not sound painful? If not, then our sensitivity is certainly deadening, for anything that impugn for our endorsement of Gandhian values is our lessening apprehension and receding stature and not his honourable bequest. Gandhiji understood the mind and soul of India as none did. Therefore, whatever he said in relation to India has a permanent relevance. To look at Gandhiji as unique leader of freedom struggle against British rule would be a wrong perception. He was also not theoretician confined to mere intellectual exercise but was a pragmatic reformer. He was not a man of intellect but of spirit. To him, getting victory in the liberation struggle against British rule was not the primary goal. He always aimed at the universal well being here on earth and the realisation of a spiritual community of all men. To this purpose, we can see that the means adopted by him were by nature not only supportive to the struggle but also capable of providing basic spiritual discipline to men’s own inner evolution. In the pursuit of his comprehensive universal mission, Gandhiji was devoted to introduce a new spirit and value into the Indian life with least damage to its traditional structure.

Gandhiji’s conception of the new social order is rooted in religion, and seems built in the image of social justice and freedom. Therefore, he like our ancient spiritual masters, Acharyas, performed his social and even revolutionary activities within the boundaries of our religion and culture. He was a moral idealist, but he does not present impossible practical norms. He tells us that morality has an unconditional character that it is for not only sages and saint but meant for ordinary people as well.

To Gandhiji man was the center of all considerations. He had no sympathy for programs predicated merely on material progress. His ideas are based on the religious tradition, not political or economic. According to him, the key to the recovery of India’s lost glory lies in her ancestral village culture. Thus, he looked upon modern civilization with the feeling of distress. To him, India’s salvation lays not in imitating the west but in becoming more like ancient India. Gandhiji’s message that would always be relevant –“Instead of copying the west, India should ask herself what she really is where her true calling lives”. Moreover, if we want Gandhi to be relevant, no amount of intellectual debate or analysis of his works and life will be of great use until we let at least a bit of Gandhi live in us.

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