(This article tells us about the three symbols
of revolution that Gandhi gave us. Besides these three symbols, Gandhi has
taught us about truth, nonviolence and personal conduct. He believed that
to bring about social transformation the revolutionaries must first
revolutionize their daily lives and then work towards establishing changes in
the lives of others. Gandhi attempted to put the world together through
his experiments which he humbly titled 'The Story of my Experiments with Truth').
The Barrister and the Donkey
I am reminded in this connection of a very interesting story which I heard
when I was a young boy.A barrister once lived next-door to a washerman,
who had a spirited donkey.Now, this donkey used to bray lustily
several times every night.The poor lawyer could not sleep a wink.He remonstrated with the washerman but the washerman pleaded."You
are a barrister, my good man.You know that a donkey is too stupid to
listen to reason." So the exasperated lawyer filed a suit for damages
against the washerman.The counsel for the washerman, while examining the
complainant, asked, "How many times does this donkey bray?" The complainant
replied, "May be 4 to 5 times in the night."
Question : For how many minutes at a time?
Answer : Say, 2 or 3 minutes.
Thereupon, the counsel for defence said, "Well, that works up to about 20
minutes in all. Your case that you cannot sleep a wink during the whole
night does not stand."
"But" contented the barrister, "What about the
time that is lost in waiting for the donkey to bray?"
The Judge dismissed the complaint with the remark
that the complainant is super-sensitive.
Now the barrister was at his wit's end.As a last resort, he appealed to
the highest tribunal of Almighty God.He prayed to his God to kill the washerman's donkey and made solemn promise to treat the priests to a rich dish
of sweets.But Providence knew its business better.One morning, the
pet spaniel of the barrister breathed its last.Distressed out of his
wits, the barrister bitterly complained,"Oh God, thou hast ruled this
world for countless millennia and yet hast not the sense to distinguish a donkey
form a dog!"
Our faith in God is thus not even skin-deep.
Instead of submitting to his will, we want to make Him the instrument of our will.Besides this, when
there are two or more Gods, one man's God becomes another man's Devil.This gives rise to denominations.Truth is not denominational.When
Truth becomes denominational, it degenerates into a new orthodoxy.Hence,
Gandhi began to maintain that Truth is God instead of asserting that God is Truth.
Truth and Nonviolence
There can be no compulsion, no coercion in the
search for Truth. One is very eager to understand and appreciate another man's
point of view. You may win an argument and lose a friend. You can even cut a
man's head off but you cannot silence the voice of Truth. That is how Gandhi
came to Nonviolence in his search for Truth. He said Truth and
Nonviolence are two sides of the same coin.
Truth knows no frontiers
Truth is neither yours nor mine.It is neither Western nor Eastern.It knows no frontiers.That is why Gandhi could draw inspiration from the Sermon on the mount as well
from the Bhagwad Gita. In his exposition of the 11th verse of the 4th
Chapter of the Gita, he says,
"I should plead for justice and atonement in case
of my own transgressions; but in the case of other, I should pray for mercy and
forgiveness."This is the true spirit of humanity.Gandhi looked
upon the faults and short-comings of others as his own.This was
identification in a very different sense.
Those committed to an ideology refuse to share the
throne even with their God.They cannot tolerate two sovereigns. The Bard
of the "Whiteman's Burden" sang
The East is East and the West is West
And ne'er the twain shall meet.
He lost sight of the elementary fact that our
planet is a globe. And that, there is neither 'East nor West'. Gandhi
looked upon the world as one glorious neighborhood. He therefore belonged to no
particular clime or country. In that sublime sense, he was 'anonymous',
because he was universal..
Three Symbols of Revolution given by Gandhi
Every revolution has its symbols, which are an
index of its objectives. Gandhi gave us three symbols : (1) Community Prayer (2)
The Spinning Wheel (3) The Broom-stick.
Prayer stands for invoking the inner strength of
men for the good of one another, the wheel for productive labour and the
broom-stick for the abolition of social inequalities based on birth.
To Gandhi, this world itself was the temple of God
and not 'Gods'. For when truth becomes denominational, it degenerates into
dogma and freezes into a new orthodoxy. "Dogma" says Mao, "is worse than
cow-dung. Cow-dung can be used as manure." To seek to impose a certain
ideology on men's minds is to violate the soul. Prayer precludes all indoctrination.
The Spinning Wheel
The spinning wheel stands for productive labour and for a face-to-face
community.Society is after all relationship of man with man.The
spinning wheel represents Gandhi's conception of a new relationship between men.He sought with all the earnestness he could command, to transform the existing
relations of production and distribution.He was against anonymity, de-personalisation and de-humanisation in the process of production and
distribution.Gandhi's conception of de-centralised social order was thus
essentially different from the decentralization as generally understood.
The broom-stick is an instrument of the most unclean and the most despised
social service rendered by the sweepers of India.It is thus the symbol of
social equality.It reminds us of our common humanity, our oneness with
'the lowliest and the lost'.The fundamental unity of all men is the
plinth and foundation of all human relationship and human intercourse. It
ought to be the motive force behind all our efforts of social change.
Individual Conduct to Change Heart
Gandhi introduces an entirely new dimension in the technique of social
transformation, in other words, in the technique of revolution.He
insisted on individual conduct.He said that "the values which the
revolution sought to establish must first be translated into the daily life of
those who sought to bring about revolution". A change of context was not enough."Change in the daily life of those who sought to change the context was
essential." This was the first and preliminary condition of bringing about
a change of heart in those who were ranged on the other side.He declared,
"Having flung aside the sword, it is only the cup of love that I can offer to
those who oppose me."
Gandhi's Experiments with Truth
I shall close with an interesting anecdote of my
school days. Our geography teacher sometimes taught us a very interesting game
in one of his geography lessons. He had a knack of arranging pieces of cardboard
specially designed to make up a map of the world. He put together those pieces
of cardboard in their proper order and asked us to have a good look at the map
of the world, with a view to be able to re-arrange them for ourselves. He then
shuffled the pieces of cardboard as we shuffle the playing cards and asked us to
re-arrange the map of the world. Most of us were at a loss. But there was one of
exceptionally clever boy. He looked at the reverse of one of the pieces of
cardboard. To his intense delight, he found that on the other side of each
piece of cardboard there was a limb of the human body.He at once
concluded that on the reverse of the map of the world was the figure of man. He
immediately tried of put together the man and in that attempt he was able to put
together the world also. That is what Gandhi attempted to do through all his
magnificent experiments which, with characteristic humility, he called "My
Experiments with Truth".
Source: Philosophy of Sarvodaya, Acharya Dada Dharmadhikari, Popular Prakashan, 2000