Great men have always been struggled and fought against the prevailing social evils and human suffering, history of humanity shows it. One among of them is great man Gandhi in human history. Gandhi responded to the challenges of the given historical situations. He realized the historical necessities of his times and tried to actualize the needs and inspirations of the people in his own way.
The issue of non-violence and global peace raises certain philosophical and moral questions such as- What is the meaning of non-violence. Does non-violence the only solution to the ills of an age threatened by nuclear weapons? Does peace possible in a world where a vast majority of people live under conditions of ignorance, hunger, poverty, injustice, and tyranny? Do violence and war rooted in human nature? Does non-violence and peace presuppose moral transformation of individuals? What is the ultimate goal of humanity? In what direction it is progressing? Is peace possible without unifying moral principles and ethical ideals to the whole of humanity?
The greatest and the most unique contribution of India to the contemporary world is the message of non-violence and peace. Especially the technique of Satyagraha or non-violent are direct action, formulated and practiced by Gandhi. India's distinctive mind and face are stamped with Gandhian impact among the people of global community as well as among the member countries of the United Nations Organization.
The Origins of Gandhi's Non-Violence Philosophy:
Gandhi's secularism and openness to all kinds of theological and philosophical schools is well-known. It was through an assimilation of various concepts and philosophical tenets that Gandhi arrived at his own understanding of non-violence. Jainism and Buddhism were the most important influences that lay behind the foundation of Gandhi's non-violence theory. Both Jainism and Buddhism preached non-violence as the basic principle of existence. All other thoughts and actions propagated by these two religious schools were based on this base of non-violence. Gandhi was deeply influenced by his readings of these scriptures. The Acaranga Sutra of the Jains stated all life to be dear and precious and Gandhi believed in it earnestly. The Bhagvadgita was another important influence, with its stress on non-attachment and selfless action. Christianity, along with its message of love and compassion, extended even to one's enemies was another important influence on Gandhi's life. Bringing together all these theological schools, Gandhi was in search for a meaningful life, a life based on truth and honesty, a life that would boast of a moral courage to stand for the right and for justice, even at its own cost. It was this outlook that Gandhi employed as a tool to guide India's freedom struggle, which eventually succeeded to unite the length and breadth of the country like never before.
The Legacy of Non-Violence:
Non-violence played a very important role in defining the course of Indian national movement, from the 1920s to the final achievement of the freedom. It formed the basis of the methods of Satyagraha that became closely associated with the Gandhian whirlwind in Indian politics. Gandhi understood economic profit to be the guiding force of the imperialist project and attacked the British government at where it hurt most, which was financial gain. Picketing, non-cooperation and organised resistance to British modes of oppression were the main modes of the non-violent political movements in India. It shaped the course of the Civil Disobedience Movement as well. Even at a later time, during the Quit India movement, Gandhi's theory of non-violence held strong in the face of the new and radical waves in the world of Indian politics like communism and armed revolution. Even at the dawn of independence, as Nehru was getting ready to eloquently unleash his 'tryst with destiny', Gandhi was busy on the troubled roads of Bengal, preaching non-violence to mad rioters.
Gandhi's Concept of Non-Violence:
Gandhi's concept of non-violence appears to have two dimensions - (i) non-violence in thought and (ii) non-violence in action. So far as the former is concerned he is not prepared to compromise, but he is flexible in the case of latter.
Non-Violence, as Gandhi conceived, it is not a negative virtue. It is not merely abstaining from violence or harmlessness but a positive state of love, or doing well even to the evil-doer. Doing well to the evil-doer does not mean to support his evil acts, but it means to resist his evil acts without hatred or harm to him. Thus the underlying principle of non-violence is "hate the sin, but not the sinner."
Gandhi believes that man is a part of God, or the same divine spark resides in all men. Hence every man is potentially divine in his nature. Human beings are fundamentally same and they share common origin and common destiny. Since the same spirit resides in all men, the possibility of reforming the meanest of men cannot be ruled out. Gandhi holds that what one man is capable of achieving is possible for all men to attain it. Therefore, instead of seeking to convert the opponent through non-violent means, to destroy him by violent means, is to deny the possibility of human perfection.
Gandhi's Approach to Global Peace:
Gandhi was essentially a peace loving man. He emphasized the purity of means for attaining noble ends. He believes that a genuine and enduring peace could never be achieved by means of violence, war and repression. He says that violence originates from anger, hatred, ill will, enmity and selfishness. Violence produces counter violence, and it becomes a law unto itself. Peace through violence at best may be a truce, but it cannot be a lasting peace. Violence and war end in colossal destruction of human life and property. on-violence originates from love, compassion, goodwill, cooperation, harmony, and selflessness, a genuine and enduring peace can be ensured only through non-violent means.
Gandhi holds that peace for the sake of peace is a meaningless social goal unless it is linked to social equality, economic justice and human rights. He says that a hungry man cannot be fed with doctrine. Therefore, peace can only be achieved by changing the social conditions of toiling masses all over the world. He never considers peace as the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it. Since peace begins in our minds and hearts, moral regeneration of individuals on the one hand, and an equitable social order on the other are necessary requirements for achieving global peace.
Gandhian Influence on the world Politics:
Though the impact of Gandhi's idea was not so much clear for some years after his death. His influence in the world politics is only too clear today. Though not directly, his ideal of non-violence has been accepted today by the most powerful nations of the world and gradually the world is going towards more and more disarmament, control over nuclear weapons, control over science and technology and insistence upon educational, moral spiritual progress. Not conflict but harmony is the watch world of the modern world politics. Though this I not in name of M.K. Gandhi but history have placed it and record that Gandhi was among those first servants of the political world who insisted upon harmony in place of conflict, non-violence and soul-force in place of violence and armament.
Gandhi maintains that the moral regeneration of the individual and non-violent values which he practices would reflect on all spheres of human activity, whether social or political, national or international. He visualizes the establishment of a World Federation or International league founded on the principals of non-violence and international co-operation. In his scheme, his organize the quality of all nations and abhors the use of force for settling disputes among nations; methods adopted for the settlement of dispute are negotiation, meditation and arbitration. The world federation may maintain an international non-violent policy of the non-violent state for the purpose of meeting the eventuality of strife between the states, but the soldiers of this force will bear no arms. Trained in non-violent ways, as they are, they will use persuasion for resolving the dispute between the states. Though Gandhi is conceived that such a new world order will take a long time to evolve, yet his faith in the inherent goodness of man prompts him to hope for the best. He believes that man, by nature, is growing higher and higher in the pursuit of perfection and when a stage comes when individuals and nations eschew violence and adopt non-violence as their creed, the way will be paved for the establishment of the world Federation in which all nations, big and small, shall participates as equals.
War Begins In The Mind:
The structure of international realities and relationships, as they exist today, require a sharing of fortune and misfortune, happiness and misery, pleasures and sorrows that transcends national boundaries. Peace should be both inner and outer. It is not a mysterious or super-human factor that causes war. It is man himself that causes war. To be free from evil, one must suppress it at its source. For the elimination of evil, the individual should be reformed from within. Since wars begin in the minds of men, there could be no peace outside unless there is inner peace. Hence Gandhi thought that any scheme of peace must include moral transformation of individual minds and hearts to ensure solid peace in the world.
Master Key of Peace:
Gandhi, indeed, considered economic equality as the "master-key" to non-violent world order. Peace must have its roots in fraternity rather than in fear. He regarded that global peace could not be possible unless the present world social order is replaced by a new social order that would be committed to non-violence and exploitation free social order.
Humanity of War:
At no time in the history of humanity, man is under constant fear of insecurity of life, and threat of destruction of humanity of nuclear war. After the experiences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the nuclear war not only looked as barbarous, but theoretically it is possible to extinguish mankind altogether. In such a challenging situation, our differences of race and religion, class and colour, nation and ideology are irrelevant and meaningless. We have to devise a realistic and practical way by which humanity does not bring about its own destruction.
In the age of nuclear weapons, we are left with a choice of – live together or die together. The invention of nuclear weapons has brought about the ancient truth - that nothing welds people more quickly together than the imminence of common disaster. Non-violent technique seems to be the only solution to the world armed with nuclear weapons. Man with his creative reason and rational judgment has the capacity to find ways and means of transforming the existing institutions and customs without resorting to violence and war.
Man's greatness is not in what he is, but in what he can be. The pursuit of perfection has been the dominating motive of human life. Human nature differs from one civilization to another. Most of the people belonging to the contemporary civilization seem to be against violence and war. The people of the present generation, with free and untrammeled use of reason, are capable of finding solutions to their problems, which are not discovered by those of previous generations. A new world-view, a new system of values, and a restructuring of societies in all countries would save mankind from violence and wars.
- C.W.F. Hegel "Philosophy of Right", English translation by T. M. Knox, (London, Oxford University Press, 1953).
- Mohammed Akhter Khan (1995) Modern Indian Political Thought: Sanjay Prakashan, Delhi
- Dr. G. Ranjit Sharma: (1995):An Introduction to Gandhian Thought: Atlantic Publishers and Distributers:Delhi
- M. K. Gandhi, "Harijan", 28-07-1960
- M. K. Gandhi, "Young India", 21-10-1926, p.3,363
* Dr. Shubhangi Rathi is a Associate Professor & H.O.D. Poliical Science, Smt. P. K. Kotecha Mahila Mahavidhalaya, Bhusawal, Maharashtra, India.