Gandhiji's Revolutionary Genius
What was Gandhi? The question is not easy to answer. Gandhi was neither a prophet, nor a philosopher nor a priest. He was not a giant among pygmies, towering above common humanity. Nor was he a semi-God come down upon earth to live with children of men. Gandhi was above all a normal, unlabelled, uncommitted human being. The most surprising fact about human situation has been that a normal human being is the rarest phenomenon.
Gandhi: A Normal man
Gandhi was normal of men. That is why he is looked upon as the most extraordinary specimen of our species. Gandhi was universal. He belonged nowhere in particular, because he belonged everywhere. Such a man cannot be measured, weighed or estimated. He is 'the measure of all things.'
Gandhi's friend and co-worker in South Africa, Henry S. L. Polak, once wrote that "Gandhi's was an elusive personality. You could not place him. As you tried to point your finger at him and say, 'this is he', 'here he is', he would have gone a long way further in his search of truth". Gandhi was thus a essentially a seeker of truth. He was a multi-dimensional genius and it did not lend itself to an easy analysis. Gandhi was 'normal' in the truest sense of that term.
Gandhi: not a philosopher nor a politician
Gandhi was not a philosopher, nor a politician. He was not religious in the traditional sense. Because, he was an humble seeker after truth. He could not have founded a school or propounded a philosophy. Some one has likened philosophy to the 'search by a blind man, in a dark room, on a dark night, of a black cat, which is not there.' Philosophy or doctrine is not the truth. At best, it is our view of the Truth. The fact is that we very often see but one side of an object.
Truth brought Gandhi to nonviolence
That is why Gandhi insisted that Truth was God instead of continuing to maintain that God was Truth. For, there is the God of Hindus, the Muslims, the Christians, the Parsees, the Jews-one God pitted against another. This gives rise to creeds, doctrines and denominations. Truth is not denominational. Truth unites. It does not divide. That which unites is godly. That which divides is diabolic. There can be no compulsion, no coercion, in the search of Truth. The seeker after Truth is eager to appreciate another's point of view. The freedom to think is the freedom to think differently. You can cut a man's head, but not his thought. Thus, nonviolence is only the other aspect of the sterling coin of truth. Gandhi came by it in his search for Truth.
Identification with all mankind
Such a man is humble. He 'inherits the earth', not in the sense in which the world conquerors, the Alexanders and the Caesors of history, sought to inherit it; hut in the sense: in which the great benefactors of human race have actually inherited it. The Alexanders and Caesors wanted co contain the earth in their own inflated identity. 'The lion and the lamb are one when the lamb is inside the lion. But, the great benefactors of humanity tried to identify themselves with all mankind. It is, as it were, the lion entering the herd of the lamb. This is love, the very content of life. This is non-violence. It is not a doctrine, nor a theory, nor a philosophy. It is in this sense that Gandhi put forth the moral proposition that 'the lamb should leap into the jaws of the lion' to win him over.
Satyagraha: Boundless love and compassion
This principle of nonviolence of the dauntless and valiant Gandhi introduced in his technique of resistance to evil and untruth. His 'Satyagraha' is active and positive resistance inspired by boundless love and compassion. It is cooperation in its most sublime form. It opposes the sin, not the sinner; the evil, not the evil-doer. The physician kills the disease and heals the diseased man. He does not put an end to the man in order to eradicate the malady. The physician has no enemy.
Suffering: the essence of Satyagraha
In the Lexicon of men like Gandhi the word 'enemy' is not to be found. For such there is no 'enemy', there is only an 'erring brother'. Gandhi identified himself with the evil-doer, the sinner. Much like Jesus, who atoned for the sins of all men, Gandhi tried to suffer and expiate for the wrong done by his brother. It was his to suffer and sacrifice in his attempt to resist evil; not to inflict suffering or sacrifice on others. This is the essence of Satyagraha.
A man seeks justice for others, but pardon for himself. Gandhi, on the other hand, wanted forgiveness for others and justice for himself. Did not Jesus pray for forgiveness for those who crucified him?
Affection for the evil-doer
Gandhi's Satyagraha is a characteristic manifestation of this spirit of identification. It expressed itself in the form of non-violence of the valiant and dauntless. Satyagraha is not non-resistance. It is positive and active resistance to evil. It is inspired by love. It is cooperation in its most sublime form. It looks upon the blemishes of others as one's own. It therefore resists evil out of affection for the evil-doer.
We often find that a mans philosophy is nobler than his deeds. In Gandhi's case, his deeds were nobler than his precepts. Some one has defined a saint as 'a sinner edited and revised.' This is true of Gandhi in a special sense.
Love thy neighbour
Gandhi defined 'Swadeshi' as neighbourliness, the solicitude and concern for our immediate neighbour. Since our enemy is also our neighbour, Gandhi wanted us to extend our love to our enemy. This is not Spirituality or Orthodox religiosity. This is international diplomacy with a human face. Gandhi elevated 'Swadeshi' from a mere political weapon to a social value. The feeling of unity with all men is the plinth and foundation of all human relationship and of all human intercourse, whether social, economic or political.
Gandhi: A Man of God
Gandhi was essentially a man of god; but with a difference. Being primarily a seeker after truth, he first affirmed that God is Truth. But he was not slow to perceive that there are gods and gods. There is the god of the Hindu, the god of the Muslim, the god of the Christian, the god of the Parsee, and so on. These gods were ranged, against one another. Each sect had, as a matter of fact, cut its god to its own measure and each believer had tried to remake his god in his own image.
Our faith in God is thus not even skin deep. Instead of submitting to His will, we want to 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 Cod instead of asserting that God is Truth.
Truth and Nonviolence
There can be no compulsion, no coercion in the search for Truth. One is ever 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 as from the Bhagvatgita. 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 others, I should pray for mercy and forgiveness." This is the true spirit of humility. 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 "Whitemans 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 world as one glorious neighbourhood. He therefore belonged to no particular clime or country. In that sublime sense, he was 'anonymous', because he was universal.
3 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 and (3) the broom-stick.
Prayer stands for evoking 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, depersonalization and dehumanization in the process of production and distribution. Gandhi's conception of a decentralized 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 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."