Mahatma Gandhi attracted to himself, men and women from diverse fields and region committed to social action
Dr. Prafful Dave
Whether we may regard Mahatma Gandhi as the greatest human being of the twentieth century or not, but social activists or revolutionaries can not deny the fact that he has made unique contribution to the science of revolution and it's implementation. After Karl Mark it was Gandhi who revolutionized the process of revolution and gave it a touch of art.
Before Gandhi, revolution was based on violence. Hatred, revenge and untruth were it's motivating values. Any means was used to achieve the aim, and thus means was not given importance. As earlier revolutions were violence based larger section of people could not participate. Only those who can use weapon participated. They had to be always on run so they could not meet people freely, they could not educate and make people aware of their cause, hence such revolution could not become people's movement. Success achieved through violence has to be sustained by violence. So common man remained aloof from such violent movement.
Gandhi introduced new inspiring and human values to revolution. He told,' Don't kill the sinner, but destroy the sin.' He conducted a movement of social change based on nonviolence and truth and advocated the use of pure means and soul force instead of violence. Thus he awakened strong soul force in the exploited and physically weak people. Many countries of the world achieved freedom solely on their soul force. At the end of century this Gandhian approach has transformed , the face of entire world, which was at the beginning of the century. This has also awakened a new consciousness with a desire for the liberation of mankind.
Twentieth century has witnessed great development in the field of science and technology has increased massive production, property, comfort and consumption. As a result consumer society came into existence, which has created grave problems of environmental degradation and pollution. Globalization and liberalization have threatened more the economic freedom than political freedom of the nation.
Multinational companies have been dominating the world. On one hand the gulf between rich and poor nations has widened and on the other hand world has been becoming 'Global village', and such inequality creates discontent among the people, it threatens world peace. Hence contemporary thinkers or the world desire for a change in the present order, with new life-style. At this juncture we remember Gandhi because his thoughts provides solution to our present problems. Though many individuals and institutions have been working on the base of Gandhian Philosophy in India. It's desire impact is not seen. Our so called intellectuals are not even interested in Gandhian thoughts. A few think it to be irrelevant. But many progressive thinkers of the world have acknowledged the relevance of Gandhian philosophy. It has inspired a few activist to dedicate their entire life following in the footsteps of Gandhi. Thus the buds of Gandhian thoughts are blossoming in the different parts of the world. We get a feel of it when we read the well-known book - 'In the footsteps of Gandhi' written by Catherine Ingram. It introduced us through interviews, twelve personalities of the world, who are profoundly influenced by Gandhi. It strengthens our faith and dedication to Gandhi.
Catherine Ingram is an American, who is interested in Buddhism. She has established 'Insight Meditation Society' in U.S.A. and runs Buddhist centre. She has also created an organisation of countries of which even UNO. has not taken note.
Catherine's journey to Bodhgaya in India inspired her to write this book when she alighted at Gaya railway station at midnight, no coachman was willing to take her to Bodhgaya, due to terror of dacoits.. But one coachman agreed to take her. His horse was weak and slow. While coachman whipping his horse, Catherine felt the pain of the mute animal. So she advised him not to whip. Yet he continued whipping. It led her to think about agony of the entire mankind instead of horse only. There was an inner conflict. Her conditioned mind reminded her of the 'Law of Karm', while her reasoning mind and discretion awakened. Moreover her practice of meditation had increased her sensibility and thus their began a search for the truth.
Second day, she listened to an inspiring lecture of Dalai Lama. She knew the fact that Dalai Lama was passing through an extraordinary situation in his life. He was very active for his people, yet she found him to be very calm, alert and pleasant. She began to ask, 'How it can be so?' She decided to find. She also came to know that many individuals in middle and South U.S.A., Cambodia and lndia were carrying on their nonviolent movement against injustice, exploitation and environmental degradation. She found them calm, collected and pleasant. This inspired her to undertake a profound study of spiritual personalities and social activists and began to interview them. This interview increased her awareness and she also realized that one can not get happiness by overlooking at the suffering of mankind. Constant awareness of suffering of other makes us realise that there is unity and interdependence in this world. Such a sense of unity provides happiness. Thus she finally realized that spiritualism and compassionate action are not separate. Knowledge without compassion is not knowledge at all. But for the outlet of compassion friendly relation with others are essential and according to Gandhi this is non violence.
During this period she thought and discussed with others a lot about Mohandas K. Gandhi. She realized that India's freedom movement through nonviolence was the very first significant event of nonviolent revolution in the modern history. Gandhi's mission has thrown a floodlight on the path of success of truth. The clarity of motives and vision of this great man has enlightened the path for his followers.
In her preface to her book' ln the Footsteps of Gandhi' published in 1989, she wrote that truth and non-violence have unique force, we witness noteworthy events occurring at the global level. Great powers, once were enemies of each other are now cooperating with each other for peaceful solutions. They have started to implement policy of disarmament. The conflicts in the countries of middle east and Africa are resolved. The global efforts are being made to save the rain forest. The wall of Berlin is crumbled. The Chinese students started a movement for democracy in Beijing in 1989. The students had taken education secretly of Gandhian Philosophy and it's strategy. It came to be know for the first time that China has no respect for truth and human values, when Dalai Lama got the Noble Prize for peace in 1989.
In spite of all these great changes we have been living through a very critical period. Our greed and ignorance are not lesser than any period of past history. Unfortunately modern technology have strengthened them and hence we are not only destroying ourselves but also the life on the planet and environment protection. Who will call us back from this self-destructive path? We have to be aware and alert about this self destructive dangers at the earliest. We have been exploiting the resources of the planet and poor people anti making development at their cost and consuming the resources. This cannot last long. We have to search within. It is necessary to understand ourselves that life on planet is interdependent. Such a global perspective will generate love and generosity for others in our selves. This is a very difficult and great demand. Gandhi has shown that it is possible to fulfill this demand. So let us take first step towards that direction.