Articles published in Anasakti Darshan: July 2010, [Vol.5 No.2] and June 2011, [Vol.6 No.1]
[ International journal for building a non-violent egalitarian society ]
Pankaj Kumar Dubey
In the history of the world, Mahatma Gandhi is one person who has changed the trend of violent revolution. He believed that good aim is achieved only by good means. The bad means can not give us a good result. If we want a good society then it is possible only through non-violence and truth. Through violence we can not achieve the aim of good society. Therefore, we can see all violent revolutions have not achieved the aim of social revolution, but it is possible by Gandhian thought. The Gandhian thought is very effective in the process of social reconstruction.
The sarvodaya, non-violence, truth, spiritualism, creative work and gram swaraj are the main components of Gandhian thought. The Gandhian thought attracted the attention of many thinkers. One among them was Jayaprakash Narayan. Jayaprakash Narayan used Gandhian thought for social reconstruction after independence of India. Actually the philosophy of Jayaprakash Narayan is the result of the effect of Gandhian thought on him. Jayaprakash Narayan was a freedom fighter, social worker and great socialist thinker of India. His ideology changed from time to time in positive direction. He gave major contribution in social reconstruction. He was linked with Bhoodan, gramdan movement.1 In 1974, he gave a concept of Total Revolution to change the corrupt, autocratic and rotten system.2 He was one of those persons who worked on the way of Gandhian thoughts. Before the independence of India, he was influenced by Marxism but after independence he understood the depth of the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi and accepted it. He tried to complete the dream of Mahatma Gandhi and the aim of Gandhiji’s Loksevak Sangh.
Socialism to Sarvodaya – Sarvodaya is a term meaning ‘universal uplift’ or ‘progress of all’. The term was first coined by Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi as the title of his 1908 translation of John Ruskin’s work on political economy, ‘unto this last’ and Gandhi came to use the term for the ideal of his own political philosophy3.
Sarvodaya is the main concept of Gandhian thought. Mahatma Gandhi gave the philosophy of Sarvodaya as a module of development for human society. Jayaprakash Narayan also accepted the Sarvodaya philosophy for social reconstruction after independence of India. But, before independence of India, he was the strong follower of Marxism. He believed that Marxism is better than Gandhism. He said, “Freedom still remained the unchanging goal, but the Marxism as a science of revolution seemed to offer a sure and quicker road to it than Gandhi’s technique of civil disobedience and noncooperation.
The thrilling success of the great Lenin, accounts of which we consumed with unsatiated hunger, seemed to establish beyond doubt the supremacy of the Marxism way to revolution. At the same time, Marxism provided another beacon of light for me: equality and brotherhood. Freedom was not enough. It must mean freedom for all even the lowliest and this freedom must include freedom from exploitation, from hunger, from poverty.”4 In this way, in the effect of Marxism, the philosophy of Jayaprakash Narayan was developed. Equality and brotherhood was the base of his philosophy. But after independence of India when Jayaprakash Narayan understood the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, he believed that socialism could not be established through communism and democratic socialism, it can be established only through Sarvodaya. According to Jayaprakash Narayan, the right objective and right philosophy of socialism is found in Sarvodaya.5
He said, “My regret is that I did not reach this point in my life’s Journey while Gandhiji was still in our midst. However, some years back it became clear to me that socialism as we understand it today can not take mankind to the sublime goals of freedom, equality, brotherhood and peace. Socialism, no doubt, gives promise to bring mankind closer to those goals than any other competing social philosophy. But I am persuaded that unless socialism is transformed into Sarvodaya, those goals would remain beyond its reach; and just as we had to taste the ashes of independence, so future generations may have to taste the ashes of socialism.”6
According to Jayaprakash Narayan, Communism, democratic socialism and Sarvodaya are the different forms of socialism. Communism is a violent movement and democratic socialism is government action but Sarvodaya is a non-violent movement in which socialism is established by ideological changes in all human beings.7 So, Jayaprakash Narayan accepted the Sarvodaya philosophy for social reconstruction. In this way Jayaprakash Narayan, who was a follower of Marxism at any time, was now a lecturer of Sarvodaya and Gandhian thought.8 Violent Revolution to Non-Violent Revolution – Ahimsa (non violence) is the main component of Gandhian thought. Mahatma Gandhi believed that Ahimsa (non violence) is an active force and he proved it through his non violent revolution during freedom movement. Through his non violent revolution, Mahatma Gandhi astonished the whole world. He used Ahimsa in political and social sphere and proved that it could be successfully applied in all areas of life and at all levels of society and nation.
Jayaprakash Narayan was one of those people who were influenced by Gandhian concept of non violence. He accepted the way of non violence for social reconstruction such as Bhoodan and gramdan and used non violent revolution during emergency period of 1975-1977 to save democratic values. During freedom movement, Jayaprakash Narayan did not believe strongly in non violence. He accepted violent way of revolution for freedom movement and established Azad Dasta which was a group of violent revolutionaries for freedom movement. He said that the discussion on violence and non violence is meaningless; both are good in the reference of freedom movement.9
But after independence, when he came in the light of Gandhian thought he believed in the power and needs of non-violence and devoted his life to non-violent revolution for social reconstruction which is called sarvodaya movement.10
He gave the credit for the effect of non violence on him to Gandhiji. Jayaprakash Narayan said, “It is our good luck that Gandhiji was born in our country who gave us a non-violent way. We can cross any crisis with peace and this credit goes to Gandhiji.”11
Jayaprakash Narayan believed that non-violent revolution is always better than violent revolution in behavioural term. He said that the objectives can not be completed with violent revolution, through violent revolution the opposite results will come.12 He believed that the change in society and reconstruction of society are possible through non-violence. He said that the change in society is not possible through violent revolution; it is possible through non-violent revolution such as sarvodaya.13
Materialism to Spiritualism – When Jayaprakash Narayan come in the effect of Marxism, he believed in materialist philosophy.14 The equality and brotherhood was the main factor of his thoughts. He said, “At the same
time, Marxism provided another beacon of light for me; equality and brotherhood freedom was not enough. It must mean freedom for all-even the lowliest and this freedom must include freedom from exploitation from hunger, from poverty.”15
But after independence, when he believed in Gandhian thought then he moved towards spiritualism.
He said, “I believed in materialist philosophy for a long time. But it is clear that no inspiration is in materialist philosophy to be a good man. It means that social reconstruction is not possible through materialist philosophy.”16 Jayaprakash Narayan rejected materialist philosophy because he believed that materialism could not achieve the aim of a good society; materialist philosophy can not give any base for goodness. He said, “It becomes clear that materialism, as a philosophical outlook, could not provide any basis for ethical conduct and any incentive for goodness.”17
Jayaprakash Narayan found that the inspiration to be a good man and social reconstruction are possible through sarvodaya and Gandhian thought. He believed that spiritualism is necessary to be a good man.18
As a result of the effect of Gandhian thought, he believed that spiritualism is the root of morality. He said, “The root of morality lies in the endeavour of man to realise this unity of existence, or to put it differently to realise his self. For one who has experienced this unity, the practice of morality becomes as natural and effortless as the drawing of breath.”19
Jayaprakash Narayan believed that spiritualism is a base of non-violence; without spiritualism non-violence can not exist. According to him, spiritualism is necessary to have control on science and therefore, spiritualism
is necessary for goodness in society. He said, “Gandhiji has rightly said that making of a good man is not possible through materialism, it is possible only through spiritualism.”20
Creative Work for Non-Violent Revolution of Social Reconstruction – Mahatma Gandhi gave a concept of creative work to establish a non-violent society, such as khadi. But, he wanted that these creative works should be helpful to change the ideology of every person of society towards nonviolence. Jayaprakash Narayan accepted this concept of Gandhian thought and participated in Gramdan and Bhoodan movement. He said, “The main objective of the creative work of Mahatma Gandhi was to establish a nonviolent society, a violence free world.”21 Jayaprakash Narayan emphasized advanced creative work which will be more relevant at present context and effectively complete the aim of non-violent society. He said, “a special type of creative work is necessary for non-violent revolution because at present the traditional Gandhian work is not completing the objective to establish a non-violent society; it is far away from the main objective of non-violent revolution; the khadi, gramodyaog, Harijan and tribal service have been just formal work. The objective of non-violent revolution and non-violent society is possible through Gramdan and Gramswaraj type of creative work.”22
Gram Swaraj – Jayaprakash Narayan gave his major contribution in the development of democracy in India. He gave a right direction to the politics in India. The political thought of Jayaprakash Narayan was influenced by Gandhian thought. He said, “I believe there is no need for me to add that at no time have I claimed to have made an original contribution to political thought. I am indebted not only to Roy, but to many others, most of all to Gandhiji.”23
The Gandhian concept of Gram swaraj is a base of social, political and economic thought of Jayaprakash Narayan. Jayaprakash Narayan believed that the rural development should be the base of development of this country. He said that Gandhiji wanted to develop every village as a self dependent agricultural industrial unit. According to him, “Gandhiji wanted that in the democracy, the power should not be in the hands of some selected people, but the power should be in hands of all people. It is possible only when gramraj will be the base of democracy.”24
As a result of the effect of Gandhian thought, Jayaprakash Narayan gave his thought about gramraj and tried to implement it in his work of social reconstruction. According to him, the Gramraj means autonomous village republic, not a panchayat; this Gramraj will be governed by the villagers, not by government agencies.25
Jayaprakash Narayan presented a plan about Gramraj which was a dream of Mahatma Gandhi. He said, “In order, therefore, to give a true base to our democracy and to involve actively and continuously, the whole people in its working, it is necessary to go lower down than the panchayat to the people themselves and to constitute the entire adult membership of the village community into a statutory collective body; the gram-sabha. The panchayat should function as an executive of the sabha, which should have power to set up other committees and teams for specific purposes.”26
Conclusion – In conclusion, it can be said that due to the impact of Gandhian thought the ideology of Jayaprakash Narayan had changed from Marxism to Sarvodaya, from materialism to spiritualism, from violent revolution to non violent revolution and he gave a vision about creative work to establish a nonviolent society and gram-swaraj. As a result we can say that ideology of Jayaprakash Narayan was influenced by Gandhian
thought. The work of Jayaprakash Narayan which was based on Gandhian thought proves that Gandhian thought is more relevant in the present context.
Contact: Research Scholar, Faculty of Education,
M.G. Kashi Vidyapith, Varanasi, U.P.