I was wondering what article I should post first in my blog- and suddenly I had this idea of writing something on the man whom I idolise. It dismays me to see that few young people treasure history in current times- for forgetting history is synonymous with repeating mistakes that our ancestors did, or staying gleefully unaware of the events that make us who we actually are. Here I am writing about someone who resides in the pages of history, one who is perhaps very unhappy now- because though Indians call him "The Father of the Nation", few understand the ideals he stood for.
Before I actually start something, I must acknowledge that my article is perhaps influenced most by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins' book "Freedom at midnight", closely followed by Richard Attenborough's multi-academy award winning motion picture, "Gandhi". What I love and respect most in Gandhiji is the inherent simplicity of his thoughts and actions, which are applicable as much to national politics as to our own everyday life. Born into a modest Gujarati family, he was an extremely shy man, but grew to be man who could communicate with a single simple gesture with a nation of 400 million people sitting at any corner of the country.
What dismays me most is that people nowadays accuse Gandhiji wrongly of being sympathetic with the Britishers, and delaying the freedom that could have possibly been won by violent methods. I criticise those people fiercely for two reasons- one, their knowledge of history is poor and secondly, they don't know that violence does precious little. We are past the days when the world was at war, and so we don't actually realise the magnitude of what warfare brings with its ugly self. He often used to say- "if we take an eye for an eye, the world would become blind." In a time when dictators all over Europe (and other parts of the world) were brainwashing their subjects leading them to believe that territorial expansion was the only way a nation could achieve greatness, Gandhiji believed that only spiritual awakening was (and is) the way to achieve greatness. But as always, people have seldom learnt from mistakes too easily. Gandhiji's message failed to rouse the Europeans who, even after the terrible aftermath of World War I, continued to follow the mantra of "blood, toil, tears and sweat" which led to the most catastrophic war mankind had ever witnessed in recorded history- World War II. He always maintained that non-violence and non-cooperation needed more steel and valour that firing cannons, for it's easier to kill than heal. When the Axis powers attacked England and France, he asked the people, in vain, to face their enemies with courage and let them take away or destroy their possessions and lives till these people grew tired of killing themselves. It was his cherished dream that Indians should die without raising a gun when the Japanese attacked India, until all the blood and gore had forced the Japanese to retrace.
And yet I do not imply that Gandhiji wasn't wrong at anything at all. He was quite wrong-headed in matters related to sex. His advocacy of celibacy as a solution to India's population explosion was in fact a poor suggestion, because that would eventually mean the end of a country! But I never doubted one thing: Gandhi was himself a strict practitioner of what he followed. Who else would admit that his darkest hour was when he had an erection at 67, decades after he had started preaching sexual continence and bramhacharya. But that doesn't make Gandhiji a whit short of the great soul he is: take my word, had there been three Gandhis in India, India could have easily avoided the terrible human massacre succeeding partition (well maybe, there would be no partition at all!). Remember this: Calcutta, the most violent city in the world of 1940s, was not engulfed in communal passions in the summer of 1947. All Gandhi did was to undergo a fast unto death in Calcutta unless all violence stopped permanently. The soul of Calcutta responded very quickly to Gandhiji's call: the riot-waging hoodlums vowed to spread Gandhi's message of peace!
But whom do I address? Haven't we have confined Gandhi to banknotes, portraits and statues? And politicians and bureaucrats commit the final act of disrespecting Gandhi: taking bribes, unabashedly and ironically under my dear old Gandhiji's portrait. It's time we understand this man's eternal message of love, happiness, simplicity, non-violence and honesty; or be prepared to live a life of unending mediocrity and inch toward WWIII.