Gandhi and non-violence
Non-violence is the foundation of Gandhian ideas and actions. Gandhi was a firm believer in truth and non-violence. The two always go together. It is the only means to make the individual, family and the society to move towards positive right direction. Between the theoretical concept of non-violence and its application to real life starting from the individual, Gandhi laid more importance on its application rather than the theoretical concept. The greatness of Gandhi lies in the fact that he had applied non-violence in reforming the individual, family, society and in the national movement to achieve the Independence from the Colonial rule of the British Government.
The individual is the basic unit of the family first, then the society. Gandhi wanted to make the individual to exercise his/her freedom independently of others. This is possible only when, the individual becomes a non-violent person. How to make the individual a non-violent one? According to Gandhi, an individual can become a non-violent one through four stages after attending adulthood. Before attending adulthood, children are to be trained under moral and ethical principles. The boy or girl after adulthood is able to develop their positive and creative conscience. The conscience always leads them in the right path in the discharge of their duties and responsibilities. In course of time, the individual is able to develop ‘inner voice’ at times of crisis and difficult period. The ‘inner voice’ helps him/ her to solve the crisis. After ‘inner voice’ it is the ‘soul force’ which makes him/her more or less a perfect person. He/she needs no influence from others in taking decisions. He/she, on the other hand, can influence others by rendering advice and other helps. The last and fourth stage is spirituality, connecting with the divine. When the individual passes these four stages, he/she becomes a non-violent individual, enjoying his/her freedom.
The adult members of the family both males and females will be guided by the spirit of non-violence. The mind and the activities of the adult members are on the basis of moral and ethical principles. The young members of the family will be trained under the said moral and ethical principles, guiding them to develop positive conscience. Thus the family will automatically become a non-violent family based on discipline, peace, love and co-operation among the members. There will be growth and development in the potentiality and personality of the members and the family as a whole.
No society can develop without non-violence. Violence always destroy the seed and foundation of growth and development. Violence only create violence leading to further deterioration of the existing stage of the society. Gandhi firmly believed that non-violence is the only means for the establishment of a new social order or a better society. Gandhi was very logical in the sense that society consist of many families, if the members of the family are non-violent person, the society is bound in course of time to become a non-violent one. In the non-violent society, the individual enjoys freedom call social freedom. Each individual will discharge their duties and responsibilities, not interfering with others. Duties are considered to be more important than rights. Sacrifice of self interest is the motto of the individuals in order to promote the general interest of the society. Their will be no discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, sex, religion, language, etc. The people belonging to different caste, religion, language, etc. are to be treated as equals in the non-violent society. The members of the society, irrespective of financial differences, rich and poor, used fear and right means to achieve their goals and objectives. The rich people will sacrifice a portion of their wealth in order to promote the interest of the poor people. The establishment of the ‘trusteeship council’ is based on the above principle.
The relevance of non-violence in order to promote peace in the world has been recognised by the United Nations. The 2nd October, which is the birthday of Gandhi has been declared as International Day of Non-violence in 2007. Since then, the countries of the world have been observing 2nd October as International Day of Non-violence. The World is facing violence and terrorism in this 21st Century. Non-violence seems to be the only answer for bringing peace at the international level. Among the leaders, who followed non-violence principles in their struggles are Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Aung San Suu Kyi, etc.
Gandhi had adopted non-violence as a means in the struggle for the Independence of India. in the non-corporation movement, 1920-22, Gandhi had instructed volunteers to remain non-violent in spite of the violent steps taken by the British Government. When he received the information of violence of setting fire at a police station at Chauri Chaura, killing some policemen by the volunteers, Gandhi immediately announced the suspension of the movement. The announcement had angered other leaders including Jawaharlal Nehru, later the executive committee of the Congress party had approved the suspension of the movement announced by Gandhi. Likewise, the civil disobedience, 1930-34 was also based on non-violence. The Salt Satyagraha called Dandi March, 1930 was purely based on non-violence protesting against the salt tax, levied by the British Government in India.
Gandhi had worked throughout his life for bringing unity among different communities particularly between Hindus and Muslims in India. whenever any conflict or disagreement developed between Hindus and Muslims, Gandhi always tried to solve it in a non-violent amicable way. During the national movement and also after the attainment of Independence on August 15, 1947, when there was communal riots between Hindus and Muslims, killing each other, Gandhi had adopted ‘fast unto death’ as a non-violent step of stopping the riots. He made himself suffer by fasting in a non-violent way without inflicting injury to both body and mind of others. The non-violent step taken up by Gandhi made the people of the two communities to come to their senses.
In conclusion, we may remind of the seven sins written by Gandhi in ‘Young India’ in 1925. These seven sins have an indirect impact against the spirit of non-violence. The seven sins are:
1. Wealth without work.
2. Pleasure without conscience
3. Knowledge without character
4. Commerce without morality
5. Science without humanity
6. Religion without sacrifice and
7. Politics without principles.