Gandhi – On peace and “cowardice”

I received an interesting comment on another blog I write in memory of my nephew. The commentor referred me to a post about Gandhi. I went to the link. It was very interesting. So I looked up Gandhi in Google. I read quite a few sites. What I read was very interesting. It was also a bit of a surprise. Read through to the end of this post to see what I mean!

I was aware that Gandi did not condone violence. Gandhi encouraged peaceful protests and “civil disobedience” to help bring about change and end conflict. His contributions in South Africa with regard to immigrant Indians and in India are truly amazing. He helped bring about rights for women, lower taxes, the freedom of his nation. He did this all by never wavering from his ideology of peaceful “civil disobedience.”

 Gandhi encouraged Indians to boycott British goods and buy Indian goods instead. This helped to revitalise local economies in India and it also hit home at the British by undermining their economy in the country. Gandhi preached passive resistance, believing that acts of violence against the British only provoked a negative reaction whereas passive resistance provoked the British into doing something which invariably pushed more people into supporting the Indian National Congress movement.

However, Mahatma Gandhi died in 1948 at the hands of a Hindu extremists who was later executed.

He realised that the religious issues of India were too deep for any remedy to work. Hence he collaborated with Mountbatten and Wavell in the build up to independence in 1947. This association with the break-up of India was to cost him his life. There had been one assassination attempt on Gandhi on January 20th 1948 – it had failed. Just ten days later on the 30th January, he was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic who could not forgive Gandhi for his belief that Muslims had equal value to Hindus and no-one was better than anybody else.”

In Gandhi’s autobiography, “The Story of My Experiments with Truth,” he was quoted as having said:

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall — think of it, always.”
“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?”
“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”
“There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for.”

His remarks to the British and about the Jews probably garnered some unwanted responses:

“I would like you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity. You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions…. If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourselves, man, woman, and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them.”

“The Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs.”

But, Gandhi was quick to distinguish between those who followed his beliefs because they were true believers and those who only pretended because of cowardice:

“Gandhi guarded against attracting to his satyagraha movement those who feared to take up arms or felt themselves incapable of resistance. ‘I do believe,’ he wrote, ‘that where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence.'”
“At every meeting I repeated the warning that unless they felt that in non-violence they had come into possession of a force infinitely superior to the one they had and in the use of which they were adept, they should have nothing to do with non-violence and resume the arms they possessed before. It must never be said of the Khudai Khidmatgars that once so brave, they had become or been made cowards under Badshah Khan’s influence. Their bravery consisted not in being good marksmen but in defying death and being ever ready to bare their breasts to the bullets.”

I think that there are many in America, countries over in Europe, and other parts of the world who might do well to read these words and reflect on their significance!


~ by devildog6771 on September 14, 2006.

4 Responses to “Gandhi – On peace and “cowardice””

  1. Thank you Sachin. I will have to do more reading.

  2. Gandhi was unfortunately never against violence, he was only against violence being used as a tool for social transformation. There are several incidents in his life where he pleaded for the British colonial state to give exemplary punishment to those he felt violated “dharma” – the Hindu notion of a code of conduct.
    A classic case is of Bhagat Singh’s death sentence, where Gandhi admonished Nehru for having suggested that the Congress party should ask for his clemency.
    the other case is when Chandra Singh Garhwali, an army sergeant refused to open fire on the Khudai Khidmatgars (soldiers of god) and he was court marshaled and Gandhi pleaded for the death sentenced- since Garhwali had refused to follow his “dharma” of obeying orders issued to him. Gandhi was terrified of the conscientious Indian army man rebelling against the British.
    Then Gandhi’s stand on the WWar II – he supported it!!
    then his flip flop on Subash Chandra Bose and the war when he realised that the Axis powers might win!!!
    I mean Gandhi was a devious clever man and for someone who claimed to be a “poor man- fakir” he spent more than half his life in the living with the multi millionaire family of the Birlas- the same mansion where eventually he was assassinated. The Birlas would regularly contribute huge princely sums of money to keep Gandhi’s poor mans’ ashram alive.
    Essentially Gandhi’s politics was pro feudal, casteist and anti left, his basic aim in life was to dampen the revolutionary spirit of the Indians to ensure that his industrialist and landed friends would not suffer any losses in the event of independence.
    By the way you should read Gandhi and his great work and support during the Anglo Boer War. Gandhi is a HOLY COW

  3. Hey, AirborneVet, good to see you! Sorry I haven’t been by lately. I have found it hard to keep up with everyone with so much going on. Thank you for the comments. I agree with you though. When I found this I was rather surprised myself.

  4. Awesome quote from Ghandi. I think people forget what he was really about. They only think of the no-violence part of it. He had such a wonderful understanding of human nature and the self. No one else has achieved it, they just think they have.

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