Graffiti of Mahatma Gnadhi, San Francisco, USA
I feel deep respect for Mahatma Gandhi, the only person in the history of this planet who defeated a great empire by adhering to the principles of strict non-violence. Gandhi managed to liberate India from British colonialism without firing a single bullet. In his book Non-Violent Resistance – Satyagraha, published in 1950, Mahatma Gandhi explained in great detail his philosphy and his fight for freedom. Gandhi defined Styagraha as “literally holding on o Truth and it means, therefore, Truth-force. Truth is soul or spirit. It is therefore, known as soul-force. It excludes the use of violence because man is not capable of knowing the absolute truth and, therefore, not competent to punish.” Here is an excerpt from his book:
“I accept the interpretation of ahimsa [Sanskrit – nonviolence], namely, that it is not merely a negative state of harmlessness but it is a positive state of love, of doing good even to the evil-doer. But it does not mean helping evil-doer to continue the wrong or tolerating it with passive acquiescence [submitting or complying silently or without protest]. On the contrary, love, the active state of ahimsa, requires you to resist the wrong-doer by dissociating [disconnecting] yourself yourself from him even though it may offend him or injure him physically. Thus if my son lives a life of shame, I may not help him to do so by continuing to support him; on the contrary, my love for him requires me to withdraw all support from him although it may mean even his death. And the same love imposes on me obligation of welcoming him to my bosom when he repents. But I may not by physical force compel my son to become good. That in my opinion is the moral of the story of the Prodigal Son.”
Mahatma Gandhi became international symbol for nonviolence, in the same way how Che Guevara became international symbol of revolution. His real name was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, while ‘Mahatma’ is honorary spiritual title meaning Great Soul [Sanskrit – maha, great, and atma soul]. Gandhi was awarded this title in 1914 when he was 45 years old. This title might be roughly compared to modern Christian term ‘Saint. Although the title ‘Mahatma’ is described in several Vedic scriptures including Bhagavad Gita, very few people in history achieved it. In Bhagavad-Gita, lord Krishna said:
bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma su-durlabhah
“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.”
Gandhi’s philosophy and his work inspired human right activist of his time and will continue to inspire generations to come.