Social Philosophy

Mahatma Gandhi

          Mohandas Karamehand is the Indian political and spiritual leader, who was called Mahatma, or Great Soul. Mahatma Gandhi was a leader of India’s struggle for independence from Britain – a goal that was realized in 1947, the year before his death. Instrumental in the achievement of the independence was a technique of non-violent action that originated and called satyagraha, literally “holding the truth”.

         Gandhi brought together the major standards in India’s nationalist movement – the reform objectives moderates, an activist technique that proved more effective that revolutionary violence, and a mode of revitalizing traditional ideals that provided sanction for fundamental change. He exercised his influence through a set of principles emphasizing identification with the impoverished, through constructive work on behalf of the disadvantaged, and through creative, supportive effort in winning over opponents.                       

Social Philosophy

            Gandhi was one of the very few who have set the stamp of the idea on an epoch. That idea is nonviolence. His emphasis on truth and purity of means form which he evolved his creed of nonviolence was but another aspect of his deep humanity for it insisted that men in their fight for their rights, whether as an individual or as a groups, should never violate their basic obligation to respect life “As man has not been given power to create, he has not the slightest right to destroy the smallest creature that lives.”

            As he began to go beyond conventional channels, developing his technique of nonviolent action to effect change, he became increasingly dissatisfied with the term “passive resistance.” He held that ethical principles and effective action require that civil resisters accept full responsibility for their acts, extend respect to adversaries, retain an open mind toward opposing positions and seek creative solutions acceptable to all sides in conflict. To describe the new and evolving technique he coined the satyagraha, “grasping or holding the truthor “force, which is born of truth and love or nonviolence.” He had shown his principle of nonviolence by opposing through prayer and fasting, suspension of business and civil disobedience.

            Foremost among Gandhi’s objectives was a swaraj, literally means “self-rule.” Psychologically this meant control of self and master of fear. On the political level swaraj stood for national independence with a high degree of economic self-sufficiency in all units from the village up. Gandhi held that political and social change begins with change in individuals. As he extended his leadership beyond direct action related to political issues, he influenced others to overcome their fear and to establish, both with colleagues and adversaries, relationships that allowed for the greatest individual self-fulfillment.

            Great as he was a leader of men and as a political and social rebel, he was far greater as a man who put no limit to his humanity. “My life is an indivisible whole,” he said, “and all my activities run into another they all have their vise in my insatiable love of mankind… I do not know nay religion apart from human activity. It provides a moral basis to all other activities… We needlessly divide life into watertight compartments, religion, and other, whereas if a man has true religion in him, it must show itself in the smallest details of life. The slightest irregularity in sanitary, social and political life is a sign of spiritual poverty.”

            “The only virtue I claim,“ he said, ”is truth and nonviolence. I lay no claim to superhuman power, I want none.”

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