Author : Justice C.S. Dharmadhikari
Special Feature-2 on Gandhi Jayanti
Mahatama Gandhi summed up his philosophy of life with the words, “My Life is my Message”. His multifarious and dynamic personality was based on truth and nothing but the truth. Non – violence was another intrinsic element of this philosophy.
At the All India Congress Committee meeting in Bombay on 8th August, 1942, that is, on the eve of Quit India Movement, Mahatma Gandhi declared, “I want to live full span of my life and according to me, the full span of life is 125 years. By that time, India will not only be free but the whole world will be free.
Today, I do not believe that Englishmen are free, I do not believe that Americans are free. They are free to do what? To hold other part of humanity in bondage? Are they fighting for their liberty? I am not arrogant. I am not a proud man. I know the distinction between pride, arrogance, insolence and so on. But what I am saying is, I believe, in the voice of God. It is the fundamental truth that I am telling you.”
Gandhi was the most normal of men. He was universal, such a man cannot be measured, weighed, or estimated. He is the measure of all things. Gandhi was not a philosopher, nor a politician. He was a humble seeker of truth. Truth unites, because it can be only one. You can cut a man’s head, but not his thoughts. Non – violence is the only other aspect of the sterling coin of truth. Non – violence is love, the very content of life.
In this principle of non–violence, Gandhi introduced technique of resistance to evil and untruth. His Satyagraha is inspired by boundless love and compassion. It is opposed to sin, not sinner, the evil, not evil doer. For him truth was God and in that sense he was man of God. Truth is not yours or mine. It is neither Western nor Eastern.
Gandhi’s prayer stands for invoking the inner strength of men for the good of one another, his spinning wheel for dignity of productive labour, and broomstick for abolition of social inequalities based on birth. He wanted freedom from rule of merchandise. He wanted rationality in productive system, which should be based on human rationality. He was not an orthodox economist. His plan was peace, security and progress for human race as a whole. He believed that the planning should be based on ‘Man Power’ rather than horse power. These issues are not restricted to India, but are global in nature. These principles are universal. He insisted on individual code of conduct. He introduced an entirely new dimension in technique of social transformation.
One cannot comprehend Satyagraha without connecting it with Constructive Work or the Ashram observances. Gandhi, the statesman and the fighter for freedom, could not have been like what he was, had he not been Gandhi, the social reformer, and Gandhi, the saint. It is the quest for truth in all its glory that creates Gandhi, the man.
Gandhi never pretended to be consistent with previously held views in his life. He readily abandoned his stands when he felt the need to do so. These “inconsistencies” often infuriated his antagonists, who felt that he was a “slippery” politician. I think his inconsistencies were more a reflection of an ever – growing personality to whom consistency was less important than being true to the inner voice of truth as understood at any given point of time.
Gandhi ji took up the ancient but powerful idea of Ahimsa or non – violence and made it familiar throughout the world, particularly in political and economic field. However, non – violence means more than the mere absence of violence. It is something more positive, more meaningful and dynamic and Gandhiji combined it with a sense of responsibility for the welfare of people. His great achievement was to demonstrate through his own example that non – violence can be implemented effectively not only in the political arena, but also in our day – to – day life. His whole life was his experiment with truth.
He knew that human dignity cannot be preserved on charity. Mutuality and well – being is the essence of life. It is therefore S+G that is “Science plus Gandhi”, which alone can save a planet earth. Gandhi was an apostle of peace and brotherhood. The modern nuclear weapons, not only pose a grave threat to world peace but will destroy mother earth. Apart from the ecological sustainable model of development preached by Gandhi, decentralistion of socio – economic power based on non – violence, and building up of people’s power, communal harmony based on people’s initiative, rather than the state power is the only alternative.
The 20th century was the most violent period in human history. More people have suffered and have been killed by organized violence than any other time before. The wars, the genocides, the weapons of mass destruction have created such an enormous mass misery and agony that it is difficult to find any trace of hope. Therefore, Gandhi’s teachings of non – violence are most relevant today. Now, though late, there is a realization that there is no other alternative. This is the reason why amidst report of increasing teenage violence across the United States, a bill have been introduced in New Jersey Assembly seeking to include Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings of non – violence in the school curriculum. On 12th May 2000, on Mother’s Day in New York, several thousand mothers resolved and demanded a ban on the manufacture of arms, and its use. Therefore, in my view the teachings of Gandhi are not only relevant but also the only alternative.
Some people seem to think that compassion or non-violence is just a passive emotional response, rather than a rational stimulus to action. They forget that Gandhi combined it with a sense of responsibility. He was not a mere onlooker but was an active participant. He first followed and then preached. He was a leader in real sense of the said term. Whenever there was a risk to life he was at the fore front and never had a desire for power or wealth. Sacrifice was key word of his life. He lived a simple need based life because he knew that needs have an end whereas greed is endless. Gandhiji knew that “In times to come people will not judge us by the creed we profess or label we wear or the slogans we shout, but by our work, industry, sacrifice, honesty and purity of character.” He also knew that man who wants freedom has to take tremendous risk. That was essence of his life, that is why he could say that “My Life is My Message”.
*Author, formerly the Acting Chief Justice of Bombay High Court, is currently the Chairman, Institute of Gandhian Studies, Wardha and Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon.
Prompt: Describe something you do or have done that has made you what you are today.
MY LIFE IS MY MESSAGE
Running is an activity not many like to do. Unlike others, I love to run. To me, running is not just a hobby, but a way of life. Running cross country and track are two sports that I find competitive and enjoyable. My coach, David Cruickshank, once told me this, “It’s not about how many times you get knocked down, it’s about how many times you get back up.” Those are words of motivation from a true running legend. My coach has made me the person I am today. Every single day I am with him, I learn more about myself and how I can become something great in life, merely by never giving up, just as he never gave up.
I have been running for over four years now. Every single day, from the very start of my high school career to the present, I think, live, feel, taste, and imagine myself running. I have encountered numerous experiences during my years of running, from championships to near death. These events are those that make running memorable. My first day of practice four years ago was nothing compared to what I do now. I started running on a treadmill stopping every twenty minutes. Now, I run throughout the city for nearly two hours, non-stop. My determination, strength, and will have become stronger as the years have passed by. I gained a purpose for running and this is what always keeps me going; I run for the close people I have lost in my life. That is why I do not only run for myself, but for others as well. When I run, I want people to see what hard work is and how it pays off. I run to encourage people to always keep their head up in life and always thrive for the best. I am a living example that giving up is not an option. I want people in this world to know that each individual has the tenacity to achieve whatever is desired. As the old cliché goes, “If I can do it, so can you.”
Running has helped me achieve many goals in life; ergo, I will continue to pursue goals and become someone exceptional. Whenever I have felt sad or stressed out, I go on a run. At the end of every single run, I tell myself “I am great and I will be successful.” Those are words that help me continue. The act of running is my own way of life. It is what guides me to the right path. Running has always determined how much valor and belief I have in myself, but because I have never abandoned my goals and purposes, I know I am a remarkable human being. Running has made me the talented, young man I am to this day.
Running has led me to gain a passion for self-discovery and pursuing life’s great mysteries. This is why I want to pursue a degree in Broadcast Journalism. As a journalist, I will be able to tell “the story.” Similarly as a runner, I physically express my own life story. These areas compliment one another in that it takes hard work and dedication, just like running. I am a person who makes it a point to work hard; to go beyond the minimum, even when it is not needed. Broadcast Journalism gives me the rush and excitement that I want to experience throughout my lifetime. I have worked hard throughout my high school years and I am eager to embrace the next stage- college. College is where I will be able to learn more about my desired journalism major, and continue to expand my skills at a much tougher level.
My life revolves around running and journalism. Running has helped me surpass the most difficult obstacles set in my life, and I aspire to become a broadcast journalist. I believe that life is what one makes of it, and I plan on living mine to the fullest, achieving everything I set my mind to. Sir Roger Bannister, first runner to run a sub- 4 minute mile, once stated, “We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves… The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, ‘You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.’ The human spirit is indomitable.” That spirit is what makes all human beings extraordinary because we choose to become unbeatable.