Mahatma Gandhi: The Wise-man from the East and His Writings
Mohandas Karamchald Gandhi. born on October 2, 1869 in Guiarat, India was not only an anti-colonial activist and the liberator of his country from Great Britain, but he also left behind some important writings that have greatly influenced civil rights leaders in modern times. “The Story of My Experiments with Truth” is an auto-biography that chronicles the events of his amazing life with his experimental experience of living like an English gentleman in London to his return to his own Indian cultural roots after suffering the violent effects of apartheid and racism while living in South Africa.
Another book entitled “Selected Writings of Mahatma Gandhi” is an exhaustive collection of his important writings collected and compiled by Ronald Duncan which is divided into nine long parts and is available as a free download online. But the first part only entitled “The Gospel of Selfless Action” will be discussed here as it perfectly embodies the essence of this modern political saint, for Gandhi said “My life is my message.” And a selfless life he led indeed.
Born to a modest Hindu family in the varna of Viashya (or the working class), Gandhi was given in a marriage arranged by his parents at the young age of 13 to a 14 year old girl named Kasturbai Kapadia, but both children were allowed to continue to live with their parents at that young age. But upon graduation from high school, Gandhi decided to continue his education as a law student in Great Britain much to the consternation of his nervous family who feared that the young man might be corrupted by Western culture. However, a devout Hindu, young Gandhi took vow of chastity and made a promise to not drink alcohol or eat meat, a vow that the pious young man dutifully kept.
Upon graduation from law school the young man was called to the bar at age 22, and he moved back to India to practice law but was not very successful there. So he moved himself and his young family to South Africa where he was called upon to represent a Muslim Indian merchant who lived there, and it was in South Africa where he experienced the worst racial discrimination, often involving beatings and violence because of the color of his skin, and it was there in South Africa where he became a political activist for change.
In the year 1915 he moved back to India where he galvanized the common people to seek independence for his country from colonial Great Britain through non-violent non-cooperation with the British government. Thus he led his people in protest though fasting (“fasting unto death”) refusing to participate in British culture by the wearing of traditional hand woven Indian garments and the absolute boycott on buying Western goods. In 1921 Gandhi assumed the leadership of the Indian National Congress and on August 15, 1947 India was granted it’s independence, but was, much to the sorrow of Gandhi divided into two nations, Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan after serious religious violence broke out between the two groups.
In the “Selected Writings of Mahatma Gandhi” Gandhi makes a commentary in the section entitled “On the Gospel of a Selfless Life” about the writings of the Gita, a book that uses warfare as a metaphor for the interior struggles that play out in the hearts of men and Gandhi wrote concerning it, “ In this great work the Gita is the crown. Its second chapter instead of teaching the rules of physical warfare, tells us how a perfected man is to be known,” He also described the Gita as a book about “the duel that perpetually went on in the hearts of mankind,” between good and evil. Having had a devoutly religious mother, Gandhi, being a very deeply sensitive and spiritual human-being himself, was greatly influenced by the Vedic texts, the Quran, the Bible, and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Thus was Gandhi a nonviolent protester of racial and political injustice, but unfortunately was himself shot to death by a fellow countryman, who was a much more radical protester in his beliefs, on January 30, 1948. So ironically this gentle man of peace and justice died a violent death and Prime Minister Nehru said of him in his speech afterwards, “Friends and comrades, the light has gone out of our live and there is darkness everywhere…Our beloved leader Bapu as we called him, the father of the nation is no more,,,” but we can clearly see that his thoughts lived on generations later through the work of such leaders as Martin Luther King in America and Nelson Mandela in South Africa and will continue to live on through his writings and the writings of others about him. He left a living legacy.
Become a member today at DailyWisdomWords to post comments and content here. Only $10.00 one time membership fee for a lifetime.