GANDHIJI’S NON-VIOLENCE AND ITS RELEVANCE

Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
Devi Charan Baruah Girls’ College, Jorhat, Assam, India
  
Abstract
Non-Violence is the foundation stone of Gandhian Political Thoughts. According to Gandhiji, Non-violence requires fearlessness. Cowardice is violence. A non-violence soldier should develop an attitude of non-attachment in the material things of life. Gandhiji regarded material possessions incompatible with non-violence. Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man. In this context Gandhi talk about Satyagraha. According to him the principle of Non-Violence could be exceuted only through Satyagraha. Critics of Gandhian thoughts may say that the concept of non-violence has become obsolete today. But it is not true, rather Gandhi’s idea of non-violence has more and more utility and relevance at present world. This paper is an attempt to analyse the relevance and utility of Gandhian Principle of Non-Violence at present world.

Key Words: Non-Violence, Satyagraha, Peace
1.Introduction
Non-Violence is the central idea of Gandhi’s Political Philosophy. For Gandhi, non-violence was not a mere philosophical principle, it was the rule and breathe of his life. Non-violence or ‘Ahimsa’ means non-killing, but for Gandhiji it has a much wider meaning. It signifies avoiding injury to anything on earth in thought, word or deed. A harsh speech is a form of violence. To think bad of others is violence. A non-violent man should not consider any one as his enemy. He should harbour no evil against anyone. The Prime objective of Gandhiji’s concept of non-violence is to establish peace and harmony in human society by chainging the nature and attitude of man by heart and soul what Gandhiji called self purification. Critics of Gandhian thoughts often say that in present days Gandhi’s concept of non-violence has lost its importance and has become obsolete.  Even sometime we people also feel that, yes non-violence has become irrelevant today. Everyday, everywhere we witness only violence and brutality. But, it is not true, because lots of people today have faith on non-violence. They practice it and use non-violent principle in their day to day life.

2.Objective of the study
The prime objective of this paper is to investigate and verify whether Gandhian Concept of non-violence has lost its importance at present time or it has relevance today.

3.Methodology
This Paper has been prepared based on Secondary data sources collected from books, journals, periodicals, research articles. Analytical approach is used and discussed the topic with the concerned resource persons. Personal observations and interpretation were also added here.

4.Results and Discussion
Non-violence is the law of the human race and is infinitely greater than and superior to brute force. Non-violence affords the fullest protection to one’s self-respect and sense of honour, but not always to possession of land or movable property, though its habitual practice does prove a better bulwark than the possession of armed men to defend them. Ranjan (2009) stated that Non-violence, in the very nature of things, is of no assistance in the defence of ill-gotten gains and immoral acts.

4.1 Non-Violence
According to Gandhiji, non-violence pre-supposes the ability though not the willingness, to strike. He said that Man for man, the strength of non-violence is in exact proportion to the ability, not the will, of the non-violent person to inflict violence. Non-violence is the quality of the brave and strong,  it is not possible without fearlessness. It is not the quality of the coward. Cowardice and Ahimsa do not go together. A coward runs away from danger instead of facing it. If a choice is to be made between cowardice and violence, Gandhiji would have preferred the latter. To him, violence was superior to passive and helpless submission.  It is better to be violent if there is violence is our breast than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence. According to him, There is hope for a violent man to be some day non-violent but there is none the coward. Non-violence is superior to violence. In a struggle the victory of the non-violent is sure. Against a non-violent man, there is no hatred and no personal ill-feeling. If Gandhiji could win freedom for India, the credit goes to the non-violent character of the struggle that he carried on. A non-violent man strikes a responsive chord in the heart and conscience of his opponent. Non-violence ennobles not only him who wields it but also him against whom it is directed. The requisites of non-violence are truth, inner purity, fearlessness, non-possession and perseverance. Truth is the basis factor of non-violence. To Gandhiji, God is Truth and Truth is God. Truth was the sovereign principle (Bhagwan and Bhushan, 2007).

Non-violence is a power which can be wielded quality by all children, young men and women or grown up people, provided they have a living faith in the God of Love and have therefore equal love for all mankind. When non-violence is accepted as the law of life, it must pervade the whole being and not be applied to isolated acts. It is a profound error to that, whilst the law is good enough for individuals, it is not for masses of mankind (Ranjan, 2009).

Gandhiji believed that to meet the end our means must be moral. He says that immoral means cannot lead to truth and justice. Moral means will inevitably lead to a moral end. Violence, fraud, deceit and treachery have always disrupted human unity. Humanity can be united only through the practice of non-violence in individual and social conduct. Gandhiji said that where the means are clean there God is undoubtedly present with his blessings. He was confident that law of love rules mankind. Had violence rules us, we should have become extinct long age. Hence in human interest we should accept non-violence as the panacea of our ills at all levels.

4.2 Satyagraha
Gandhiji evolved a new way of resisting evil through the technique of satyagraha. The idea and practice of satyagraha constitutes the heart and soul of Gandhism and is Gandhiji’s unique and distinctive contribution. It was the technique of resisting all that was evil and unjust, impure or untrue, by love, self-suffering, self-purification and by appealing to the divine spark in the soul of the opponent. Gandhiji also called it ‘love–force’ or ‘soul-force’. According to Gandhiji, Satyagraha is a vindication of truth by bearing witness to it through self-suffering, in other words, love.It is the opposite of coercion and is the weapon of the strongest and the bravest. A satyagrahi seeks to resist evil through love and takes suffering upon himself instead of inflicting the same on the opponent. All conflicts are sought to be resolved by the mighty weapon if satyagraha by lifting those from the gross physical plane to the elevated spiritual and moral plane where they can be adjusted by the union of souls, by the deep calling into the deep. As a satyagrahi never injures the opponent and always appeals either to his reason by gentle argument, or to his heart by the sacrifice of self, Satyagraha is twice blessed; it blesses him who practices it, and against whom it is practiced.Gandhiji opined that Suffering is the mark of the human tribe. It is an eternal law mother suffers so that her child may live. Life comes out of death. No country has ever risen without being purified to the fire of suffering, the purer the suffering the greater is the progress. Gandhiji's theory of satyagraha is thus based on the concept of suffering. Suffering saves three purposes:

(i)It purifies the sufferer, (ii)It intensifies favourable public opinion. (iii)It makes a direct appeal to the soul of the oppressor(Bhagwan and Bhushan, 2007).

Gandhiji developed some techniques of Satyagraha, these were –
Non-cooperation: It means withdrawal of cooperation with government by Hartals, Social ostracism or picketing, a peaceful way of protest against injustice of government machinery.

Civil Disobedience: Disobedience to the unmoral statutory enactments of government by peaceful way.

Hijrat: A Satyagrahi, in order to protect his self respect may voluntarily exile permanent place of residence.

Fasting: Fasting or refuse to take food is another meaningful technique of Satyagraha according to Gandhi.

Strike: Strike is the weapon of the workers for the redress of their grievances.

The cause of Satyagraha should be legitimate and just. Satyagraha is a permanent vindication of the individual’s right of resistance against coercive authority.

Satyagraha is gentle, it never wounds. It must not be the result of anger or malice. It is never fussy, never impatient, never vociferous. It is the direct opposite of compulsion. It was conceived as a complete substitute for violence. The fight of Satyagraha is for the strong in spirit, not the doubter or the timid. Satyagraha teaches us the art of living as well as dying. Birth and death are inevitable among mortals. What distinguishes the man from the brute is his conscious striving to realize the spirit within. (Prabhu and Rao,1967)

4.3 Relevance of Non-violence
If we look into the present society from the practical point of view we can realise that in outer look Gandhian concept of non-violence has become obsolete today. Nobody in the present society is interested to practice this ideology. Critics of Gandhian philosophy also strongly argue that concept of non-violence is remain as mere an ideology, it has no practical use. But it is not true, the concept of non-violence may not have practical use in present society or we may not follow it, but for the survival of mankind, for establishment of peace and harmony, for development of civilisations the concept of non-violence is the only solution through which we could attain our goal.

Anna Hazare’s non-violent protest against corruption at Government level is the stunning example of relevance of the concept of non-violence in present time. We have witnessed how the young generation of India came out to the street and supported Anna Hazare’s non-violent protest against corruption by wearing the ‘Gandhi toopi.’

5.Conclusion
In conclusion we may say that Gandhiji was a saint and a revolutionary with the weapon of non-violence who lived and died for truth.  It is a great irony of history that a votary of non-violence met his death at the hands of a violent assassin and that too of his native land. Infact, history repeated itself as another Christ was crucified.

References
  • R.K. Prabhu and U.R. Rao. The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi, Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House, 1967, p.168.
  • R.Ranjan. Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi, Swastik Publications, Delhi, 2009, P.163.
  • V.Bhagwan and V. Bhushan. Political Theory, Kalyani Publishers, New Delhi, 2007, pp.287-289.
  • V.R. Mehta. Foundation of Indian Political Thought, New Delhi: Monohar Publishers, 1992.

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