The 2nd October is the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the messiah of non-violence and a globally revered leader. His message of non-violence is as relevant today, as it was in the 1930s and 1940s, when he led the Indian freedom struggle. As the greatest scientist Albert Einstein, “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”
In persuading the British to grant independence to India, Gandhiji followed a policy of non-violence. He asked all the freedom fighters to undertake peaceful resistance, but never resort to violence against the police. There are times, when he would call off a national struggle, because some Indians indulged in violence. Every human life was precious for Mahatma Gandhi, even the lives of those who opposed India’s quest for freedom. Those who respect human life, will never indulge in violence of any type. By following a policy of non-violence, Gandhiji appealed to the conscience of his opponents.
Mahatma Gandhi did impact the thinking of some global leaders also. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela were both followers of the non-violence philosophy of Mahama Gandhi. They enshrined his thinking of non-violence in their own struggles, in their own countries.
However, in most parts of the world, while Mahatma Gandhi is respected and also celebrated with statues, his message has been ignored. The world overflows with armed struggles in Afghanistan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, etc. Armed militancy movements like Al Qaeda, Daesh and rebel groups in Colombia and Peru have resulted in the death of thousands of people, in the names of various ideological struggles. Many of the people engaged in these battles, may not even have heard the name of Mahatma Gandhi.
Mahatma Gandhi spearheaded India’s freedom struggle. However, he never became a pure politician. Gandhiji was involved in a political struggle, but was guided by his spirituality. Gandhiji commanded respect from his opponents too. The British leaders knew that Gandhiji was a person of principles and was always above board. He meant what he said. He never had a hidden agenda.
As Martin Luther King wrote, Mahatma Gandhi “belonged to the ages.” It is sad that his theory of non-violence is not being followed today.