Mahatma Gandhi: His Life and Mission
Dr. Ravindra Kumar
Mahatma Gandhi’s role and contribution to India’s Freedom Movement is noteworthy, extraordinary and exemplary. Those who are familiar with the events of the National Liberation Movement of India know how Gandhi awakened the masses through the strength of Ahimsa [non-violence]; by utilizing Satyagraha, the best and most infallible weapon, he made the people realize the value of independence and called upon them to cut their centuries-old chains of slavery. The people of India came to the forefront in response, and ultimately in the year 1947 India became free from the Imperial Rule of the English.
Here one important thing comes to my mind time and again, and it is my duty to clarify it. Most people consider India’s political freedom to be the goal of Mahatma Gandhi’s life. They think his aim was to set his country free from the English, and it is but natural if people think so. Mahatma Gandhi spent most of his life striving to make his nation politically free; for 25 years [1917-1942] he led his compatriots explicitly for explicit purpose; he spent more than ten years in various prisons of the British Empire while fighting for freedom of India. Nevertheless, in spite of the fact that the first goal of Mahatma Gandhi’s life was to achieve freedom for India, it was not at all the end of his mission.
For, it was so, how could Gandhi still be considered a ray of hope by millions around the world? How could he has become the source of inspiration for Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Ninoy Aquino, Bisweshwar Prasad Koirala and other great people of the world? How could he even today inspire countries like Thailand, where people carrying Mahatma Gandhi’s pictures in their hands, protest on the streets? It clearly indicates that life, work and views of Mahatma Gandhi were for the welfare of whole of humanity; the way he showed through his dynamic actions was, and is, for the entire world; India’s freedom was only a dimension of his way.
Hence, those who consider India’s freedom to be the only goal of Mahatma Gandhi’s life must review their opinion by familiarizing themselves with the Mahatma’s philosophy and his actions dedicated to his belief in the synthetic whole, which is the unity of human life.
Two thousand five hundred years ago, it was Gautama the Buddha, who for the first time in the Indian Sub-Continent, by emphasizing on reality of the Law of Change, called upon humanity to break the bonds, which enslave people at different levels and different planes. He showed the masses the best way to rid themselves of their problems and to lead life based on equality, peace and prosperity. At the same time, he asserted that even what he said at the time was not beyond the process of the Law of Change, for nothing could be the exception. This meant that even what the Buddha said and suggested for the welfare of mankind could not be one hundred percent applied in the times to come. However, the Buddha’s way, teachings and suggestions can even today become a source of inspiration, if they are applied according to the demands of time and space. This is the height of his achievement, for which he is rightly called the Light of Asia.
Besides Shakyamuni Gautama, it was Mahatma Gandhi whose mass actions based on Ahimsa [non-violence] became the source of inspiration for many in the world. If Gandhi’s welfaristic and exemplary standards are applied today, according to the prevailing conditions of time and space, they are fully capable of bringing unique and beautiful results to humanity. For this reason Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was elevated to the stature of a Mahatma. People around the world respect him; they look at his exemplary actions and with these in hand, they try to rid the world of its problems and conflicts at different levels and planes.
Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a universally renowned Gandhian scholar, Indologist and writer. He is the Former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Meerut, India and the author of the book entitled, ‘Theory and Practice of Gandhian Non-Violence’.