Mahatma Gandhi being the epitome of peace, tolerance, non-violence and a great supporter of universal brotherhood is one of those few great icons of humanity who has inspired and caught the imagination of people to contemplate and work upon doctrines and priceless ideals given by him.
He influenced not only the political sphere of India but with his prolific vision and conduct he also touched the lives of people of all segment.
Gandhi always gave due respect to human dignity irrespective of their cast, class, and social status. He taught us the importance of own culture and identity without which Indians would have been only followers of the people of west.
Due to the appropriateness of his ideals even today Gandhi himself and his extraordinary life as a figure of great morals and ethics has became a subject of writing for various creative minds all over the globe.
Writers not only from our country but also from the whole world are writing their works either on multidimensional life of Gandhi or on his fertile ideals given through his speeches and literary works for all walks of life by sketching the fictional characters resembling his viewpoint.
Mahatma Gandhi who always referred to Bhagwat Gita as his spiritual dictionary was greatly influenced by American essayist and poet Henry David Thoreau’s work On the Duty of Civil Disobedience and Russian writer Leo Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is Within You.
Mahatma Gandhi considered himself as a disciple of Leo Tolstoy and he was greatly influenced by Tolstoy’s work A Letter to a Hindu, in which Tolstoy talked about his philosophy that only by love and passive resistance as a weapon India can overthrow colonial rule.
The xenophobic and racist outlook he encountered and faced during his stay in South Africa played a very significant role in shaping his moral fiber and view point which even today is teaching generations the lesson of great wisdom.
According to Mahatma Gandhi who emerged as a voice of colonized Indians, violence could not be responded with violence and passive resistance is the most effective measure to attain the freedom from British and their violence and injustice. Gandhi showed a bold but non-violent resistance towards British authority and domination and to make this resistance attain its ultimate aim of freedom he advocated generating the true sentiment of patriotism.
R. K. Narayan, a distinguished Sahitya Academy Award winner Indian post colonial writer is best known for incorporating the themes based on path and values given by Mahatma Gandhi for the welfare of Indian people such as non-violence, compassion and universal brotherhood in his various works like one of his significant novel titled Waiting for Mahatma which has described the Gandhian thoughts and human values as a major theme and depicted the problems with identity and journey of India as a nation towards independence during the British colonial rule.
Through his social and historical settings in the novel in relation with various characters depicted in this work, Narayan tried to present the events of British colonialism and Indian independence struggle in relation with the nationalistic sentiments attached by Gandhi to it in a larger context.
Alike R.K. Narayan another prominent Indian writer Mulk Raj Anand has also embedded the Gandhian thought and human values in majority of his works. His novels always presented the harsh but real picture of the underdog and oppressed people of the Indian society.
His critically acclaimed novel Untouchable bluntly talks about the dehumanising role of the caste system through the analysis of a day’s routine of its protagonist Bakha; an eighteen year old low caste sweeper. Whose day starts with abuses and demeaning comments by upper class people on him and his work of cleaning the communal bathrooms.
Not only our Indian writers but writers from other parts of the world also wrote a lot on the Gandhi’s philosophy of life. George Orwell; one of the most celebrated author of British literature and a great novelist and critically acclaimed essayist wrote a magnifying essay on mahatma Gandhi titles Reflections on Gandhi published in 1949 just one year after Gandhi was assassinated.
Orwell describes Gandhi as “humble, naked old saint sitting on a prayer mat, attempting to shake the British Empire by utter spiritual power.” In this essay Orwell has reflected upon Gandhi and his teachings and techniques and their relevance also.
Though in terms of ideals and principles he was not on the same track and differed with Gandhi and his view points but still in this essay he admits the impact and uniqueness of Gandhi and praises him by saying “even Gandhi’s worst enemies would admit that he was an interesting and unusual man who enriched the world simply by being alive.”
It is very important to understand that the teachings and principles of Gandhi must be interpreted in the right context.
Orwell throws some more light on Gandhi’s world famous principle of non-violence and says that though it was completely based on passive resistance but still it does not mean passive form of political action. He judges the appeal of the concept of non- violence and relevance of its universal appeal. Orwell assesses Gandhi’s character and his humanitarian values in his own honest manner.
Orwell successfully highlights the strengths of Gandhi’s philosophy and how one simple man from India with his simple philosophy of passive resistance and universal brotherhood had the potential to change the world.
In this essay Orwell has not tried to glorify either the image or the teachings of mahatma Gandhi instead he has tried to present a more cleared picture of Gandhi and his soul without any touch of biasness. Orwell has tried to evaluate the Gandhian values in the light of their relevance for average common people.
Orwell said that Gandhi would have became a successful lawyer, administrator or businessman but still he rejected all these possibilities waiting for him and chose the completely different path of freedom struggle through doctrine of non-violence which in deep clearly suggests one more inspiring philosophy of Gandhi that we should not hesitate to sacrifice small pleasures of life to attain our bigger goals for ourselves as well as for the welfare of the nation and the world.
Orwell also talks about the different stages of Gandhi’s career and life through which he attained the title of mahatma which was given to him by national poet Rabindra Nath Tagore. He explained his journey from Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to becoming Mahatma Gandhi. He also had all those positive as well as negative qualities of a normal common human being.
Gandhi himself in his autobiography has confessed about his flaws and weaknesses but later his character got shaped by his circumstances and experience which he saw and received in India or outside India. So for the sake of his country and its people he abandoned his personal ambitions and became a strong headed symbol for freedom struggle. For many Gandhi was like an enlightened monk but Orwell portrays him more as a real person who wrestled India away from the British rule by virtue of his simplicity.
Due to his ethical way of struggling with the tribulations he came across and with his superior humanistic values whenever we talk or think about Gandhi the first think which comes to our mind is his doctrine of ‘Humanity’.
Gandhi stated that all his life and struggle was focused on humanity. He always stated that love and mutual cooperation is the basis of life. Only through mutual aid and compassion for every being we can do our holistic development.
He always taught not to discriminate between people on the basis of their caste, color, creed or religion. To Gandhi all human beings are children of the god and thus every one of them have the right to be treated respectfully and equally.
In his speeches and writings he strongly advocated the humanitarian values. Father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi taught us that the first and foremost job of every human being is to conquer and overcome our own demons of fear, insecurity. He also talked about the importance of justice for everyone which we can understand through this text which he used to repeat every morning:
“I promise myself this when I wake up every morning: I shall fear no one on earth, but conscience. I shall demolish injustice with justice, and if it persists on resistance, I shall respond to it with my whole existence.”
Mahatma Gandhi was fully aware of the fact that education plays a very significant role in deciding development of the country.
Education acts as a guided medium for the people of country especially youths making them realise about their capabilities and channelizing their creativity and talent with an unbiased viewpoint of their own. A major role of education system is to fertilize the idea of nationalism and to illuminate the hearts of the people of country with the nationalistic sentiments.
He told us that the true purpose of education is not only to make people informed but its sole purpose is to create the enlightened mind as well as heart full love, compassion and cooperation for others.
Education should provide them the ability to be able to discern between what is the correct and content way of living the life. Mahatma Gandhi has given principles regarding every section and sector of human life as stated in his this statement regarding seven social sins:
“Politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice.”
Mahatma Gandhi’s teaching have assumed a multi dimensional form especially in the modern times due to the diverse social and most importantly political ideological groups present in the country.
Today every political party is redefining the sentiments attached to Gandhi and his teachings, as a political tool for their own self-seeking political motives. Today political leaders are molding definition and doctrines of Gandhi as it suits to their own political vote centric ideologies.
In presenting these viewpoints the media which is considered as the fourth pillar of our democracy plays a very effective and decisive rule because it has the power to facilitate the exchange of thought on a mass scale within a short period of time. Media plays a vital role in mobilizing public opinion and awakening national perception due to its power and reach in almost every class and section of society in our country.
The most controversial and sensitively stimulating fiber in the framework of gandhism and his humanism in today’s context is religion. Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of an independent India was based on ‘religious pluralism’ where no religion was superior or inferior to one another but every religion and its followers were equal.
But today various political parties in India work on the basis of religion and cast oriented ideologies. Religion forms the basis for most belief systems and due to this reason political parties most of the time tries to play the card of religion and exploit religious sentiments of the people to increase their vote bank and creates divisions for political gains.
One can raise questions upon his sainthood or one can deny his ideals and value based principles but in a larger context backed by humanism one cannot deny that his existence was a blessing not only for India but for the whole world. Here we tried to presents how the Gandhian thought and his humanitarian values inspired the people around the globe. His speeches and literary works poured the nationalistic sentiments among the hearts of Indians and inspired creative minds of various countries to write upon Gandhi and his life changing ideals and values.
The theme of Gandhism always occupied a dominant position in works of great writers like R.K. Narayan and Mulk Raj Anand their major works and the journey of various characters depicted in those works discerns the true spirit of the Gandhian thoughts which even today resides in the heart and soul of India and its people.