Remembering the Mahatma

Mukerjeet Sharma
Mahatma Gandhi the Father of Nation was the man of many traits with multifaceted personality and of multidimensional approach to tackle the issues of conflicts as well as problems of common man to country level i.e. poverty, untouchability, unemployment, corruption, drugs, environment issues, health related problems, cleanliness, political and religious issues and what not. In fact he wanted to touch every aspect at individual, national and international levels. His heart and mind remained ever involved in work for the total regeneration of Indian society-be it political, cultural, religious or social aspects. According to Late Dr. A.P.J. Kalam former President Gandhi Ji was a first and foremost a great communicator. He was more than anybody else. He used both ordinary and extraordinary means to communicate with millions of Indians and drew their spontaneous response.
Gandhi Ji said that nonviolence is the greatest virtue and cowardice is the greatest vice. Perfect nonviolence is the highest bravery and its conduct is never demoralizing where as cowardice is always. He strongly advocated the green thoughts in our day to day life as well as economy and development model based on natural order to save ourselves from the catastrophe. Gandhi Ji had the thesis of trusteeship as an alternative to the Western model of capitalism and communism, as he thought that capitalism and communism both are founded on violence where as trusteeship is based on ‘Ahimsa’ and the natural corollary of Ahimsa is a ‘Satyagraha’. If the wealthy and capitalist do not part with their wealth voluntarily then weapon of Satyagraha is to be used. Trusteeship is essentially about how to possess and how much to possess. It is not against creation and possession. He gave the concept of Aparigraha- non acquisitiveness that is not to acquire and consume things which are useless to an individual. After satisfying needs of decent livelihood the rest of wealth is required to be spent for the welfare of the labour and social good. This is where Gandhi brings in the concept of limiting personal requirements and needs and how to regularize his or her self consumption.
Gandhi’s 18-point programme may be broadly classified into Social (Communal Harmony, Women, Students, Kisan, Labour, Adivasis and Lepers); Economical (Khadi, Other Village Industries and Economic Equality), Education (Basic Education, Adult Education, National Language and Provincial Language) and finally Health (Village Sanitation and Hygiene and Health).
Gandhi Ji’s outlook on world affairs was neither national nor international but simply human. He looked upon all men as members of one family. He felt sincerely and deeply for human beings because they are human not someone apart from him. His ashram in Phoenix, in Sabarmati, in Sevagram became miniature international institutions. He wrote in Young India in 1925 that it is not possible to be international without being a nationalist. Gandhi Ji had a strong feeling for untouchability and he used to say that if untouchability is not a crime then there is no crime in the world. He considered the entire spectrum of untouchability a blot on the face of Hinduism hence must go lock, stock and barrel. He had a strong view about it that he was even willing to move away from his wife Mrs. Kasturba Gandhi twice i.e. once in South Africa and other in Sabarmati Ashram when he found her discriminating against Dalit in some form. He risked his own life by going on fast to death when an attempt was made by the Britishers to take away the Dalit from the Hindu fold through communal award of 1932 by announcing separate electoral for the Dalit. It was for the first time and the last time that the crown order was withdrawn while seeing the perilous condition of Mahatma Ji. He had set up Harijan Sevak Sangh and published a Journal called Harijan with the same purpose. Subsequently he launched one of the most vigorous campaigns to eliminate the scourge of untouchability from the soil of India. With the slogan that everyone has come from a same source then why there is untouchability.
Gandhi Ji had founded a Satyagraha Ashram at Kochrab in 1915 and later shifted it to Sabarmati. He defined requisite qualification for Satyagraha i.e. living in good faith on God, believe in truth and nonviolence, living a chaste life and ready and willing to give his life and possessions, honest, be habitual to Khadi, spinner and weaver, must be teetotaler and free from other intoxicants. One should follow the habit of non-stealing, physical labour, fearlessness, removal of untouchability, nonviolence and tolerance. He told that I am prepared to suffer imprisonment, assault or even death for the sake of my religion and my country without resentment.
Gandhi Ji also defined seven deadly sins that are the root cause of disorderly modern societies. They are wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, religious without sacrifice and politics without principles. On education he gives simple yet path breaking model of integrating education i.e. education that ensure all round development of mind, body and soul of the peoples and is not just limited to the narrow confines of the merit in academics. Gandhi Ji was a writer par excellence – concise, simple deep in meaning and easily absorbed. He started writing when he was a student in London where he wrote articles on various subjects. From 1903 he regularly wrote in Gujarati, English and Hindi. His well known books includes Hind Swaraj – an autobiography or My Experiment With Truth, Satyagraha, The Key to Health and his unique work on Bhagavad Gita apart from number of booklets. The collected work of Mahatma Gandhi comprises of 100 volumes each of 500 pages. These constitute one of the most sought after source of knowledge and wisdom on nearly every subject of human concern.
To conclude, Gandhi Ji’s lifestyle choices, such as those of dress, of food, of padayatras and travelling across the nation, and of total transparency in personal and public life, contribution to his becoming a national mass communicator. He was commonly addressed as Mahatma Gandhi and finally also as Father of the Nation.
The author is former Add. Principal Chief Conservator of Forest J&K State and Patron Chief of People’s Organisation for welfare and environment reconstruction (POWER)