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By stroke of luck, I started reading about Mahatma Gandhi when I was 5 years' old. When I was 10 years' old, my teacher Sri. Bernard who was a great admirer of Gandhi, helped me to understand Mahatma Gandhi better. Then on, his autobiography, Pyarelal's biography and Lois Fischer's works made me adore Mahatma Gandhi very much. Father A.C. Abraham, my guide to Christianity was quoting Mahatma Gandhi frequently, much to the chagrin of worshippers.
My grandfather refused to receive Freedom Fighters' Pension for a different reason. He was arrested when he had picked up a quarrel with freedom fighters! Police mistook him to be a freedom fighter. His question was, " When the British leave the country, how do you manage, what are your policies and principles?" In the frenzy, people had not thought of this. He posed this question to Mahatma Gandhi when he had come to Bangalore. Mahatma Gandhi said, " Wait, everything will fall into the place, there is no room for disappointment". Unfortunately, everything fell out of place and disintegrated into two parts! Till his last days my grandfather believed that Independence movement was mismanaged, many times by Mahatma Gandhi. Yet, he used to say, "Gandhiji was a great man!". So, I belong to a clan of anti-freedom fighters!
Elsewhere Mahatma Gandhi has said, "The means are equally important as achievements". Did not Krishna, the great Geetacharya behave like mortals by prompting Arjuna to kill Karna, against the principles of war, when the latter had fallen to the ground ? Should God break the prevailing rules ? Was it impossible for the creator to kill Karna in some other way and some other time? In this regard, Gandhi is truly a Mahatma. He is better than the cheap politician, called Krisha. Such high principles can not be seen in any one except in Mahatma Gandhi.
"If I am to die by the bullet of a mad man, I must do so smiling. There must be no anger within me. God must be in my heart and on my lips", Mahatma Gandhi said two days prior to his assassination. Mahatma Gandhi was leaving for Bombay to hold talks with Mohammad Ali Jinnah on 9 September 1944, Hindu activists stopped him. The leader of the group Nathuram Godse, was found in possession of a dagger. The policeman who found the dagger joked, "Why do you want to kill Gandhi? Let's leave it to the leaders themselves... perhaps (Veer) Savarkar will finish off the job!" Godse retorted, "Gandhi does not require such an honour. Even the jamadar (peon) is enough for that!" [Dr. Sushila Nayyar's testimony before Kapoor Commission].
On January 30, 1948, at around 17:10, Nathuram Godse with his accomplices, Madanlal Pahwa, Shankar Kistaiya, Digambar Badge, Vishnu Karkare, Gopal Godse and Narayan Apte assassinated Mahatma Gandhi. Gopal Godse writes in his book 'Why I Assassinated Mahatma Gandhi?': " He has said in his statement that he left the RSS, because Golwalker and the RSS were in a lot of trouble after the murder of Gandhi. But he did not leave the RSS.” Some argue that Veer Savarkar was out of Hindu Mahasabha and Nathuram Godse was not a member of RSS any more, when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. Savarkar is known as Veer Savarkar. Was it his veeratwa (valour) to plot assassination of Mahatma Gandhi? He should have challenged Mahatma Gandhi openly and built his own revolution, instead of eliminating a popular leader. That is what terrorists do elimination of selected people. If Hindutwa forces were so powerful, they should have opposed Gandhi's polities openly.
Mahatma Gandhi says, " I know that I have not in me as yet that triple purity, in spite of constant ceaseless striving for it. That is why the world's praise fails to move me, indeed it very often stings me. To conquer the subtle passions to me to be harder far than the physical conquest of the world by the force of arms. Ever since my return to India I have had experience of the dormant passions lying hidden with in me. The knowledge of them has made me feel humiliated though not defeated. The experiences and experiments have sustained me and given me great joy. But I know that I have still before me a difficult path to traverse. I must reduce myself to zero. So long as a man does not of his own free will put himself last among his fellow creatures, there is no salvation for him". Veer Savarkar should stopped Gandhi by democratic means and not by instigating assassination of the person who was so humane and humble.
I consider Mahatma Gandhi as a great embodiment of religion. It is hard to say whether Gandhi's non-violent means of agitation brought the independence to the country or the bankruptcy of British after the Second World War. I had an opportunity to go through day by day account of Independent struggle during the period 1944-1947 in Samyukta Karnataka (Kannada daily), thanks to my grandfather's rare collection. Along non-violence movement the violence also was going on. It is merely glorification of of non-violence in the history books. Some were violent and many were silent spectators. One should not let down Mahatma's contribution. Bose or Bhagat Singh or any other advocates of violence did not enjoy such great popularity as Mahatma Gandhi did. Gandhi was a force that brought freedom.
Mahatma Gandhi was neither a great orator. He says "Dr. Oldfield once said to me, 'You talk to me quite all right, but why is it that you never open your lips at a committee meeting?' Not that I never felt tempted to speak. But I was at a loss to know how to express myself. All the rest of the members appeared to me to be better informed than I. My hesitancy in speech, which was once an annoyance, is now a pleasure. Its greatest benefit has been that it has taught me the economy of words. I have naturally formed the habit of restraining my thoughts. And I can now give myself the certificate that a thoughtless word hardly ever escapes my tongue or pen. I do not recollect ever having had to regret anything in my speech or writing. I have thus been spared many a mishap and waste of time. A man of few words will rarely be thoughtless in his speech; he will measure every word. My shyness has allowed me to grow." [My Experiments with Truth].
Earlier, criticism of Mahatma Gandhi and his principles was dubbed to be favourite topics of Communists and Hindutva organisations. There is more freedom in the air now and the patriotism of my grandfather is no longer questioned! Gopal Godse has brought out a book "Why I Assassinated Mahatma Gandhi?". We should not belittle the person and ignore his charismatic and adorable personality. I should have truthfulness and courage to say that my father was truly a great person yet he smoked cigarettes.
Mahatma Gandhi lacked proper statesmanship. I strongly feel walking is good for health and the city buses have made the people lazy. If I burn the buses after the passengers got out on their free will(!), would it amount to violence? If damaging government properties is violence, so is burning of Manchester made cloth! British were a democratic country, having their courts, rules and regulations. In such a circumstance, non-violence was suitable. If the Indian soldier thinks for a minute that the enemy standing is his brother (or was his brother prior to 1947), in his weakest moment he would loose his life. If the iron man Sardar Patel was not there, we would still be staging relay hunger strike in front of all 565 royal palaces in the hope of changing their hearts, that they join Indian Republic. Non-violence is not a means to fight terrorists, militants and animals. If Mahatma Gandhi were to be alive today, as usual he would have declared a hridaya parivartana for such people and fasted some more days and by the time terrorists would have killed many! Non-violence that worked against the British did not work against Mohammed Ali Jinnah, fanatic Muslims and equally mad Hindutwa forces.
Mahatma Gandhi was earliest leader of Congress. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose had became frustrated with the lack of momentum in the independence movement. Both were at loggerheads and aired their differences in the public. Subhash Chandra Bose became Congress President for a second term in 1939. Mahatma Gandhi did not fight the elections but his nominated candidate Sri. Pattabhi Sitaramayya was defeated. Mahatma Gandhi commented "His victory is my defeat." Unhealthy environment within the party made twice elected Bose to resign. It is the universal truth that Gandhi s are not fond of positions. Indira Gandhi imposed national emergency not because Allahabad court verdict went against her but due to failure of internal security!
Mahatma Gandhi was an antique lover. He wished to reverse India back by several hundred years. Mahatma Gandhi's dream was Gramarajya and Ramarajya. Ramarajya is the one where the voice all, even insignificant person is heard by the ruler. If Gandhi would have been around, we would be living in grams (villages) eating plenty of grams (pulses). We could have been the weakest country and our soldiers would eat nuts and drink goat's milk! Self sufficiency (that is what Mahatma Gandhi meant by Gramarajya) is good but not opening our windows for the wind of industrialisation blowing every where would have made us yet another Burma. But, Bose believed in socialist principles with an industrialized economy. He was more inclined towards Soviet Union. If Bose had steered India towards Independence, India could have been a rich but communist country. Mahatma Gandhi appreciated Veer Savarkar's work for the down trodden class. When Veer Savarkar met Mahatma Gandhi, they had the following discussion: Mahatma Gandhi said, "We should not use the word untouchables but call them Harijans". Veer Savarkar said, "Since, we worship Hari and we all are harijans. Cast system is a blemish on Hindu society, it should be removed". Mahatma said," Caste system is good, it is the pillar of Hindu religion".
Manu Smruti says, "Burning lead should be poured into the ears of a Shudra who listens to Vedic chants". When an animal is our G(C)ow mata, how can a person in all likeliness be untouchable? Veer Savarkar, a great visionary saw a country where there is no sudra, brahmin and everybody is a Hindu. But Mahatma Gandhi wanted Harijans to be there and be treated likewise forever! Abolition of slavery is different from giving concessions to them.
During the second world war, Gandhi supported the British and made many Indians to join Imperial Army. Yet, he was not able to extract any tangible gains for the sacrifices the jawans did for the Imperial rulers. This was a fanciful idea of Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi mixed religion with politics and yet wanted independent India to be secular! If he had believed in secular principles, he should not have sought mileage by starting Khilafat movement in 1920-22. Turks themselves abolished Caliphate in 1924. Gandhian idea was to unite all the Muslims against British. This Muslim unity went out of his control!
This is what he has to say about Khilafat and killing of cows in his autobiography: "Hindus were bound to stand by the Musalmans in their demand for the redress of the Khilafat wrong. It would ill become them to bring in the cow question in this connection, or to use the occasion to make terms with the Musalmans, just as it would ill become the Musalmans to offer to stop cow slaughter as a price for the Hindus' support on the Khilafat question. But it would be another matter and quite graceful, and reflect great credit on them, if the Musalmans of their own free will stopped cow slaughter out of regard for the religious sentiments of the Hindus, and from a sense of duty towards them as neighbours and children of the same soil. To take up such an independent attitude was, I contended, their duty, and would enhance the dignity of their conduct. But if the Musalmans considered it as their neighbourly duty to stop cow slaughter, they should do so regardless of whether the Hindus helped them in the Khilafat or not. 'That being so,' I argued, 'the two questions should be discussed independently of each other, and the deliberations of the conference should be confined to the question of the Khilafat only.' [My Experiments with Truth]. Whenever I see poor cows bundled up in lorries on their way to slaughter house, I realise they are Gandhians in all respects, ready to sacrifice non violently. [Video: Gandhians March]
Mahatma Gandhi was an expert on fasting and paralysed the British with his efficient weapon. Yet, to persuade Mohammed Ali Jinnah against partition, he did not go on fast! He pleaded with Jinnah to become the first Prime Minister of the country and do what he wanted to do. Mahatma Gandhi did not agree for exchange of Muslim and Hindu population in West Punjab and this resulted in bloody religious cleansing that followed. Pakistan started a macabre genocide and invaded Kashmir, Mahatma Gandhi did not 'think' it was an enemy state. He undertook a fast unto death to force Government of India to pay the partition amount of 55 crore rupees to Pakistan. Sardar Patel tried in vain to stop this. It is like my brother fasting on behalf of my cousin who is at war with me. For this timely help, Pakistan should also call him father or Uncle of their country!
Mahatma Gandhi had such an obsession with non-violence, he did not recognise individual's right of self-protection. On 1 May 1947, he gave a call to Hindus and Sikhs in his prayer meeting: "I would tell the Hindus to face death cheerfully if the Muslims are out to kill them. would be a real sinner if after being stabbed I wished in my last moment that my son should seek revenge. You may turn round and ask whether all Hindus and all Sikhs should die. Yes, I would say. Such martyrdom will not be in vain". On 6 August 1947, Mahatma Gandhi said: "I am grieved to learn that people are running away from the West Punjab and I am told that Lahore is being evacuated by the non-Muslims. I must say that this is what it should not be. If you think Lahore is dead or is dying, do not runaway from it, but die with what you think is the dying Lahore". When West Pakistan waged a relentless undeclared war against East Pakistan, Indira Gandhi did not tell the refugees 'to die in Dakhha' but opened the doors on humanitarian grounds, daring UN actions. It is the duty of a nation to protect its citizens and not tell them to die for a glorified reason. A good government should be impartial and use force against anti-social elements properly. There is no scope for hridaya dourbalya (weakness of the heart).
Mahatma Gandhi was more democratic than his colonial babus. Even UK or USA are not a secular states, as a matter of fact, there are not many secular countries in the world. Despite that Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists live and have same rights as others in those countries. Every country has some symbols to identify its glory. National bird, National anthem, flag etc, are such emblems. Neither Ashoka Chakra nor any other symbols represent majority Hindus. The country promotes division on cast lines every where, yet it is secular, if you believe me! Hindus whose religion is not founded by any single person, who inherit very ancient scriptures of the world, do not have any emblem to represent their cultural values.
Despite all these, I respect Mahatma Gandhi as a person. I abstain from violence of any kind. While walking I ensure I do not step on ants inadvertently. I do not hate any one. All these qualities, I attribute to Mahatma Gandhi. The criticism of Mahatma Gandhi does not deter me from loving and respecting him. He was not a terrorist or a military leader. He was a merciful person who nursed broken leg of a goat, when he was busy in Quit India movement. Regarding cow slaughter, we could have stopped after independence when we became the rulers, but have not done so, even after 60 years. Jainism has true ahimsa, Jains protect all the living creatures while Hindus consider only cow as mother. Hindus' mothers (mata) are being looked after by Jains while Hindus are busy packing their mothers out. These Hindu brothers are the root cause of cow-slaughter.
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." -- Mahatma Gandhi
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