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Updated: October 3, 2010 02:30 IST

Tribute to the illustrious son of the soil

Joseph George
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Gandhiji was the bridge over the chasm between the intellectual and the unlettered villager. Unlike them, yet one of them.

This October 2 marked the 141st anniversary of the birth of one of the world's greatest and the illustrious son of this soil – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who is reverently called the Mahatma and rightly acknowledged as the ‘Father of the Nation'. To the teeming millions of India's toiling masses and the vast numbers of the underprivileged among them, he brought a message of hope. He was the bridge over the chasm between the intellectual and the unlettered villager. Unlike them, he was yet one of them. Servant of all, he spoke in a mellifluous language which India's indigent multitudes had never heard any one speak before.

Gandhiji had a three dimensional message — to the individual, to the nation and to the world. He taught us that each individual must conquer all evil tendencies and strive to seek truth through love and non-violence and live a truthful life. Only a life of love, service, sacrifice and constructive work will be worth living. In the event of another individual seeking the truth opposes the truth you accept, you should convert and convince him through love, service and sacrifice and abjure coercion and violence.

Realising that India is a multi-religious, multi-racial and multi-lingual country, his message to the nation was to weld India into one nation based on equal respect for all religions, secularism and democracy as the basis of achieving unity. Sarvodaya which ensured the greatest happiness of the greatest number should be the aim of the social order providing for equal opportunities for all, for the full development of their talents and faculties putting an end to exploitation of man by man.

Gandhiji's message to the world was to forge a federation of free nations in a world without war and hatred. He called upon nations to abjure violence against each other, but to fight the dreaded enemies of poverty, ignorance, disease, human suffering and social injustice. He advised nations to employ scientific and technological knowhow to further the ideals of a peaceful world order respecting human rights and promoting human welfare.

Mahatma Gandhi will be remembered in all world capitals for the outstanding contribution he made for world peace. He expounded and propagated the doctrine of non-violence, not as a passive submission to evil, but as an active and positive instrument for peaceful solution of the international differences. He demonstrated that the human spirit is more potent than the mightiest of armaments. He applied moral values to political action and pointed out that ends and means are inseparable, for means ultimately governs the end. His doctrine's validity has gained universal acceptance is clear from the gesture of the United Nations in remembering Gandhiji on his birthday and the acknowledgement of his relevance by the U.S. Congress which has tabled a unanimous resolution commemorating the ‘apostle of peace'.

Gandhiji in his life time was hailed as the conscience of humanity, as a moral genius and as one who epitomised the sheer power of truth, non-violence and human spirit. He discovered the potency of Satyagraha, a new dynamic technique of social change. We hasten to add that this peaceful technique of revolt has no kinship with the spewed obscenities of today's gheraos and dharnas. He was the prophet of this century who stood fearlessly for truth, fought with the weapon of non-violence and cut a new path to the peaceful solution of human conflicts. He taught us that love, not force, is the law of human species. He kindled new hope in the human hearts by affirming that “in the midst of darkness — light persists, in the midst of death — life persists, in the midst of hatred — love persists”.

Our tribute to Gandhiji should be a pledge to relentlessly pursue his ideals embodied in the four potent and meaningful words of Satya (truth), Ahimsa (non-violence), Satyagraha (truth force) and Sarvodaya (universal prosperity). It is a matter of shame and regret that the Gandhian ideals are being misquoted, misinterpreted and widely abused by the ignorant and the greedy. Gandhiji belongs to the ages, for he is not India's, he is the World's. He belongs not to our age, but to the ages and yet though he belongs to all time and to all people, he is our own, for he was an Indian. He remains our standard to measure other men who lay claim to greatness.

(The writer's email is mkgjoseph@gmail.com)

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