Gandhiji’s idea of Satyagraha had two phases: the capacity to hear the inner voice by nullifying the ego through a total submission to ‘Satya Narayan’ (truth as God), and the capacity to bear sufferings with fortitude, said Tridip Suhrud, Director of Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust, Ahmedabad, here on Saturday.

The Gandhian scholar was delivering the third lecture on “Satyagraha” at the ‘Festival of Gandhian Ideas’ at the Don Bosco High School in the city, organised by Peaceful Society, Madkai and Church-affiliated Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP). Writer Maria Aurora Couto was the chairperson for the session.

“Satyagraha as a quest for truth is linked to the quest for Swaraj and for a civilization wherein self-realisation is not structurally precluded,” said Mr. Suhrud. “In the absence of self-conscious self-purification, Satyagraha as Gandhi understood and practiced would not have come to him. Satyagraha cannot be sustained without a lifelong and continuous striving for purification,” the Gandhian scholar said.

Narrating an event at the Jewish-owned Empire theatre in Johannesburg on September 11, 1906, Mr. Suhrud said men of Asiatic origin came together to adopt a resolution declaring their opposition to the Asiatic Registration Act or the Black Act.

He said that the terms used by one of the speakers Sheth Haji Habib: “Khuda Kasam” (an oath taken in the name of God) and ‘Khuda as hazar nazar’ (within the presence of God and with God as witness), were the defining moment and conception of Satygraha as “a covenant of the self with God and of the self with the embodied person”.

Satyagraha, Mr. Suhrud pointed out, required preparation and Gandhiji listed several attributes in Hind Swaraj: courage, freedom from fear (abhaya), adoption of poverty (aparigriha), non-stealing (asteya), steadfastness to truth, and celibacy (brahmacharya).

Gandhiji’s response to sacrifice in daily life was two-fold: for one he turned to the Bible (‘Earn thy bread by the sweat of thy brow’). The other was unique to him, the ‘yagna’ of his times – spinning.

In the absence of self-conscious self-purification, Satyagraha as Gandhi understood and practiced would not have come to him.

Tridip Suhrud

Director of Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust, Ahmedabad

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