Sunday, October 2, 2011

Is Mohandas Relevant?

In an article, a certain Mr. Vinayak Hegde makes a case that the "Mahatma" is still relevant. He tries to preset himself as a neutral commenter by mentioning both Narendra Modi and Arundhati Roy in a somewhat negative vein as his examples. He points out certain "contradictions" in the approach of the two, which he says are emblematic of the many. He says that the Mahatma was a person with a few simple ideas and goes on to add that the "Mahatma" inspired people with his ideas and until we get some one who could "inspire" people with his ideas, the "Mahatma" will remain relevant.

We feel that the article is a mish-mash of facts and fiction. Before we analyze the article, we must understand to differentiate between people, ideas, and inseparable association between the two when such an association exists. For example, the general theory of relativity is irrevocably associated with Einstein. For Einstein was the one who proposed it, it is his theory.

Those who associate Truth and Non-violence with Mohandas are blowing smoke in the faces of their audience. Truth and Non-violence have been ideas since almost the beginning of time. The scriptures of Sanatana Dharma are dotted with mention of these. In somewhat modern times, the Jain teerthankaras as well as Bhagwan Buddha popularized non-violence. The Sikh gurus sacrificed their lives for the same ideals. And we believe that even the ancient religions elsewhere in the world including Paganism must have had some features covering them.

The so called "Mahatma" gave his interpretation to the practice of these ideas through his writings and his life. Fair enough. So did many people before him and will do after him! The ideas of Truth and Non-violence are NOT inseparably linked to Mohandas, though his interpretation of the two is. Thus we must distinguish between the following two things:

a. The ideas of Truth and Non-violence


b. Mohandasian interpretations of the two.

The second point in the article was the "inspiration" factor. If inspiring people with one's ideas is the acid test, then it would appear that Osama Bin Laden is on a higher footing compared to the "Mahatma". The "Mahatma" could inspire his stooges, including Jawahar and Congress to offer merely lip service to Mohandasian ideals while sticking like limpets to power. On the other hand, Bin Laden has been an inspiration to thousands of youth to lay down their lives!

Further, the "Mahatma" projected himself as a Sanatani Hindu, and people were "inspired" becuase they thought he was a Hindu saint. Thus it was not he but the faith and devotion of a large number of people in Sanatana Dharma which was a major factor in inspiration. For example, the devotional song "Vaishnav jan to tene kahiye" was composed and popularized by the famous Hindu saint from Gujarat, Narsi Mehta. Though, in modern times people often wrongly inseparably associate the bhajan with Mohandas. Thus is the power of propaganda and repetition!

Thus for Hindus Truth and Non-violence have been and will always remain relevant since they are intimately related to Sanatana Dharma. But Hindus must believe their expositions by Krishna and so on, and not distortions propagated by Mohandas.

Thus, as we have mentioned earlier, Krishna's Non-violence is to be adopted and Mohandasian non-violence has to be junked and dumped!

In one sense Mohandas could remain relevant. The people will need to be taught how wrong interpretation and practice of even great ideas leads to one's doom. Thus it will caution and warn people against such follies.

The author also stated that:

Which bring us to one of his best features - He practised what he preached, a feat so rare that it must be an endangered species.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. We quote from here:

The Life and Death of Mahatma Gandhi quotes him on February 19, 1944: "If God wills it, He will pull her through." Gandhi: A Life adds this wisdom from the Mahatma: "You cannot cure your mother now, no matter what wonder drugs you may muster. She is in God's hands now." Three days later, Devadas was still pushing for the penicillin, but Gandhi shot back: "Why don't you trust God?" Kasturba died that day.

The next night, Gandhi cried out: "But how God tested MY faith!" He told one of Kasturba's doctors that the antibiotic wouldn't have saved her and that allowing her to have it "would have meant the bankruptcy of MY faith." (Emphasis mine.)

But Gandhi's faith wasn't much of an obstacle a short time later when it was his ass on the line. A mere six weeks after Kasturba died, Gandhi was flattened by malaria. He stuck to an all-liquid diet as his doctors tried to convince him to take quinine. But Gandhi refused and died of the disease, right? No, actually, after three weeks of deterioration, he took the diabolical drug and quickly recovered. The stuff about trusting God's will and testing faith only applied when his wife's life hung in the balance. When he needed a drug to stave off the Grim Reaper, down the hatch it went.

So much for "he practiced what he preached"!

Concluding remarks:

1. Truth and Non-violence will remain relevant.

2. Krishna's non-violence will remain relevant as the guiding principle.

3. Mohandasian non-violence could remain relevant only as a caution against follies.

4. The halo around the myth of Mohandas will surely give way and the Truth will become known to people.

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