George C. Wallace, the United States Secretary of State when Mohandas K. Gandhi was assassinated, said that Gandhi ?had become a spokesman for the conscience of all mankind- a man who made humility and simple truth more powerful than empires? (Gandhi, np).
Gandhi is well known for his leadership in the liberation of India from Britain, but his main goal and message transcends beyond the acts he did, into everyday living. Gandhi promoted simple living, non-violence, and forgiveness as a way to unite all people peacefully. These principles helped him to liberate his people and to teach them a lesson that all can learn. Much of Gandhi?s philosophy is rooted in what he learned as a child. From his mother, he learned Hindu teachings. She often took him with her to care for the poor of the area and encouraged fasting as a way to achieve purity of the soul (Logue, 6).
Vegetarianism and simple living were also principles first given to Gandhi by his mother and born religion, Hinduism. Gandhi?s father was the town diwan ? the man to settle disputes. When Gandhi was 15, he tried smoking and stole money from servants as well as jewelry from his brother. He felt guilty for doing such things, however, and wrote to his father in apology, asking for punishment. Instead of learning through punishment, Gandhi learned forgiveness from his father. When the letter was received, his father began to cry and forgave him (7).
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From his parents, Gandhi also received an ?early grounding? in toleration for all branches of Hinduism and similar religions. His parents often took him and his siblings to different temples. Gandhi also often listened to his father discuss religion with Jain monks (Gandhi, np).
The lesson Gandhi learned as a child was mirrored in his adult life, as he then learned first hand the importance of ahimsa, or Truth. Gandhi encouraged people to live a simple life. Simple living to Gandhi meant wanting less and sharing more. The Hindu faith he grew up with called him to free himself from possessions and passions as a way to God (Gandhi, np).
While living in England to study law, Gandhi read many religious books. There he fully began to grasp the meaning of the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, and found a personal reason to simplify his life. He was called to achieve Moksha, the setting free of one?s soul. In order to do this, he must refrain from using possessions as a means of happiness. This often included giving up sex, as it was a hindrance to his drive in life. Gandhi was celibate for over four decades. He strived for a more simple life in order to have more time for community service. He gave back all compensation, including gifts that were given to him. His goal in living simply was to know his own heart and to reach the hearts of others (Leigh, np).
Gandhi would never let another person serve him, not even a servant; he always served them (Gandhi, np).
Gandhi taught that happiness does not come with things, but with work and pride in what you do. Knowing this, it was necessary for local skills to be revived in their community (Gandhi, np).
Under British rule, Indian principles of simple living had been reduced. The Indians could be found adopting habits of the West such as expensive clothing and tea. They even ate meat, despite it being often against their religion (The Higher Taste, 28).
In order for the country to gain independence from Britain, Gandhi realized that they must be independent economically. Gandhi walked the country, offering spinning wheels to people as an alternative to purchasing British goods (?Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi?, 203).
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Part of Gandhi?s goal in living simply was to unite people as equals. There were two kinds of slavery in India, as Gandhi claimed, the women and the Untouchables, the members of the exterior castes. He strived to end both (Gandhi, np).
He saw women as people of great courage and intuition. He greatly believed in the concept that ?all men are brothers? and added that women are their sisters. He believed that they deserved education just as men did, and that men and women complimented each other, not by domination and submission (Leigh, np).
He walked from town to town, meeting many of the Untouchables to see what they needed (Logue, 15).
Gandhi felt, that in order for India to be united as one country, all must understand the place of those in most need, and of the common man. He was often found ?doing menial chores for unpaid borders of exterior castes? (?Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi?, 202).
He always rode third class on the trains and when asked why he replied, ?because there is no fourth class? (Leigh, np).
His dress too, was that of the common people, showing that all are equal. He often proclaimed that each man?s labor is as important as another (Gandhi, np).
The uniting of all people included those of differing religions. When India was finally liberated from Britain, there was a dispute on who would run the country, the Hindus or the Muslims. Gandhi wanted them to unite peacefully, but they broke into war instead. Gandhi went on a 21 day fast in attempt to persuade them from fighting (?Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi?, 203).
He believed that there was truth to all religions, if one would only look to see it. He reinforced his belief that ?all men are brothers? by adding that this Truth, also known as God, could be found as well in all people (Leigh, np).
Gandhi wanted to prove to the Hindus and Muslims that ?the only devils in the world are those running around in our own hearts and that is where our battles ought to be fought? (Gandhi, np).
This further meant that violence upon other people or even animals would only prove to be unnecessary. On his way to a case in South Africa, Gandhi was forced to leave a first class seat on the basis of his race. That night, as he spent hours in the cold at a bus station because he refused to sit in third class while possessing a first class ticket, he came to a decision. He vowed to himself not to yield to force and not, in turn, to use force to get ahead (Leigh, np).
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He was reminded of an old precept he learned as a child, ?return good for evil? and allowed that to become a guiding principle in his movement towards non-violence. Gandhi?s non-violent movement took the name Satyagraha which literally means ?holding onto truth? or ?soul force?. He believed that fear and hatred could only produce more of the same (Leigh, np).
He taught that when one is pushed towards injustice, one must simply refuse and not fight back. To take the blows of their oppressors and not become servants would have both moral and practical value. Morally, violence and hatred are wrong by most, if not all, religions. Often though, some form of self-defense is considered excusable. Gandhi said ?I cannot intentionally hurt anything that lives, much less human beings, even though they may do the greatest wrong to me? (Logue, 23).
He also said of cooperation with Britain that ?non-cooperation with evil is a duty, and British rule of India is evil? (Gandhi, np).
That gave a moral basis for non-cooperation, and non-violence against Britain. Practically, the cause for liberation was to be most purely sought through the course of non-violence. Gandhi believed that in order to overcome injustice one must make injustice visible (Gandhi, np).
Fighting back does not allow for such. He encouraged his people to fight against anger, not to provoke it (Gandhi, np).
Even more practically was the concept of earning India?s independence. He reminded his followers that terrorism only justifies their regression and to have courage to take the opposing anger. He urged for peaceful non-violent non-cooperation and attained it through most of his life (Gandhi, np).
The phrase is echoed, ?an eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind? (Gandhi, np).
Gandhi?s belief in the principle of non-violence did not end with people. He believed that all beings deserved respect and care. He believed in vegetarianism for reasons of non-violence as well as its values towards simple living. If there is less grain grown for cows, there is more grown for the use of people directly (McKibben, 64).
... may be it was touching. Many believed that Gandhi’s non-violence had failed. Mohandas K. Gandhi, the “Great Soul,” was anything but a ... . The raid, which resulted in violence and bloodshed, proved to be a turning point in the movement. The British government realized that ... which was a colony of the British Empire. The life of young Mohandas centered on his mother, who taught him about the ...
?I do feel,? stated Gandhi, ?that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants? (The Higher Taste, 28).
Although he learned vegetarianism from his mother, Gandhi came to this belief on his own terms after studying the issue while earning his law degree in London (Gandhi, np).
As Gandhi called for liberation of the soul, he taught forgiveness. Just as his father had forgiven him, Gandhi longed to have no hard feelings towards others. To achieve forgiveness, people must forgive themselves as well and take effort to correct their wrongs. This is why when a Hindu came to Gandhi after killing a Muslim boy in revenge for the Muslim killing of his son Gandhi told the man to find a Muslim around the age of the boy he killed and raise him as his own son, only Muslim (Gandhi, np).
When Gandhi refused to pay a tax in South Africa that was unjust, a man by the name of General Smuts put him in prison. Gandhi did not have hard feelings after he was released. Instead, he made General Smuts a pair of sandals he had made while in prison as a sign of forgiveness (Logue, 13).
Gandhi also urged the people not to be bitter with the British, despite their unfair rule over the country. He said ?We?ve come a long way with the British. When they leave we?d like to see them off as friends? (Gandhi, np).
The strongest example of Gandhi?s forgiveness can be seen in the very last moment of his life. Gandhi said to one of his followers that if someone were to kill him, he would say God?s name with his last breath, forgiving the person that killed him. Three days later, a Hindu who blamed him for the division of India (to India and Pakistan) shot Gandhi. As Gandhi died, he spoke God?s name, forgiving the man that killed him (Logue, 22-23).
Gandhi was called Mahatma, meaning ?great soul?, as well as Bapu, meaning, ?father? (Chadha, 506).
Over the course of time, many have taken parts of his wisdom and made a difference in their lives and in the world. The Farm Workers Protest of California Central Valley, the Anti-Apartheid movements in South Africa, as well as the Civil Rights movement by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. all owe a great debt to Gandhi. Sit-ins, ?going limp?, and boycotts were all concepts inspired by Gandhi?s Satyagraha movement (McKibben, 62).
... conscience by asking forgiveness of anyone categorized in the same group as those he killed and harmed. Alan ... could not be fully repentant. His request for forgiveness is limited to one of his crimes. ... himself, Karl felt that he was worthy of forgiveness from a randomly selected Jew. He burdened Wiesenthal ... he was wrong. Karl does not deserve forgiveness because he does not seem truly regretful of ...
He was the father of many movements, and of a philosophy not only believed, but lived.
?A principle is a principle. And in no case can it be watered down because of our incapacity to live it in practice. We have to strive to achieve it, and the striving should be conscious, deliberate and hard? (?Quotes?, np).
Gandhi?s principles of simple living, non-violence and forgiveness were not watered down in his life and are not to be watered down in the lives of future generations. He calls everyone everywhere to lead peaceful, loving lives. It is evident not only in what he did, but who he was. Thesis: Gandhi promoted simple living, non-violence, and forgiveness as a way to unite all people peacefully. I. Gandhi?s religious instruction as a child B. To unite women and the Untouchables C. Non-violence towards all creatures Chadha, Yogesh. Gandhi. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1997. Gandhi. Dir. Richard Attenborough. With Ben Kingsley, Candice Bergen, and Martin
Gandhi, Mohandas K. The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Beacon Press, 1963. The Higher Taste. U.S.A.: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1991. Leigh, Angela. ?Gandhi Living in Peace.? 7 May 2000: n. pag. On-line. Internet. Available: //gandhi.virtualave.net/ Logue, Mary. Forgiveness: The Story of Mahatma Gandhi. U.S.A.: The Child?s World, McKibben, Bill. ?Joys R Us?. Unte Reader. March-April 2000. No.98: 60-64. ?Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi? Encyclopedia of World Biography V.6 ?Quotes?. Gandhi, Mohandas K. Available: //www.mahatma.org.in/anthro.htm
Works Cited Chadha, Yogesh. Gandhi. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1997. Gandhi. Dir. Richard Attenborough. With Ben Kingsley, Candice Bergen, and Martin
Sheen. Columbia Pictures, 1982. Gandhi, Mohandas K. The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Beacon Press, 1963. The Higher Taste. U.S.A.: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1991. Leigh, Angela. ?Gandhi Living in Peace.? 7 May 2000: n. pag. On-line. Internet. Available: //gandhi.virtualave.net/ Logue, Mary. Forgiveness: The Story of Mahatma Gandhi. U.S.A.: The Child?s World, 1998. McKibben, Bill. ?Joys R Us?. Unte Reader. March-April 2000. No.98: 60-64. ?Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi? Encyclopedia of World Biography V.6 Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1998. ?Quotes?. Gandhi, Mohandas K. Available: //www.mahatma.org.in/anthro.htm
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