Gandhi’s Teachings on Non-Violence and Violence
Gandhi’s teachings on non-violence and violence focus on the benefits of non-violence as compared to violence. Gandhi’s teachings focus on why love can conquer all opponents. Non-violence or ‘ahimsa’ “alone can provide a remedy for our ills” (p. 252). This quote shows why non-violence is important for India. According to Gandhi, “non-violence is a matter of the heart” (p. 252) that requires faith in God and it transcends time and space. This quote shows why power of non-violence lasts forever, just like the “soul persists after death” (p. 253), as we are a part of God.
According to Mahatma Gandhi, man and his actions are two different things. He said: “hate the sin and not the sinner” (p. 254). This quote shows that Mahatma Gandhi thought that if one could understand the difference between the sin and the sinner, hatred in this world will be reduced. According to Mahatma Gandhi, this will further help in spreading non-violence in the society as loving those that hate us spread non-violence.
For Mahatma, loving someone who hates us is the biggest test of non-violence. Love is the strongest force that the world has and without love, life will lose all interest. According to him, “methods of violence are not consistent with human dignity” (p.254). This quote is significant as it shows Gandhi did not believe, practice or promoted any form of violence. However, Mahatma Gandhi also distinguishes between cowardice and non-violence. While a coward will run away from the battlefield, a non-violent person will stand ground and face it. For Mahatma, “if there is a choice between cowardice and violence”, then he would advise violence. This quote shows that Gandhi believed in violence compared to cowardice but did not promote violence. According to Gandhi, “non-violence is infinitely superior to violence”. This quote establishes his strong belief in non-violence as it represents and indomitable will of the person who practices it.
Mahatma Gandhi and his Swaraj
According to Mahatma Gandhi, ‘swaraj’ is achieved when all individuals are free to decide the best path for their success. According to Mahatma, ‘swaraj’ can be achieved if there is independence for all. “Swaraj of a people means the sum-total of the swaraj of individuals” (p. 257). This quote shows that Mahatma believed that swaraj is important for each individual in the society to achieve collective swaraj for India as a country. For Mahatma, every local body should be independent with power to manage its own affairs with no outside control. Any government with national control or central control will curb the inner circle of villages and Gandhi did not want such a system in India. According to Mahatma, “swaraj does consist in the change of government and its real control by the people” (p. 258). This quote explains why swaraj can be achieved only with change in government. Gandhi believed that “swaraj of the masses can never come through untruthful and violent means” (p. 258). This quote once again establishes that Gandhi believed that non-violence is required to achieve ‘swaraj’ and individual freedom requires non-violence. For Gandhi, government should be democratic that allows public opinion to be considered before making decisions. “Self-government depends entirely upon our own internal strength, upon our ability to fight against the heaviest odds” (p. 260). This quote of Mahatma showcases why individuals need to be strong to create a ‘swaraj’ society.
According to Mahatma Gandhi, swaraj could be achieved when there is unadulterated ahimsa in the society. Intolerance should be avoided and there should be patience that allows for changes within the society. This will result in a democratic society where individual opinion and action will be guarded for all. “Real swaraj will come not by the acquisition of authority by a few but by the acquisition of the capacity by all to resist authority” (p. 259). This quote establishes how Gandhi believed ‘swaraj’ and independence can be achieved.