by Suresh Kumar
Noted scientist Albert Einstein had once said about Mahatma Gandhi that our future generations would hardly believe that a person in flesh and bone like Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi really ever existed on this earth. India’s freedom from the slavery of the British was a result of the invaluable contributions and supreme sacrifices of our freedom fighters, but most of the historians of modern times have kept focusing on Mahatma Gandhi and portrayed him as the most important leader and the hero of our freedom struggle who alone brought us independence.
However, scholars differ on this too much glorification of Gandhi or in other words presenting him as a super hero. A section of historians believe that this ‘over glorification’ of Gandhi killed the space of other contemporary freedom fighters to have a proper focus they deserved and evaluate their contribution in the freedom struggle in right perspective. This resulted in our many great freedom fighters going into oblivion facing injustice. What transpired this over glorification of a particular leader is a matter of inquiry.
150th birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi, is an occasion for us to talk about his philosophies, his role in shaping modern India, the contradictions in his thought and deeds and his personality as a whole. Gandhi is a universally acclaimed personality in modern Indian history and was a figure than life. He is the undisputed leader of the Indian freedom movement against the British rule. Gandhi is best known for his unique doctrine of non-violence (Ahimsa) that shaped the psyche of the Indians in both pre and post independence era.
Cult Of Greatness
His views on life, religion and non-violence together built a cult called ‘Gandhism’ that inspired the freedom fighters during the British rule and later became a major guiding force for the political thought that evolved in post-Independence India. His words did cast a spell and exerted deep impact on the minds of the innocent people of this country struggling to get freedom from the British.
This led to a cult of greatness develop around his personality so much so that he is widely known as ‘Mahatma (Divine Personality)’ and was later elevated to ‘Father Of The Nation.’ After decades in post-Independence India, Gandhi has now become a ‘School of Thought’ for the Indian polity and an important subject to be pursued by the students.
No doubt, Gandhi was one of the supreme leaders of modern India who played important role in Indian Freedom Struggle. However, his policy of “Non-Violence” and “Achieving noble ends by noble means” has many shades and is shrouded in controversies. It had a sizable section of opponents too that led to his assassinations’ in 1948. The impact of his actions, decisions and philosophy or in one word ‘Gandhism’ can be seen even after decades of Independence in India with a lot of its side effects.
This cult or the lobby of Gandhi supporters worldwide is so strong and powerful that intelligentsia in general refrains from venturing into an impartial and balanced analysis of his role in Indian Freedom struggle and his personal character for fear of being ostracised as a ‘Right Winger’ or a ‘Communalist’.
Personality Full Of Contradictions
This fear has prevented the untold or relatively lesser Known facts to come out in public. We, the people of India, need a sincere and honest attempt to unmask the naked truths that have been hidden from us for long. Unless this is done, the coming generations will continue to be taught same distorted and one sided history for an infinite period. It is high time we had an introspection of Gandhian policies and his actions that shaped the future of Independent India, especially the Gandhian model of Secularism that has been thrust upon the Indian populace through the Constitution.
The personality of Gandhi was full of contradictions and often his words did not match his deeds. Like almost all public figures, there are many untold truths about him. First of all, Gandhi was a born Hindu by faith and often cited examples and excerpts from Gita which is the essence of Hindu religion, but his doctrine of non-violence did not match with the philosophy of Hindu Dharma and in fact was against the tenets of Gita. In Gita, Sri Krishna exhorts Arjun to start an armed struggle against the evil and injustice in self defense for the cause of humanity and upholding the ‘Dharma.’
Other than Gita no Hindu scripture preaches for a surrender before evil, injustice and oppression. On the contrary, Gandhi used to motivate his followers for a complete surrender before the evil and not to take any action in self defense. This distorted view of non-violence played a vital role in the massacre of Hindus in the aftermath of Partition. Gandhi used to say, if one slaps you on the one cheek, offer him another cheek as a mark of your protest.
Founder Of Appeasement Policy
Gandhi was not only the ‘Father of the Nation’, but he was the father of the ‘Minority (say Muslim) Appeasement Policy’ in India too. How strange it is to see that a man known for his doctrine of non-violence, supported the British in the first World War and again the violent Khilafat Movement to make himself popular among the Muslims. It was he who banned the national song ‘VandeMataram’ in all prayers and speeches of the Congress Party despite the fact that this song was a source of inspiration for India during the uprising against the British.
Actually, Mohammed Ali Jinnah along with few of his followers had objected to this song and demanded a ban on it in 1938. To appease him, Gandhi forced the whole nation to completely abandon the song showing little respect for the national anthem. And thereafter, Congress circulated a manifesto in 1940, forbidding members of Congress from using the term ‘VandeMataram’ during any announcement or in public speech (source : The sacrifice Of 55 Crores-1971 – written by Gopal Vinayak Godse). Gandhi’s surrender like leniency towards Muslims and Jinnah in particular cost India its split. A man known for using the fast as his supreme weapon didn’t go on to a fast or a ‘Satyagrah’ against the Partition of India.
When the Muslims were killing and raping Hindus in the newly formed Pakistan, Gandhi didn’t go into fasting neither did he say anything to prevent atrocities on them. On the contrary, he demanded that the Hindu refugees who occupied a mosque in Delhi should evict it peacefully, or else he would go on fast unto death. On 6th April 1947, Gandhi gave a speech after a prayer meeting wherein he said that even if the Muslims are out there, slicing through Hindu masses to wipe out the Hindu race, the Hindus should say nothing and should not be angry with the Muslim people. During the same speech, he said that if the Muslims slit the throats of the Hindus, Hindus should accept death.
Dislike For Great Hindu Rulers
Mahatma Gandhi had a dislike for great Hindu rulers known for their valour and indomitable courage, especially ChhatrapatiShivajiMaharaj. He even went to the extent of banning a poem called ‘Shiv Bhavaani’ written by poet Bhushan to appease the Muslims. There was depiction of Islam’s intolerance and fierce fundamentalism spread by it in this poem (source : The Sacrifice Of 55 Crores (PanchavannaKotinche Bali)-1971/ GopalVinayakGodse). How strange it is to note that while he preached Hindu-Muslim unity, he prevented his son from tying marital knots with a Muslim girl.
Gandhi’s unique Ahimsa theory sans logic when he once said to his followers that if someone is out there raping your sister, all you should do is fall on to that person’s feet and if that bully or the rapist stabs and kills you, you should accept death (source : Gandhi Gondhal (Gandhi’s Confusion)/ written by VinayakDamodarSavarkar). Gandhi’s support for Khilafat Movement unleashed and validated Islamic extremism and it was completely opposed to his Ahimsa ideology. Former President of Indian National Congress Shankaran Nair was a strong critic of his policies.
In his book “Gandhi and Anarchy”, Shankaran Nair was of the view that Gandhi was leading India towards anarchy and Annie Besant had endorsed the view. Dr. N.B. Khare has written in his book ‘My Political Memoirs’ that when Subhash Chandra Bose met him, Bose simply said that India has no hopes until Gandhism is removed, for Gandhi has actually made India impotent by his useless rants of Ahimsa.
Infamous Experiments With Truth
Gandhi’s infamous experiments with truth are well known and there is a complete chapter on this aspect of his personal character. The pre-Independence Prime Minister Of the Indian state of Travancore had called him “a most dangerous, semi-repressed sex maniac”. Nathuram Godse’s act of assassinating Gandhi can’t be justified in any way, but a few points raised by him in his last statement given in court during trial are still relevant and need a public debate. His soft corner towards Jawahar Lal Nehru to gift him premiership despite no vote from any provincial Assembly is still a mystery.
That was the first election rigging in Independent India. Despite all these negative shades of his personality, what made him different from all others was his honest and bold confessions in his autobiography and his book ‘My Experiments With Truth’. This was the path where most of the people in public life fear to tread.
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