Friday, October 1, 2010

What makes Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi Mahatma Gandhi?

The world respects Gandhi and his principles of civil disobedience based on non violence. India considers him the Father of Nation. His outstanding contribution to Indian independence stands out. Historians have written books on him, his philosophy is a research topic of pupils while some consider him a shrewd politician.

But what makes him Mahatma?

In my mind Gandhi’s constant effort to create a just and equal society makes him Mahatma. Gandhi made an unprecedented effort to integrate a highly fragmented, religion, caste and class based society of India. Learning equality from social structure of Britain and experiencing the humiliation of discrimination in South Africa, Gandhi’s mission in India started with social reforms and civil rights and till the very end he tried to unite people from different faiths. 

What is your reason to call him Mahatma?

(PS:- Please do read the comments. Readers' comments have provided new information and different perspectives)

122 comments:

  1. I do not have any reason! My thoughts might sound controversial but I do not think he was a Mahatma. He was a son of a nation and did what anyone should have. He did have an unparalleled resilience and patience which we benefitted from ... but in the end is the Free India really free? And it is not like he was perfect in all spheres of his life. He was human and hence made many mistakes/errors in his personal and even political life. He is great and we have a lot to be thankful for but that does not necessarily make him a Mahatma. I could go on and on but do not want to offend anyone. Specially since its Mr. Gandhi's birthday. Hope this is received in the free spirit it is been expressed.

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  2. No my friend I dont beleive that at all.. He had his wrong doings too.. But to tell the truth freedom got a bit delayed because of his politics .. No doubt he was a excellent politicians but he made wrong decisions and sometimes he gave up on ideas at the last hurdle like the non-cooperation movemnet when it was taking over and doing damage he took a step back because of a incident that happened...

    Also the leaders that were with him at that time I Think were not as strong so he managed to overpower them at times ...

    We have to be thankful to him for a lot of things no doubt.. but he was definitely not a Mahatama.. Gandhi

    This is what i meant in my post on bhagat singh, today all news paper will have words on Gandhi which i dont appreciate ..

    Dont agree with the article sorry never ever liked gandhi especially since he did not have a clue of whats going to happen once british leave.. to be frank he did not expect british will leave , he was fighting for it but it seems he did not know how or what to do once india became a free country .. hence all the problems that came up...

    But there were others freedom fighters who did say about it . Moreover when Bhagat singh got jailed and in his court appearing and all It was him and his comrades who took up the slogan of POORAN SWARAJ... he asked for total independance .. Gandhi did not even ask for it , he was happy with the sharing idea.. it was only after that ... and HISTORY tells us That it was after bhagat singh-rajguru-sukhdev and comrades that COngress went for the Pooran swaraj.. because they wanted to take the politicla mileage on that tooo...

    Hence I would always put gandhi and his mates ar political people and we all know how politicians behave and what they do for a bit of recognition after all the famouse indian saying EK HI THALI KE CHATTE WATTE HAIN..

    This is what i caleld hypocracy others worked and did the ultimate to achieve something yet the SEHRA goes to ONE WHYyyyyyyyyyy is the question.. and the personal life of Gandhi well well welll What do i say about that now .. its a big Question Mark ?

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    1. i agree wid ur thoughts n sayings....gandhi wasnt a gud freedom fighter...he didnt fight for INDIA...he wanted to show dat he ws great...which he wsnt actually....He had a total ploitical mind set...

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    2. Vishnavi, he did upto certain extent was self centered. His attitude towards his own sons is not a strong point in his life.

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  3. Actually I don't like Gandhi much so no reason to call him that. I have a lot of reasons for not liking him but don't think it would be appropriate to talk about it right now.

    p.s personal view point and not meant to offend anybody

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  4. @Tanvi, @Bik, @Sucheta

    You are NOT creating a controversy and I absolutely don't mind if you disagree with this article. You will not offend anyone.

    1. History is pretty convoluted. When I was growing up, I was taught Gandhi is responsible for freedom and Nehru the second one.Others also count.

    2. After finishing college, I read books on Gandhi and more books on Independence struggle.

    3. My opinion changed.

    4. I fully agree with Bik, Independence struggle had many more critical players. I will write an article on freedom struggle with my opinion.

    5. Rabindranath Tagore gave Gandhi title 'Mahatma'. It is not clear to me why. That was before independence.

    6. My take is written in article. If you read it one more time...I did not say he was successful...I said he made constant effort and first one who tried to integrate our society. Imagine 100 years back. Four castes...Brahmins, Shatriya, Traders and Untouchable..that system was prevalent. Religion was another factor creating factions. Mostly educated people (who were Shatriya and Brahmin) were trying for independence. They were limited in numbers and British could rule. Gandhi started or tried to bring all of them together. But again history is not clear. Ambedkar is not given due credit for his efforts.

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  5. MAHATMA means a great soul.
    He was truly a great soul.He is the one who actually got us the independence, though the credit has been and is being taken by one family.
    He gave up all he had only for the nation.

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    1. little knowledge is a dangerous thing..!!

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    2. Vaishnavi,

      Thanks for stopping by. I agree little knowledge is dangerous. Maybe you can could give an insight.

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  6. @BK Chowla,

    Thank you. I guess 'one family' means...the dynasty we still have.

    We never hear much about M K Gandhi's sons and ancestors.

    Also I could never understand the reason for 'Feroz' (Indira's husband) to use last name Gandhi...why not some other last name. Was it confuse innocent public to get votes.

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  7. To me he is more than a Mahatma--a common man who fought for truth - his principles of truth,faith,simplicity ,tolerance ,non-violence has no match.Sometimes i just can't resolve a simple tiff between my kids over a pencil--imagine him binding whole India as one against mighty British Empire.
    His constant efforts on increasing economic self reliance, women's right,ending untouchability,promoting hand looms tell me that not only he was fighting against British rule but also recognized the weaknesses of our society and tried his best to improve them.He understood very well that real India was in our villages-which was soon forgotten after we achieved independence.

    I am very proud to belong to the same country where Mahatma was born .He is my hero !

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  8. @Kavita,

    Besides 'untouchables' and 'women rights', Gandhi's worked hard for farmers. I think that was his first mission in India. This is what I call 'social reforms' and integration of society. Also religion was (and still is) another factor in Indian society that divides us and partition could not be avoided.

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  9. I guess "Mahatma" has become a part of his name that we use it like a name - without giving it much thought.

    Nice to see different opinions on him - but honestly I do not have any opinion about him though I am grateful to him and others who fought for our freedom. I have my due respect for him and others.

    I haven't been much interested in Indian history or politics as a student nor as an adult. May never get interested in the future too.

    Good one @A! I am sure this is another flood gates you just opened...

    ~ NRIGirl

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  10. @NRIGirl,

    Though I scored high in History tests, I did not really understand it completely. I memorized dates and reiterated the text book material in the tests.

    But now I have read many more books and have a completely different perspective.

    Gandhi was actually a very complex personality and he changed over time. Reading books on him, I feel he changed over time. At times he was very indecisive.

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  11. I am so much with Bikramjit and Shuchita. I also do not consider him any Mahatma.

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    1. I still did not know what exactly makes a person MAHATMA ?

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  12. I was going to write exactly what Shuchita wrote. But then I read your reply to her. So I am giving a few thoughts of my own.
    Of course, he was the leader for getting India’s Independence. So, I welcome calling him the father of our nation.
    Mr. Gandhi took up fast unto death for anything and everything. The British and other Indian politicians were afraid of that. So he could get away with this sort of blackmail. What happens if someone goes on fast unto death now in India. He/She will be arrested for attempted suicide.
    He favored muslims over hindus. I don’t want him to give special treatment for hindus. But as a leader of the nation he should have treated both hindus and muslims equally. He toured the areas where muslims were affected in a riot situation but rarely toured the areas where hindus were affected in a riot situation.
    He was opposed to partition of India. Since Jinna was adamant, he tried to reach a compromise that Jinna can become Prime Minister once we get independence. What is this? Is he dividing his personal properties among his children? People should elect and decide who will be the Prime Minister.
    A page from history. When India got independence, the princely state of Travancore & Cochin, initially declared that they don’t want to be part of India and they would go with Pakistan. Gandhi wanted to enter that princely state and tour in protest of that decision. Mr. C. P. Ramaswamy Iyer was the Diwan of Travancore & Cochin. He was a very strong person. He ordered that Mr. Gandhi should be arrested if he enters the princely state. He knew the capabilities of Mr. Ramaswamy Iyer. Mr. Gandhi never even attempted to enter that princely state.

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  13. @SG,

    Good information about Travancore and Cochin. I did not know.

    About Gandhi's role in freedom fight, most books say that left active role and came back later on. Also few accounts says that he (for that matter Congress party as a whole) could not really decide to let Indian Arm Forces help British in second world war and British sent the forces anyway. Bose was the only one in Congress who made a firm decision to form a faction and fight against British. Also Quit India movement clearly indicates British backed off any promise they made for total independence. So I think for freedom fight, it does not seem like there was a single entity that worked in India's favor.

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  14. @Kiran,

    Thanks.:) Accept your comment.

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  15. Weather we want to burden his soul with Mahatma-hood or not, the great soul remains untouched by it. The great soul acts for the sake of action, undeterred by the criticism and uninfluenced by the flatter. It neither seeks the fruit of its results for self nor abandons the hope of fruit for the humanity. Mahatma Gandhi’s life was an example of such soul. We should not be hesitant of criticizing the short comings of even great souls because it is in these critics that we realize the limits of our own ideals. As Mahatma himself said (paraphrasing), “even the teaching of greatest scripture can’t be exempt from criticism. We have no other guide but our reason to tell us what may be regards as revealed and what may not be”. No other person but Gandhi himself has set a precedence by opening up his life story with all the short comings – some of which are very personal in nature that we otherwise would never have found out. Do I still need to pass a judgment on his Mahatma-wood or rather I question my qualification to pass that judgment?

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  16. Hi, I read you post minutes after it was posted by you.But due to some error I was unable to post a comment here.
    It is good to know that on this day wherever we are we feel joy in acknowledging this small but great man, for without him we might still be living under the British rule.
    I am aware that many people did not like Gandhi's way of tackling the various issues, in fact after some time people felt he was more of a burden than a help.
    But the fact remains, that if he had not enthused the people of India to ask the British to Quit India, we might never be tasting the freedom which we have now.
    I also take the opportunity to acknowledge all the other leaders, for fighting and dying for a free India. Also we must remember, that everything told by our parents and grand parents about their struggle during that highly traumatic period is 100% true, for they lived to see every bit of it.
    And I too am proud to be born in a country that has not one but many known and unknown Mahatmas.

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  17. For some reason, I feel that the comments on this blog are tilted heavily one way, so I want to provide a counter view so that other under-informed readers of this blog have something to balance while they are on the journey of understanding the life and morals of this important leader.

    Mahatma’s conflict with other leaders:
    Mahatma Gandhi had his ideals. He stood with conviction by his own ideals when it conflicted with the ideals of others (example – Gandhi vs. Bose). This does not diminish the greatness of either leader but is what we should expect from our leaders. A country with great leaders with conflicting ideals reflects the political maturity of the nation (that we have unfortunately lost in recent days.)

    Who gets the credit for India’s freedom?
    A lot of debate is surrounded if Mahatma Gandhi deserves the entire credit for India’s freedom. But remember that he never claimed this fame. It was others who burdened him with that fame. He spent his day fasting in Bengal on the eve of India’s independence mourning for the million souls that lost their life. India’s freedom struggle is such a significant historic event that it is unrealistic to credit all attributes of that to any single individual. But it is an undeniable historical fact that his charisma and message had the widest influence on India and Global ethos than any other contemporary personality of his time.

    Lastly, some specific comments on what SG has said:
    Gandhi had his critics across the spectrum - from Dalit Leaders (Dr. Ambedkar) to Muslim leaders; from National heroes (Bose) to Subjugators (Winston Churchill). But none of the criticism is as absurd as saying Gandhi didn’t go to Cochin because he was fearful that Divan. C. P. Ramaswamy will arrest him. Like saying Himalaya did not bend because it was fearful of the mouse at its foothill. Please read Gandhi’s life story from South Africa to Quit India movement that helps to clear the ignorance. Even while engaging in criticism asserting our freedom of thought, there is absolutely no need to distort the history. No offense please. Also to compare his “fast onto death” based on strong conviction to contemporary blackmailing politics of fake “fast unto death” events from our political leaders is least ingenious. This is like comparing ‘Bhagat Singh” like martyrs to “Osama Bin Laden” like terrorists – though one can stretch and compare the two. Regardless of time and space, Ghandian style of disobedience will always self-shine on the high grounds of morality as evidenced by the life story of Nelson Mandela.

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  18. @Ravi, @Rama,

    Excellent comment and thanks for sharing them here.

    The post is meant to learn more about Gandhi and not make any judgment.

    Ravi, I agree, most of the account that I read in books directly quote Gandhi himself disclosing his own weaknesses. Also I agree Gandhi would not mind criticism.

    As I wrote earlier, Gandhi changed a lot on what he thought was improving his personality. Prior to SA experience, he accepted the social structure of India but his views changed. So depending on the book and the time frame one considers, one will find a different Gandhi.

    I personally believe Freedom fight was far more than effort of Congress (and in turn its leaders including Gandhi, Nehru). Yes, a lot of people do blame Gandhi for not acting or making wrong decision. But all of it based on 2nd hand information based on reading books and what teachers told us. Freedom fight started before Quit India..Quit India was the final large scale movement orchestrated by Congress but all of them were put in prison prior to start of Quit India. A relative unknown leader Aruna Asif (a young Brahmin woman married to a muslim) formally started the movement. Quit India movement was not really non violent but it was the MOST UNITED EFFORT of INDIAN MASSES while most leaders were in prison.

    We must acknowledge all Indians of that time frame. Besides fighting British, they had to go through the trauma of partition. I think that whole generation deserves a special medal and THANK YOU from us.

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  19. I'd have to agree with Tanvi the first poster on everything she said. Plus:

    I hate it when people credit our independence to just one person, it mitigates the efforts of so many others. And I don't just mean leaders, I mean the common man.
    To call a person "mahatama" based on their efforts to promote equality is a little faulty.

    Gandhi Jayanti should not be used to promote the man, but rather some ideals. The most important of them to me is self- sufficiency and self-sustainability of a nation, honestly and equality. Can't argue he did a lot for women.

    In India it is often said that you should take knowledge and wisdom regardless of where you find it, for wouldn't you pick up gold from a gutter? I feel even though I do not feel MDKCG was "mahatama" he did promulgate values from which individuals and even nations can benefit. So I take the good from him and move on. I use this day to look back at all the people who laid their lives so that I can be free. So that I as a woman can get an education and a voice.

    P.S. I really like your blog.

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  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  21. @ Ravi,

    Sure, if my view is different from you, I am under-informed. If our views are the same, then I am the most intelligent and well-informed person in the whole wide world.

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  22. I'm very interested to read the controversy this post has created in your readers. I confess I do not know so much about Gandhi, apart from what everyone in the West knows, but I am now interested to go and learn more. And I was interested, also, while living recently in South Africa, to discover that he had lived there too, and had also worked for better rights for the large Indian community in that country.

    In general, I have to say I think he was a good guy. But history is written by the winners, so I want to find out more before putting that down as my final opinion!

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  23. SG
    I did not refer you as under-informed, irrespective of your views. How can I pass that judgment when I hardly know you? Please don't take offense. If you read my comments, it is clear that I was referring to other readers who might stumble upon this blog and may not know as much about Gandhi. Clearly your and my views differ and are pole apart on the specific topics of Gandhi acting cowardly (Cochin trip) and fasting as blackmailing tool. It is for the benefit of those other under-informed readers that I felt compelled to provide a counter view and everything I said was to that audience. You are entitled to your views and opinions and I may strongly disagree with it and emphatically state my disagreement, but I intend absolutely no disrespect. That would contrary to the ideals of the man about which I am writing. If my words had the tone, please accept my sincere apologies.

    "Intolerance of criticism even of what one may prize as dear as life itself is not conducive to the growth of public corporate life." -
    - by Mahatma Gandhi

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  24. Emily
    Gandhi's autobiagraphy (My expeiment with truth) is a open book of his life and perhaps the best source to learn about the man himself. While gandhi's action have been subjected to many criticism, even his adverse critics have admired his honesty and committment to truth. The film about Gandhi (by Ben Kingsley) is also good introduction if you don't have the time to read the book.

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  25. Very well written. I convey my respect for Mahatma Gandhi.
    You are welcome in my new posts-
    http://urmi-z-unique.blogspot.com
    http://amazing-shot.blogspot.com

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  26. Devie,

    I really like your analysis. I agree with you that it is not just one person or leaders who got us freedom. I think a common man and mass were equally deserve the credit. See my earlier response to a comment.

    In I specifically like your statement

    "To call a person "mahatama" based on their efforts to promote equality is a little faulty."

    If someone is promoting equality today in 2010, it is not a big deal. Martin Luther King is well respected figure who fought for civil rights in the USA in 1950s and 1960s for African American.

    Gandhi started it in 1910s when equality was unheard...no one could think of it at that time. Caste was embedded in Indian society. People of lower caste were not really allowed to enter the houses of people of upper caste. British has banners at clubs "Dogs and Indians are not allowed". We need to consider his effort in this context looking at the challenges involved at that time. Also his methods to achieve goals were admirable.

    Mahatma title was given to him by Rabindra Nath Tagore, a winner of Nobel Prize for literature...

    I hope it provides a different view but in general I agree with you that 'Mahatama' is rather strong for someone fighting for equality.

    I am glad you visit this blog and really happy to see the discussions you start.

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  27. @ A" ACTUALLY it's shameful;but i dont know what excatly happened during those days.i mean we have always read text books which have protrayed him to be "mahatma"explaining only positives,but it was only after i grew up that i learnt some rumors (or may be fact)about critics against him for dividing india and creating pakistan .so ..i can't actually comment .may be i have to read some books and expand my knowledge..

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  28. For me he is Mahatma coz he represents the selflessness most of us and definitely I cannot practice.

    There are so many views of him, which I do not agree like the comments he had about the Nazi terror torrent on Jews, being submissive ..etc…but his merits outweigh some of the controversial ideas he had.

    Was he a good family man? I think not … while taking care of all the children of Mother India our Father of Nation probably could not give enough care to his children. Those who have time.. search - Harilal Gandhi (eldest son of Mahatma). Or the biography on him Gandhiji's Lost Jewel: Harilal Gandhi

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  29. Thank you A...

    For making us analyze too...

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  30. Emily,

    You are right. Without digging into details, it is very difficult to form an opinion.

    Raji,

    Per my readings, Gandhi was against partition. But there are other theories about his inclination towards muslims though Jinah did not really like him.

    Stranger,

    You got a point here. Some books do indicate that he was very harsh towards his own families and I have seen the movie about Harilal. But that may be just typical, parents expecting more from own children.

    You are welcome. It is best to discuss and analyze to form an opinion.

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  31. I enjoyed the comments section more than the main post :-) Getting to read lot of information.

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  32. A-
    Sorry I didn't really expand the whole mahatma-equality thing and left it quite vague.
    You caught on to exactly what I meant quite perceptively.
    I have to say that I was slightly confused about the meaning of "mahatma."
    I guess it all boils down to semantics for me.
    "Mahatma" means "great soul" and not "superior soul." For some odd reason I always thought of it as the latter. I guess that offers some insight into how society looks at MDKCG as the meaning I associated with the word for influenced heavily by social constructs and not etymology.
    (Maha simply translates as great from Hindi to English. While Superior according to Google Translate would be Behtar, Varisht, Shreshtar and Ucch)
    Taking into consideration this new meaning I think my equality-mahatma argument doesn't apply anymore.
    Now was MDKCG a "great soul" for me the answer is still no. I'd be a hypocrite if I cite his abandonment of his family as a reason for believing so because Lord Rama and Gautama Buddha (both of whom I consider to be great souls) did the same for dharmic purposes.
    I can't cite differences in political idealogies either because that has no bearing on this mainly spiritual title.
    I have to resort to spiritual reasoning. I believe that MDKCG was not mahatma because
    (IMO) his actions were driven by selfishness and not dharma. For me Bhagat Singh and SC Bose were far more befitting of this title of mahatma, for seeking fulfillment of dharma over self-glory.

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  33. Devie
    I think I followed your thought and understood your reasoning for not accepting the Mahatma title to Gandhi by taking the spiritual meaning of the word.But you lost me on your last two sentences. I am curious what makes you think that Gandhi's action were driven by Selfishness? And in what definition/scope have you used the word Dharma and why do you think Gandhi was not driven by it? Many of his critics don't like Gandhi because they think that he was too much driven by Dharma.( For example, See Dr. Ambedkar's work on Gandhi or Read a large number of critical essays written by Prof. Vinay Lal a faculty of UCLA on this topic.)
    Personally, it is of insignificance to me if the Mahatma title is used/not used with Gandhi. But I am more interested in learning how different people interpret Gandhian Ideals as having beneficial/non-beneficial influence to the good of society. Please read my questions in that background. Thanks for the dialog.

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  34. Insignia,

    You are right. Comments have much more information than original post. I am happy to have educated readers that articulate their opinions full with information and knowledge so well. That was exactly the reason I added the last line my post asking readers to go through the comments.

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  35. Devie,
    Good discussion here. Few points:-

    1.Personally I would refrain from comparing Gandhi with Lord Rama/Budha. Both Lord Rama and Budha are considered GOD (or form of GOD on earth with spiritual powers) where as Gandhi was a human. I don’t wish to give an impression or imply that he was any closer to GOD than a common man. No where I read him to have any spiritual power.

    2.Comparing Gandhi with Bhagat Singh and S.C Bose makes sense to me. I agree Bhagat Singh acted without any selfish interest. He did not want hurt anyone and his main aim was to make a point and he knew his fate very well. If Bose acted without any selfish interest is questioned though.

    3.Most historians seem to believe Gandhi acted without any selfish interest. The reasoning provided:

    a)He gave up most materialistic comforts and practically lived like a poor ‘fakir’ to assimilate with poor.
    b)He himself never wanted to be party chief or wanted any position in an Independent India. He could have easily become first Prime Minister instead of Nehru if he wanted to.
    c)Though he was famous, he never asked to be famous. In fact he used his ‘fame’ in pursuing common men to do the right thing – what he considered right. For example fasting to stop violence between Hindus and Muslims during and after partition.
    d)If he had selfish interest, he could have easily used his influence for a ministerial position for his son(s) in post independent India. (Like Nehru did for Indira).
    e)Per some historians, Rabindra Nath Tagore (someone who influenced Gandhi) honored him ‘Mahatma’ because Tagore thought Gandhi was the best leader for India at that time because of his altruistic philosophies, dedication to society and more for following ‘Dharma’. Though Tagore himself was a practical person who strongly believed in Science and differed with Gandhi on variety of issues.

    If the criteria for the title ‘Mahatma’ for someone like Lord Rama and Budha, in my opinion Gandhi does not fall in that category.

    But if the criteria is selfless devotion to society for betterment of poor, women, untouchable and in a way creating Indian society then he probably deserves that title. (It does not mean Bhagat Singh does not deserve)

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  36. Sometimes old words acquire new meanings, as happened in this incident.
    Gandhi had arrived at the Harijan Ashram in Delhi. In this ashram ran a workshop to train boys in various vocational skills.
    When Gandhi entered this workshop during his round of inspection, the boys working there stopped what they were doing to stare at him curiously. A lone boy, engrossed in making rotis, was so involved in cooking them over the chulha that he did not get to know that Gandhi had just passed from there.
    As Gandhi came out of the workshop, one of the boys remarked in amazement, "Arrey, the boy making rotis did not see Bapu at all." Bapu responded at once, saying, "If there is anyone who really saw me at all in the whole workshop, it is the boy who was making rotis."

    There are many reasons to call him great, his manner of teaching a great lesson in such a subtle way is just one of them :)
    Thanks for the lovely post A!

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  37. A: I am again sorry that I don't agree. Gandhi had his failings. Yes, he did a lot, but there were some actions that have repurcussions even till date. True what he did for Harijans and for integrating different sects in the society was good. But is the society still integrated today? Just one word, reservations is enough to start another heated debate. Are we not dividing the society again in the name of reservations?

    Somehow, I feel the British were doing a greater job of ruling this country than the politicians of today. They introduced the railway transport system, on which our country relies so heavily now. That does not mean I do not value our freedom. And we have great respect for every individual.. Gandhi included, who gave their flesh n blood for the freedom that we are savouring today.

    My opinion is, if we call one person 'Mahatma', then we are being unfair to every other martyr who fought in his own way to bring us freedom. I'd call each freedom fighter a Mahatma.

    ~Punam

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  38. ya..like insignia, I also enjoyed the comments section..just like the main post itself:-) with lots of information.

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  39. Really, I am just ashamed to read the reaction of some people, while we are judging Gandhiji, we do not even have .1% of what he had. Acknowledging his greatness , does not mean that we are making people like Bhagat singh, and Subhas chandra Bose. Everyone was fighting in their own way for freedom. But it was Gandhiji who went to our roots , the villages, the harijans, and many other problems which were there but not talked about much.
    He did not ask people to call him Mahatama , why do you blame him for that? Do you think an educated person like Tagore, would have given him a title Mahatama , just like that?
    He did not want partitioned India, and for that he was ready to go to any extent, even asked Nehru to let Jinnah be the Prime Minister, does that make him political?
    Besides partitioned was done, whether he like it or not. If you read about him , you will know that by 1945 the congress was becoming quite tired of him and he was very secluded. BUT it was him who stopped the horrible riots which would engulfed the nation so much that there was no stopping to it.
    Britishers termed him a shrewd politician because they knew that people of india loved him and he could come up with ideas of Satyagrah and Civil Disobedience where they looked like villain in the eyes of the world.
    Give him some respect people, he deserves it.

    Sanji

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  40. Irrelevant to some of his deeds, there are many other things which we all must learn from Gandhi's life. His simplicity in living by reducing himself to zero, his worshipping truth as God and his practicing non-violence are very few/well known of those. He had left the world a good trace of lessons to be followed and all his preaching and beliefs were practiced in his own life. I believe these make him truly deserve the title "Mahatma".

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  41. one reason
    he was able to win hearts of nearly all the Indians using different ideas.
    he has also made mistakes, but nothing is important than Independence so those mistakes does not count.

    ReplyDelete
  42. A blogger commented on consequences of Gandhi's action and stated the current Reservation System as an example. In the interest of accuracy, it is a well documented historical fact that Gandhi fought against Reservation System. This issue was a big contention between Mahatma Gandhiji and Dr. Ambedkar and Gandhiji started (yet another) indefinite hunger strike on this and ultimately Dr. Ambedkar has to compromise. If more interested on this topic, Google search for "Round Table Conference" + "Poona Pact" + Ambedkar and perhaps you will hit some material.
    I am not arguing in favor of or against reservation system.Just restating historical facts to correct the misconception.

    ReplyDelete
  43. @Sana,

    I agree with you about the changing meanings the word.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful story. Another story that is ingrained in my mind is the one related to sugar. When a woman asked Gandhi to advise her son not to eat too much sugar, Gandhi asked her to come back after 2 weeks. When she went back after 2 weeks, Gandhi looked into the eyes of her son and advised him not to eat sugar. The woman was confused and asked “Why after two week?.” His reply was simple “I had excess sugar too. And I cannot suggest anyone reducing sugar unless I can do it”. Practice before preach at its best use.

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    I think Gandhi was against reservation and that is where he differed from Ambedkar. With regard to British rule, I believe besides English language India inherited corruption from British too. English language has changed and Britain has changed but India still uses same language and of course we have made progress in corruption a lot. Not sure if British were able to control or rule India anymore.

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    Thanks to wonderful intelligent readers 

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    Yes, his simple living and high thinking made him immensely popular among common people. Thanks for this comment…we missed the most obvious of his character.

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    You are a guru on this subject. Thanks for providing great insight on this subject.

    ReplyDelete
  44. @A - I am not a Guru on this subject. Growing up as a small boy, I disliked Gandhiji and had many misconceptions (Some are very similar to what a few bloggers wrote here.) I am glad that I found out that I was wrong on many of those misconceptions. A few great people that I met in my life (who had first hand experience with Gandhi) also helped me see my ignorance. After that, I realized that I can use some humility and also carefully check the facts before comenting on the actions of great leaders who have touched and influenced the heart of millions and changed the coarse of history in a positive direction.

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  45. Mahatma- He was a Mahan, no doubt about it. People believed and trusted him and he did motivate everyone through his simple actions.

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  47. @ A one thing i would like to ask.....or maybe you can write a new blog on ` giving the name of Harijans to untouchables'
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    He would have changed his name from gandhi to harijan......i guess that would have made a big difference......

    ReplyDelete
  48. @Anonymous,

    I agree even today, untouchables are not treated equal. Caste system still exists our society.

    But imagine approximately 100 years back. Untouchables were not really allowed to enter the house of a Brahmins for example. Imagine if free India has separate train compartments for untouchables and separate for Brahimns....that is not the case. Imagine separate colonies for untouchables. Free India does not have it.

    Some could argue lower caste people are privileged class because of reservations in Engineering, Medical and all other colleges. Reservations in government jobs and in promotions too. That has been one cause of brain drain from India. One could argue lower caste have opportunity to earn more money than regulars and hence better off.

    While we are all for equality, one could argue pendulum might be shifting in the other direction.

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