Wednesday, March 16, 2016

“Nobody now listens to what I say.” - Mahatma Gandhi

On January 30, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. 

A couple of months before that, he said in Delhi: "Nobody now listens to what I say". 

He was referring, of course, to the momentous and bloody events following the Partition of India on religious lines. He had been talking to the leaders of Muslim and Hindu communities, trying to make them see sense. In Delhi, he had been visiting camps of wounded and displaced persons, and trying to bring and end to the violence.  

Eventually on Jan 12, he undertook a fast for 'an indefinite period' to bring about cessation of violence. After 6 days of fasting, when his condition deteriorated significantly, he received assurances from leaders of both communities that the violence would end. He finally broke his fast on Jan 18.

On Jan 20, a bomb exploded at the prayer meeting that he was conducting. In spite of threats to his life, he continued the prayer meetings.  Ten days later, he was assasinated by Nathuram Godse, a member and supporter of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu organisation.

I went to Gandhi Smriti recently. That is the house where Gandhi spent the last 144 days of his life, and the spot where he was assassinated.
Walkway to his death
Diorama showing the laying down of arms after Partition
Painting by Upendra Maharathi: The Fate of Three Great Men (Gandhi, Buddha, Christ)
After my visit to Gandhi Smriti, I understood more clearly the sacrifices that our freedom fighters made in order to get independence for India. It was not a happy visit for me. I stood near Gandhi's spartan room, where he had his last meeting before he walked to his death. I wept. I couldn't stop the tears. To think that we are now building temples to his assassin! It was unbearable.

But the visit taught me something. It taught me that if I am to honor this man, then I need to relook at his message. He lives on through his thoughts and ideas. It is those things which I must read again, and evaluate and implement.

Gandhi was not perfect. He had his own idiosyncracies and theories. I am sure many things that he said are not relevant perhaps, for the India of today. But there's a lot which still resonates clearly with me. It's those bits that I need to work for.
Gandhi on "India of my dreams"
Gandhi's view on India of his dreams:
"I shall work for an India in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country, in whose making they have an effective voice, an India in which there shall be no high class and low class people, an India in which all communities shall live in perfect harmony"

Gandhi is not a man, Gandhi is an idea. He is only dead if we let the idea die.


Sue Duncan said...

Wherever in this world that we live we all need to strive for this, Sadly in many countries the gap is widening. Perhaps India can lead the Wah,

Maya Pillai said...

i am sharing this blog, deepa.
When I hear some of my friends bad-mouthing him, I just tell he got us the freedom to talk ill about him too.
No one is perfect. everyone has their bit of flaws.

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