Mahatma Gandhi has become a
global phenomenon today. His ideas are
most relevant today than before.
Western scholars like Romain
Rolland, Albert Schweitzer and Toynbee
had earlier recognized the worth of his
ideas. Now, the west is perhaps more
drawn to Gandhi because they have
been facing twin damges of atomic
holocaust and environmental hazards.
Either we choose atom bomb or non-
violence of Gandhi. Either we adopt
simple style of life or fall a prey to cruel
exploitation of nature and thereby face
the damages of the holes in the ozone
Gandhi's 125th Birth Anniversary
has attracted scholars and thinkers all
over the world. Here, in this Memorial
Volume there is an attempt to get papers
on Gandhi mostly from foreign
scholars. This is the first venture of its
kind published during the year.
At the 60th birthday of Gandhiji, when Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya
greeted the Mahatma and wished him "May you live for one hundred years !"
Gandhiji in his usual wit and humour made a sharp cut : "Panditji, why have
you cut down twenty-five years ?" This does not mean that Mahatma had lust
for life, but nevertheless unlike other saints and seers he had a philosophy of
"yes to life" and like Buddha he had greater stake in working for the removal
of suffering of his fellow-beings than in his own personal salvation. He said "If
I could persuade myself that I should find Him in Himalayan cave I would
proceed there immediately. But I know that I cannot find Him apart from
humanity". He did not believe that an individual may gain spiritually and those
that surround him suffer. Therefore for him, "truth and non-violence are no
cloistered virtues but applicable as much in the forum and legislatures as in the
market place". He made "truth and non-violence, not matters for mere
individual practice but for practice by groups and communities and nations"
That was his dream. He lived and died in trying to realize it. Though he was
essentially a religious and spiritual soul, he took part in politics because
"Politics encircles us today like the coil of a snake from which one cannot get
out, no matter how much one tries. I wish therefore to wrestle with the snake".
Besides, "life is one indivisible whole and it cannot be divided into watertight
compartments called social, political and religious. All act and react upon one ~
another". He did not believe that spiritual law works on a field of its own. On
the contrary, it expresses itself only through the ordinary activities of life. If
it cannot be practised in all departments, it has no practical value.Men of rare
endowments like Gandhi do not belong to the present or the country of his birth
only. Let us not contain him within the contours of time and place. He said :
"My mission is not merely brotherhood of Indian humanity. My mission is not
merely freedom of India... but brotherhood of man". Infact, he was ahead of his
time. When he wrote his Hind Swaraj, he was most misunderstood man. But
today, when the Indian civilization is facing the crisis of survival itself,
"limitation of violence" as well as "limitation of our wants" have become the
only safety valve against the impending disaster. We have hardly a choice
between non-violence and non-existence. Unless we learn to subdue our
‘Satanic impulses’ and greed, and continue to worship the God of extravagance
in the name of ‘civilized life’, we are bound to the unescapable wrath of "nuclear
winter" and other environmental hazards. Gandhi rightly said : "Nature has
enough to meet our needs but not our greed". Hence Gandhian prescription of
non-violence and simple style of life are neither political tactics nor religious
dogmas, they are our compulsions. However, the question is : "How can we
emerge from physical power or brute force so that we do not all perish ?"
Perhaps, we have to seek some radical solutions. Our own civilization which
we have built during the last two hundred years has proved to be our greatest
enemy. Either we evolve an alternative model of development based on human
technology and a political culture of truth and goodness or we are bound to
destroy our civilization. Hence, here also Gandhi is the answer.
However, the modern dilemma is : we talk for peace and prepare for war.
We talk at the Earth Summit against environmental pollution, but we are
prisoners of crass materialism and consumerism; we aspire for Kingdom of
God on the Earth but we behave like beasts. Has Gandhi provided an
answer ? A small girl from Germany who has won the first prize for an Essay
Competition held during this 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi tries
to help us. She says : "If I have understood Gandhi correctly, then this is what
is important to him : acting in a non-violent way in one's everyday life and
treating all people equally. It is difficult to do. Yet, Gandhi gives me courage
and hope when he says: "I have not a shadow of doubt that any man or woman
can achieve what I have, if he or she would make the same effort and cultivate
the same hope and faith." This means that there is no short cut to survival. What
is required is a new desire and also a new asceticism. It might be difficult but
it is the only way.
This is a Memorial Volume containing articles written by scholars mostly
from outside India. We have not included any old article. There might be
different shades of opinions and multiple dimensions but they all centre round
Gandhi. We are indebted to those learned scholars who have prepared their
papers at our request.We are also indebted to the authorities of Gujarat
Vidyapeeth whe have allowed us to publish a few papers presented at the
international seminar held last year at Ahmedabad.
This Memorial Volume is a joint humble tribute of Gandhian Institute of
Studies and Sarva Seva Sangh during the 125th birth anniversary of the
Mahatma. We are extremely thankful to the friends of Sarva Seva Sangh
Prakashan, Varanasi for bringing out this volume in such a short time.
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