What makes Gandhi still relevant
By L S Rengarajan
Mahatma Gandhi is still relevant in today’s modern world. There was a time when people associated the practicing of non-violence with 'rishis' of ancient times. It was thought that non-violence was suitable only for 'sanyasis' and 'sadhus'.
Gandhiji perhaps for the first time declared that non-violence is not an individual virtue but a social virtue. He proved that it could be practiced by all, not just by individuals, but collectively as well.
Having said that let me add that there is no such thing as ‘Gandhism.’ Gandhiji himself had said that he did not know what Gandhism meant.
He once said: "In truth I myself do not know what Gandhism means. I have not given anything new to the country. I have only given a new form to the traditional wisdom of India. It would, therefore, be wrong to call it Gandhism."
He made those remarks during a speech at a Khadi and Village Industries Exhibition on February 20, 1940.
During a speech at Gandhi Seva Sangh meeting on March 3, 1936, he stated: "Without (an) elaborate scheme, I have simply tried in my own way to apply the eternal principles of truth and non-violence to our daily life and problems. Like a child I did whatever occurred to me on the spur of the moment during the course of events."
In a letter dated July 16, 1945, Gandhiji wrote: "Gandhi is one thing, Gandhism is another, and Gandhi-ites are a third thing. There are always, and will remain such difference. Immature people may identify with one or the other group."
The Gandhians would have us believe that Gandhiji evolved a universal philosophy analysing everything, reconciling everything, and prescribing for every contingency.
How unfair this would be to a man who never assumed omniscience and never stopped his experiments with truth and understanding. Gandhiji did not deal in absolute. He was a great idealist, but at the same time more pragmatic. Gandhiji once described himself as a...