Monday, August 2, 2010

Sixty-Fourth Independence Day of India

-Dr. Ravindra Kumar*

Indians will celebrate their sixty-fourth Independence Day on August 15, 2010.  On this occasion they will remember with one voice, and with a sense of gratitude, those hundreds and thousands of freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives to liberate their motherland from the shackles of imperial rule. Particularly, people will remember those great leaders of India who illuminated the ray of hope in the hearts of crores of their somnolent compatriots. For a period of approximately ninety years, between 1857 and 1947 these gallant men showed their countrymen with great diligence how to regain their lost dignity, glory, honour, self-respect, strength and evolutionary nature. They inspired Indians to become conscious and throw away the bondage of slavery particularly endured under colonial rule. Thus, they played the vital role in opening the doors of freedom for the Indian people.
Although there is a long list of those great leaders who emerged as national heroes during the above-mentioned period of ninety years, and it is not possible to present an account of their work for freedom in this short essay, but the Gandhian era, considered the golden era of the Indian freedom movement, is especially worth mentioning in this regard. Under the unique leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru emerged as symbols of youth-power while Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as a symbol of peasantry and rural India, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad as a symbol of communal-harmony and composite culture of the nation, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Mrs. Sarojini Naidu as symbols of devotion and dutifulness and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Rajaji as symbols of adroitness. Modesty and simplicity were on the forefront of the fight for freedom in this era. Undeniably, they were recognized public leaders who represented the whole of India and therefore all classes, communities and religions in India. That is why; they could ascertain the freedom of the country on the one hand, and on the other they became ideal sources of inspiration for those struggling for freedom in their respective countries all over the world. 

Under the unique leadership and guidance of Mahatma Gandhi, those leaders successfully prepared their compatriots on the strength of Ahimsa, the prime, eternal and highest human value. Through persuasive non-violent techniques they coerced the imperialists to wrap up their bag and baggage from India. Simultaneously, the Indian freedom fighters established a unique road map towards human freedom in the annals of human history. Moreover, the Mahatma emerged as the matchless world hero of the Twentieth Century. In his speech, especially addressed to the Mahatma, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose said, “In all the countries, free from British influence that I have visited since I left India in 1941, you are held in the highest esteem, as no other political leader had been, during the last century.”
The Gandhian way became a potential and ideal tool for Afro-Americans leader like Martin Luther King Junior in his great fight for equality, freedom and justice for the blacks in the United States. That is why; King went to the extent of saying, “The method of non-violent resistance is the most potent weapon available to the people in their struggle for justice and human dignity. In a real sense, Mahatma Gandhi embodied in his life certain universal principles that are inherent in the moral structure of the universe. These principles are as inescapable as the law of gravitation.”

On the occasion of India’s sixty-fourth Independence Day, the best way to remember our great freedom fighters, and particularly the Mahatma and his team for their unique work, is that we support those in their fights who are still looking for equality, freedom and justice in social, political and economic spheres at national and international levels. Furthermore, having Ahimsa as the nucleus, we can work honestly and without any discrimination for crores of those, men and women, who are still underprivileged, oppressed and helpless in the world, to move forward to ascertain equality in opportunities so that their rise could be peaceful. We must remember that Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of freedom for India meant equal independence for every Indian in all walks of life on the one hand, and through this to make certain freedom of each and everyone on this planet on the other. 

* Indologist Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a former vice chancellor of Meerut University, India; he is currently the editor of Global Peace International Journal.

Love for Humanity: A Gandhian View

-Dr. Ravindra Kumar*

Through the ages, philosophers, scholars and thinkers have been writing about love for fellow beings. But even two of them have not been in unanimity in this regard. Each and every one of them had his own view or definition of love. Karl Marx [1818-1863] and his teacher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel [1770-1831] had two different views of love. They looked at it with two different angles. Those who are familiar with Hegel’s views of love they know how confused he was in this regard? Similarly, Karl Marx, despite infinite love of Johanna Bertha Julie [Jenny: 1814-1881] towards him, defined it in different way.

Besides philosophers and thinkers, the founders, propounders and preachers of religious-communities have also talked of love and some of them at length. They have connected it with high moral values like human-unity, service, equality and protection. The name of Jesus Christ, Prophet Muhammad and Guru Nanak Dev can particularly be mentioned in this context.

Love and affection to all humanity occupies a unique place in ancient Indian philosophy, spiritual thinking and traditions. It has been defined excellently and matchlessly there. Especially its sensitivity and effects, which besides attracting attention has become a subject of curiosity for so many all over the world, are worth mentioning.

Hence, undoubtedly, love is the vital issue and if we desire to analyze concepts related to it, or explain its effects and experiences, we need to produce volumes and that too with all possibilities of not arriving at any concrete conclusion in this regard. Therefore, accepting effect, importance and vitality of love, if we analyze the issue in hand, it will be appropriate.

Like other great men, Mahatma Gandhi also wrote occasionally about love for all human beings. He did not believe in discrimination on grounds of caste, color, creed or religion. To him all humans under the sky are children of God and thus have right to be loved and cared equally. Moreover, in his writings and speeches, he not only discussed it, but, side-by-side mentioned its importance in man’s life. In this context in one his inscriptions he went to the extent of saying, “If you want to give a message to the West, it must be the message of love…” [Harijan, April 20, 1947]

Although the above short statement of the Mahatma is a part of his speech in the Inter-Asia Relations Conference, but the way he conveyed the message of love having equality-based teachings of great men and particularly those of propounders of various religious-communities was, and is, worth mentioning. He had exhorted people to establish mutual equality by hearts. He had also called the attention of people from the West to connect love with wisdom and argument. His call was a clear expression of his broad-based perception of love.        

Not only this, Gandhi’s stress on going forward on pathway to love in an atmosphere of mutual respect for each-other’s feelings, explicated his desire for certainty of love free from egotism, prejudice and selfishness. He had put forth, “An atmosphere of mutual respect [of each-other’s sentiments] and trust is the first step in this direction.”

Hence, making equality and mutual respect of one-another’s sentiments the basis of love, Mahatma Gandhi added a new dimension to its practical aspect, it doesn’t matter if we agree to his viewpoint of love or not, or if it seems us significant and important in current perspective or not. Also it doesn’t matter if Gandhi’s views are considered relevant by us partly only, but, they undoubtedly remind us their minutely study and analysis. 

Further, the first aspect of Gandhian concept of love could be traced in its indivisible association with truth. In other words, truth unconditionally pervades in love; therefore, it becomes boundless. To quote Gandhi himself, “True love is boundless like the ocean and rising and swelling within one spreads itself out and crossing all boundaries and frontiers envelops the whole world.” [Young India, September 9, 1928]

Secondly, love of Gandhi’s conception is connected to service. In his own words, “Service is not possible unless it is rooted in love; in Ahimsa.”

In fact, Gandhi stressed on connecting humility with service. As humility itself is a high moral value and one of the superior characteristics of human beings, it is necessary that in service through humility love for all living beings, and particularly for humanity remains intact. It is also necessary for the reason that sacrifice is inevitable in love; in it priorities remain for others’ pleasure and prosperity, even readiness to sacrifice one’s life for others. Particularly, in context of humility Mahatma Gandhi has put forth, “A life of service must be one of humility. He, who would sacrifice his life for others, has hardly time to reserve for himself a place in the sun.” [India of My Dreams, page 63]   

Thirdly, in Gandhism love is the basis of peace. In other words, pathway to peace goes through love. There is a broad concept in its root and without a doubt it could be connected to Gandhi’s commitment to Ahimsa.  Moreover, those who are familiar with Gandhi’s ideas they well know that he sees Ahimsa in love; for him non-violence and truth are two sides of the same coin, and reaching the truth is the ultimate goal of human life.

Hence, love is the ornament of life and simultaneously an unambiguous and practical way to human unity. Moreover, it is the pathway to peace. That is why; Gandhi has said, “We shall go from love to love and peace to peace…For, until at least crores from all the corners of the world are covered with that love and peace for which, the whole world is hungering.” [Young India, November 19, 1931]     

Hence, love must multiply many folds, because “love breeds love”; and leads human beings towards their true union.                            

* Indologist Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a former vice chancellor of Meerut University, India; he is currently the editor of Global Peace International Journal.