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Mahatma Gandhi And Culture of Peace - Part 1
Dr. Ravindra Kumar | 03 Apr 2008

Mahatma Gandhi and His Legacy

Mahatma Gandhi was quite a simple man in his personal life. His simplicity
can be examined through the following words of Albert Einstein, who was his
own contemporary as well as a great scientist of the Twentieth Century:

"Generations to come…will scarcely believe that such a one as this even in
flesh and blood walked upon this earth."1

Simultaneous to this, the unique legacy and exemplary ideas that Mahatma
Gandhi left to humanity were summarized by Einstein as follows:

"Mahatma Gandhi's life achievement stands unique in political history. He
has invented a completely new and humane means for the liberation war of an
oppressed country, and practiced it with greatest energy and devotion. The
moral influence he had on the consciously thinking human being of the entire
civilized world will probably be much more lasting than it seems in our time
with its overestimation of brutal violent forces. Because lasting will only
is the work of such statesmen who wake up and strengthen the moral power of
their people through their example and educational works.

"We may all be happy and grateful that destiny gifted us with such an
enlightened contemporary, a role model for the generations to come."

Furthermore, Romain Rolland, another great man of the same Century said:

"Mahatma Gandhi is another Christ."2

No doubt, the statements of both these great men are extraordinary as they
exhort the world to examine Mahatma Gandhi's personality and works as well
as their relevance in these times, especially in the context of a
development of a culture of peace that can ensure safe existence of mankind
as well as the progress and prosperity of all.

Gandhism

Now, prior to analyzing the importance and significance of views and works
of Mahatma Gandhi in the context of the development of a culture of peace,
it is necessary for us to know what his ideas are, or in other words, what
Gandhism is.

Mahatma Gandhi himself was extremely opposed to bringing his philosophy or
ideas under the domain of any 'ISM'. For to him, setting his ideas with
'ISM' meant to flee from the spirit behind them and to minimize their
importance. But even so, his ideas are generally known as Gandhism, and, in
reality, this is not the true introduction of Gandhism, because Gandhism
does not merely consist of the ideas, which he put forth before the world.
In Gandhism also includes what he treated in his individual life in
accordance with these ideas to the maximum possible extent. Those who hold
merely his theory or ideas to be Gandhism are incorrect, because his ideas
alone cannot be accepted as Gandhism.

As known to the whole world, Gandhism revolves around Ahimsa
[non-violence]3, which is the most ancient, perpetual, individual as well
as social, all timely and welfaristic value; it is an active force,
connected with God and, thus, stays to be true, and it is a Dharma in
grandeur. 4 Along with this, non-violence is permanently present in human
nature, and it is an essential condition for existence; moreover, it is the
basis of human development and the means to achieve the goal.

We can all well understand our will to live. We can wish eagerly for our
development.  But what is the goal of life? Sometimes we do not understand
it. In fact, from both the spiritual and social point of view, peace is the
goal of life. It is the purpose behind the creation 5 for almost everyone,
whether he is atheist or theist. And it is because of this that emphasis has
been laid on the continuing awakening and adoption of non-violence,
individually and collectively, in our day-to-day practices.

Not only by Tirthankara Mahavira, in whom manifestation of Ahimsa
[non-violence]
took place in the best possible manner6, or the Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi
7, but also by other apostles of peace, philosophers and thinkers of both,
the East and the West, efforts were made for the construction of a culture
accepting non-violence to be the fundamental or nucleus so that the
existence of mankind is assured, the path of development is smoothened and
the ultimate goal is well within sight and approach. There is no let-up in
these endeavours; and this process shall continue with the same gusto in
future as well.

The history of mankind, which measures billions of years and is divided into
different ages, has proven time and again the fact that among all other
beings, only man possesses the qualities of intellect and creativity. It is
due to this that he has been able to pass through the process of learning by
doing. In other words, especially from a Gandhian point of view, this is the
real education, which played a very vital role and made a sizeable
contribution to the awakening of non-violence and its application in daily
practices, regardless of the method adopted with the changing times. It was
necessary from the point of view of those who define education as "Sa
Vidyaya Vimuktey." 8

As the whole world knows, in this very chain, in the Twentieth Century,
Mahatma Gandhi made a momentous contribution by showing a wonderful, simple
and justifiable way of awakening and practicing of non-violence in the
routine chores of life. The reason behind accepting the above way of Mahatma
Gandhi to be wonderful, simple and justifiable is that he, by establishing
co-ordination and synthesis amongst all concepts of the East and the West,
old and new, makes non-violence well worthy to be grasped by all. Everyone
can, more or less, find non-violence of his imagination in Gandhi's
principle pertaining to it, and can also adopt it in his practices. It is
only the great characteristic of his non-violence and due to this it is
unique as also of special recognition. In this regard once more I would like
to quote Albert Einstein who says:

"I believe that Gandhi's views were the most enlightened of all the
political men in our time."