VIEW: Obama’s Gandhi syndrome

 By Yasser Latif Hamdani (Courtesy Daily Times)  

The west has an ancient tradition of paying lip service to eastern mystics to fill some sort of deep spiritual void. Jesus Christ was the first in the line of eastern mystics. It was the other JC — Julius Caesar — who truly is the harbinger of western civilisation and power

President Barack Hussain Obama, the son of a Kenyan international student in the US, is at the epitome of power and prestige in the world. His life reads like the classical American dream. Product of a mixed marriage and of inclusive religious traditions, Harvard educated Obama owns in Chicago a house worth $ 1.9 million, which has a 1,000 bottle wine cellar. Having risen to the corridors of power and taken the seat as the chief executive of the strongest nation on earth, he is also the commander-in-chief of the strongest and most technologically advanced armed forces in the world, which are, on his orders, stepping up their attacks against Taliban militants in Afghanistan and its border regions with Pakistan.

It never ceases to amaze — nay amuse — me however that Obama and many like him in the west — including arch capitalist and Silicon Valley pirate Steve Jobs — cite as an example and ideal the life and times of Mahatma Gandhi. Even if we ignore Gandhi’s less than charitable remarks about the African race to which Obama partially belongs, perhaps US liberals should ask themselves on what side of the debate Gandhi would be on issues such as women’s rights, abortion, stem cell research and gay marriage given his definite religion-inspired socially conservative agenda. They would be less than pleased! Because of the sanitised and selective Gandhi that the world came to see through the coloured lens deployed by Richard Attenborough in that great 1982 propaganda film, one can only conclude that President Obama is either being ironic or downright sinister when he claims inspiration from Gandhi.

The contrast between Gandhi and Obama cannot be greater. Gandhi did not put any faith in constitutional offices of power, choosing instead to play the supreme agitator in the streets through civil disobedience. Obama, who taught constitutional law at Harvard not long ago, has risen to power by working the system as a legislator and a constitutional politician. Gandhi was born into riches that he abandoned to live the life of a simple Hindu peasant. Obama was born into a middle class family but through hard work is now fabulously rich. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two men is their approach to war. Consider for example Gandhi’s advice to the British in World War II. He advised them in earnest to allow Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini to occupy their island and to not resist them. This Gandhi described as the ‘non-violent way’ of waging war. At a time when the Jews of Germany were being hauled away to concentration camps and humanity was witnessing one of its worst exterminations, Gandhi pleaded with the allies to look at “brother Hitler’s” good side.

In comparison Obama is a war leader. He has identified the enemy and its ideology as evil and is going after it with a vengeance. Surely it is not Obama’s position that the ideology of al Qaeda is worse than the Nazi ideology, which is responsible for the holocaust. If Obama is truly inspired by Gandhi, why does he not wage a non-violent war against the Taliban and at the very least stop the drone attacks? This author is not taking a position on the efficacy and viability of drone attacks but questioning merely the glaring inconsistency in self-professed Gandhians of the west. Or is Gandhi only useful when advising Palestinian resistance? Is non-violence an ideology of convenience for those who profess it? That perhaps would make it consistent with Gandhi’s own reality but then Gandhi is merely a symbol.

The west has an ancient tradition of paying lip service to eastern mystics to fill some sort of deep spiritual void. Jesus Christ was the first in the line of eastern mystics. It was the other JC — Julius Caesar — who truly is the harbinger of western civilisation and power. There is no aspect of western life in which the Greco-Roman influence is absent. Even the Pope, that supreme leader of Catholic Christianity, looks and acts more like a Roman Emperor than like Jesus. Buddha, Jalaluddin Rumi and a long line of yogis and eastern holy men are similarly used for the latest trends and fads. Gandhi is merely a lightweight in comparison.

Here one must also point out however that such hypocrisy is not unique to the west. One of my previous employers had a tradition of sending ‘our people’ e-mails every morning containing profiles of employees. It was actually a very big deal and every employee sent his or her best picture that in their estimate resembled Shahrukh Khan or Priyanka Chopra or whoever it was that they were trying to become. In their personal aspirations, they listed money and world travel and other temporal worldly things. The profile also had a section called ‘ideal personality’. Without exception every one of the employees, the Shahrukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra look-alikes, wrote down the ‘Holy Prophet (PBUH)’.

Gandhism is alive and well in Pakistan also.

The writer is a lawyer. He also blogs at https://pakteahouse.wordpress.com and can be reached at yasser.hamdani@gmail.com

180 Comments

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180 responses to “VIEW: Obama’s Gandhi syndrome

  1. due

    Its just a fight between lawyers. It makes no sense.

  2. due

    Its just a fight between lawyers. It makes no sense.

    One dead, one living.

    It has no use for Pakistan. How does this article by the supreme lawyer of the PTH be of any good use to Pakistan?

  3. due

    How does it help Pakistan (i.e. the people in Pakistan) if hatred and ridicule against M. K. Gandhi are doubled?

  4. Shameem

    Some people are convinced that the west is the great Dajjal of Islamic latter days. The root of this arabic word is DJL which means “deception; hypocrisy; etc”. Althogh the east is not poor at this game either, the west, like in most other fields beats the east squarely here as well. And Obama represents the west in most ways, good and bad.

    I suggest that we give priority attention to our own hipocrisy which Hamadani has not failed to mention.

  5. Majumdar

    Due,

    How does it help Pakistan (i.e. the people in Pakistan) if hatred and ridicule against M. K. Gandhi are doubled?

    If it can be proved to the general public in Pakistan that the Taliban represent Gandhian line of thought then perhaps Pakistanis will disown the Taliban.

    Regards

  6. due

    To majumdar

    Just as two wrongs to not make a right similarly two lies don’t add up to make a truth.

    You can’t fight lies with lies. Don’t try that method. Nowhere. Certainly not in Pakistan. Pakistan (in fact, we all) needs radical honesty. Diplomacy, tactical thinking, half-truths – all that is a way further down into the abyss.

    to shameem

    you write: “I suggest that we give priority attention to our own hipocrisy which Hamadani has not failed to mention.”

    Can ylh write anything like that about the person around whom the pakistani hypocrisy and mega-show of piety centre?

    Trampling upon someone who has no outlaw brigades and brigands and street gangs to defend him – that is no bravery or honesty.

    If hypocrisy is to be exposed (by a muslim) then why (does he) choose only a hindu as his target of ridicule?

  7. due

    Is it not hypocrisy that a muslim chooses a hindu as his target when the muslim wants to expose hypocrisy?

  8. It indeed had helped our secular conservatives to argue that Jinnah and AIML use of religious rhetorics in politics was a reply to the Gandhian ways.

  9. YLH

    “Secular conservative”…

    Ok.

  10. Majumdar

    Perspective,

    he refused to even talk to Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel about a law banning cow slaughter.

    Maybe that was ‘cos he got bumped off before he cud get to discuss that.

    Regards

  11. Perspective

    Further, it seems to be a very Pakistani idea that morality must express itself in the law. So the belief that Gandhi would try to get the force of law behind his own religious beliefs.

  12. Perspective

    Akeel Bilgrami on Gandhi: excerpts –

    There is an amusing story about two Oxford Philosophers which makes this distinction vivid.In a seminar, the formidable J. L Austin having become exasperated with Richard Hare’s huffing on about how moral choices reveal principles, decided to set him up with a question.”Hare”, he asked, “if a student came to you after an examination and offered you five pounds in return for the mark alpha, what would you say?”Predictably, Hare replied, “I would tell him that I do not take bribes, on principle!”Austin’s acid response was,”Really?I think I would myself say, ‘No Thanks.’ ”

    Austin was being merely deflationary in denying that an act of conscience had to have a principle underlying it. Gandhi erects the denial into a radical alternative to a (western) tradition of moral thinking.An honoured slogan of that tradition says, “When one chooses for oneself, one chooses for everyone”.The first half of the slogan describes a particular person’s act of conscience.The second half of the slogan transforms the act of conscience to a universalized principle, an imperative which others must follow or be criticized.

    Gandhi embraces the slogan too, but he understands the second half of it differently.He too wants one’s acts of conscience to have a universal relevance, so he too thinks one chooses for everyone, but he does not see that as meaning that one generates a principle or imperative for everyone.

    What other interpretation can be given to the words “One chooses for everyone” in the slogan, except the principled one? In Gandhi’s writing there is an implicit but bold proposal:”When one chooses for oneself, one sets an example to everyone.”That is the role of the satyagrahi.To lead exemplary lives, to set examples to everyone by their actions.And the concept of the exemplar is intended to provide a wholesale alternative to the concept of principle in moral philosophy. It retains what is right in Mill (the importance of being modest in one’s moral opinions) while rejecting what is unsatisfactory (any compromise in our conviction in them).There is no Millian diffidence conveyed by the idea that one is only setting an example by one’s choices, as opposed to laying down principles.One is fully confident in the choices one wants to set up as exemplars, and in the moral values they exemplify.On the other hand, because no principle is generated, the conviction and confidence in one’s opinions does not arrogate, it puts us in no position to be critical of others because there is no generality in their truth, of which others may fall afoul . Others may not follow. Our example may not set.But that is not the same as disobeying an imperative, violating a principle.As a result, the entire moral psychology of our response to others who depart from us is necessarily much weaker.At most we may be disappointed in others that they will not follow our example, and at least part of the disappointment is in ourselves that our example has not taken hold.And the crucial point is that disappointment is measurably weaker than criticism, it is not the paler shade of contempt, hostility, and eventual violence.

  13. YLH

    I am not sure why anyone thinks this is about Gandhi. That I dislike Gandhi is well known … But the point here is of Gandhians living up to Gandhian non-violence etc.

    I am sorry but I don’t buy that Gandhi who spent his entire life trying to bring public and personal together …who was a philosopher and reformer however ridiculous his philosophy… must be viewed selectively as a great mobiliser while ignoring his odd ideas about life and organisation of society and of his eccentricities.

    If Gandhi is a great man…and he is worth following then surely Obama is not doing that. And if there is a buffet approach then well, I frankly that either. Has Obama waged civil disobedience, has he done Satyagraha, has he organised mass protests, has he gone on hunger strikes, has he put Gandhian principles in action in a public sphere? Has he put an end to war against taliban citing Gandhi ..not that I want the war against Taliban to end? Has Obama followed Gandhi in personal life …has he stopped eating meat and drinking alcohol…has he stopped smoking …has he stopped wearing expensive suits… Has he moved out of the white house and made his residence in the projects … I mean surely this is Gandhi’s claim to greatness right? What has Obama done to be like Gandhi.

    My only contention is Gandhiism like Gandhi is a fraud and nothing but.

  14. Indian

    Somehow, idolizing Gandhi by many in this world makes a Pakistani’s heart bleed like hell. That there are no takers for people like Mr. Jinnah has made this much worse. In the guise of ridiculing Obama, the Mahatma has been made a target, just to cool the heat in your hearts.

    Gandhi’s conservative views are not meant to be implemented by violence and force. He, as any other person has his views and has all the rights to say that. To take it or leave it is one’s choice. There is no real compulsion here, unlike what goes under the guise of “there is no compulsion”!

    The art of projecting a glorious past that existed only in imagination and blatantly ignoring and falsifying what such glory did to their own minorities is something that not many societies can do with such perfection. Mr. Jinnah was an expert. No doubt, folks like you can be so articulate.

    Jinnah is still alive and well in Pakistan!

  15. YLH

    The fact is that is Jinnah admirers like me actually make an effort to follow him, to excel at worldly things like law, to be successful… at those things that those pathetic little worldly things…

    When I say I admire Jinnah, I actually do make an effort to follow the model, to be more disciplined, more orderly, more productive, more successful and above I do try and follow the law…

    I am a law abiding citizen in a lawless society. That takes real courage. I follow Babajee in all things I do… for better or worse.

    What do Gandhians do?

    Obama is a successful lawyer-politician… not an eccentric old fart Mahachutya.

  16. YLH

    Perspective,

    Do tell us if Gandhi appealed to the workers of Birla mills to give up their strike ?

    So much for Gandhi’s mass movement. He was a stooge of the vested interests. A crook and nothing more.
    *** This Message Has Been Sent Using BlackBerry Internet Service from Mobilink ***

  17. Indian

    // My only contention is Gandhiism like Gandhi is a fraud and nothing but//

    //So much for Gandhi’s mass movement. He was a stooge of the vested interests. A crook and nothing more//

    In a society where the mediocre opine without any inhibition, it’s the sign of both the opinion and the society having fallen into mindless submission. In Pakistan’s case, the submission is to the well fed master called hatred! No doubt the master reigns supreme!

  18. YLH

    Instead of making such stupid statements why don’t you address the argument?

    Or are you a crook as well in right royal Gandhian tradition.

  19. Thomas

    I’m beginning to wonder if Pakistan is too poor to control it’s own fate.. when I read the comments here..

    Oh yes, go fight among yourselves! That will make you strong and immune to Western manipulation…

    For the West, the prize is the energy. Yes, it’s about oil and gas!

    Say what you want about Ghandi, but he helped India break free of the colonial economic chains… Who in Pakistan can get Pakistan off the “aid” which controls and corrupts…

    Why did the U.S. help give India an dispensation from the Suppliers Group rule against non-signatory to the NPT being allowed to trade in nuclear materials? Why didn’t the U.S. give the dispensation to Pakistan too for her help in extricating Al Qauda and the Taliban…. Pakistan has lost hundreds of troops and spent billions fighting those who resist the invaders…. Why?? Letting India into the nuclear trade gives India a leg up on Pakistan in their nuclear competition… Do you there in Pakistan really want to be so compliant to those who strengthen your enemy. the one who makes no compromise on the Jammu and Kashmir and becomes stronger and stronger financially and militarily. How does it profit Pakistan, [exect for aid] to sleep with the one who gives your enemy military advantage???

    Nothing the West is doing helps Pakistan…Only the free money, which isn’t so free

  20. YLH

    Atleast try and hide your IP address Thomas. Or do you think by using the name Thomas you’ll score more brownie points.

    For what’s its worth … CWG has shown how far you’ve broken the colonial hold. After all the Africans protested that English and Australians got better accomodations in that cesspool of filth that Delhi’s athletes’ village was.
    *** This Message Has Been Sent Using BlackBerry Internet Service from Mobilink ***

  21. Raj

    “The contrast between Gandhi and Obama cannot be greater. Gandhi did not put any faith in constitutional offices of power, choosing instead to play the supreme agitator in the streets through civil disobedience”

    What a weird logic . are you saying that Gandhi’s mistake was his struggle against slavery ? he should have accepted the imperialism .
    Law is not the end but the means to achieve pinnacle of humanity , if Law is against humanity it has to be opposed by civil disobedience . at the same time Gandhi believed that it was vital to seek to improve civil society in addition to engaging in civil disobedience. He wrote “Constructive Programe” to help Indians add voluntary social work to their actions of civil disobedience

    By your logic People who fought against Marshal law are wrong

  22. Well done YLH.

    Now many of your tormenters will have to keep shut. That is killing two birds with one stone!

    I, for one, think Gandhi worked for independence of both India and Pakistan. He was however not happy with partition of the nation.

    Could you kindly clarify why you label the film Gandhi as for “propaganda”?

  23. INDIAWALA

    yasser, india has over 2 crore christians. Many christains are named Thomas.
    Are you an idiot?

  24. Hahahaha…….Pakistanis are forever jealous of Gandhi’s worldwide global Popularity.

    Even YLH.

    Lol.

    Honestly , you dont even understand how big a joke u guys are turning out to be!

  25. I know it hurts that Obama admires Gandhi’s NOT your Jinn-yeah!

    Obama is smart enough to join the illustrious list of individuals like Einstein , Mandela , Dalai Lama , Despond Tutu , MLK etc etc

  26. due

    ylh hates Gandhi – that is one more proof of Gandhi’s greatness (in spite of all his human failures and mistakes, which he never hid under any camouflage).

    ylh loves J. , that is …

  27. Any one who admires Allah needs to admire none other!

  28. due

    how does it help the people of Pakistan to belittle Gandhi – if Gandhi is belittled, if Jinnah is glorified, if hindu hypocrisy is vehemently exposed in order to distract attention from muslim the much greater hypocrisy and the falsified history-writing?

    Obama is a gandhian because Gandhi did not hide his mistakes and failures. I hope that is the real reason.

  29. AJ

    Gandhi may have had several failings but to denigrate him this way shows almost a BJP/RSS-like visceral hatred. This takes away the objectivity in your article.

    Gandhi’s views on Hitler and WW-II have been widely quoted by his critics. Most of his views were expressed during a period when Hitler’s atrocities were yet to be fully understood by the world.
    Also, I quote Gandhi here: “If there ever could be a justifiable war in the name of and for humanity, a war against Germany, to prevent the wanton persecution of a whole race, would be completely justified.”

    You say “perhaps US liberals should ask themselves on what side of the debate Gandhi would be on issues such as women’s rights, abortion, stem cell research and gay marriage given his definite religion-inspired socially conservative agenda.”

    Why do they need to speculate on things like that? Why try to guess the views of someone who is long dead, on issues like gay marriage and stem-cell research that were not prevalent in his time? But you seem to have successfully read Gandhi’s mind and concluded that “They would be less than pleased!” Bit of a stretch, no?

    Clearly you are deriding Obama and Gandhi, because one is trying to be like another. Kill two birds in one stone, eh!🙂

    Lastly, the analogy you draw between the hypocritical office-email-profiles incident and “Gandhisim” sums up the article: Farcical

  30. Jinnah and Gandhi

    In modern times , both Jinnah and Gandhi are “used” by vested interests to further their own personal Agendas.

    Just like islamist parties often invoke Jinnah to promote and legitimize their actions , Indian middle classes also invoke Gandhian non-violence to promote their vested interests.

    Gandhi’s Real Legacy

    1)Simple and Sustainable living.
    2)Self-reliance
    3)Consuming only those things which one absolutely needs( he took it to the extreme!- we dont need to go that far)
    4)Importance on community!
    5)Non-violence (ONLY if you are capable of)

    Follow these things and see how society dramatically improves with Real freedom and social development.

  31. karun

    poor YLH: he even wanted Obama to choose pakistan as the place for his first address to the Islamic world. He was slighted when Obama chose Egypt. grow up old boy….u sounding extremely childish….

  32. YLH

    My favorite MKG quote:

    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you and then you win-

    Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

    Karun mian,

    If you try and consider the facts, I pointed out the futility of Obama’s address in Egypt after he had already made that speech…. not before it. I had merely pointed out how ridiculous it was to address the Islamic world from Cairo when the battle for the heart and soul of Islam was being fought elsewhere. If he had been serious about reaching out, he would have done so in Islamabad … that would have been truly an act of defiance on the part of the US President. I think Gandhi- for whatever his flaws- would have done that.

    I am not sure why it is so hard for Indians to conceive that this article is not about Gandhi (who I have always been forthright about disliking) but the hypocrites who take his name and then don’t follow him in letter and spirit.

  33. YLH

    “Hahahaha…….Pakistanis are forever jealous of Gandhi’s worldwide global Popularity.”

    No no I can assure you that this Pakistani is atleast not jealous. I am merely amused. Gandhi’s popularity to my mind is reflective of the infirmity of humanity … and it’s inability to cope with its own existential questions … especially the over-importance of some inherent “meaning” and consequently the superstitions that arise from it which allow witchdoctors like Mahatma Gandhi to get away with their hogwash and fraud.

    Gandhi to my mind is the sum-total of humanity’s perversion and obsession with metaphysical… and obsession which arises from this idea that simply because we can speak and write we are somehow “ashraf-ul-makhlooqat” … and there is a higher purpose to our existence unlike say an amoeba.

    Gandhi like the divine and the spiritual is humanity’s smelly fart.

  34. YLH

    Raj,

    I am not sure why Indians feel that wresting constitutional control was not a worthwhile objective.

    Did Gandhi fight imperialism? I don’t think so. He did two things: 1. He created enough chaos to give the British an excuse to delay self rule. 2. By monopolising the so called independence movement, he by the same token did not allow other more genuine rebellions (like that of great Bhagat Singh) flourish.

    Your logic would make sense if India had not won its independence as it did… India became independent through an act of parliament … that is the British Parliament… how then do you justify your claim that Gandhi’s agitation- illegal and wrong as it was – was somehow an act of defiance to the British.

    I am afraid real history shows that Gandhi was like a vaccine that the British themselves introduced in the body politic of India to ward off the disease of independence and Gandhi worked wonders by delaying self rule by atleast 15 if not more years.

    No wonder the British were making statues of Gandhi at the same time that Gandhi was their guest at Aga Khan’s palace… or at Birla House.

  35. Chote Miyan

    This article reminds me of the saying:
    “Mullah ki daud masjid tak.”

  36. YLH

    moniems

    “I for one think…”

    Come now… You should know your limitations by now.

    “Could you kindly clarify why you label the film Gandhi as for “propaganda”

    Several historical inaccuracies with the film:

    1. It glosses over Gandhi’s role against Africans in South Africa and his role in Zulu wars. Gandhi’s racism against Africans should have been mentioned.

    2. It blatantly lies about Gandhi’s relationship with Gokhale. Gokhale actually wanted Gandhi to confine himself to social work and Gandhi’s application to the Servants of India was rejected.

    3. It glosses over the fact that it was infact Jinnah who had proposed Gandhi’s name for the presidency of the Home Rule League.

    4. It presents Gandhi as India’s sole representative at the Round table conference… a blatant lie.

    5. It completely ignores the two extraordinary men … i.e. Subhas Chander Bose and Dr. Ambedkar … both of whom exposed the other side of Gandhi.

    6. It makes no mention of the Cabinet Mission Plan, Gandhi’s machinations and the terrible politics that Congress played in those closing years and seeks to claim that partition happened only because of a darth vader like character called Jinnah.

    The film is nothing but propaganda… bankrolled in part by the Government of India.

    Here is a critique of the film by Richard Grenier that you might want to read:

    http://history.eserver.org/ghandi-nobody-knows.txt

  37. Suvrat

    @ylh
    Your criticism of Gandhi and comparison with Obama borders on ridiculous.
    “Has Obama waged civil disobedience, has he done Satyagraha, has he organised mass protests, has he gone on hunger strikes, has he put Gandhian principles in action in a public sphere?”

    How can a President of a country be compared to person fighting slavery. Does management ever go on a strike?

    I think an apter comparison would be comparing Martin Luther King to Gandhi. Both were fighting unjust laws and used non violent methods very successfully. MLK’s civil rights movement helped abrogate Jim Crow laws and enabled blacks to vote. This in turn led to Obama’s victory. No wonder then that Obama considers Gandhi as his hero.

  38. YLH
    Come now… Gandhi was not fighting any slavery. Please get your facts straight. Anyway here is some education for your chappies: The Gandhi Nobody Knows Richard Grenier [From the magazine, “Commentary,” March 1983, published monthly by the American Jewish Committee, New York, NY.] I HAD the singular honor of attending an early private screening of Gandhi with an audience of invited guests from the National Council of Churches. At the end of the three-hour movie there was hardly, as they say, a dry eye in the house. When the lights came up I fell into conversation with a young woman who observed, reverently, that Gandhi’s last words were “Oh, God,” causing me to remark regretfully that the real Gandhi had not spoken in English, but had cried, Hai Rama! (“Oh, Rama”). Well, Rama was just Indian for God, she replied, at which I felt compelled to explain that, alas, Rama, collectively with his three half-brothers, represented the seventh reincarnation of Vishnu. The young woman, who seemed to have been under the impression that Hinduism was Christianity under another name, sensed somehow that she had fallen on an uncongenial spirit, and the conversation ended. At a dinner party shortly afterward, a friend of mine, who had visited India many times and even gone to the trouble of learning Hindi, objected strenuously that the picture of Gandhi that emerges in the movie is grossly inaccurate, omitting, as one of many examples, that when Gandhi’s wife lay dying of pneumonia and British doctors insisted that a shot of penicillin would save her, Gandhi refused to have this alien medicine injected in her body and simply let her die. (It must be noted that when Gandhi contracted malaria shortly afterward he accepted for himself the alien medicine quinine, and that when he had appendicitis he allowed British doctors to perform on him the alien outrage of an appendectomy.) All of this produced a wistful mooing from an editor of a major newspaper and a recalcitrant, “But still….” I would prefer to explicate things more substantial than a wistful mooing, but there is little doubt it meant the editor in question felt that even if the real Mohandas K. Gandhi had been different from the Gandhi of the movie it would have been nice if he had been like the movie-Gandhi, and that presenting him in this admittedly false manner was beautiful, stirring, and perhaps socially beneficial. An important step in the canonization of this movie-Gandhi was taken by the New York Film Critics Circle, which not only awarded the picture its prize as best film of 1982, but awarded Ben Kingsley, who played Gandhi (a remarkably good performance), its prize as best actor of the year. But I cannot believe for one second that these awards were made independently of the film’s content–which, not to put too fine a point on it, is an all-out appeal for pacifism–or in anything but the most shameful ignorance of the historical Gandhi. Now it does not bother me that Shakespeare omitted from his ‘King John’ the signing of the Magna Charta–by far the most important event in John’s reign. All Shakespeare’s “histories” are strewn with errors and inventions. Shifting to the cinema and to more recent times, it is hard for me to work up much indignation over the fact that neither Eisenstein’s ‘Battleship Potemkin’ nor his ‘October’ recounts historical episodes in anything like the manner in which they actually occurred (the famous march of the White Guards down the steps at Odessa–artistically one of the greatest sequences in film history–simply did not take place). As we draw closer to the present, however, the problem becomes much more difficult. If the Soviet Union were to make an artistically wondrous film about the entry of Russian tanks into Prague in 1968 (an event I happened to witness), and show them being greeted with flowers by a grateful populace, the Czechs dancing in the streets with joy, I do not guarantee that I would maintain my serene aloofness. A great deal depends on whether the historical events represented in a movie are intended to be taken as substantially true, and also on whether–separated from us by some decades or occurring yesterday–they are seen as having a direct bearing on courses of action now open to us. On my second viewing of ‘Gandhi,’ this time at a public showing at the end of the Christmas season, I happened to leave the theater behind three teenage girls, apparently from one of Manhattan’s fashionable private schools. “Gandhi was pretty much an FDR,” one opined, astonishing me almost as much by her breezy use of initials to invoke a President who died almost a quarter-century before her birth as by the stupefying nature of the comparison. “But he was a religious figure, too,” corrected one of her friends, adding somewhat smugly, “It’s not in our historical tradition to honor spiritual leaders.” Since her schoolteachers had clearly not led her to consider Jonathan Edwards and Roger Williams as spiritual leaders, let alone Joseph Smith and William Jennings Bryan, the intimation seemed to be that we are a society with poorer spiritual values than, let’s say, India. There can be no question, in any event, that the girls felt they had just been shown the historical Gandhi–an attitude shared by Ralph Nader, who at last account had seen the film three times. Nader has conceived the most extraordinary notion that Gandhi’s symbolic flouting of the British salt tax was a “consumer issue” which he later expanded into the wider one of Indian independence. A modern parallel to Gandhi’s program of home-spinning and home-weaving, another “consumer issue” says Nader, might be the use of solar energy to free us from the “giant multinational oil corporations.” AS IT happens, the government of India openly admits to having provided one-third of the financing of ‘Gandhi’ out of state funds, straight out of the national treasury–and after close study of the finished product I would not be a bit surprised to hear that it was 100 percent. If Pandit Nehru is portrayed flatteringly in the film, one must remember that Nehru himself took part in the initial story conferences (he originally wanted Gandhi to be played by Alec Guinness) and that his daughter Indira Gandhi is, after all, Prime Minister of India (though no relation to Mohandas Gandhi). The screenplay was checked and rechecked by Indian officials at every stage, often by the Prime Minister herself, with close consultations on plot and even casting. If the movie contains a particularly poisonous portrait of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, the Indian reply, I suppose, would be that if the Pakistanis want an attractive portrayal of Jinnah let them pay for their own movie. A friend of mine, highly sophisticated in political matters but innocent about film-making, declared that ‘Gandhi’ should be preceded by the legend: *The following film is a paid political advertisement by the government of India.* “Gandhi”, then, is a large, pious, historical morality tale centered on a saintly, sanitized Mahatma Gandhi cleansed of anything too embarrassingly Hindu (the word “caste” is not mentioned from one end of the film to the other) and, indeed, of most of the rest of Gandhi’s life, much of which would drastically diminish his saintliness in Western eyes. There is little to indicate that the India of today has followed Gandhi’s precepts in almost nothing. There is little, in fact, to indicate that India is even India. The spectator realizes the scene is the Indian subcontinent because there are thousands of extras dressed in dhotis and saris. The characters go about talking in these quaint Peter Sellers accents. We have occasional shots of India’s holy poverty, holy hovels, some landscapes, many of them photographed quite beautifully, for those who like travelogues. We have a character called Lord Mountbatten (India’s last Viceroy); a composite American journalist (assembled >from Vincent Sheehan, William L. Shirer, Louis Fischer, and straight fiction); a character called simply “Viceroy” (presumably another composite); an assemblage of Gandhi’s Indian followers under the name of one of them (Patel); and of course Nehru. I sorely missed the fabulous Annie Besant, that English clergyman’s wife, turned atheist, turned Theosophist, turned Indian nationalist, who actually became president of the Indian National Congress and had a terrific falling out with Gandhi, becoming his fierce opponent. And if the producers felt they had to work in a cameo role for an American star to add to the film’s appeal in the United States, it is positively embarrassing that they should have brought in the photographer Margaret Bourke-White, a person of no importance whatever in Gandhi’s life and a role Candice Bergen plays with a repellant unctuousness. If the film-makers had been interested in drama and not hagiography, it is hard to see how they could have resisted the awesome confrontation between Gandhi and, yes, Margaret Sanger. For the two did meet. Now *there* was a meeting of East and West, and *may the better person win!* (She did. Margaret Sanger argued her views on birth control with such vigor that Gandhi had a nervous breakdown.) I cannot honestly say I had any reasonable expectation that the film would show scenes of Gandhi’s pretty teenage girl followers fighting “hysterically” (the word was used) for the honor of sleeping naked with the Mahatma and cuddling the nude septuagenarian in their arms. (Gandhi was “testing” his vow of chastity in order to gain moral strength for his mighty struggle with Jinnah.) When told there was a man named Freud who said that, despite his declared intention, Gandhi might actually be *enjoying* the caresses of the naked girls, Gandhi continued, unperturbed. Nor, frankly, did I expect to see Gandhi giving daily enemas to all the young girls in his ashrams (his daily greeting was, “Have you had a good bowel movement this morning, sisters?”), nor see the girls giving him *his* daily enema. Although Gandhi seems to have written less about home rule for India than he did about enemas, and excrement, and latrine cleaning (“The bathroom is a temple. It should be so clean and inviting that anyone would enjoy eating there”), I confess such scenes might pose problems for a Western director. ‘Gandhi,’ therefore, the film, this paid political advertisement for the government of India, is organized around three axes: (1) Anti-racism–all men are equal regardless of race, color, creed, etc.; (2) anti-colonialism, which in present terms translates as support for the Third World, including, most eminently, India; (3) nonviolence, presented as an absolutist pacifism. There are other, secondary precepts and subheadings. Gandhi is portrayed as the quintessence of tolerance (“I am a Hindu and a Muslim and a Christian and a Jew”), of basic friendliness to Britain (“The British have been with us for a long time and when they leave we want them to leave as friends”), of devotion to his wife and family. His vow of chastity is represented as something selfless and holy, rather like the celibacy of the Catholic clergy. But, above all, Gandhi’s life and teachings are presented as having great import for us today. We must learn from Gandhi. I propose to demonstrate that the film grotesquely distorts both Gandhi’s life and character to the point that it is nothing more than a pious fraud, and a fraud of the most egregious kind. Hackneyed Indian falsehoods such as that “the British keep trying to break India up” (as if Britain didn’t give India a unity it had never enjoyed in history), or that the British *created* Indian poverty (a poverty which had not only existed since time immemorial but had been considered holy), almost pass unnoticed in the tide of adulation for our fictional saint. Gandhi, admittedly, being a devout Hindu, was far more self-contradictory than most public men. Sanskrit scholars tell me that flat self-contradiction is even considered an element of “Sanskrit rhetoric.” Perhaps it is thought to show profundity. GANDHI rose early, usually at three-thirty, and before his first bowel movement (during which he received visitors, although possibly not Margaret Bourke-White) he spent two hours in meditation, listening to his “inner voice.” Now Gandhi was an extremely vocal individual, and in addition to spending an hour each day in vigorous walking, another hour spinning at his primitive spinning wheel, another hour at further prayers, another hour being massaged nude by teenage girls, and many hours deciding such things as affairs of state, he produced a quite unconscionable number of articles and speeches and wrote an average of sixty letters a day. All considered, it is not really surprising that his inner voice said different things to him at different times. Despising consistency and never checking his earlier statements, and yet inhumanly obstinate about his position at any given moment, Gandhi is thought by some Indians today (according to V.S. Naipaul) to have been so erratic and unpredictable that he may have delayed Indian independence for twenty-five years. For Gandhi was an extremely difficult man to work with. He had no partners, only disciples. For members of his ashrams, he dictated every minute of their days, and not only every morsel of food they should eat but when they should eat it. Without ever having heard of a protein or a vitamin, he considered himself an expert on diet, as on most things, and was constantly experimenting. Once when he fell ill, he was found to have been living on a diet of ground-nut butter and lemon juice; British doctors called it malnutrition. And Gandhi had even greater confidence in his abilities as a “nature doctor,” prescribing obligatory cures for his ashramites, such as dried cow-dung powder and various concoctions containing cow dung (the cow, of course, being sacred to the Hindu). And to those he really loved he gave enemas–but again, alas, not to Margaret Bourke-White. Which is too bad, really. For admiring Candice Bergen’s work as I do, I would have been most interested in seeing how she would have experienced this beatitude. The scene might have lived in film history. There are 400 biographies of Gandhi, and his writings run to 80 volumes, and since he lived to be seventy-nine, and rarely fell silent, there are, as I have indicated, quite a few inconsistencies. The authors of the present movie even acknowledge in a little-noticed opening title that they have made a film only true to Gandhi’s spirit. For my part, I do not intend to pick through Gandhi’s writings to make him look like Attila the Hun (although the thought is tempting), but to give a fair, weighted balance of his views, laying stress above all on his actions, and on what he told other men to do when the time for action had come. Anti-racism: the reader will have noticed that in the present-day community of nations South Africa is a pariah. So it is an absolutely amazing piece of good fortune that Gandhi, born the son of the Prime Minister of a tiny Indian principality and received as an attorney at the bar of the Middle Temple in London, should have begun his climb to greatness as a member of the small Indian community in, precisely, South Africa. Natal, then a separate colony, wanted to limit Indian immigration and, as part of the government program, ordered Indians to carry identity papers (an action not without similarities to measures under consideration in the U.S. today to control illegal immigration). The film’s lengthy opening sequences are devoted to Gandhi’s leadership in the fight against Indians carrying their identity papers (burning their registration cards), with for good measure Gandhi being expelled from the first-class section of a railway train, and Gandhi being asked by whites to step off the sidewalk. This inspired young Indian leader calls, in the film, for interracial harmony, for people to “live together.” Now the time is 1893, and Gandhi is a “caste” Hindu, and from one of the higher castes. Although, later, he was to call for improving the lot of India’s Untouchables, he was not to have any serious misgivings about the fundamentals of the caste system for about another thirty years, and even then his doubts, to my way of thinking, were rather minor. In the India in which Gandhi grew up, and had only recently left, some castes could enter the courtyards of certain Hindu temples, while others could not. Some castes were forbidden to use the village well. Others were compelled to live outside the village, still others to leave the road at the approach of a person of higher caste and perpetually to call out, giving warning, so that no one would be polluted by their proximity. The endless intricacies of Hindu caste by-laws varied somewhat region by region, but in Madras, where most South African Indians were from, while a Nayar could pollute a man of higher caste only by touching him, Kammalans polluted at a distance of 24 feet, toddy drawers at 36 feet, Pulayans and Cherumans at 48 feet, and beef-eating Paraiyans at 64 feet. All castes and the thousands of sub-castes were forbidden, needless to say, to marry, eat, or engage in social activity with any but members of their own group. In Gandhi’s native Gujarat a caste Hindu who had been polluted by touch had to perform extensive ritual ablutions or purify himself by drinking a holy beverage composed of milk, whey, and (what else?) cow dung. Low-caste Hindus, in short, suffered humiliations in their native India compared to which the carrying of identity cards in South Africa was almost trivial In fact, Gandhi, to his credit, was to campaign strenuously in his later life for the reduction of caste barriers in India–a campaign almost invisible in the movie, of course, conveyed in only two glancing references, leaving the audience with the officially sponsored if historically astonishing notion that racism was introduced into India by the British. To present the Gandhi of 1893, a conventional caste Hindu, fresh from caste-ridden India where a Paraiyan could pollute at 64 feet, as the champion of interracial equalitarianism is one of the most brazen hypocrisies I have ever encountered in a serious movie. The film, moreover, does not give the slightest hint as to Gandhi’s attitude toward blacks, and the viewers of ‘Gandhi’ would naturally suppose that, since the future Great Soul opposed South African discrimination against Indians, he would also oppose South African discrimination against black people. But this is not so. While Gandhi, in South Africa, fought furiously to have Indians recognized as loyal subjects of the British empire, and to have them enjoy the full rights of Englishmen, he had no concern for blacks whatever. In fact, during one of the “Kaffir Wars” he volunteered to organize a brigade of Indians to put down a Zulu rising, and was decorated himself for valor under fire. For, yes, Gandhi (Sergeant Major Gandhi) was awarded Victoria’s coveted War Medal. Throughout most of his life Gandhi had the most inordinate admiration for British soldiers, their sense of duty, their discipline and stoicism in defeat (a trait he emulated himself). He marveled that they retreated with heads high, like victors. There was even a time in his life when Gandhi, hardly to be distinguished >from Kipling’s Gunga Din, wanted nothing much as to be a Soldier of the Queen. Since this is not in keeping with the “spirit” of Gandhi, as decided by Pandit Nehru and Indira Gandhi, it is naturally omitted >from he movie. Anti-colonialism: as almost always with historical films, even those more honest than ‘Gandhi,’ the historical personage on which the movie is based is not only more complex but more interesting than the character shown on the screen. During his entire South African period, and for some time after, until he was about fifty, Gandhi was nothing more or less than an imperial loyalist, claiming for Indians the rights of Englishmen but unshakably loyal to the crown. He supported the empire ardently in no fewer than three wars: the Boer War, the “Kaffir War,” and, with the most extreme zeal, World War I. If Gandhi’s mind were of the modern European sort, this would seam to suggest that his later attitude toward Britain was the product of unrequited love: he had wanted to be an Englishman; Britain had rejected him and his people; very well then, they would have their own country. But this would imply a point of “agonizing reappraisal,” a moment when Gandhi’s most fundamental political beliefs were reexamined and, after the most bitter soul-searching, repudiated. But I have studied the literature and cannot find this moment of bitter soul-searching. Instead, listening to his “inner voice” (which in the case of divines of all countries often speaks in the tones of holy opportunism), Gandhi simply, tranquilly, without announcing any sharp break, set off in a new direction. It should be understood that it is unlikely Gandhi ever truly conceived of “becoming” an Englishman, first, because he was a Hindu to the marrow of his bones, and also, perhaps, because his democratic instincts were really quite weak. He was a man of the most extreme, autocratic temperament, tyrannical, unyielding even regarding things he knew nothing about, totally intolerant of all opinions but his own. He was, furthermore, in the highest degree reactionary, permitting in India no change in the relationship between the feudal lord and his peasants or servants, the rich and the poor. In his ‘The Life and Death of Mahatma Gandhi,’ the best and least hagiographic of the full-length studies, Robert Payne, although admiring Gandhi greatly, explains Gandhi’s “new direction” on his return to India from South Africa as follows: He spoke in generalities, but he was searching for a single cause, a single hard-edged task to which he would devote the remaining years of his life. He wanted to repeat his triumph in South Africa on Indian soil. He dreamed of assembling a small army of dedicated men around him, issuing stern commands and leading them to some almost unobtainable goal. Gandhi, in short, was a leader looking for a cause. He found it, of course, in home rule for India and, ultimately, in independence. WE ARE therefore presented with the seeming anomaly of a Gandhi who, in Britain when war broke out in August 1914, instantly contacted the War Office, swore that he would stand by England in its hour of need, and created the Indian Volunteer Corps, which he might have commanded if he hadn’t fallen ill with pleurisy. In 1915, back in India, he made a memorable speech in Madras in which he proclaimed, “I discovered that the British empire had certain ideals with which I have fallen in love….” In early 1918, as the war in Europe entered its final crisis, he wrote to the Viceroy of India, “I have an idea that if I become your recruiting agent-in-chief, I might rain men upon you,” and he proclaimed in a speech in Kheda that the British “love justice; they have shielded men against oppression.” Again, he wrote to the Viceroy, “I would make India offer all her able-bodied sons as a sacrifice to the empire at this critical moment To some of his pacifist friends, who were horrified, Gandhi replied by appealing to the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ and to the endless wars recounted in the Hindu epics, the ‘Ramayana’ and the ‘Mahabharata,’ adding further to the pacifists’ honor by declaring that Indians “have always been warlike, and the finest hymn composed by Tulsidas in praise of Rama gives the first place to his ability to strike down the enemy.” This was in contradiction to the interpretation of sacred Hindu scriptures Gandhi had offered on earlier occasions (and would offer later), which was that they did not recount military struggles but spiritual struggles; but, unusual for him, he strove to find some kind of synthesis. “I do not say, `Let us go and kill the Germans,\'” Gandhi explained. “I say, `Let us go and die for the sake of India and the empire.\'” And yet within two years, the time having come for swaraj (home rule), Gandhi’s inner voice spoke again, and, the leader having found his cause, Gandhi proclaimed resoundingly: “The British empire today represents Satanism, and they who love God can afford to have no love for Satan.” The idea of swaraj, originated by others, crept into Gandhi’s mind gradually. With a fair amount of winding about, Gandhi, roughly, passed through three phases. First, he was entirely pro-British, and merely wanted for Indians the rights of Englishmen (as he understood them). Second, he was still pro-British, but with the belief that, having proved their loyalty to the empire, Indians would be granted some degree of swaraj. Third, as the home-rule movement gathered momentum, it was the swaraj, the whole swaraj, and nothing but the swaraj, and he turned relentlessly against the crown. The movie to the contrary, he caused the British no end of trouble in their struggles during World War II. BUT it should not be thought for one second that Gandhi’s finally full-blown desire to detach India from the British empire gave him the slightest sympathy with other colonial peoples pursuing similar objectives. Throughout his entire life Gandhi displayed the most spectacular inability to understand or even really take in people unlike himself–a trait which V.S. Naipaul considers specifically Hindu, and I am inclined to agree. Just as Gandhi had been totally unconcerned with the situation of South Africa’s blacks (he hardly noticed they were there until they rebelled), so now he was totally unconcerned with other Asians or Africans. In fact, he was adamantly *opposed* to certain Arab movements within the Ottoman empire for reasons of internal Indian politics. At the close of World War I, the Muslims of India were deeply absorbed in what they called the “khilafat” movement–“khilafat” being their corruption of “Caliphate,” the Caliph in question being the Ottoman Sultan. In addition to his temporal powers, the Sultan of the Ottoman empire held the spiritual position of Caliph, supreme leader of the world’s Muslims and successor to the Prophet Muhammad. At the defeat of the Central Powers (Germany, Austria, Turkey), the Sultan was a prisoner in his palace in Constantinople, shorn of his religious as well as his political authority, and the Muslims of India were incensed. It so happened that the former subject peoples of the Ottoman empire, principally Arabs, were perfectly happy to be rid of this Caliph, and even the Turks were glad to be rid of him, but this made no impression at all on the Muslims of India, for whom the issue was essentially a club with which to beat the British. Until this odd historical moment, Indian Muslims had felt little real allegiance to the Ottoman Sultan either, but now that he had fallen, the British had done it! The British had taken away their khilafat! And one of the most ardent supporters of this Indian Muslim movement was the new Hindu leader, Gandhi. No one questions that the formative period for Gandhi as a political leader was his time in South Africa. Throughout history Indians, divided into 1,500 language and dialect groups (India today has 15 official languages), had little sense of themselves as a nation. Muslim Indians and Hindu Indians felt about as close as Christians and Moors during their 700 years of cohabitation in Spain. In addition to which, the Hindus were divided into thousands of castes and sub-castes, and there were also Parsees, Sikhs, Jains. But in South Africa officials had thrown them all in together, and in the mind of Gandhi (another one of those examples of nationalism being born in exile) grew the idea of India as a nation, and Muslim-Hindu friendship became one of the few positions on which he never really reversed himself. So Gandhi ignoring Arabs and Turks–became an adamant supporter of the Khilafat movement out of strident Indian nationalism. He had become a national figure in India for having unified 13,000 Indians of all faiths in South Africa, and now he was determined to reach new heights by unifying hundreds of millions of Indians of all faiths in India itself. But this nationalism did not please everyone, particularly Tolstoy, who in his last years carried on a curious correspondence with the new Indian leader. For Tolstoy, Gandhi’s Indian nationalism “spoils everything.” As for the “anti-colonialism” of the nationalist Indian state since independence, Indira Gandhi, India’s present Prime Minister, hears an inner voice of her own, it would appear, and this inner voice told her to justify the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as produced by provocative maneuvers on the part of the U.S. and China, as well as to be the first country outside the Soviet bloc to recognize the Hanoi puppet regime in Cambodia. So everything plainly depends on who is colonizing whom, and Mrs. Gandhi’s voice perhaps tells her that the subjection of Afghanistan and Cambodia to foreign rule is “defensive” colonialism. And the movie’s message that Mahatma Gandhi, and by plain implication India (the country for which he plays the role of Joan of Arc), have taken a holy, unchanging stance against the colonization of nation by nation is just another of its hypocrisies. For India, when it comes to colonialism or anti-colonialism, it has been Realpolitik all the way. Nonviolence: but the real center and raison d’etre of ‘Gandhi’ is ahimsa, nonviolence, which principle when incorporated into vast campaigns of noncooperation with British rule the Mahatma called by an odd name he made up himself, satyagraha, which means something like “truth-striving.” During the key part of his life, Gandhi devoted a great deal of time explaining the moral and philosophical meanings of both ahimsa and satyagraha. But much as the film sanitizes Gandhi to the point where one would mistake him for a Christian saint, and sanitizes India to the point where one would take it for Shangri-la, it quite sweeps away Gandhi’s ethical and religious ponderings, his complexities, his qualifications, and certainly his vacillations, which simplifying process leaves us with our old European friend: pacifism. It is true that Gandhi was much impressed by the Sermon on the Mount, his favorite passage in the Bible, which he read over and over again. But for all the Sermon’s inspirational value, and its service as an ideal in relations among individual human beings, no Christian state which survived has ever based its policies on the Sermon on the Mount since Constantine declared Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire. And no modern Western state which survives can ever base its policies on pacifism. And no Hindu state will ever base its policies on ahimsa. Gandhi himself–although the film dishonestly conceals this from us–many times conceded that in dire circumstances “war may have to be resorted to as a necessary evil.” It is something of an anomaly that Gandhi, held in popular myth to be a pure pacifist (a myth which governments of India have always been at great pains to sustain in the belief that it will reflect credit on India itself, and to which the present movie adheres slavishly), was until fifty not ill-disposed to war at all. As I have already noted, in three wars, no sooner had the bugles sounded than Gandhi not only gave his support, but was clamoring for arms. To form new regiments! To fight! To destroy the enemies of the empire! Regular Indian army units fought in both the Boer War and World War I, but this was not enough for Gandhi. He wanted to raise new troops, even, in the case of the Boer and Kaffir Wars, from the tiny Indian colony in South Africa. British military authorities thought it not really worth the trouble to train such a small body of Indians as soldiers, and were even resistant to training them as an auxiliary medical corps (“stretcher bearers”), but finally yielded to Gandhi’s relentless importuning. As first instructed, the Indian Volunteer Corps was not supposed actually to go into combat, but Gandhi, adamant, led his Indian volunteers into the thick of battle. When the British commanding officer was mortally wounded during an engagement in the Kaffir War, Gandhi–though his corps’ deputy commander–carried the officer’s stretcher himself from the battlefield and for miles over the sun-baked veldt. The British empire’s War Medal did not have its name for nothing, and it was generally earned. ANYONE who wants to wade through Gandhi’s endless ruminations about himsa and ahimsa (violence and nonviolence) is welcome to do so, but it is impossible for the skeptical reader to avoid the conclusion–let us say in 1920, when swaraj (home rule) was all the rage and Gandhi’s inner voice started telling him that ahimsa was the thing–that this inner voice knew what it was talking about. By this I mean that, though Gandhi talked with the tongue of Hindu gods and sacred scriptures, his inner voice had a strong sense of expediency. Britain, if only comparatively speaking, was a moral nation, and nonviolent civil disobedience was plainly the best and most effective way of achieving Indian independence. Skeptics might also not be surprised to learn that as independence approached, Gandhi’s inner voice began to change its tune. It has been reported that Gandhi “half-welcomed” the civil war that broke out in the last days. Even a fratricidal “bloodbath” (Gandhi’s word) would be preferable to the British. And suddenly Gandhi began endorsing violence left, right, and center. During the fearsome rioting in Calcutta he gave his approval to men “using violence in a moral cause.” How could he tell them that violence was wrong, he asked, “unless I demonstrate that nonviolence is more effective?” He blessed the Nawab of Maler Kotla when he gave orders to shoot ten Muslims for every Hindu killed in his state. He sang the praises of Subhas Chandra Bose, who, sponsored by first the Nazis and then the Japanese, organized in Singapore an Indian National Army with which he hoped to conquer India with Japanese support, establishing a totalitarian dictatorship. Meanwhile, after independence in 1947, the armies of the India that Gandhi had created immediately marched into battle, incorporating the state of Hyderabad by force and making war in Kashmir on secessionist Pakistan. When Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu extremist in January 1948 he was honored by the new state with a vast military funeral–in my view by no means inapposite. BUT it is not widely realized (nor will this film tell you) how much violence was associated with Gandhi’s so-called “nonviolent” movement from the very beginning. India’s Nobel Prize-winning poet, Rabindranath Tagore, had sensed a strong current of nihilism in Gandhi almost from his first days, and as early as 1920 wrote of Gandhi’s “fierce joy of annihilation,” which Tagore feared would lead India into hideous orgies of devastation–which ultimately proved to be the case. Robert Payne has said that there was unquestionably an “unhealthy atmosphere” among many of Gandhi’s fanatic followers, and that Gandhi’s habit of going to the edge of violence and then suddenly retreating was fraught with danger. “In matters of conscience I am uncompromising,” proclaimed Gandhi proudly. “Nobody can make me yield.” The judgment of Tagore was categorical. Much as he might revere Gandhi as a holy man, he quite detested him as a politician and considered that his campaigns were almost always so close to violence that it was utterly disingenuous to call them nonviolent. For every satyagraha true believer, moreover, sworn not to harm the adversary or even to lift a finger in his own defense, there were sometimes thousands of incensed freebooters and skirmishers bound by no such vow. Gandhi, to be fair, was aware of this, and nominally deplored it–but with nothing like the consistency shown in the movie. The film leads the audience to believe that Gandhi’s first “fast unto death,” for example, was in protest against an act of barbarous violence, the slaughter by an Indian crowd of a detachment of police constables. But in actual fact Gandhi reserved this “ultimate weapon” of his to interdict a 1931 British proposal to grant Untouchables a “separate electorate” in the Indian national legislature–in effect a kind of affirmative-action program for Untouchables. For reasons I have not been able to decrypt, Gandhi was dead set against the project, but I confess it is another scene I would like to have seen in the movie: Gandhi almost starving himself to death to block affirmative action for Untouchables. From what I have been able to decipher, Gandhi’s main preoccupation in this particular struggle was not even the British. Benefiting from the immense publicity, he wanted to induce Hindus, overnight, ecstatically, and without any of these British legalisms, to “open their hearts” to Untouchables. For a whole week Hindu India was caught up in a joyous delirium. No more would the Untouchables be scavengers and sweepers! No more would they be banned from Hindu temples! No more would they pollute at 64 feet! It lasted just a week. Then the temple doors swung shut again, and all was as before. Meanwhile, on the passionate subject of swaraj Gandhi was crying, “I would not flinch from sacrificing a million lives for India’s liberty!” The million Indian lives were indeed sacrificed, and in full. They fell, however, not to the bullets of British soldiers but to he knives and clubs of their fellow lndians in savage butcheries when he British finally withdrew. ALTHOUGH the movie sneers at his reasoning as being the flimsiest of pretexts, I cannot imagine an impartial person studying the subject without concluding that concern for Indian religious minorities was one of the principal reasons Britain stayed in India as long as it did. When it finally withdrew, blood-maddened mobs surged through the streets from one end of India to the other, the majority group in each area, Hindu or Muslim, slaughtering the defenseless minority without mercy in one of the most hideous periods of carnage of modern history. A comparison is in order. At the famous Amritsar massacre of 1919, shot in elaborate and loving detail in the present movie and treated by post-independence Indian historians as if it were Auschwitz, Ghurka troops under the command of a British officer, General Dyer, fired into an unarmed crowd of Indians defying a ban and demonstrating for Indian independence. The crowd contained women and children; 379 persons died; it was all quite horrible. Dyer was court-martialed and cashiered, but the incident lay heavily on British consciences for the next three decades, producing a severe inhibiting effect. Never again would the British empire commit another Amritsar, anywhere. As soon as the oppressive British were gone, however, the Indians–gentle, tolerant people that they are gave themselves over to an orgy of bloodletting. Trained troops did not pick off targets at a distance with Enfield rifles. Blood-crazed Hindus, or Muslims, ran through the streets with knives, beheading babies, stabbing women, old people. Interestingly, our movie shows none of this on camera (the oldest way of stacking the deck in Hollywood). All we see is the aged Gandhi, grieving, and of course fasting, at these terrible reports of riots. And, naturally, the film doesn’t whisper a clue as to the total number of dead, which might spoil the mood somehow. The fact is that we will never know how many Indians were murdered by other Indians during the country’s Independence Massacres, but almost all serious studies place the figure over a million, and some, such as Payne’s sources, go to 4 million. So, for those who like round numbers, the British killed some 400 seditious colonials at Amritsar and the name Amritsar lives in infamy, while Indians may have killed some *4 million* of their own countrymen for no other reason than that they were of a different religious faith and people think their great leader would make an inspirational subject for a movie. Ahimsa, as can be seen, then, had an absolutely tremendous moral effect when used against Britain, but not only would it not have worked against Nazi Germany (the most obvious reproach, and of course quite true), but, the crowning irony, it had virtually no effect whatever when Gandhi tried to bring it into play against violent Indians. Despite this at best patchy record, the film-makers have gone to great lengths to imply that this same principle of ahimsa–presented in the movie as the purest form of pacifism–is universally effective, yesterday, today, here, there, everywhere. We hear no talk from Gandhi of war sometimes being a “necessary evil,” but only him announcing–and more than once–“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” In a scene very near the end of the movie, we hear Gandhi say, as if after deep reflection: “Tyrants and murderers can seem invincible at the time, but in the end they always fall. Think of it. Always.” During the last scene of the movie, following the assassination, Margaret Bourke-White is keening over the death of the Great Soul with an English admiral’s daughter named Madeleine Slade, in whose bowel movements Gandhi took the deepest interest (see their correspondence), and Miss Slade remarks incredulously that Gandhi felt that he had failed. They are then both incredulous for a moment, after which Miss Slade observes mournfully, “When we most needed it [presumably meaning during World War II], he offered the world a way out of madness. But the world didn’t see it.” Then we hear once again the assassin’s shots, Gandhi’s “Oh, God,” and last, in case we missed them the first time, Gandhi’s words (over the shimmering waters of the Ganges?): “Tyrants and murderers can seem invincible at the time, but in the end they always fall. Think of it. Always.” This is the end of the picture. NOW, as it happens, I have been thinking about tyrants and murderers for some time. But the fact that in the end they always fall has never given me much comfort, partly because, not being a Hindu and not expecting reincarnation after reincarnation, I am simply not prepared to wait them out. It always occurs to me that, while I am waiting around for them to fall, they might do something mean to me, like fling me into a gas oven or send me off to a Gulag. Unlike a Hindu and not worshipping stasis, I am also given to wondering who is to bring these murderers and tyrants down, it being all too risky a process to wait for them and the regimes they establish simply to die of old age. The fact that a few reincarnations >from now they will all have turned to dust somehow does not seem to suggest a rational strategy for dealing with the problem. Since the movie’s Madeleine Slade specifically invites us to revere the “way out of madness” that Gandhi offered the world at the time of World War II, I am under the embarrassing obligation of recording exactly what courses of action the Great Soul recommended to the various parties involved in that crisis. For Gandhi was never stinting in his advice. Indeed, the less he knew about a subject, the less he stinted. I am aware that for many not privileged to have visited the former British Raj, the names Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Deccan are simply words. But other names, such as Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, somehow have a harder profile. The term “Jew,” also, has a reasonably hard profile, and I feel all Jews sitting emotionally at the movie ‘Gandhi’ should be apprised of the advice that the Mahatma offered their coreligionists when faced with the Nazi peril: they should commit collective suicide. If only the Jews of Germany had the good sense to offer their throats willingly to the Nazi butchers’ knives and throw themselves into the sea from cliffs they would arouse world public opinion, Gandhi was convinced, and their moral triumph would be remembered for “ages to come.” If they would only pray for Hitler (as their throats were cut, presumably), they would leave a “rich heritage to mankind.” Although Gandhi had known Jews from his earliest days in South Africa–where his three staunchest white supporters were Jews, every one–he disapproved of how rarely they loved their enemies. And he never repented of his recommendation of collective suicide. Even after the war, when the full extent of the Holocaust was revealed, Gandhi told Louis Fischer, one of his biographers, that the Jews died anyway, didn’t they? They might as well have died significantly. Gandhi’s views on the European crisis were not entirely consistent. He vigorously opposed Munich, distrusting Chamberlain. “Europe has sold her soul for the sake of a seven days’ earthly existence,” he declared. “The peace that Europe gained at Munich is a triumph of violence.” But when the Germans moved into the Bohemian heartland, he was back to urging nonviolent resistance, exhorting the Czechs to go forth, unarmed, against the Wehrmacht, *perishing gloriously*–collective suicide again. He had Madeleine Slade draw up two letters to President Eduard Benes of Czechoslovakia, instructing him on the proper conduct of Czechoslovak satyagrahi when facing the Nazis. When Hitler attacked Poland, however, Gandhi suddenly endorsed the Polish army’s military resistance, calling it “almost nonviolent.” (If this sounds like double-talk, I can only urge readers to read Gandhi.) He seemed at this point to have a rather low opinion of Hitler, but when Germany’s panzer divisions turned west, Allied armies collapsed under the ferocious onslaught, and British ships were streaming across the Straits of Dover from Dunkirk, he wrote furiously to the Viceroy of India: “This manslaughter must be stopped. You are losing; if you persist, it will only result in greater bloodshed. Hitler is not a bad man….” Gandhi also wrote an open letter to the British people, passionately urging them to surrender and accept whatever fate Hitler’ had prepared for them. “Let them take possession of your beautiful island with your many beautiful buildings. You will give all these, but neither your souls, nor your minds.” Since none of this had the intended effect, Gandhi, the following year, addressed an open letter to the prince of darkness himself, Adolf Hitler. THE scene must be pictured. In late December 1941, Hitler stood at the pinnacle of his might. His armies, undefeated anywhere ruled Europe from the English Channel to the Volga. Rommel had entered Egypt. The Japanese had reached Singapore. The U.S. Pacific Fleet lay at the bottom of Pearl Harbor. At this superbly chosen moment, Mahatma Gandhi attempted to convert Adolf Hitler to the ways of nonviolence. “Dear Friend,” the letter begins, and proceeds to a heartfelt appeal to the Fuhrer to embrace all mankind “irrespective of race, color, or creed.” Every admirer of the film ‘Gandhi’ should be compelled to read this letter. Surprisingly, it is not known to have had any deep impact on Hitler. Gandhi was no doubt disappointed. He moped about, really quite depressed, but still knew he was right. When the Japanese, having cut their way through Burma, threatened India, Gandhi’s strategy was to let them occupy as much of India as they liked and then to “make them feel unwanted.” His way of helping his British “friends” was, at one of the worst points of the war, to launch massive civil-disobedience campaigns against them, paralyzing some of their efforts to defend India from the Japanese. Here, then, is your leader, 0 followers of Gandhi: a man who thought Hitler’s heart would be melted by an appeal to forget race, color, and creed, and who was sure the feelings of the Japanese would be hurt if they sensed themselves unwanted. As world-class statesmen go, it is not a very good record. Madeleine Slade was right, I suppose. The world certainly didn’t listen to Gandhi. Nor, for that matter, has the modern government of India listened to Gandhi. Although all Indian politicians of all political parties claim to be Gandhians, India has blithely fought three wars against Pakistan, one against China, and even invaded and seized tiny, helpless Goa, and all without a whisper of a shadow of a thought of ahimsa. And of course India now has atomic weapons, a satyagraha technique if ever there was one. I AM SURE that almost everyone who sees the movie ‘Gandhi’ is aware that, from a religious point if view, the Mahatma was something called a “Hindu”–but I do not think one in a thousand has the dimmest notion of the fundamental beliefs of the Hindu religion. The simplest example is Gandhi’s use of the word “God,” which, for members of the great Western religions–Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, all interrelated–means a personal god, a godhead. But when Gandhi said “God” in speaking English, he was merely translating >from Gujarati or Hindi, and from the Hindu culture. Gandhi, in fact, simply did not believe in a personal God, and wrote in so many words, “God is not a person … but a force; the undefinable mysterious Power that pervades everything; a living Power that is Love….” And Gandhi’s very favorite definition of God, repeated many thousands of times, was, “God is Truth,” which reduces God to some kind of abstract principle. Like all Hindus, Gandhi also believed in the “Great Oneness,” according to which everything is part of God, meaning not just you and me and everyone else, but every living creature, every dead creature, every plant, the pitcher of milk, the milk in the pitcher, the tumbler into which the milk is poured…. After all of which, he could suddenly pop up with a declaration that God is “the Maker, the Law-Giver, a jealous Lord,” phrases he had probably picked up in the Bible and, with Hindu fluidity, felt he could throw in so as to embrace even more of the Great Oneness. So when Gandhi said, “I am a Hindu and a Muslim and a Christian and a Jew,” it was (from a Western standpoint) Hindu double-talk. Hindu holy men, some of them reformers like Gandhi, have actually even “converted” to Islam, then Christianity, or whatever, to worship different “aspects” of the Great Oneness, before reconverting to Hinduism. Now for Christians, fastidious in matters of doctrine, a man who converts to Islam is an apostate (or vice versa), but a Hindu is a Hindu is a Hindu. The better to experience the Great Oneness, many Hindu holy men feel they should be women as well as men, and one quite famous one even claimed he could menstruate (I will spare the reader the details). IN THIS ecumenical age, it is extremely hard to shake Westerners loose from the notion that the devout of all religions, after all, worship “the one God.” But Gandhi did not worship the one God. He did not worship the God of mercy. He did not worship the God of forgiveness. And this for the simple reason that the concepts of mercy and forgiveness are absent from Hinduism. In Hinduism, men do not pray to God for forgiveness, and a man’s sins are never forgiven–indeed, there is no one out there to do the forgiving. In your next life you may be born someone higher up the caste scale, but in this life there is no hope. For Gandhi, a true Hindu, did not believe in man’s immortal soul. He believed with every ounce of his being in karma, a series, perhaps a long series, of reincarnations, and at the end, with great good fortune: mukti, liberation from suffering and the necessity of rebirth, nothingness. Gandhi once wrote to Tolstoy (of all people) that reincarnation explained “reasonably the many mysteries of life.” So if Hindus today still treat an Untouchable as barely human, this is thought to be perfectly right and fitting because of his actions in earlier lives. As can be seen, Hinduism, by its very theology, with its sacred triad of karma, reincarnation, and caste (with caste an absolutely indispensable part of the system) offers the most complacent justification of inhumanity of any of the world’s great religious faiths. Gandhi, needless to say, was a Hindu reformer, one of many. Until well into his fifties, however, he accepted the caste system in toto as the “natural order of society,” promoting control and discipline and sanctioned by his religion. Later, in bursts of zeal, he favored moderating it in a number of ways. But he stuck by the basic varna system (the four main caste groupings plus the Untouchables) until the end of his days, insisting that a man’s position and occupation should be determined essentially by birth. Gandhi favored milder treatment of Untouchables, renaming them Harijans, “children of God,” but a Harijan was still a Harijan. Perhaps because his frenzies of compassion were so extreme (no, no, *he* would clean the *Harijan’s* latrine), Hindu reverence for him as a holy man became immense, but his prescriptions were rarely followed. Industrialization and modernization have introduced new occupations and sizable social and political changes in India, but the caste system has dexterously adapted and remains largely intact today. The Sudras still labor. The sweepers still sweep. Max Weber, in his ‘The Religion of India,’ after quoting the last line of the ‘Communist Manifesto,’ suggests somewhat sardonically that low- caste Hindus, too, have “nothing to lose but their chains,” that they, too, have “a world to win”–the only problem being that they have to die first and get born again, higher, it is to be hoped, in the immutable system of caste. Hinduism in general, wrote Weber, “is characterized by a dread of the magical evil of innovation.” Its very essence is to guarantee stasis. In addition to its literally thousands of castes and sub-castes, Hinduism has countless sects, with discordant rites and beliefs. It has no clear ecclesiastical organization and no universal body of doctrine. What I have described above is your standard, no-frills Hindu, of which in many ways Gandhi was an excellent example. With the reader’s permission I will skip over the Upanishads, Vedanta, Yoga, the Puranas, Tantra, Bhakti, the ‘Bhagavad-Gita’ (which contains theistic elements), Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and the terrible Kali or Durga, to concentrate on those central beliefs that most motivated Gandhi’s behavior as a public figure. IT SHOULD be plain by now that here is much in the Hindu culture that is distasteful to the Western mind, and consequently is largely–unknown in the West–not because Hindus do not go on and on about these subjects, but because a Western squeamishness usually prevents these preoccupations from reaching print (not to mention film). When Gandhi attended his first Indian National Congress he was most distressed at seeing the Hindus–not laborers but high-caste Hindus, civic leaders–defecating all over the place, as if to pay attention to where the feces fell was somehow unclean. (For, as V.S. Naipaul puts it, in a twisted Hindu way it is *unclean to clean*. It is unclean even to notice. “It was the business of the sweepers to remove excrement, and until the sweepers came, people were content to live in the midst of their own excrement.”) Gandhi exhorted Indians endlessly on the subject, saying that sanitation was the first need of India, but he retained an obvious obsession with excreta, gleefully designing latrines and latrine drills for all hands at the ashram, and, all in all what with giving and taking enemas, and his public bowel movements, and his deep concern with everyone else’s bowel movements (much correspondence), and endless dietary experiments *as a function* of bowel movements, he devoted a rather large share of his life to the matter. Despite his constant campaigning for sanitation, it is hard to believe that Gandhi was not permanently marked by what Arthur Koestler terms the Hindu “morbid infatuation with filth,” and what V.S. Naipaul goes as far as to call Indian “deification of filth.” (Decades later, Krishna Menon, a Gandhian and one-time Indian Defence Minister, was still fortifying sanctity by drinking a daily 1 of urine.) But even more important, because it is dealt with in the movie directly–if of course dishonestly–is Gandhi’s parallel obsession with brahmacharya, or sexual chastity. There is a scene late in the film in which Margaret Bourke-White (again!) asks Gandhi’s wife if he has ever broken his vow of chastity, taken, at that time, about forty years before. Gandhi’s wife, by now a sweet old lady, answers wistfully, with a pathetic little note of hope, “Not yet.” What lies behind this adorable scene is the following: Gandhi held as one of his most profound beliefs (a fundamental doctrine of Hindu medicine) that a man, as a matter of the utmost importance, must conserve his bindu, or seminal fluid. Koestler (in ‘The Lotus and the Robot’) gives a succinct account of this belief, widespread among orthodox Hindus: “A man’s vital energy is concentrated in his seminal fluid, and this is stored in a cavity in the skull. It is the most precious substance in the body … an elixir of life both in the physical and mystical sense, distilled from the blood…. A large store of bindu of pure quality guarantees health, longevity, and supernatural powers…. Conversely, every loss of it is a physical and spiritual impoverishment.” Gandhi himself said in so many words, “A man who is unchaste loses stamina, becomes emasculated and cowardly, while in the chaste man secretions [semen] are sublimated into a vital force pervading his whole being.” And again, still Gandhi: “Ability to retain and assimilate the vital liquid is a matter of long training. When properly conserved it is transmuted into matchless energy and strength.” Most male Hindus go ahead and have sexual relations anyway, of course, but the belief in the value of bindu leaves the whole culture in what many observers have called a permanent state of “semen anxiety.” When Gandhi once had a nocturnal emission he almost had a nervous breakdown. Gandhi was a truly fanatical opponent of sex for pleasure, and worked it out carefully that a married couple should be allowed to have sex three or four times *in a lifetime*, merely to have children and favored embodying this restriction in the law of the land. The sexual-gratification wing of the present-day feminist movement would find little to attract them in Gandhi’s doctrine, since in all his seventy-nine years it never crossed his mind once that there could be anything enjoyable in sex for women, and he was constantly enjoining Indian women to deny themselves to men, to refuse to let their husbands “abuse” them. Gandhi had been married at thirteen, and when he took his vow of chastity, after twenty-four years of sexual activity, he ordered his two oldest sons, both young men, to be totally chaste as well. BUT Gandhi’s monstrous behavior to his own family is notorious. He denied his sons education–to which he was bitterly hostile. His wife remained illiterate. Once when she was very sick, hemorrhaging badly, and seemed to be dying, he wrote to her from jail icily: “My struggle is not merely political. It is religious and therefore quite pure. It does not matter much whether one dies in it or lives. I hope and expect that you will also think likewise and not be unhappy.” To die, that is. On another occasion he wrote, speaking about her: “I simply cannot bear to look at Ba’s face. The expression is often like that on the face of a meek cow and gives one the feeling, as a cow occasionally does, that in her own dumb manner she is saying something. I see, too, that there is selfishness in this suffering of hers ….” And in the end he let her die, as I have said, rather than allow British doctors to give her a shot of penicillin (while his inner voice told him that it would be all right for him to take quinine). He disowned his oldest son, Harilal, for wishing to marry. He banished his second son for giving his struggling older brother a small sum of money. Harilal grew quite wild with rage against his father, attacked him in print, converted to Islam, took to women, drink, and died an alcoholic in 1948. The Mahatma attacked him right back in his pious way, proclaiming modestly in an open letter in “Young India,” “Men may be good, not necessarily their children.” IF THE reader thinks I have delivered unduly harsh judgments on India and Hindu civilization, I can refer him to ‘An Area of Darkness’ and ‘India: A Wounded Civilization,’ two quite brilliant books on India by V.S. Naipaul, a Hindu, and a Brahmin, born in Trinidad. In the second, the more discursive, Naipaul writes that India “has little to offer the world except its Gandhian concept of holy poverty and the recurring crooked comedy of its holy men, and … is now dependent in every practical way on other, imperfectly understood civilizations.” Hinduism, Naipaul writes, “has given men no idea of a contract with other men, no idea of the state. It has enslaved one quarter of the population [the Untouchables] and always has left the whole fragmented and vulnerable. Its philosophy of withdrawal has diminished men intellectually and not equipped them to respond to challenge; it has stifled growth. So that again and again in India history has repeated itself: vulnerability, defeat, withdrawal.” Indians, Naipaul says, have no historical notion of the past. “Through centuries of conquest the civilization declined into an apparatus for survival, turning away from the mind … and creativity … stripping itself down, like all decaying civilizations, to its magical practices and imprisoning social forms.” He adds later, “No government can survive on Gandhian fantasy; and the spirituality, the solace of a conquered people, which Gandhi turned into a form of national assertion, has soured more obviously into the nihilism that it always was.” Naipaul condemns India again and again for its “intellectual parasitism,” its “intellectual vacuum,” its “emptiness,” the “blankness of its decayed civilization.” “Indian poverty is more dehumanizing than any machine; and, more than in any machine civilization, men in India are units, locked up in the straitest obedience by their idea of their dharma… “The blight of caste is not only untouchability and the consequent deification in India of filth; the blight, in an India that tries to grow, is also the overall obedience it imposes, … the diminishing of adventurousness, the pushing away from men of individuality and the possibility of excellence.” Although Naipaul blames Gandhi as well as India itself for the country’s failure to develop an “ideology” adequate for the modern world, he grants him one or two magnificent moments–always, it should be noted, when responding to “other civilizations.” For Gandhi, Naipaul remarks pointedly, had matured in alien societies: Britain and South Africa. With age, back in India, he seemed from his autobiography to be headed for “lunacy,” says Naipaul, and was only rescued by external events, his reactions to which were determined in part by “*his experience of the democratic ways of South Africa*” [my emphasis]. For it is one of the enduring ironies of Gandhi’s story that it was in South Africa–*South Africa*–a country in which he became far more deeply involved than he had been in Britain, that Gandhi caught a warped glimmer of that strange institution of which he would never have seen even a reflection within Hindu society: democracy. ANOTHER of Gandhi’s most powerful obsessions (to which the movie alludes in such a syrupy and misleading manner that it would be quite impossible for the audience to understand it) was his visceral hatred of the modern, industrial world. He even said, more than once, that he actually wouldn’t mind if the British remained in India, to police it, conduct foreign policy, and such trivia, if it would only take away its factories and railways. And Gandhi hated, not just factories and railways, but also the telegraph, the telephone, the radio, the airplane. He happened to be in England when Louis Bleriot, the great French aviation pioneer, first flew the English Channel–an event which at the time stirred as much excitement as Lindbergh’s later flight across the Atlantic and Gandhi was in a positive fury that giant crowds were acclaiming such an insignificant event. He used the telegraph extensively himself, of course, and later would broadcast daily over All-India Radio during his highly public
  39. Hi YLH

    Question is: why do a long list of great men admire Gandhi??

    What may be the reason??

    To All:

    Just for information:
    Gandhi’s views on Non-Violence has been mis-interpreted/mis-understood.
    Norman Finkelstein explains:

    “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZHb7YbYd8I”

    “Hit Back and Hit back Hard”

    Lastly , Finkelstein is also a Gandhi admirer

  40. Obviously Jewish magazines wont like Gandhi……what was his advice to JEWS during the formation of Israel? YLH knows that very well

    No wonder Zionists and their magazines have not so kind words about Gandhi!

  41. YLH

    aww… love it when Indian Gandhians resort to Yahood-o-nisara conspiracy theories.

  42. Raj

    1. He created enough chaos to give the British an excuse to delay self rule.

    Dear Yasser ,This logic is based on assumption that British were ready to give us self rule and all the freedom fighters were idiots ..

    2. By monopolising the so called independence movement, he by the same token did not allow other more genuine rebellions (like that of great Bhagat Singh) flourish.

    How did he monopolize the movement ?? its the collective social conscious of Indian society which accepted his non violent way of fighting rather then Violent one . This is like saying that Prophet monopolized Arab Thinking and hence didn’t allow others to flourish .
    Also here you are contradicting your first point . if Britishers were ready to give self rule to Indians then even Bhagat Singh was delaying it .

    Your logic would make sense if India had not won its independence as it did… India became independent through an act of parliament … that is the British Parliament… how then do you justify your claim that Gandhi’s agitation- illegal and wrong as it was – was somehow an act of defiance to the British.

    British Parliament was forced to give Indian independence by Civil disobedience so Gandhi Forced them rectify their mistake of Imperialism .
    as I said Law in itself is not the end . Law (British parliament ) have to accept and rectify its mistake of imperialism .

  43. Questor

    Reply to Grenier:

    ——————————————————————-
    WHY GANDHI DRIVES THE NEOCONSERVATIVES CRAZY

    by Jason DeParle
    (From the Washington Monthly, September 1983)
    ——————————————————————-

    A year ago the story of Mahatma Gandhi was fast fading from memory. Those who were old enough might remember him from the newsreel foot- age that flashed in 1940s movie theaters — but recall little beyond the fact that he somehow brought the British empire to its knees. For the most part, Gandhi’s fame had faded with the passing of time. He was just a foreign name connected with a distant land and a previous era.

    Of course, Richard Attenborough’s film changed all that. Suddenly Gandhi was once again splashed across the pages of the world press. He has appeared in the film sections, in the style sections, on the op-ed pages, and in the Sunday magazines.

    Biographies have been re-released, and foreign correspondents of an earlier day have gone digging for their notes. As an advocate of small-scale economics, Gandhi presumably would approve; a cottage industry has been spun out of Gandhiana.

    As the reappraisals stack higher and higher, one would hope we’d all find ourselves getting closer to the elusive truth about one of the few indisputably great men of this century. Instead, however, we seem to be getting closer to something more mundane: the preoccupations and illusions of the left and the right.

    A review of the discussions and debates that Richard Attenborough’s film biography has inspired provides a useful Rorschach of these ideologies, and some insights into where both camps go wrong in their view of contemporary America — to say nothing of colonial India.

    The commentary ranges across a wide terrain. The liberal `Progressive’, for example, concluding that “Gandhiism … is relevant,” argued that among the film’s many messages is “the knowledge that diet is crucial to well-being.” Given Gandhi’s affection for such delicacies as groundnut butter and lemon juice — and his many nearly suicidal fasts — the `Progressive”s conclusions seem questionable.

    Ralph Nader, meanwhile, appropriated Gandhi on behalf of the consumer movement: never mind that Gandhi’s asceticism had distinctly non- consuming proclivities.

    Of course, most of the Gandhi discussion has focussed on “peace”. “In these days of raised consciousness about the nuclear threat”, says `McCall’s’, the film “speaks to the power of peace.”

    `The Christian Century’ had a similar thought: “It is good to be reminded of Gandhi’s beliefs when the possibility of nonviolent conflict resolution as a substitute for war requires our serious consideration.”

    So did the `Newsweek’: ” At a time of deep political unrest, economic dislocation, and nuclear anxiety, seeing “Gandhi” is an experience that will change many hearts and minds.”

    Now `McCall’s’ doesn’t reveal what it thinks the film says when it “speaks to the power of peace”. Nor does the `Newsweek’ say what changes will come to our hearts and minds.

    But Colman McCarthy, a Catholic liberal, gets more specific. Writing in `The Washington Post’, he claims, ” The relevance of “Gandhi” is that the moral force of nonviolence is always stronger than its opposite, the physical force of violence.”

    “Gandhi” provided music to the liberals’ ear. The weak triumph over the strong, good over evil, righteousness over injustice. Anti-racism, anti-colonialism and nonviolence prevail.

    On the other hand, a chorus of conservative voices, has attacked the movie and attacked the man. Columnists like Patrick Buchanan and Emmett Tyrrell have joined the fray.

    The strongest words, however, have come from Richard Grenier, film critic for `Commentary’. Not satisfied with simply attacking the movie and the man, Grenier in a March article for the magazine went on to vilify all of India, all of Hinduism, and then to flail at a target closer to home, and close to the hearts of his fellow neoconservatives: American liberals. Grenier’s 13,000-word tirade was widely reprinted and subsequently released as a book dedicated to Norman Podhoretz and Midge Deeter.

    If most debates about Gandhi tend to be passionate, this one has been particularly so. This is because the film touches upon issues prominent now in American politics. The release of the film comes at a time when the United States is engaged in a rancorous debate with itself about various issues involving questions of force.

    The legitimacy and the effectiveness of American military power underlay the debate about the United State’s involvement in Vietnam and now underlie the debate about what to do in Central America.

    The fear that America has too much force fuels the passions of nuclear freeze supporters, while the fear that America has too little guides their opponents. The debate about “Gandhi” — and Gandhi the man — thus quickly becomes a debate about American politics.

    PUFF JOB FOR PACIFISM

    I have watched these salvos fly back and forth with special interest because (I should confess) I am a Gandhi admirer. Remembering my own excitement in college while studying non-violence — and when I had a chance to visit the Gandhi national museum while spending a summer in India — I can understand why the film has provoked such enthusiasm.

    Who can doubt it ? The story of the world’s greatest non- violent revolution is a magnificent one. Einstein got it right when he said, `generations to come … will scarce believe that such a one as this, ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth’.

    Perhaps its Gandhi’s greatness that makes him such a polarizing topic of discussion. For the greatness tempts his admirers (myself included) to make him even greater, purer, less ambivalent, and less complex than he was, and to extend his solutions to situations where they may not work.

    The good about Gandhi was so sublime, and he embodies so many of our idealistic hopes, that we want to tolerate no ambiguities and recognize no blemishes.

    The temptation to reduce (and that’s the correct verb) Gandhi to parable is often irresistible. But surrendering Gandhi to the realm of myth inevitably invites a concentrated counterattack, against not only the sanctified Gandhi, but the historical Gandhi as well.

    Too often, then, Gandhi becomes an all-or nothing proposition, pitting those who would deify him against those who would destroy him.

    The debate about “Gandhi” starts with an argument about the film as a film. The film’s strength lies in its excitement and its ability to convey emotion; it wrenches a response from even the most coarsened viewer.

    Take, for example, the scene depicting Gandhi, the young barrister, being thrown from a segregated South African train. This specific story is well known, and expulsion from segregated quarters has become almost a cliche about racism. Yet when Gandhi land with a thud upon the station platform, the viewer feels the sting, almost like discovering racism anew. “Gandhi” has that ability to summon outrage and empathy.

    Attenborough’s depiction of the famous 1930 march on the Dharasana Salt Works provides one of the films most powerful moments. United Press correspondent Webb Miller’s often-quoted account of the scene is worth recalling:

    “In complete silence the Gandhi men drew up and halted a hundred yards from the stockade. A picket column advanced from the crowd, waded the ditches, and approached the barbed-wire fence …. Suddenly, at a word of command, scores of native policemen rushed upon the advancing marchers and rained blows upon their heads with their steel-shod lathis. Not one of the marchers even raised an arm to fend off the blows. They went down like ten-pins. From where I stood I heard the sickening whack of the clubs on unprotected skulls. The waiting crowd sucked in their breath in sympathetic pain at every blow …”

    I had read and reread Miller’s strong prose, and I knew the scene was coming. But I didn’t cringe any less when it flashed on the screen, and others around me cringed too.

    Attenborough’s re-creation of the scene turned theaters full of people into crowds who “sucked in their breath in sympathetic pain.” “Gandhi” has many such powerful moments and they make the film memorable.

    SKIPPING THE GITA

    But in many ways “Gandhi” is what journalists call a puff job. The film puts forth a “saintly” Gandhi without ever questioning whether that saintliness was real, or even desirable.

    George Orwell’s appreciative but critical depiction of Gandhi, written in 1949, is worth recalling : “Of late years it has been the fashion to talk about Gandhi as though he were not only sympathetic to the left-wing movement but were even part of it … But one should, I think, realize that Gandhi’s teachings cannot be squared with the belief that man is the measure of all things… Gandhi’s basic aims were anti-human and reactionary … it is not necessary here to argue whether the other-worldly or the humanistic ideal is `higher’. The point is that they are incompatible.”

    The film does not seek a portrayal of Gandhi as a person with the contradictions, ambivalences, and failures that all people share; it projects a candidate for canonization.

    In Gandhi’s case, the “flaws” (as we in the West might see them) and the “saintliness” both stemmed from the same source: Gandhi’s fierce religious devotion.

    The fervor behind his desire for moral perfection had its darker side. Gandhi harbored an authoritarian streak which demanded that others adhere to his own code of morality and treated them harshly when they failed to measure up to that code or rejected it altogether.

    Members of his ashrams, for example, were subjected to strict discipline on matters of sex, diet, prayer, work, education, clothing, and other matters. He distrusted close human relationships, viewing them as a source of temptation, and an impediment to his spiritual aspirations.

    The burdens of Gandhi’s moral fervor often fell heavily on his own family. He imposed celibacy on his wife and children, opposed his children’s education and marriage, and insisted that they join his campaigns, landing them in jail.

    Mahatmaship had the harshest effect on Harilal, Gandhi’s eldest son, who became estranged from his father, converted to Islam, took to embezzlement and died in drunken poverty.

    The film leaves the consequences of Gandhi’s spiritual imperatives for the lives of his friends and families unquestioned. It also leaves unquestioned the consequences of those imperatives for public life. Gandhi’s hunger fasts, for example, always carried with them the hint of blackmail.

    The failure of the film to question the desirability of Gandhi’s ascetic ideals is a minor fault. Its failure to question the limitations of nonviolence is a major one.

    “Gandhi” is a puff job for pacifism, even more credulous about nonviolence than was Gandhi himself. The film ignores Gandhi’s own very real vacillations and contradictions with regard to nonviolence as an absolute. It makes no mention, for example, of the fact that Gandhi endorsed three British wars and himself attempted to enlist (he led an ambulance corps to support the war when the British refused to have Indians as soldiers in South Africa).

    The most troubling issue raised by “Gandhi”, of course, is the effectiveness of nonviolence in confronting a Hitler, to which the film devotes a single line. Asked how nonviolence could stop the armies of Nazi Germany, the film Gandhi responds simply that evil must be opposed wherever it is found, and disappears from the screen.

    The historical Gandhi remained unable to come to grips with the Hitler question, and at various times advised the British to surrender and the Jews to commit collective suicide. (In 1941, Gandhi insisted to the British that “Hitler is not a bad man”.)

    The film concludes with the moral of the story spelled out, in case anyone should miss it. “Tyrants and murderers can seem invincible at the time, but in the end they always fall. Think of it. Always.”

    The message is repeated twice. These are the last words of the film, and they are never questioned. It is an uplifting thought, but poor history — very much like Colman McCarthy’s “the moral force of
    nonviolence is always stronger that its opposite, the physical force of violence,” another noble sentiment, but ignoring the reality of places
    like Indochina, Afghanistan, and Central America.

    HOMESPUN OBSESSIONS

    Given these weaknesses in the film and even the man, it’s hardly surprising to see a neoconservative critique appear that takes exception to the liberal reaction to “Gandhi”.

    But Grenier’s review wasn’t a critique so much as it was an epileptic seizure. The virulence of Richard Grenier’s attack on the film and even the people of India seemed to know no bounds.

    What’s all this stuff about non-violence ?

    “Hindus, ” says Grenier, “are among the most bestially violent people on the globe.”

    What’s all this stuff about Gandhi as a saint ? He “was a man of the most extreme autocratic temperament, tyrannical, unyielding, even regarding things he knew nothing about, totally intolerant of all opinions but his own.” He “retained an obvious obsession with excreta.” He dwelled in a “permanent state of semen anxiety.”

    “Gandhi”, says Grenier, “believed in a religion whose ideas I find somewhat repugnant.” Grenier continues at this moderate pitch for his entire review.

    It is tempting to perform a point-by-point exegesis of the distortions, digressions, and deletions that characterize this review, but a few examples will have to suffice.

    For instance, Grenier first attacks India for its lack of sanitation. Then he attacks Gandhi’s sanitary efforts for constituting a “morbid fascination with filth”.

    He criticizes “swaraj” (home rule) as an idea “originated by others”. Then he attacks Gandhi’s doctrine of “satyagraha” (truth force) for being something “he made up himself”.

    Grenier even hints that the spokesman of nonviolence murdered his wife. “When Gandhi’s wife lay dying of pneumonia and British doctors insisted that a shot of pencillin would save her”, he writes, “Gandhi refused to have this alien medicine injected into her body and simply let her die.”

    Grenier fails to mention that Kasturba Gandhi already lay on her death- bed, that oxygen and several doctors had been summoned by had failed to revive her.

    Grenier’s treatment of Hinduism is just as shoddy. “With the reader’s permission,” he writes, ” I will skip over the Upanishads, Vedanta, Yoga, the Puranas, Bhakti, the Bhagavad Gita…” and so forth. Grenier goes on to devote much space to the practice of “suttee” (widow burning) a practice officially abolished 40 years before Gandhi’s birth
    — and one which Gandhi specifically deplored.

    Perhaps (“with the reader’s permission”) Grenier would discuss Christianity by skipping over Genesis and Exodus, the Psalms, Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, and focus instead on the Crusades and the Inquisition — or the practice of, say, witch hunting in Salem, Massachusetts.

    What is it that sends Grenier into such a rage ?

    To understand Grenier’s reaction, it’s necessary to understand neo- conservatism. In the words of Irving Kristol, neo-conservatism was “provoked by the disillusionment with contemporary liberalism”, and in many cases, with good reason.

    Neoconservatives were right to argue that liberal reform often carried unintended, and undesirable, consequences. They were right to argue that the American left too often was given to knee-jerk condemnations of America. They were right to argue that some on the left had romanticized communism, revolution and the Third World. They were right to argue that some on the left had unfairly disparaged the American values of family and the institutions of traditional religion. They were right to argue that America had enemies and that it needed to be defended.

    But the enemy isn’t Gandhi — man or movie — and the topic isn’t one that calls for a loyalty test, as Grenier would have it. I don’t recall a single reference in the film to America. Gandhi never visited America. Perhaps when Grenier watched the British hit 1,516 Indians with 1,650 bullets at Amritsar it reminded him somehow of Bull Connor and My Lai and he saw anti-American overtones. I didn’t, as Grenier fears, sniff out “the intimation .. that we are a society with poorer spiritual values, than, let’s say, India.”

    Whatever his reasoning, Grenier saw a need to devote the introduction to his book to telling us, ” I appear to have been born (primitive and vulgar as this has been made to seem in subsequent decades) extremely patriotic … both my paternal and maternal grandparents … framed their Certificates of Naturalization on the wall…. they pledged their allegiance to the Stars and Stripes with all their hearts. They were Americans.”

    And so it goes: ” I at no time, for even a blink of an eye, have admired Moscow, Havana, or Hanoi …. I have found all the societies I have visited frankly inferior to our own.” To Grenier, Gandhi can be admired only at America’s expense.

    This reveals a contradiction in the neoconservative vision of the world. While neoconservatives are quick to celebrate American values as the best the world has to offer, they are distrustful of the consequences those values may bring.

    Gandhi understood that the British (and by extension all Western constitutional democracies ) are vulnerable to being held up to their own standards. Countries less “good” than Britain (those that lack a free press, constitutional values, respect for human rights) are more readily equipped to handle the “challenge” of men like Gandhi; they might be content with simply putting a Gandhi to death.

    Gandhi knew that the “goodness” of the British (their willingness to be held to their own professed values ) was their weak spot.

    Neoconservatives seem to fear that America — by braving the perils of dissent and democracy — will be similarly weakened. Part of what makes America “great” is, theoretically at least, its reluctance to use force against other nations. Yet, fearful that standards such as this place us at a disadvantage in the real world, some neoconservatives advocate that America needs to win a war somewhere, to use violence successfully. {prophetic!} Their insecurity would have us violate American values — to mirror the hideous brutality of less open societies — in order to preserve them.

    It becomes doubly ironic that – of all Third World leaders, of all “revolutionaries” — Gandhi would be the target of a neoconservative attack, because, in many ways, he embodies the very values they promote.

    Neoconservatives value patriotism; Gandhi was a patriot. Neoconservatives believe in community — as did Gandhi. Neoconservatives believe in strict codes of personal morality, restraints on sexuality — as did Gandhi. Neoconservatives believe in respect for the traditional institutions of social and political authority, the church and the state — as, in his own way, did Gandhi.

    What Gandhi didn’t share, of course, was the neoconservatives’ enthusiasm for unfettered capitalism. This points to another contradiction. On one hand, neoconservatives claim to value service, community, and traditional codes of morality. On the other hand, they endorse the material self- seeking and worldly ambition that is fundamental to the laissez-faire marketplace.

    Gandhi’s hopes for a decentralized, village economy sometimes tended to be utopian but he sensed correctly that industrialism doesn’t necessarily promote — and may actually erode — community and traditional morality.

    A capitalist economy and the values Gandhi held aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive; neoconservatives, however, do not even want to concede that they are inevitably in tension.

    Its almost as if the example of Gandhi — who more fully embodied some of the values that they often simply mouth — reminds neoconservatives
    of their own contradictions. The reminder seems to enrage them, and rather than to assess Gandhi in a rational way, they attempt to dismiss
    him with lies, half-truths, innuendos and racial slurs.

    This helps explain not only the attack, but also its virulence. Gandhi poses a particularly inconvenient complication of the neoconservative
    view of the world. Neoconservatives have devoted immeasurable effort to reminding us of foreign threats, and urging us to meet them with sufficient resolve and military hardware.

    To the liberal prejudice that truth always triumphs over force, neo- conservatives reply the opposite: that force always triumphs over truth. The real lesson to be learned from the historical Gandhi is that truth may not always triumph, but it sometimes does. Tyrants and murderers may not always fall, but they sometimes do.

    A final irony to the great Gandhi debate is that neither the left nor the right — both busy making grand claims for nonviolence or dismissing it altogether — has paid much attention to where Gandhian tactics may have left their greatest legacy, which is right here in the United States.

    Speakng in a radio address in 1966, Martin Luther King Jr. paid tribute to the gains won by the civil rights movement by the use of nonviolence:

    “The Civil Rights Commission, three years before we went to Selma, had recommended the changes we started marching for, but nothing was done, until, in 1965, we created a crisis the nation couldn’t ignore.

    Without violence, we totally disrupted the system, the lifestyle of Birmingham, and then of Selma, with their unjust and unconstitutional laws. Our Birmingham struggle came to its dramatic climax when some 3,500 demonstrators virtually filled every jail in that city and surrounding communities, and some 4,000 more continued to march and demonstrate non-violently. The city knew then in terms that were crystal clear that Birmingham could no longer function until the demands of the Negro community were met. The same kind of dramatic crisis was created in Selma two years later. The result on the national scene was the Civil Rights Bill and the Voting Rights Act, as the president and Congress responded to the drama and the creative tension generated by the carefully planned demonstrations.”

    The influence of Gandhi on King was direct and profound; King had studied Gandhi and even traveled to India to meet Gandhi’s followers. King’s adherence nonviolence as a standard surely saved the lives of thousands of black and white Americans. And to the extent that racial inequality has been lessened as a result, Gandhi remains a living legacy, one that brought the United States closer towards realizing its professed ideals.

    Fortunately, someone fell “prey to the pro-Gandhi-what-can-the-decadent- West-learn-from-the-idealist-East propaganda” that Grenier so derides. There’s nothing un-American about that.

    ————————————————————————–

  44. YLH

    Absolutely not.

    I suggest you read history again Raj. What civil disobedience was the Congress carrying out in 1945-1947?

    Gandhi’s last successful civil disobedience was in 1930. His quit India movement was an abject failure.

    As for the British… many historians agree that the British were moving towards greater self rule… but then used Gandhi’s movement as an excuse to sideline the Swarjists and Independents in the assembly…

    So my assumption is historically accurate. I suggest you also read Alex Von Tunzelmann’s book.

  45. YLH

    Yawn… is all I can say to this piece of crap that Questor has produced.

    Richard Grenier’s “Gandhi nobody knows” is a classic.

    Saying that Dr. King was inspired by Gandhi is no counter-argument.

  46. YLH

    the picture of Gandhi that emerges in the movie is grossly inaccurate,
    omitting, as one of many examples, that when Gandhi’s wife lay dying of
    pneumonia and British doctors insisted that a shot of penicillin would save her,
    Gandhi refused to have this alien medicine injected in her body and simply let
    her die. (It must be noted that when Gandhi contracted malaria shortly afterward
    he accepted for himself the alien medicine quinine, and that when he had
    appendicitis he allowed British doctors to perform on him the alien outrage of
    an appendectomy.)

    And what is the counter-argument … atleast they tried to give her oxygen. Wah!

  47. Suvrat

    @YLH

    Also since you are so against civil disobedience I just want to know what you think MLK should have done. Just lobbying Congress to get the Brown vs Board of education implemented in the racist south and wait for their reply?

    Was this more effective or Gandhi’s methods more effective? Do you think Obama would have been able to even vote forget about getting elected to President if Satyagraha was not used by MLK?

  48. YLH

    Is this article called Obama’s MLK syndrome?

    Or is MLK’s achievement – whatever that might be- a counter-argument to my question about the hypocrisy of Obama’s lipservice to Gandhi?

    I am not for or against civil disobedience. I am against hypocrisy.

  49. Gorki

    My own views regarding Gandhi are well known here so I will stay out of it this discussion this time.
    YLH may have a point in regard to ‘Gandhi’ the movie though. Here is a view of another journalist; about both the man and the movie.

    WHY GANDHI DRIVES THE NEOCONSERVATIVES CRAZY
    By Jason DeParle
    (From the Washington Monthly, September 1983)
    As the reappraisals stack higher and higher, one would hope we’d all
    find ourselves getting closer to the elusive truth about one of the few
    indisputably great men of this century. Instead, however, we seem to
    be getting closer to something more mundane: the preoccupations and
    illusions of the left and the right.

    “…A review of the discussions and debates that Richard Attenborough’s
    film biography has inspired provides a useful Rorschach of these ideo-
    logies, and some insights into where both camps go wrong in their view
    of contemporary America—to say nothing of colonial India.
    The commentary ranges across a wide terrain. The liberal
    `Progressive’, for example, concluding that “Gandhiism … is
    relevant,” argued that among the film’s many messages is “the knowledge
    that diet is crucial to well-being.” Given Gandhi’s affection for such
    delicacies as groundnut butter and lemon juice—and his many nearly
    suicidal fasts—the `Progressive’‘s conclusions seem questionable.”
    But Colman McCarthy, a Catholic liberal, gets more specific. Writing in
    `The Washington Post’, he claims, ” The relevance of “Gandhi” is that
    the moral force of nonviolence is always stronger than its opposite,
    the physical force of violence.”
    “Gandhi” provided music to the liberals’ ear. The weak triumph over the
    strong, good over evil, righteousness over injustice. Anti-racism,
    anti-colonialism and nonviolence prevail.”
    “…The strongest words, however, have come from Richard Grenier, film
    critic for `Commentary’. Not satisfied with simply attacking the movie
    and the man, Grenier in a March article for the magazine went on to
    vilify all of India, all of Hinduism, and then to flail at a target
    closer to home, and close to the hearts of his fellow neoconservatives:
    American liberals. Grenier’s 13,000-word tirade was widely reprinted
    and subsequently released as a book dedicated to Norman Podhoretz and
    Midge Deeter.”
    I am a Gandhi admirer. Remembering my own
    excitement in college while studying non-violence—and when I had a
    chance to visit the Gandhi national museum while spending a summer in
    India—I can understand why the film has provoked such enthusiasm.

    Who can doubt it ? The story of the world’s greatest non- violent
    revolution is a magnificent one. Einstein got it right when he said,
    `generations to come … will scarce believe that such a one as this,
    ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth’.

    “Perhaps its Gandhi’s greatness that makes him such a polarizing topic
    of discussion. For the greatness tempts his admirers (myself included)
    to make him even greater, purer, less ambi- valent, and less complex
    than he was, and to extend his solutions to situations where they may
    not work.
    The good about Gandhi was so sublime, and he embodies so many of our
    idealistic hopes, that we want to tolerate no ambiguities and recognize
    no blemishes.
    The temptation to reduce (and that’s the correct verb) Gandhi to
    parable is often irresistable. But surrendering Gandhi to the
    realm of myth inevitably invites a concentrated counterattack,
    against not only the sanctified Gandhi, but the historical Gandhi
    as well.”
    “…But in many ways “Gandhi” is what journalists call a puff job.
    The film puts forth a “saintly” Gandhi without ever questioning
    whether that saintliness was real, or even desirable.”

  50. YLH

    Perhaps had the Indians not gone all out in creating this myth so forcefully one would not be forced to bring down the Mahatma similarly.

    I must say Parle has hit the nail on the head… even he is a third rate Gandhi apologist.

  51. Suvrat

    @YLH
    “My only contention is Gandhiism like Gandhi is a fraud and nothing but.”

    This is what you wrote in one of your previous posts. I gave MLK example of how Gandhism has led to great triumph of blacks in US. Now you can either take back your words or prove that MLK was also a fraud.

    Not everyone needs to follow Gandhi’s advice in toto. MLK tried to emulate Gandhi by living extremely austere life but it did not work for him, so he used the core principles of non violent struggle only. Obama aspires to follow Gandhi but is constrained by realpolitik considerations. He has made some progress in disarmament though.

  52. YLH

    Non-violent action- may I remind you- was not invented by Gandhi …. ever hear of Henry Thoreau.

    This is a novel argument. Gandhi may be a racist bigot who hated africans… but because he inspired MLK who freed the black people … well … Gandhi was good.

  53. karun

    Gandhi’s popularity to my mind is reflective of the infirmity of humanity … and it’s inability to cope with its own existential questions … especially the over-importance of some inherent “meaning” and consequently the superstitions that arise from it which allow witchdoctors like Mahatma Gandhi to get away with their hogwash and fraud.

    Let me hear from you if Muhammad was also a witch doctor?

  54. karun

    Gandhi like the divine and the spiritual is humanity’s smelly fart.

    I am pondering whether you share similar thoughts about the spiritual side of Islam and Muhammad.

    Can you ever disown the state religion of pakistan and its holy prophet. If i am not wrong you have to sign so in your passport also. I feel charity begins at home. Why not discredit all religions starting with your state religion and saying the same thing about the prophet. i know you will not and advise you not to. You might be stoned to death under your blasphemy laws.

  55. Suvrat

    @YLH
    Henry Thoreau conceived of it but the first person to apply it as a weapon for political ends was Gandhi. His example has been followed by countless luminaries around the world.

    This is what MLK said about Gandhi ” As the days unfolded, however, the Christian doctrine of love, operating through the Gandhian method of nonviolence, was one of the most potent weapons available to the Negro in his struggle for freedom”

    There is no doubt that the emancipation of millions of blacks through his methods is much more important than negative views held by Gandhi during his prison time.

  56. karun

    There is nothing wrong with your statements though, these are the very statements an atheist is likely to make and he/she is more than welcome to do it. But from the position where you stand its not possible to speak the truth. and what you are blurting out in overzealous notes is nothing but
    ‘Half baked truth’

  57. Jay

    I am Indian so you might think I am biased, just like YLH is anti-Gandhi, anti-Commonwealth games, anti-any Indian success.

    Anyway, I wish girls and boys today used up as few resources as Gandhi as far as clothes, food and energy goes. Forget India, Pakistan, China, Taliban. The bigger problem today is environmental destruction. In India they banned plastic bags in some places, but that is going to make minimal difference.

    Please lets get together and encourage a culture of limited consumption, where people do not have to have 10 suits and 100 shoes, and a new cell phone every year!

    Thanks.

  58. Straight-Talk

    YLH have done extensive search on Gandhi Ji so there is no point to argue against him on this subject. But I’ve simply a few points to reiterate. When even India has abandoned the path as shown by Gandhi Ji……. e.g non-violence (fought 3 bloody war and uses coercive powers on states to make it united), Gandhian Socialism (never took off really, and since 1991 even left whatever socialism was there), Cottage industry(since 1951, Nehru Ji was in favor of heavy industrialization), and Swadeshi Mantra (not possible in the time of Globalization),……. then what purpose it solves when we bring Gandhi Ji here and malign him again and again for what even nobody is following?.

    He has done immense service for the cause of Independence and for all this the us, Indians are indebted to him worship him but Isn’t it true that this legacy is mainly thrust upon by Congress. What would have happened if Hindu Mahasabha or Bhartiya Jan Sangh would have been in the power in place of Congress for last 60 years. Would we still have followed Gandhi Ji like today?

    Lot of things which Gandhi Ji have taught us, don’t have relevant in today’s milieu. For example, can you show your other cheek too when some one like Taliban comes and slap on your face? We may be ecstatic on his policies which made us independent, but for the brute realty, Kashmiri hardliner separatist Sayed Ali Shah Gilani and JKLF leader Yasin Malik also follow the same non-violence and non-cooperation path shown by Gandhi Ji, Can we accede to theirs demand too? Not possible, so take the YLH point with pinch of salt.

  59. Gorki

    Dear All:

    I did not see the complete version of the Jason DeParle article by Questor when I posted mine; please accept my apology and consider my post withdrawn as redundant.

    Thank you.

  60. Suvrat

    @Straight Talk
    Not all of Gandhiji’s beliefs are correct. His economic theory is nowhere close to what can be followed. I am totally against the policy of reserving sectors like textiles for small scale industries.

    But the core tenet of non violent struggle is still true in most cases. Wouldn’t a non violent movement by tribals be more fruitful and effective than the naxalism? No country can survive with armed forces but India has never invaded any country without provocation and follows a no first use doctrine in nuclear weapons. Gilani and Yasin Malik unfortunately are the supporters of terrorism and have been instrumental in fomenting trouble in valley using stone pelters, you cannot compare them to Gandhiji’s non violent protesters .

    BTW YLH finds Gandhi’s activities radical and unconstitutional and approves Jinnah’s constitutional methods like sending petitions to British. Do you think that would have won us freedom? If Gandhi’s methods seem unpractical to you what is your opinion of freedom struggle through petitioning British. Please enlighten me!

  61. Questor

    Rajmohan Gandhi: Gandhi: the man, his people and the empire, on Kasturba Gandhi’s death:

    During Gandhi’s 21-day fast Kasturba’s was a strengthening presence for him. She had left the others ‘dumbfounded’ by endorsing the fast. But once it was over, her condition steadily deteriorated with mounting problems in the heart, lungs and kidneys. Fifteen-year-old Manu’s company and nursing helped here, and during her husband’s fast Kasturba was thrilled to see Ramdas and Devadas, but confinement without an end-date embittered here, and bitterness led to fretfulness.

    There was no question of her release being asked for, but Gandhi hoped that the Raj would offer to free her. Shortly after her death he would say:

    “Whilst it is true that no request was made by her or by me (as satyagrahi prisoners it would have been unbecoming), would it not have been in the fitness of things, if the Government had at least offered to her, me and her sons to release her? The mere offer of release would have produced a favourable psychological effect on her.”

    In the circumstances, he found ‘amazing’ a report that Sir Girija Shankar Bajpai, agent in the USA of India’s British Government, had told the American public that at various times, the Government considered [Kasturba’s] release for health reasons, but she wished to remain with her husband, and her wishes were respected.

    In December, Kasturba suffered three heart attacks {pencillin is certainly indicated here!}. On the 29th, Gandhi said in a letter to Agatha Harrison that she was ‘oscillating between life and death’. Eight days later he wrote to superintendent Kateli:

    “I must confess that the patient has got into very low spirits. She despairs of life, and is looking forward to death to deliver her. If she rallies on one day, more often than not, she is worse on the next. Her state is pitiful.”

    Though refusing to apply for her release, Gandhi did not hesitate to ask for doctors and nurses, or for visits by relatives to offer bedside comfort.

    The Raj’s response to repeated pleas was usually negative or tardy, though eventually, Kanu Gandhi, a nephew of the late Maganlal, and Jayaprakash’s wife, Prabhavati, who had been very close to Kasturba in Sabarmati and Sevagram, were let in. Prabhavati nursed Kasturba, and Kanu sought to soothe her with gentle bhajans.

    After several letters from Gandhi, an ayurveda specialist, Pandit Shiv Sharma, and a nature cure expert, Dinshaw Mehta, were also permitted to see Kasturba. But when Devadas brought to AKP a new drug called penicillin that he had managed to import, Gandhi advised his son against using it on Kasturba. The drug was untested; injections would be hard for her to bear; her agony should not be increased. The son yielded.”

    —-

  62. Questor

    Penicillin in 1943, via the New York Times

    Havana, Nov 11 : Penicillin sent to Cuba by the American government for the small son of Dr. Angel Diaz Soto, a lawyer, reached here by palne this morning and tonight doctors expressed confidence in the boy’s recovery. This is the second time this drug was rushed here from the United States…

    Dec 4, 1943
    Hackensack NJ Dec 3 – Morris Glassman, 40 years old, of 14 Lehigh Street here, who had been under treatment with penicillin since Sept 13, died at Hackensack Hospital this morning believing the 500,000 units of penicillin that had been administered to him had prolonged his life. Dr. S.M. Reich, in whose care he had been, said toay, however, the penicillion had no effect on him, because he suffered from a heart condition that was beyond the scope of penicillin.

    Dec 5, 1943: Penicillion, the vital healing drug, will be available to civilian medical practitioners in adequate quantities late next spring, according to a report released yesterday by Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, journal of the American Chemical Society. Describing rapid expansion of facilities for producing the potent germ killer, an article in the publication declares, that month by month, the current increase in production is reaching 100 percent every thirty days.”

    Dec 14, 1943: Navy Man’s pleas wins penicillin for mother.

    Dec 16, 1943: REPORTS ON PENICILLION: Army Surgeon Reveals 164 of 209 wounded patients improved.

    Dec 17, 1943: PENICILLIN SAVES FATAL HEART CASES; Seven Doomed Patients Stand Smiling Before 200 Doctors at Brooklyn Jewish Hospital MASSIVE DOSES REQUIRED No More Is Available Now for Civilians With Subacute Bacterial Endocarditis

    Dec 17, 1943: ARMY PENICILLIN TESTS; Report Says It Is ‘Neither a Miracle Nor Cure-All’

    Feb 12, 1944 : SUEZ WINNING FIGHT ON BUBONIC PLAGUE; Experiments Made With Penicillin to Combat the Epidemic

    Feb 22, 1944: Calcutta Feb 19 (Delayed) (AP) A $3,500,000 shipment of penicillion, the first of the life-saving drug for blood infections to reach the China-Burma-India war theater, arrived today aboard two Air Transport Command planes.

    (incidental aside: Feb 22, 1944 is when Kasturba Gandhi passed away).

  63. Questor

    Wiki cites Arun Gandhi as follows:

    “Yearning for familiar ministrations, Kasturba asked to see an Ayurvedic doctor. After several delays (which Gandhi felt were unconscionable), the government allowed a specialist in traditional Indian medicine to treat her and prescribe treatments. At first she responded—recovering enough by the second week in February to sit on the verandah in a wheel chair for a short periods, and chat… then came a relapse. The doctor said Ayurvedic medicine could do no more for her. To those who tried to bolster her sagging morale saying “You will get better soon,” Kasturba would respond, “No, my time is up.” Shortly after seven that evening, Devdas took Mohandas and the doctors aside. In what he would later describe as “the sweetest of all wrangles I ever had with my father,” he pleaded fiercely that Ba be given the life saving medicine, even though the doctors told him her condition was beyond help. It was Mohandas, after learning that the penicillin had to be administered by injection every four to six hours, who finally persuaded his youngest son to give up the idea. “Why do you want to prolong your mother’s agonies after all the suffering she has been through?” Gandhi asked. Then he said, “You can’t cure her now, no matter what miracle drug you may muster. But if you insist, I will not stand in your way.”

  64. Gorki

    @Questor
    (October 19, 2010 at 12:11 am )

    That was a very poignant anecdote; thanks for sharing….

  65. YLH

    I’d like to quote here a gem of an email. Apparently I am trying elevate Gandhi by writing this article. With idiots like Moin Ansari, who needs enemies.


    Page 250 Mohandas by Rajmohan Gandhi (Mohandas’s grandson)

    “Jinnah was emphatic to this change, and at first Das and Pal agreed with him. Later Jinnah was alone in dissent, and when he referred in his remarks to “Mr. Gandhi” and “Mohammad Ali”, there were shouts that he should say “Mahatma”…After Nagpur Jinnah left the Congress..”

    Ayesha Jalal is silent about this and I couldn’t not find the incident in Jaswant Singh’s book on Jinnah.

    The question is not of just the appellation, it is about history and being correct. You have mentioned Gandhi in an incorrect manner and played hooky with history. You have an agenda and everyone knows it. Several other writers have pointed this out to us.

    There were several errors in your article which have now been rebutted. If you had any iota of credibility you would have admitted your mistake and moved on. All you could do is resort to name calling.

    We gave you pages numbers and exact quotes from two sources. Here is a third source. You gave a vague ephemeral reference. MJ Akbar cannot say anything good about Jinnah or Pakistan. He is not an authentic source. I sent several sources, Sashi Tahuroor.

    Please note that “your kind” is the people of Pakistan and the diaspora who will keep the Fifth Column from distorting the glorious history. You sir of course are part of the Fifth Column that is trying to paint Quaid e Azam in a bid light and trying to elevate the rank of a perverted Gandhi.

    Your email is public information listed in your article. If you don’t want comments, don’t list your email and don’t solicit feedback and comments.

    Since you have been unable to bring out any valid evidence to support your false premise, you Sir have been proven wrong and we will not send you any further emails.

     Thank you and Best Regards,

    Moin Ansari 
    Editor Rupee News http://www.rupeenews.com
    *** This Message Has Been Sent Using BlackBerry Internet Service from Mobilink ***

  66. Chote Miyan

    Ylh,
    Do share more emails like that. That made my day. Moin Saab is a humorist, I guess.

  67. Questor

    Gorki,
    Glad you liked.

    IMO, trying to decide when to stop a dying relative’s medical treatment is one of the most agonizing decisions any of us is likely to face.

    From the historian’s point of view, please note that both Arun and Rajmohan Gandhi are grandsons of Mahatma Gandhi, and so their narratives have be examined for a very natural bias. Fortunately, there are other sources – other people were present at the event and recorded it; unfortunately, I currently do not have access to those sources.

    Then again, why make a political football of this?

  68. Fellow-Pakistani

    THE INDEPENDENT (NEWSPAPER), U.K. ARTICLE ON GANDHI’S SEX LIFE
    April 7, 2010

    Thrill of the chaste: The truth about Gandhi’s sex life

    With religious chastity under scrutiny, a new book throws light on Gandhi’s practice of sleeping next to naked girls. In fact, he was sex-mad, writes biographer Jad Adams

    Wednesday, 7 April 2010

    No sex please: Gandhi, above, ‘tested’ himself by sleeping with naked grand-nieces Manu, left, and Abha, right

    It was no secret that Mohandas Gandhi had an unusual sex life. He spoke constantly of sex and gave detailed, often provocative, instructions to his followers as to how to they might best observe chastity. And his views were not always popular; “abnormal and unnatural” was how the first Prime Minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru, described Gandhi’s advice to newlyweds to stay celibate for the sake of their souls.

    But was there something more complex than a pious plea for chastity at play in Gandhi’s beliefs, preachings and even his unusual personal practices (which included, alongside his famed chastity, sleeping naked next to nubile, naked women to test his restraint)? In the course of researching my new book on Gandhi, going through a hundred volumes of his complete works and many tomes of eye-witness material, details became apparent which add up to a more bizarre sexual history.

    Much of this material was known during his lifetime, but was distorted or suppressed after his death during the process of elevating Gandhi into the “Father of the Nation” Was the Mahatma, in fact, as the pre-independence prime minister of the Indian state of Travancore called him, “a most dangerous, semi-repressed sex maniac”?

    Gandhi was born in the Indian state of Gujarat and married at 13 in 1883; his wife Kasturba was 14, not early by the standards of Gujarat at that time. The young couple had a normal sex life, sharing a bed in a separate room in his family home, and Kasturba was soon pregnant.

    Two years later, as his father lay dying, Gandhi left his bedside to have sex with Kasturba. Meanwhile, his father drew his last breath. The young man compounded his grief with guilt that he had not been present, and represented his subsequent revulsion towards “lustful love” as being related to his father’s death.

    However, Gandhi and Kasturba’s last child wasn’t born until fifteen years later, in 1900.

    In fact, Gandhi did not develop his censorious attitude to sex (and certainly not to marital sex) until he was in his 30s, while a volunteer in the ambulance corps, assisting the British Empire in its wars in Southern Africa. On long marches in sparsely populated land in the Boer War and the Zulu uprisings, Gandhi considered how he could best “give service” to humanity and decided it must be by embracing poverty and chastity.

    At the age of 38, in 1906, he took a vow of brahmacharya, which meant living a spiritual life but is normally referred to as chastity, without which such a life is deemed impossible by Hindus.

    Gandhi found it easy to embrace poverty. It was chastity that eluded him. So he worked out a series of complex rules which meant he could say he was chaste while still engaging in the most explicit sexual conversation, letters and behaviour.

    With the zeal of the convert, within a year of his vow, he told readers of his newspaper Indian Opinion: “It is the duty of every thoughtful Indian not to marry. In case he is helpless in regard to marriage, he should abstain from sexual intercourse with his wife.”

    Meanwhile, Gandhi was challenging that abstinence in his own way. He set up ashrams in which he began his first “experiments” with sex; boys and girls were to bathe and sleep together, chastely, but were punished for any sexual talk. Men and women were segregated, and Gandhi’s advice was that husbands should not be alone with their wives, and, when they felt passion, should take a cold bath.

    The rules did not, however, apply to him. Sushila Nayar, the attractive sister of Gandhi’s secretary, also his personal physician, attended Gandhi from girlhood. She used to sleep and bathe with Gandhi. When challenged, he explained how he ensured decency was not offended. “While she is bathing I keep my eyes tightly shut,” he said, “I do not know … whether she bathes naked or with her underwear on. I can tell from the sound that she uses soap.” The provision of such personal services to Gandhi was a much sought-after sign of his favour and aroused jealousy among the ashram inmates.

    As he grew older (and following Kasturba’s death) he was to have more women around him and would oblige women to sleep with him whom – according to his segregated ashram rules – were forbidden to sleep with their own husbands. Gandhi would have women in his bed, engaging in his “experiments” which seem to have been, from a reading of his letters, an exercise in strip-tease or other non-contact sexual activity. Much explicit material has been destroyed but tantalising remarks in Gandhi’s letters remain such as: “Vina’s sleeping with me might be called an accident. All that can be said is that she slept close to me.” One might assume, then, that getting into the spirit of the Gandhian experiment meant something more than just sleeping close to him.

    It can’t, one imagines, can have helped with the “involuntary discharges” which Gandhi complained of experiencing more frequently since his return to India. He had an almost magical belief in the power of semen: “One who conserves his vital fluid acquires unfailing power,” he said.

    Meanwhile, it seemed that challenging times required greater efforts of spiritual fortitude, and for that, more attractive women were required: Sushila, who in 1947 was 33, was now due to be supplanted in the bed of the 77-year-old Gandhi by a woman almost half her age. While in Bengal to see what comfort he could offer in times of inter-communal violence in the run-up to independence, Gandhi called for his 18-year-old grandniece Manu to join him – and sleep with him. “We both may be killed by the Muslims,” he told her, “and must put our purity to the ultimate test, so that we know that we are offering the purest of sacrifices, and we should now both start sleeping naked.”

    Such behaviour was no part of the accepted practice of bramacharya. He, by now, described his reinvented concept of a brahmachari as: “One who never has any lustful intention, who, by constant attendance upon God, has become proof against conscious or unconscious emissions, who is capable of lying naked with naked women, however beautiful, without being in any manner whatsoever sexually excited … who is making daily and steady progress towards God and whose every act is done in pursuance of that end and no other.” That is, he could do whatever he wished, so long as there was no apparent “lustful intention”. He had effectively redefined the concept of chastity to fit his personal practices.

    Thus far, his reasoning was spiritual, but in the maelstrom that was India approaching independence he took it upon himself to see his sex experiments as having national importance: “I hold that true service of the country demands this observance,” he stated.

    But while he was becoming bolder in his self-righteousness, Gandhi’s behaviour was widely discussed and criticised by family members and leading politicians. Some members of his staff resigned, including two editors of his newspaper who left after refusing to print parts of Gandhi’s sermons dealing with his sleeping arrangements.

    But Gandhi found a way of regarding the objections as a further reason tocontinue. “If I don’t let Manu sleep with me, though I regard it as essential that she should,” he announced, “wouldn’t that be a sign of weakness in me?”

    Eighteen-year-old Abha, the wife of Gandhi’s grandnephew Kanu Gandhi, rejoined Gandhi’s entourage in the run-up to independence in 1947 and by the end of August he was sleeping with both Manu and Abha at the same time.

    When he was assassinated in January 1948, it was with Manu and Abha by his side. Despite her having been his constant companion in his last years, family members, tellingly, removed Manu from the scene. Gandhi had written to his son: “I have asked her to write about her sharing the bed with me,” but the protectors of his image were eager to eliminate this element of the great leader’s life. Devdas, Gandhi’s son, accompanied Manu to Delhi station where he took the opportunity of instructing her to keep quiet.

    Questioned in the 1970s, Sushila revealingly placed the elevation of this lifestyle to a brahmacharya experiment was a response to criticism of this behaviour. “Later on, when people started asking questions about his physical contact with women – with Manu, with Abha, with me – the idea of brahmacharya experiments was developed … in the early days, there was no question of calling this a brahmacharya experiment.” It seems that Gandhi lived as he wished, and only when challenged did he turn his own preferences into a cosmic system of rewards and benefits. Like many great men, Gandhi made up the rules as he went along.

    While it was commonly discussed as damaging his reputation when he was alive, Gandhi’s sexual behaviour was ignored for a long time after his death. It is only now that we can piece together information for a rounded picture of Gandhi’s excessive self-belief in the power of his own sexuality. Tragically for him, he was already being sidelined by the politicians at the time of independence. The preservation of his vital fluid did not keep India intact, and it was the power-brokers of the Congress Party who negotiated the terms of India’s freedom.

    Gandhi: Naked Ambition is published by Quercus (£20). To order a copy for the special price of £18 (free P&P) call Independent Books Direct on 08430 600 030

  69. Fellow-Pakistani

    Independent article highlights a GREAT DIFFERENCE between Gandhi and Obama.

  70. Chote Miyan

    Fellow-Pakistani,
    This is a widely circulated article in India too.If I am not wrong, it’s by Patrick French. So, in that sense, you haven’t said anything new. What my humble request is to allow some similar stuff to be posted about one of the greatest personalities. I am sure there would be a line of mad Mullahs proclaiming fatwas on all and sundry.

  71. Humanity

    @ Fellow Pakistani
    Show some decency and kindly refrain from petty mud slinging. Stop mud slinging on your country and your religion through your petty vendetta.

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

  72. Perspective

    FYI, this “conservation of semen” is a very ancient idea from Yoga.

    Quote: “In Yoga Sastras it is said: “Maranam bindupatanat jivanam bindu-rakshanat—falling of semen brings death; preservation of semen gives life.” Semen is the real vitality in man. It is the hidden treasure for man. It imparts Brahma-Tejas to the face and strength to the intellect.”

  73. Perspective

    When you read that everyone bathed together in a spring and slept together in an open veranda at Gandhi’s Tolstoy farm, it lays a slightly different cast on the scenario.

  74. Perspective

    Thus far, his reasoning was spiritual, but in the maelstrom that was India approaching independence he took it upon himself to see his sex experiments as having national importance: “I hold that true service of the country demands this observance,” he stated.

    To be precise, ““I hold that true service of the country demands this observance [of brahmacharya]”.

  75. YLH

    Arun mian,

    I do not question Gandhi’s conviction. My use of words like fraud etc are in reaction.

    I question the efficacy of Gandhian ideology in its entirety …

  76. Chote Miyan

    This would be like a red rag to a bull:

    Waiting for Gandhi
    By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

    BILIN, West Bank

    Despite being stoned and tear-gassed on this trip, I find a reed of hope here. It’s that some Palestinians are dabbling in a strategy of nonviolent resistance that just might be a game-changer.

    The organizers hail the methods of Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., recognizing that nonviolent resistance could be a more powerful tool to achieve a Palestinian state than rockets and missiles. Bilin is one of several West Bank villages experimenting with these methods, so I followed protesters here as they marched to the Israeli security fence.

    Most of the marchers were Palestinians, but some were also Israeli Jews and foreigners who support the Palestinian cause. They chanted slogans and waved placards as photographers snapped photos. At first the mood was festive and peaceful, and you could glimpse the potential of this approach.

    But then a group of Palestinian youths began to throw rocks at Israeli troops. That’s the biggest challenge: many Palestinians define “nonviolence” to include stone-throwing.

    Soon after, the Israeli forces fired volleys of tear gas at us, and then charged. The protesters fled, some throwing rocks backward as they ran. It’s a far cry from the heroism of Gandhi’s followers, who refused even to raise their arms to ward off blows as they were clubbed.

    (I brought my family with me on this trip, and my kids experienced the gamut: we were stoned by Palestinian kids in East Jerusalem, and tear-gassed by Israeli security forces in the West Bank.)

    Another problem with these protests, aside from the fact that they aren’t truly nonviolent, is they typically don’t much confound the occupation authorities.

    But imagine if Palestinians stopped the rock-throwing and put female pacifists in the lead. What if 1,000 women sat down peacefully on a road to block access to an illegal Jewish settlement built on Palestinian farmland? What if the women allowed themselves to be tear-gassed, beaten and arrested without a single rock being thrown? Those images would be on televisions around the world — particularly if hundreds more women marched in to replace those hauled away.

    “This is what Israel is most afraid of,” said Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, a prominent Palestinian who is calling for a nonviolent mass movement. He says Palestinians need to create their own version of Gandhi’s famous 1930 salt march.

    One genuinely peaceful initiative is a local boycott of goods produced by Jewish settlements on the West Bank. Another is the weekly demonstrations in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah against evictions of Palestinians there. And in Gaza, some farmers have protested Israel’s no-go security zones by publicly marching into those zones, even at the risk of being shot.

    So far there is no Palestinian version of Martin Luther King Jr. But one candidate might be Ayed Morrar. A balding, mild-mannered activist, he was the mastermind behind the most successful initiative so far: nonviolent demonstrations a half-dozen years ago in the West Bank village of Budrus against Israel’s construction of a security fence there. More than many other Palestinians, he has a shrewd sense of public relations.

    “With nonviolent struggle, we can win the media battle,” Mr. Morrar told me, speaking in English. “They always used to say that Palestinians are killers. With nonviolence, we can show that we are victims, that we are not against Jews but are against occupation.”

    Mr. Morrar spent six years in Israeli prisons but seems devoid of bitterness. He says that Israel has a right to protect itself by building a fence — but on its own land, not on the West Bank.

    Most Palestinian demonstrations are overwhelmingly male, but in Budrus women played a central role. They were led by Mr. Morrar’s quite amazing daughter, Iltezam Morrar. Then 15, she once blocked an Israeli bulldozer by diving in front of it (the bulldozer retreated, and she was unhurt).

    Israeli security forces knew how to deal with bombers but were flummoxed by peaceful Palestinian women. Even when beaten and fired on with rubber bullets, the women persevered. Finally, Israel gave up. It rerouted the security fence to bypass nearly all of Budrus.

    The saga is chronicled in this year’s must-see documentary “Budrus,” a riveting window into what might be possible if Palestinians adopted civil disobedience on a huge scale. In a sign of interest in nonviolent strategies, the documentary is scheduled to play in dozens of West Bank villages in the coming months, as well as at international film festivals.

    I don’t know whether Palestinians can create a peaceful mass movement that might change history, and their first challenge will be to suppress the stone-throwers and bring women into the forefront. But this grass-roots movement offers a ray of hope for less violence and more change.

  77. YLH

    No no. This article by kristoff is precisely what I refer to when I speak about Palestinian resistance.
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  78. sid

    Hahaha!

    Looks like PTH visitor count gone down recently, is that why YLH wanted to bring this hate filled article?

  79. zxcv

    @sid: Exactly, Anti India post generates a lot of traffic.

  80. Straight-Talk

    @Suvrat
    Are you thinking that only non-violent and non-cooperative movement of Gandhi Ji bring you independence? Think again, It was the circumstances, prevailed at that time which forced the Britishers to leave India. Gandhi Ji had plunged into Indian politics after 1915 but till WWII, there was not any assurance from Britishers about the independence of India. It was the effect of WWII, which made English weak and 2nd rate power, incapable of holding their colonies, compelled them to leave the Indian shore.

    Also the USA wanted the independence of all the colonies so that she also could benefit her burgeoning industry with trade to these colonies and therefore it pressurized the British, France, Spain and Portuguese to give in to demands of these colonies.

    There was also going terror element in to the freedom struggle which was visible into the acts of Azad, Bhagat Singh, and later in the SC Bose.

    Britishers were unable to fight on all these fronts due to monetary constraint and holding of these colonies were not financial viable any more in change scenario plus the burden of heavy loan from USA in WWII brought change into their thinking.

    You should not be one dimensional in your thinking and should have counted all these factors too? I’m not comparing Gilani or Malik to Gandhi Ji and neither any Indian can do, but they also have declared that their struggle is non-violent and I mere gave an example. There was gulf of difference about Gandhi Ji and Gilani. Gandhi Ji never subscribed to the activities of Bhagat Singh and Bose but Gilani and Malik do support these militants and call them freedom fighters. How a right thinking men can tread two totally opposite path at the same time, this is the double standard which Gilanis and Maliks follow and which Gandhi Ji never did.

  81. YLH

    The truth is that one does not have to agree with Gandhi to recognise that he was an extraordinary man of extraordinary convictions.

    My attempt all along has been to de-sanctify the saintly halo around Gandhi. It is to bring balance and create space for alternative points of view. It has never been to demonise him nor does Gandhiji’s dhoti come off just because YLH calls him racist.

    If Gandhi was even one-tenth the saint he portrayed to be it would be lot and I suggest without contradiction that such a Gandhi would probably be supporting me in all the positions I have taken over the years …especially in the necessary corrective over Jinnah.

    *** This Message Has Been Sent Using BlackBerry Internet Service from Mobilink ***

  82. Gorki

    YLH:

    Careful now, don’t get carried away otherwise you may receive another fatwa from Maulana Ansari Saab.😉

    Just kidding; actually your last post and maturity is appreciated.

    I think not only MAJ but Gandhi and other Indian giants of the freedom era (especially JLN and BRA) would be proud of you for your efforts on the behalf of all downtrodden and your zeal to take up unpopular causes and to bring sanity to our ancient and common homeland.

    Regards.

  83. Karun

    @Gorki

    CAM(cannot agree more)

  84. T.S. Bokhari

    @YLH

    I could read only some selected comments in the start and so towards the end.
    In my view, the sign of a great man is that he may kindle in you hatred or love, but you cannot ignore him. As a boy I admired Gandhi more for his humanity than for his politics. His sheer humanity which broke the web of British Imperial Majesty from the hearts of the Indians. Jinnah and Nehru, though great in their own line were only offshoots of his greatness.

    You say:

    “If Gandhi was even one-tenth the saint he portrayed to be…”

    You have perhaps not read Gandhi’s autobigraphic book ‘My Experiment with Truth’ wherein, among other things, he mocks even his ‘Mahatamaai’ which he says was thrust upon him.

    It was, above all, his truthful humanity which made some of the great Muslim leaders loved to be called Sarhadi Gandhi, Sindhi Gandhi, Balochi Gandhi, etc., etc.

    I do admire Jinnah who fought sincerely the legal and constitutional battle for safeguarding the interest of the Muslim minority in India and attaining a homeland for them.
    But what you say about the legality of his order of dismissal of the then NWFP government held by the Gandhi lovers’ party?

  85. YLH

    TS Bokhari,

    I have written in detail about the issue of NWFP Govt dismissal which was constitutional legal and completely morally justified under section 51(5) of the GOIA 1935.

    It must be remembered that Jinnah had gotten section 93 omitted from GOIA 1935 …in of itself an indication of where Jinnah saw Pakistan’s centre-province relations.

    There was a tripartite understanding b/w Congress, League and Mountbatten that Mountbatten would dismiss Khan ministry by 14th August 1947 but he did not to create mischief.

    Jinnah’s advice to the governor under 51(5) to allow a new chief minister to form a government by showing majority by the next budget session was a perfectly legal, constitutional and in the circumstances justifiable move.

    You may want to read my “NWFP History series”.
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  86. YLH

    PS. I wonder what the govt of Pakistan should do … If it discovers – though there isn’t a ghost of a chance- that ANP government is some how colluding with Afghanistan and anti-Pakistan militants to separate KP from Pakistan.

    That is precisely what Dr khan sb and his brother were doing …

    I find it ironic that some Pakistanis question the morality of an action which was not only legal and constitutional but was the responsibility of the central government especially the fragile nature of things. How ironic that while J-man’s action was to merely bring about an inhouse change … Nehru’s dismissal of state legislatures under section 93 is never brought up by the Indians. Why? Well because Indians probably are more
    mature.

    If Jinnah’s act of bringing about an inhouse change by first dismissing the Khan ministry under 51(5) was somehow “bad”, then Abraham Lincoln’s dismissal of southern governments and legislatures and Nehru’s use of section 93 were triply bad.
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  87. YLH

    Gorki sb,

    I posted a poem by Akbar S Ahmed which has a reference to Gandhi. It is sad that so many friends from India misunderstand my intentions… But I am always fortified by your understanding and generosity.

  88. YLH

    What is it that I seek?
    Jump to Comments

    By Akbar S Ahmed

    What is it that I seek?

    A force of such might

    it sets me free

    A light so bright

    It blinds me

    I heard it in the voice of the nightingale

    I know it was in the hearts of the wise

    I sensed it in the lover’s tale

    I saw it in your eyes

    I heard it in Rumi’s poetry

    I know it was in Gandhi’s gaze

    I sensed it in Mandela’s oratory

    I saw it in Jesus’ ways

    What is this riddle and what is its part?

    What is this enigma and mystery?

    What can reveal the secrets of the heart?

    What has the power to change me?

    It is God’s greatest gift

    It raises us high above

    It is the bridge over the rift

    It is love, love, love

    Give it in generous measure

    Give it as if there’s no tomorrow

    Give to all you meet this treasure

    Give it and banish sorrow

    October, 2010

    Washington, DC

  89. due

    to ylh

    Gandhi is no more revered in India. Only the congress party pays some lip-service to him on some occasions. If you write hatefully about Gandhi then you will only end up making Indians “re-love” Gandhi. Sure you don’t want that to happen. In India Gandhi is just a wax-figure saint now.

    The flatterer is never the genuine friend – hence as a critic of India you are India’s greatest friend. I honor you for this (no irony intended) truly.

    China and Pakistan are in a mutual flattery-mode or embrace, so they are in reality the greatest enemies unto each other.

    One understands these truths, often only after it is too late.

  90. Suvrat

    @Straight Talk
    I am under no delusion that only non cooperation movement brought independence to India. Weakening of British and insistence of Roosevelt played a major part in it. Also defeat of anti India Churchill played a big role. But importance of Gandhiji in freedom struggle cannot be understated.

    Before Gandhiji Congress was a drawing room party of urban elites who only sent petitions of British. But Gandhiji was the first leader to make independence struggle a mass movement. He also focused on constructive agenda like empowerment of untouchables and creating jobs through homespun clothing(although it was not good for India in the long run).

    Also in this forum doubts were expressed about the Gandhian methods. That’s why I gave example of MLK who successfully used Gandhian methods to emancipate blacks from segregation.

    You need to go no further than NWFP in 1930 Pathans led by Frontier Gandhi brave and unflinchingly faced bullets for non violent cause . This is what happened “The crowd continued their commitment to non-violence, offering to disperse if they could gather their dead and injured, and if British troops left the square. The British troops refused to leave, so the protesters remained with the dead and injured.[3] At that point, the British ordered troops to open fire with machine guns on the unarmed crowd.[4]. The Khudai Khidmatgar members willingly faced bullets, responding without violence. Instead, many members repeated ‘God is Great’ and clutched the Qur’an as they went to their death.”

    Now the same Pathans are part of Taliban. If only Gandhian methods were still in vogue there.

  91. YLH

    Congress was not a party of drawing room elites before Gandhi’s arrival.

    I recommend that people read “Ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity” by Ian Bryant Wells who comprehensively rubbishes this notion. Jinnah had organised Congress workers committees modelled after Bolsheviks as early as 1917-1918. The British tried to deport him to Burma in 1919.

    The difference of opinion between Jinnah and Gandhi was not on the issue of mass mobilisation nor was Jinnah any less sensitive to the ideas of modern political theory but Gandhian method of using religious symbolism both Hindu and Muslim to achieve that aim which he felt would divide the people.

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  92. Suvrat

    @YLH
    Jinnah may have drawn up plans for the worker and peasant mobilization but was anything concrete achieved by Congress before Gandhiji’s arrival. Was there any mass movement started by Congress which involved millions of people before arrival of Gandhiji? It cannot be doubted that Gandhi brought limelight to concerns of Indian suffering through his Champaran Satyagraha which led to mass participation in Indian freedom struggle.

  93. YLH

    Again I think you need to read the book.

  94. Suvrat

    @YLH
    I will read the book, but meanwhile could you point out the success of Jinnah or other Congress/Non Congress leaders in mobilizing Indian masses prior to Ganhiji’s arrival in India.

  95. YLH

    Suvrat,

    I will but first tell me how you define success in this matter. Bear in mind that Gandhi’s movement delayed self rule and did not accelerate it.

  96. due

    Gandhi’s idea of bringing religion into political struggle was based on the jain-hindu and neo-hindu concept(s) of religion or religiosity. He did not foresee what would happen when islam enters the fray. Jinnah however foresaw this and was opposed to bringing religion into politics. The two were hence not on the same track.

    Gandhi was right in his way and Jinnah in his. Since the arab religion is an alien religion in the indian subcontinent and an imperialist totalitarian ideology also – the two leaders should have been more clear with one another.

    Consequently Republic of India remains secular (in spite of all its pseudo-secular blunders and hindu fascist reactions) whereas Jinnah’s Pakistan is convulsing in the alien arab ideology.

    Sufis were never persecuted by non-muslims. If sufis will be persecuted in future then the persecutors will be from the arab ideology only.

  97. Gorki

    YLH, thank you for the poem.

    We know that cross border talk is not easy given the unfortunate baggage of the last 63 years. It takes a great deal of intellect to understand and even greater degree of courage to stand up to hyper patriots on both sides and explain the nuances of history. MAJs Pakistan was not for a denial of India or un-India but a just and honorable recognition of a Muslim India.

    Neither MAJ nor MKG\JLN had wanted of expected the kind of relationship that exists between our two countries.

    I am in agreement with you that out of all our heroes of the freedom struggle, the current version of history (on both sides) has been very unfair to MAJ. Of the two sides it is easy to see why the Indians feel as they do about him (they have in their ignorance swallowed that conventional congress line and have labeled him a villain).

    It is unfortunate that even in Pakistan he has not received a just treatment; his struggle on the behalf of the Muslim identity is often confused with Islamism and ironically his effort to see preserve the rich heritage of the Indian Muslims is seen (or interpreted as un-Indian).

    My admiration for you BC, Adnann, Naveed and all other such intellectuals stem from your uphill struggle to right this major wrong.

    I believe the MKG of my mind would want it so.

    Best of Luck.

  98. Gorki

    ironically his effort to see preserve the rich heritage of the Indian Muslims is seen (or interpreted as un-Indian) =

    ironically his effort to preserve the rich culture and heritage of the Indian Muslims is seen (or interpreted as) by many as and effort to be un-Indian.

  99. Watty

    @YLH

    I wonder if your legal practice is going slow at present to allow you so much time to blog as profusely as you have done for your inane article on PTH?

    President Obama was inspired by many people in his life and during his successful quest to high office. Mahatma Gandhiji is probably one among them. Where is your evidence justifying that Obama has a Gandhi “Syndrom”?

    Or is this just another excuse to indulge in some India bashing that is the habit of many stunted minds in Pakistan? What have you achieved by throwing so much needless dirt?

  100. YLH

    Sadna,

    That elite debating society business is a figment of the imagination of Gandhi-apologists like you.

    Besides I am not sure what common man problems Gandhi’s Sanghtan, Shuddhi and Khilafat concepts achieved.

  101. YLH

    Watty mian…

    Arrgh I hate having to blow my own horn as it were. I am a senior associate at one of the leading international law firms ranked amongst the top by Chambers and Partners for Asia…they are doing very well and consequently I am doing well too. But I appreciate your concern. (Not that a Gandhi admirer should have a problem… Gandhi was after all not a success at law… So what is your argument.)

    Secondly Obama has identified Gandhi as his main inspiration (though not in his books) recently.

  102. Chote Miyan

    “Arrgh I hate having to blow my own horn as it were. ”

    Such modesty. Touching. I fell off my chair when I read that one.

  103. T.S. Bokhari

    @Perspective

    “The groundwork for **keeping** self-rule needed to be done.”

    But Jinnah himself sadly realised that he had failed to do that as the British left earlier than he had expected.

    According to Abdul Qayum Khan, a close associate of Jinnah, had stated during a speech made in a function when he was the Interior Minister in Bhutto Government, that when the Quaid had come to lahore in 1948, he had gone to meet him at the Governor House . He said (I quote),”I saw the Quaid sitting in the lawn alone looking very sad and depressed. I asked him,”What is the matter, Sir, why do you look so depressed?” He said,”Qayoom Khan, our nation was not prepared to take up the responsibility of an independent state as the British mislead me and left too early than expected.”

    And YLH alleges that Gandhi Ji delayed home rule.

  104. YLH

    Mr Bokhari,

    I think you are confusing issues. Self rule and British leaving. Perspective understands the difference though he or she may tactically feign ignorance.

    (I wouldn’t trust anything that Abdul Qayoom (also a latter day Congressite convert to the League who was a staunch Gandhi supporter till 1945) says any more than what Ghaffar Khan says. Infact Qayoom, who broke from Ghaffar Khan for local reasons, more than anyone else is responsible for the failure of reconciliation between Ghaffar Khan and Jinnah… but that is another issue.)

    Gandhi delayed self rule inadvertently by creating chaos not by design. His mobilisation was a negative sentiment designed to bring the Economic life of India to a halt. I suggest people read Tagore’s critique of Gandhian boycott and methods.

    The new consensus amongst historians is that British India would have become a self governing dominion within the British Empire like Canada or Australia by 1937 had Gandhi not arrived on the scene.

    So I am afraid you haven’t gotten the point.

  105. YLH

    And the reason why Pakistan has not completely benefited from independence has to do with Pakistan’s inability to sustain a constitutional government which in turn is the result of lopsided British approach to governing the Punjab by consensus of collaborators and local notables like the Unionists etc (many of whom jumped onto the League bandwagon come 1947). The Chief Commissioner’s rule relying on the lumbardars, gaddi nashins and pag-walla chaudhries is the bane of the “regulated” provinces (as opposed to the de-regulated provinces i.e. most of India today from where the political leadership of both Congress and the League was derived).

    Ironically the “anti-imperialist” Congress (which had placed complete independence as its goal in 1931 in Lahore) made a coalition government with loyal and pro-British Unionist Party after 1946 election instead of making a coalition government with the Muslim League and the Communist Party (both of whom had complete independence as their goal just like the Congress) in the Punjab.

    To add to my earlier post… had India become a self governing Dominion in 1937, a compromise would have been worked out and imposed from the top down constitutionally with politics of issues would have replaced the politics of caste, community and religion.

  106. Bade Miyan

    “a compromise would have been worked out and imposed from the top down constitutionally with politics of issues would have replaced the politics of caste, community and religion.”

    Right! Do people ever venture out of their local thana?

  107. YLH

    In my view Gandhi’s work laid the foundation for using ancient superstitions and religious mumbo jumbo as a matter of right for the people.

    It has nothing to do with democracy. Gandhi’s own role in the defence of Birlas and the like against workers’ organisations etc shows that he was not even a social democrat (which is the lowest form of a democrat) but a religious holyman masquerading as a politician… who was a friend to big capitalists while trying to pose as a Hindu peasant.

  108. Gandhi was a good human being.

    He was honest.

    He did not get anyone killed.

    How I wish everyone could be like him!

  109. YLH

    Moniems you are quite annoying frankly with this brownie-point seeking.

    Every single one of Gandhi’s non-violent movements had a death count …whether Gandhians admit it or not.

    I don’t know what a “good human being” is …but Gandhi was a deeply flawed great man.

    God forbid everyone is like him…nor can anyone be like him. For better or for worse there was only one Gandhi.

  110. YLH

    How ironic is that Gandhi is so great that no one dares follow him in real life. Atleast put your money where your mouth is. (It reminds me of a Maulana giving a lecture at a gathering where he declared that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) loved cooked vegetable called loqi. Inspired by the lecture, the host immediately had the chicken roasts removed and replaced with cooked loqi. When the Maulana saw that only loqi was being served, he cleverly retorted: “how can I eat prophetic food? Just bring me a chicken roast and I’ll make do”.)

    It is unfortunate state of affairs…humanity’s obsession with those who have set up shops of spirituality without actually trying to follow them in letter and spirit. It is nothing but lipservice. You ride in big cars and caravans, take expensive vacations, enjoy fine wines and smoke expensive cigarettes … And then quote Gandhi/Buddha/Jesus/Rumi/BulleyShah/Guru Nanak as your role model. This is hypocrisy.

    Last year Justice Wajihuddin, MMA’s presidential candidate in 2007 elections, advised the youth to follow Mahatma Gandhi. I hope they disregard his stupid advice.

    One gentleman suggested that Gandhi was the greatest and Jinnah and Nehru were merely off-shoots of his greatness.

    Jinnah and Nehru may not be perfect and we may disagree with them but in my view both these gentlemen stood head and shoulders above Gandhi… primarily because they placed human idealism of arbitrary spirituality and “inner voice”. In foreign policy and international politics Nehru had no peer. Jinnah will remain a model for every aspiring lawyer and legislator. These gentlemen understood their human limitation. They were not on a divine mission. In my book Nehru and Jinnah trump Gandhi any day of the week with their hands tied behind their backs.

  111. YLH

    *human idealism over

    And I am not done. On the other end of the spectrum you have assholes like Moin Ansari who refuse to admit that there must have been something about Gandhi that attracted so many people to him.

    So have some balance people.

  112. Questor

    To quote Bikhu Parekh:

    In Gandhi’s view the traditional theory of revolution did not fully appreciate the subtle ways in which good suffered corruption in its struggle against evil. The theory located good in the ends of an action, judging the allegedly amoral means in exclusively instrumental forms. Since the so-called ends were in turn means to some other allegedly higher ends, everything ultimately got reduced to a mere means. Violence, mendacity, cunning, duplicity, manipulation of the opponent, and so on were all considered legitimate if used in the pursuit of good ends. By resorting to such means. good subtly became transformed into evil and its victory was really its defeat. Gandhi argued that we needed a new theory of revolution that was free from the defects of the old and structurally protected against degeneration into terror. Such a theory had to be grounded in the three central principles of the unity of man, the indivisibility of means and ends. and a non-Manichean view of the world. It should stand up not just for the interests of the oppressed but for the shared interests of all including the oppressors. and aim at a society in which all alike led richer and more humane lives. For Gandhi. imperialism damaged both the British and the Indians. and needed to be ended in the interests of both. Untouchability inflicted a grave moral and emotional damage not just on the untouchables but also on the caste Hindus. and its abolition promoted the interests of both. A revolution was justified only. if the society it sought to establish did not replace one set of masters by another and put an end to all forms of class rule.

    Like Marx. Gandhi argued that revolutionary consciousness sprang from an intense sensitivity to human suffering. and had had a special affinity with the oppressed. its natural constituency and object of concern. Unlike Marx, however, he insisted that the oppressed were never wholly innocent and free from their share of human failings. nor the oppressors wholly evil and devoid of their share of human virtues. Both alike were caught up in a self-reproducing system which debilitated and brutalized them all and from which they needed to be liberated. Being more de-harmonized and brutalized than the rest. the oppressed were more acutely aware of the need for liberation and had to initiate the emancipatory process. However, even as no oppressive system could last without the co-operation of its morally implicated victims. it could not be conclusively ended without the co-operation, however grudging. of its erstwhile masters. The latter had to be assured that the revolution did not intend to physically eliminate them, that it was concerned with their well-being as well, and that it recognized them as human beings entitled to decency and respect.

    For Gandhi the means-end dichotomy lying at the heart of the traditional revolutionary theory was fundamentally false. In human life the so-caned means consisted not of implements and inanimate tools but of human actions, and by definition these could not fall outside the jurisdiction of morality. Furthermore the method of fighting for an objective was not external to but an integral part of it. Every step towards a desired goal shaped its character, and utmost care had to be taken to ensure that the steps taken to realize it did not distort or damage the goal. The goal did not exist at the end of a series of actions designed to achieve it; it shadowed them from the very beginning. The so-called means were really ends in an embryonic form, the seeds of which the so-called ends were a natural flowering. Since this was so, the fight for a just society could not be conducted by unjust means.

    Gandhi’s theory of Satyagraha, the ‘surgery of the soul’ as he called it, was his alternative to the traditional theory of revolution. It was not so much a non-violent method of achieving revolutionary ends as a novel way of defining the very idea of revolution. Like Trotsky’s permanent revolution, it was a form of gentle but sustained social pressure designed to break down emotional, ideological and moral barriers that different groups built around themselves, to unfreeze the flow of social sympathy, and to enrich and deepen their consciousness of independence.

    Even as every community required a widespread sense of justice to hold it together, it presupposed a deeper sense of shared humanity to give meaning and energy to its sense of justice. The sense of humanity consisted in the recognition of the fundamental ontological fact that humanity was indivisible, that human beings grew and fell together, and that in degrading and brutalizing others, they degraded and brutalized themselves. It constituted a community’s vital moral capital without which it had no defense, and no resources to fight against the forces of injustice, exploitation and oppression. The slow and painful task of cultivating and consolidating the sense of humanity, and thereby laying the foundations of a truly moral community, was an essential collective responsibility, which the Satyagrahi took upon himself to discharge. He assumed the burden of the common evil, sought to liberate both himself and his opponent from its tyrannical automatism, and helped reduce the prevailing level of inhumanity. He overcame his opponent by refusing to see him as one, and by appealing instead to his sense of decency and their common humanity. As Gandhi put it, the old sages ‘returned good for evil and killed it’. The Satyagrahi took his stand on this ‘fundamental moral truth’.

  113. Questor

    Since Punjab was brought up:

    Note by Sir E. Jenkins
    20 March 1947

    Raja Ghazanfar Ali came to see me at 4 p.m. today. He opened in rather a complacent way about the riots in the Rawalpindi and Attock districts and in the Chakwal Sub-Division. He took great credit for having kept Gujrat and the greater part of Jhelum quiet. He scouted the idea that the outbreak was organised or that the League had anything to do with it.

    He worked up gradually to the suggestion that I might now put a Muslim League Ministry into power. He suggested a general election and said that this would give the electorate an opportunity of deciding whether the Punjab should be partitioned or not.


    I was exasperated by Ghazanfar Ali’s complacency and dealt with him rather roughly. I said he did not appear to realise that what had occurred in Rawalpindi, Attock and the Chakwal Sub-Division was a general massacre of a most beastly kind. He could suggest, as he had suggested, in dealing with the conspiracy theory that the non-Muslims had been provocative, but the provocation was certainly not such as to justify the slaughter and savagery that had occurred.

    As regards a Muslim League Government, I said I would resign sooner than see one in office at this juncture, and I thought practically every British officer would do the same. The massacre had been conducted in the name of the Muslim League, and senior Military Officers thought that it had been carefully planned and organised. Non-Muslims with some justice now regarded the Muslims has little better than animals, and for my own part I thought that British officers would find it difficult to work with or under such people.

    I could see no object whatever in a a general election. It would not alter the basic position that no single community could rule the Punjab except by actual conquest. If a Muslim League Government took office, there would be immediate fighting, and the Government would find it impossible to hold even a single session of the Assembly. I considered Raja Ghazanfar Ali’s political views so irresponsible as to be hardly worth discussing.


    I said that the troubles of the Muslim League were due to folly and bad leadership. The League had given the impression that the Muslims were a kind of ruling race in the Punjab and would be good enough to treat with generosity their fellow Punjabis, such as the Sikhs, when their rule was established. They could not explain what they meant by “Pakistan”, and unless they were prepared to deal with other Punjabis as equals, they would make no progress at all. It was a ludicrous position in which the so-called League leaders had to take orders from Bombay from a person entirely ignorant of Punjab conditions. If Raja Ghazanfar Ali argued, as he did, that the Central picture must be complete before any picture of the Punjab could even be sketched, my reply was that his whole conception of the future of India was topsy turvy. A Punjab divided into two or three States or in a condition of chaos and civil war could not possibly fit into any conceivable all-India picture. Surely the right course was to determine the future of the units in a way acceptable to their inhabitants and then to sketch the all-India picture. (Raja Ghazanfar Ali said that he thought there was something to this.).

    At the end of the interview Raja Ghazanfar Ali said that I had distorted and misrepresented the League’s views and that he would send me a number of statements by Mr. Jinnah showing that he had never intended to treat the minorities and particularly the Sikhs, in the way I suggested.

    I said that the first task now was to restore order. I could not prevent the League from making further blunders. They had already fooled away a kingdom, and it would in my judgment be futile now to attempt any final solution of the Punjab problem until feelings had settled down. The League did not seem to realise that the non-Muslims regarded the Muslims of Rawalpindi and Attock as little better than beasts and hated the League profoundly. It was futile to suggest, as he had suggested, that the League agitation was noncommunal. It was manifestly communal from the first, and could not have been anything else.

  114. YLH

    So EV Jenkins wanted his Unionist boys and “anti-imperialist” Congress was more than willing to oblige.

    Communist Party had worked out a perfect compromise between the League and the Congress but it seems like Congress was not interested.
    *** This Message Has Been Sent Using BlackBerry Internet Service from Mobilink ***

  115. YLH

    Btw when the British says that Congress was blackmailing the League they are being “partisan”…when they try to induce Punjabi Leaguers to revolt against the “bombay person” entirely “ignorant of Punjab condition” they are telling the truth.

    NJ Guptas provide quite an entertainment.
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  116. YLH

    A dalit view (an alternative view)

    “Hello Yasser, I read your article on Obama’s lip service on gandhi, the worst racist on earth. I enjoyed reading your article, very well written. I am writing a personal letter to Obama about his dangerousrepetitivespeeches on gandhi and so on!…..it would soon appear on my Upliftthem blog.

    Your article Link:https://pakteahouse.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/view-obama%E2%80%99s-gandhi-syndrome-%E2%80%94yasser-latif-hamdani/

    Saint

  117. Questor

    Let us remember that when India attained Independence, Sardar Patel and K.M. Munshi – both from Gujarat – wanted to rebuild the Somnath Temple, and it was Mahatma Gandhi that admonished them that no public funds should be used in that effort. So much so, that later a debate ensued as to whether it was appropriate to request Indian ambassadors to send some earth from the country they were posted in in order to consecrate the site.


    As Bikhu Parekh puts it (and it will make A.A. Khalid somewhat happy, perhaps)

    “The second question – what is the role of religion in public life? Now, many of us are scared when religion is brought into public life ! We know what happens – it can either lead to Ayatollah Khomenei, or to the BJP in India, or to evangelicals in the USA when they tried to persuade Reagan to take on the so-called evil Soviet Union, etc. Religion is frightening. Therefore the liberal impulse is to say “please keep it out of politics”, every time they see a religious figure or hear a religious statement: “You are welcome to live by it but don’t bring it into the political circle Because you will raise atavistic passions, you will be making absolutist demands because religion talks in the language of absolute emotions, like the evangelicals. Which is not like politics. Because politics is about compromise, about what is negotiable, what can be talked through”.

    Now the difficulty here is that for religious people, religion simply cannot be privatised. It is not simply meant to ensure contemplation between you and the Almighty – religion is a matter of fundamentally held values. You want to live by those values – these values inform you, and therefore they inform the public life. Therefore religion simply cannot be excluded from public life. But at the same time, religion can cross a limit when it becomes a ‘state religion’: then the state begins to enforce certain religious values – as happened in Iraq, Afghanistan and many other places.

    So the question for us – and the answer I look for from the Mahatma – is, how is it possible to recognise religion as a significant factor in the public and personal life of the religious person, but at the same time prevent it from taking over the state and becoming authoritarian and illiberal?

    Here I think Gandhi had some important things to say. First, he says religion has a central place in public life, but should have nothing to do with the state. In other words, central to Gandhi’s religious thought is the distinction between the public realm and institutions of the state. So, religion has a legitimate place in public life, but the institutions of the state should have nothing to do with religion. They should be secular. Gandhi, for example, surprised many people by being opposed to the state funding religious schools or religious organisations, as it is not the state’s business. Any form of religious organisation that cannot be kept going by their own members, is dead. If you are really committed to religion, you raise the funds to keep it going. So his first important argument was that we need a secular state, with religion playing an important part in public life.

    The second important thing he was saying is that one must recognise that no religion is perfect – in the same way that no country is perfect. Now, there are highly complex arguments, not to be gone into here, when religions claim to be ‘revelations’, direct from the Almighty – e.g. Allah dictating the Qur’an, Jesus being the Son of God. These religions would claim to be ‘perfect’, so they would have a big bone to pick with the Mahatma when he said that by definition, no religion can be perfect. His argument went something like this: God is infinite: the finite human mind cannot capture the infinite: therefore all our perceptions are inherently limited. Even if there is a direct revelation, that revelation is in a human language, with all its limitations to a human being, a particular human being, a prophet or whatever, who have their own limitations and therefore Gandhi says that every religion captures a particular vision of human life. That is its strength. But, in so far as it excludes other visions of human life, these are its limitations. Therefore every religion benefits from systematic and critical dialogue with God and with other religions. This is because your understanding of other religions, your understanding of the ultimate reality of God, deepens as you engage with other religions in trying to see how they perceive the infinite.

    Gandhi would often cite the famous example from the Jain tradition where you have seven blind men trying to describe an elephant. One gets hold of the trunk and says God is this kind of thing, another takes hold of his foot and says an elephant is like a castle – and so on. Gandhi would say each of them captures something, but each of them is limited. Even if you are describing a scene that all of us have seen, we would each describe it differently from our own perspectives – how could it be otherwise in relation to the infinite and in relation to God?

    Therefore the proper attitude of one religion to another is not to try and convert people, but rather to engage in a critical dialogue, so that each can benefit from the other. In this way you make a fraternity – a solidarity of different religious believers – rather than hostilities.

  118. Questor

    YLH, as usual, you take away the wrong message from Jenkins. The issue is not whether Muslim League Punjab followed Jinnah’s dictates or not. The issue is that Muslim League Punjab thought it was justified in committing massacres to bring down the Unionist Ministry, in the process ending any emotional bond the Punjabi non-Muslim had with Punjabi Muslims; and ensuring that partition of Punjab would be the only possible outcome.

  119. YLH

    As usual you’ve failed to grasp the issue at hand.

    Assuming that Jenkins was telling the truth because British always told the truth, have you seen the date? March 1947.

    Communists had tried to bring League and Congress together before May 1946 FYI.

    So you don’t have a point …atleast one that is relevant to my point.

  120. Questor

    Oh, my mistake, only non-Muslims needed to change their worldview for democracy to work in India. As for the Muslims, as Jinnah said, democracy runs in their blood. Therefore Gandhi is not relevant to Muslims.

  121. Many people do NOT know real Gandhi. Please visit
    http://www.gandhism.net
    Gandhi was racist, pedophile, Caste system advocate, anti-science/Tech, fake in satyagrah and non-voilence etc.

    http://www.gopetition.com/petition/38912.html

  122. YLH

    Questor how does that little whine gel with the discussion. My last comment pointed out to you that the chance for League-Congress ministry arose before Punjab Muslim League’s civil disobedience against Khizer ministry.

    Gandhian methods should be irrelevant to all people not just Muslims. Muslims sadly don’t have democracy running through their blood … Jinnah was clearly mistaken.

    Indeed I am not sure where or how you brought in world views and Muslims and what not.

  123. T.S. Bokhari

    Thanks for your clarification about Home Rule which I mistook as independence from the British imperialism. But who wanted it? As you said all the main political parties were for complete independence. It was perhaps the Unionist Party in Punjab, hardly to be be called a political party, which could think of any compromise with the British rulers and be condemned as ‘toady’, like the Q-league of today.

  124. YLH

    Again you’ve missed the point.

    Gandhi delayed self rule in the 1920s when everyone was for home rule and not independence.

    If the process would have allowed to take its course … a united India would have emerged as a self governing dominion by 1937.

  125. Vijay Goel

    @ ylh. Men are considered Great because they admired some thoughts developed some of their own and then ACTED. We do not have to blindly follow their actions be they The prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Jesus, Vivekananad, Kabir or such other. They were bold enough to go alone considering the situations or circumstances of their time. As followers we will be just cheap imitators. So ne need to follow blindly just because we admire them.

  126. YLH

    Fair enough. But in what way has Obama followed Gandhi?

  127. no-communal

    Gandhi is hardly admired as an eastern mystic. The idiosyncrasies in his personal life are partly the reason why he came only second in Time Magazine’s person of the century debate.

    Gandhi is admired because he gave voices to millions in the struggle for their own fate, epitomised change not by powerful political leaders but by ordinary men who peacefully disobeyed. He gave millions an ownership of the struggle without inciting them to violence. This, I presume, is why Obama and the rest of the left-leaning west admire him.

  128. swapnavasavdutta

    Why not ask Obama why he admires Mahatma Gandhi?
    No insinuation/speculation necessary.

  129. no-communal

    Lily: “And if you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be,” she asked to laughter.

    “Well, you know, dead or alive, that’s a pretty big list,” Obama replied to more chuckles. “You know, I think that it might be Gandhi, who is a real hero of mine.”

    “Now, it would probably be a really small meal because, he didn’t eat a lot,” … “But he’s somebody who I find a lot of inspiration in. He inspired Dr. King, so if it hadn’t been for the nonviolent movement in India, you might not have seen the same nonviolent movement for civil rights here in the United States. He inspired César Chávez,”

    …facing sharp divisions in Congress and within his own Democratic Party, Obama also stressed Gandhi’s fighting spirit and will to overcome long odds.

    Gandhi helped “people who thought they had no power realize that they had power and then helped people who had a lot of power realize that if all they’re doing is oppressing people, then that’s not a really good exercise of power.”

    Los Angeles Times

  130. Chote Miyan

    NC,
    All your efforts are quite useless. People here have formed an opinion about Gandhi before they shed their diapers. As you and I have noted before, these gentlemen sometimes have mutually contradictory claims against Gandhi, but nevertheless come to a very convenient agreement that somehow Gandhi is to blame. The typical modus operandi is for some self-styled intellectual to write a piece making astonishing claims against Gandhi. After an incubation period, during which those nonsensical arguments are given due exposure for it to acquire a facade of intellectual honesty, it is accepted as a gospel truth. For example: you will see for yourself how in coming months this very turd like argument about home rule and all such assorted nonsense is accepted and mutual back slapping is exchanged. After that if you question these claims, some other gentleman, who I decline to name, would come down on you like a ton of bricks, saying that you are an idiot to rake old topics that have been discussed and debated and their claims verified. Sometimes, however, such speculative pieces gets hard even for these veterans to accept. A few months ago, some mohtarma linked Gandhi to troubles in NWFP. That became too much even for the renowned Gandhi basher, Majumdar(he addresses Gandhi as Gandhu), to digest. Sometimes A or B, usually Azad or Nehru who are generally mercilessly criticized, are also roped in to support these loopy arguments against Gandhi. And, yeah, these are the arguments of the liberal fools. I give up on speculating what the other side thinks about Gandhi.

  131. no-communal

    CM
    My post is not really to convince anybody of anything. swapnavasavdutta aptly said, “Why not ask Obama why he admires Mahatma Gandhi? No insinuation/speculation necessary”. My post is addressed to him and just him (even though I forgot to include his name).

  132. Gorki

    Criticism of Gandhi is not new, even during his lifetime he had many who scoffed at his programs. He was alleged to be “an irresponsible trouble-maker by the British, a destroyer of social harmony by Indian traditionalists, a backward-looking crank by modernizers and progressives, an authoritarian leader by those within the movement who resented his style of leadership, a Hindu chauvinist by many Muslims, and a defender of high-case elitism by lower-caste activists. Marxists and other socialists deplored Gandhi’s alliance with landlords and industrialists and the high priority that he afforded to what they considered as an irrelevant demand for prohibition of the sale of alcoholic drink.

    Gandhi’s admirers do not claim that he was perfect or even consistent. They do argue that what he did right was remarkable and he did it in a way that brought out the best not only those who chose to follow him but sometimes even out of those who opposed him on his politics.

    It s this last characteristic; his novel approach to what modern social scientists like to call conflict resolution that above all else inspires politicians. Almost alone among the world leaders of his time, Gandhi rejected divisive politics, bitter polarities, and the creation of a despised and feared “other.” He insisted on dialogue, a dialogue with friends, a dialogue with enemies, and a dialogue between certain Indian traditions and the West’s own critique of imperialism and capitalism.

    Yet Gandhi inspires many non politicians as well because was much bigger than a mere consensus maker. He tried and succeeded to a great extent to align his very active public day to day life in line with his perceived moral and spiritual values.

    Though he brought religion or Ram Rajya into politics, his Ram was not the angry prince out to avenge past wrongs as that of the Shiv Sainiks of today but a self sacrificing gentle philosopher more in line with the Sufi saints; one who would rather walk away from material gain and use persuasion rather than threats to dispel opposition. As a follower of this Christ like version of Ram Gandhi often felt he had to purify the misdeeds of his own followers through fasting rather than insisting on the wrongs of others in an attempt to make two wrongs into a right.

    Incidentally this last message resonates powerfully with the spiritual side of the many Western leaders and ordinary folks conditioned by a Christian belief system (as it is understood in the popular Western mind) today.

    Above Gandhi appeals to those who would like to believe in idealism and final goodness of all human beings yet are discouraged by all the evidence to the contrary around them. The intellectual journey of David Hardiman, an author of a book on Gandhi is illustrative. He wrote that he had a “strong emotional commitment” was followed by “profound disillusion” and finally the “emergence of greater appreciation of what he stood for” in the aftermath of Ayodhya atrocities and the Hindu attacks on Muslims in Gujarat in 1992 and 2002, and terrible inhumanity elsewhere in the world helped Hardiman recognize Gandhi’s virtues.

    It is hard to disagree with Hardiman on this. Though many accuse Gandhi for being the one who mixed religion and politics with disastrous results, it is impossible to sustain this view if one were to look at the Ayodhya dispute objectively. This one dispute took centuries in making, long before Gandhi was born and exploded in all its fury on one cold December day in 1992, long after he was dead. On that day when crazed mobs swarmed over and razed the disputed structure, neither the secular critics of Gandhi nor the congressmen who pay lip service to him annually could prevent it or the atrocities that followed. It was sanitized and presented as a mere lapse of government; a break down of law and order. The truth is that what broke down was the humanity Gandhi had tried to inspire in his fellow Hindus.

    Even his worst critics must admit that had Gandhi been alive, an Advani would not have dared start his Rath Yatra, or even if he had, a Gandhian fast would have built a strong public pressure against such a mischievous mission long before he had set foot in UP. Ironically, the Masjid would have stood safe in the ‘Ram Rajya’ of Gandhi’s vision!!

    Gandhi himself claimed that he did not invent the truth force or Satyagaha; ‘truth’ he said ‘was as old as the hills’. He was a mere practitioner of that art. In other words Gandhi did no invent Gandhianism, only he was its practitioner the way Mozart was a musician or a Pele was a footballer; a master.
    Truth force is not for the faint of heart or for a charlatan. One has to truly believe, to have the courage of ones convictions; and be willing to stake everything based on the idea that there is goodness in all human beings.

    It needs a Gandhi to practice it.

    Gandhi is certainly irrelevant for Pakistan today. Post Ayodhya events (the recent judgment not withstanding) have shown that in India too his legacy is almost dead. Indian Express sardonically observed that in India of today, Gandhi’s “non-violence is now a university course”

  133. T.S. Bokhari

    @YLH

    Sorry! I forgot that you are a lawyer (A professional one perhaps) who argues not to convince or be convinced, but to win his case, by hook or crook. Gandhi was also a lawyer by training, but he could not become a successful professional as he was by nature a truth-seeker. Akbar Allahabadi was also a lawyer by profession but his description of lawyer in his Poetry became famous for all times to come. It was:

    “Peida huwa wakil to iblis ne kaha
    Lo aaj ham bhi saahibe aulaad ho gaey”

    He mentioned Gandhi also in one of his couplets, as I could recall from my memory:

    “Juman Miaan bhi dekhiey Gandhi ke saath hein
    Go tinka hein par aandhi ke saath hein(?)”

    No offense intended! Just an attempt to lighten the interesting discussion which was getting too serious without seemingly reaching any end.

  134. YLH

    Mr Bokhari,

    There is no need to become insulting and offensive.

    A true lawyer is an officer of the court who does not argue to win but to allow all facts to be presented. This hook or crook business is your imagination and the rest is the business of the kind of lawyers who one comes across.

    Gandhi was a bad lawyer because he put politics above the law. I suggest you read Gandhi’s famous conversation with Wavell where he insisted on putting a ridiculous spin on Para 15 of the Cabinet Mission Plan..an indefensible one in so far as interpretation. When Wavell said “stop talking to me like lawyers”, Gandhi responded along with Nehru “but we are lawyers”.

    Gandhi was not a truth-seeker. He was a politician. He was the kind of lawyer who bangs the desk if his case is weak.

    My concern here is not to demonise Gandhi but to balance out the unnecessary sanctification of the man which sadly you are guilty of.

    It would help if people don’t attack me and what I do for a living just because they can’t argue on facts.

    I am a lawyer because I follow the man who was described as the most incorruptible man in Indian politics by none other than the great Dr Ambedkar (and also Gandhi but that doesn’t matter to me).

    Every position I have stated above is a factual position to the best of my knowledge. I am sorry but I do take offence when such nonsense is spewed as “you are a lawyer” waghaira.

    Akbar Allahabadi can go to hell as far I am concerned.

  135. no-communal

    @Gorki,

    Your post is worth rereading many times.

  136. YLH

    No perspective. Magic would not happen if Gandhi was not there. Our point is the exact opposite : magic didn’t happen when Gandhi was there.

    Meanwhile the logical consequences of Gandhi’s actions may be debated.

  137. YLH

    Chote miyan,

    Do tell which of the “astonishing” claims about Gandhi you found to be untrue.

    Frankly the abuse against Gandhi by Moeen Ansari and other idiots has made me rethink my ways too.

    But the astonishing claims that I have put up atleast are all true.

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  138. YLH

    Atleast I am now of the view that between Ansaris (Gandhi-bashers) and Bokharis (Gandhi-worshippers) the truth is now completely lost.

    Therefore I withdraw from this board altogether.

  139. Tilsim

    Gorki
    October 23, 2010 at 6:39 am

    “Gandhi himself claimed that he did not invent the truth force or Satyagaha; ‘truth’ he said ‘was as old as the hills’. He was a mere practitioner of that art. In other words Gandhi did no invent Gandhianism, only he was its practitioner the way Mozart was a musician or a Pele was a footballer; a master.
    Truth force is not for the faint of heart or for a charlatan. One has to truly believe, to have the courage of ones convictions; and be willing to stake everything based on the idea that there is goodness in all human beings.

    It needs a Gandhi to practice it. ”

    Gorki, Gandhi’s gentle ideals and example are by no means irrelevant to Pakistan today. I can only wish we had a bapu who’s force of personality, inspiring ideals and connection with the common man could quell the raging torrent of disharmony in Pakistan. If we had any sense, we would look past his religious politics and human frailty (are any of us without blame?) to understand the greatness of the man and take guidance from it. The forces of hate felled him but he lives on.

    Thank you for a moving and inspiring post.

  140. YLH

    I just love it when people wax eloquent for want of facts.

    We have offshoots of greatness and harmonising effects of a dead Mahatma and what not.

    In my view Gandhi and others like him, whatever their intentions, are the cause of disunity and division. The road to hell it is said is paved with good intentions.

    From my standpoint Gandhi was the greatest misfortune that happened to politics in the subcontinent and our greatest fortune might just be that another like him does not come again.

    This is ofcourse not discounting his many talents and good intentions.

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  141. Prasad

    Gandhi is one in a million. 1940’s was a rare era where we had brilliant souls all at once. Gandhi was there by far the best amongst them.

  142. Prasad

    Gandhi’s support of Hitler during late 1930’s et al is as equivalent to Pakistan and India’s support to Ahmedinejad and dialogue with Iran in various spheres. Who knew Hitler was a mass murderer? it was only during 1944/1945 and subsequent trials that we actually got a true account of genocide Hitler incited and activated

    Ahmedinejad is a modern day Hitler. He has all the abilities to initiate WWIII by attacking Israel without any provocation in guise of supporting Palestine. Master propagandist, Ahmedinejad will whip up all the usual nonsense in the days to come. All it would take is a Nuke bomb in his hands

    Future generations cannot be hold Dr Singh for being benevolent to A’s regime and Iran in general.

    Coming back to Gandhi, the man was connected to general mass to astonishing levels. That speaks volumes of the man. I know YLH is a great learned scholar who has all the ability to connect Obama’s policies with Gandhi. Thousands of these people from NWFP to Kanyakumari were not so learned for sure. Certainly not fools!

    He could pull strings right from Calcutta to Mysore and these regions are not homogenous by any means!

    //If Obama is truly inspired by Gandhi, why does he not wage a non-violent war against the Taliban and at the very least stop the drone attacks? //

    Obama appreciating Gandhi doesnot mean his foreign policies would be dictated by that liking. US like any other soverign republic has a bureaucracy that works on its interests which evolve from time to time dictating US policies. At this instance if drone attacks can avoid Mumbai II and 9/11 II so be it. It should be encouraged

  143. Prasad

    //The profile also had a section called ‘ideal personality’. Without exception every one of the employees, the Shahrukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra look-alikes, wrote down the ‘Holy Prophet (PBUH)’.//

    Unfortunate – Mullah propaganda has reached such micro levels in your society. Stop this virus somehow. This applies even to India

  144. T.S. Bokhari

    @YLH

    I am sorry for the remarks which unintentionally made you offended. In fact I am thankful to you for opening up this Pandora’s Box of sub-continental history of movement for independence from the British Colonialism.

    By hind sight, keeping in view the present state of affairs in the subcontinent generally and in Pakistan particularly, I tend to agree with you that it would have been better if we had followed the constitutional way for home rule instead of starting movements like ‘Quit-India’ by Congress under Gandhi and the ‘Direct Action’ by AIML under Jinnah, for ‘Divide and Quit’, for complete independence and partition of India, leading to a horrible massacre, unparalleled in history. I wonder now why the trio, Gandhi, Jinnah, Nehru, leading this movement, who were educated in London and had adopted the Western mode of thought and language, did not trust the British rulers and could not visualize the holocaust which could result from the break down of law and order in the presence of heightened communal hatred. The tragedy is we have still not learnt any lesson from our history.

    Any how, summing up the wonderful debate opened up by YLH’s bash-Gandhi article, I cannot help appreciate his cyclopedic knowledge of the history of the relevant period and his drive to set right the records of that period, a rare preoccupation indeed for a professional lawyer.

    In my view the best comment was one of ‘due’ (20/10/2010 at 3:51 pm). I cannot help reproducing the same hereunder:

    “Gandhi’s idea of bringing religion into political struggle was based on the jain-hindu and neo-hindu concept(s) of religion or religiosity. He did not foresee what would happen when islam enters the fray. Jinnah however foresaw this and was opposed to bringing religion into politics. The two were hence not on the same track.
    Gandhi was right in his way and Jinnah in his. Since the arab religion is an alien religion in the indian subcontinent and an imperialist totalitarian ideology also – the two leaders should have been more clear with one another.
    Consequently Republic of India remains secular (in spite of all its pseudo-secular blunders and hindu fascist reactions) whereas Jinnah’s Pakistan is convulsing in the alien arab ideology.
    Sufis were never persecuted by non-muslims. If sufis will be persecuted in future then the persecutors will be from the arab ideology only.”
    ciao

  145. Vijay Goel

    Actually Sufism was the best thing that happened in India. It brought Hindus to realise the inequity of the caste system. Love and Poetry reined. Only if we could have had women emancipation and scientific education also !! Frugality, simplicity , conserving resources and saving for a rainy day were the order of the day. The British with all their liberal ideas did not care a hoot for the inequitious Hindu Caste system and only Islam influence in the non violent Sufism way made some Hindus realise the total abhorrence of the Caste system.

  146. @YLH
    @T. S. Bokhari

    As you know, YLH, it has been my opinion, after the exhaustive discussions on the history of the sub-continental movement for independence, that there was a smooth and orderly path towards constitutional and administratively well-ordered progress leading to Dominion status in the first place, perhaps as early as the 30s or the 40s (disregarding the onset of the Second World War). When we argue this, we are right, in my personal opinion, and you two also think so, from whatever I have read.

    When T. S. Bokhari then raises the obvious question: I wonder now why the trio, Gandhi, Jinnah, Nehru, leading this movement, who were educated in London and had adopted the Western mode of thought and language, did not trust the British rulers and could not visualize the holocaust which could result from the break down of law and order in the presence of heightened communal hatred, the answers are not obvious from our cleansed and systemic view of politics and contemporary history. It does not seem reasonable to do what those demi-gods did.

    The answer is simple: it was not reasonable. It was emotional.

    We tend to forget the sheer depth of humiliation and daily racist degradation that the British subjected us to. We tend to forget the dogs and Indians not allowed signs on British institutions: in Calcutta, it is astonishing for me to recall and to share with you, the Bengal Club was whites only until well after Independence, as was the Saturday Club, the Calcutta Swimming Club and the Calcutta Rowing Club; that was the equivalent of the Breach Candy Swimming Pool in oh-so-western Bombay, all of these until the 60s. So, too, selected medical institutions; it was understood that those were meant for whites, niggers need not apply.

    It is sure that you, Yasser, would have been heaving half-a-brick at these preposterous racist and deeply humiliating social walls. I do not know T. S. Bokhari so well; his writing and his expressed views do not indicate anything that would happily accept second-class status in his own country.

    As BCiv kept explaining to Gorki and me in a series of detailed internal mails which we exchanged just before and concurrently with the major discussions on PTH that broke out, emotion played a not-insignificant part in the development and the acceptance by a minority section of the TNT; so, too, did it play a part in the inability of Indian leaders – one remembers Jinnah’s incandescent fury at Ruttee’s off-the-shoulder dress being the target of the Vicereine’s tart comment – to suffer British racist insufferability a minute longer than necessary. There is hardly any need to remind ourselves about Gandhi’s own reactions, to the train ride, for instance, where he was, by the way, in the piquant position of claiming a privileged position through his holding an upper class ticket, and was denied this; to the ‘Crawling Order’ in Amritsar, and to a host of minor and major insults in daily life. He chose non-violence; for a segment in Indian society who were unable to see that terror is not justified by any provocation whatsoever, as we now know in our sadder but wiser avatars, the bomb, the revolver, even the occasional rifle was the tool of choice.

  147. @Vijay Goel

    Vijay-ji, I suspect that your point is historically on thin ground, also almost anachronistic. A whole raft of ‘Bhakti’ movements which straddled religious boundaries (Sufis do not) had effectively preached similar lessons. Their concurrency with Islam in India does not mean that they were influenced in an asymmetric flow of religious ideas, on the contrary, this concurrency might explain why Indian sufiism is seen as somewhat different, not pleasantly different, from the Muslim perspective. Turkish, Persian or Arab sufiism appears to be far more orthodox and differently-oriented than Indian.

  148. Chote Miyan

    Ylh,
    “Do tell which of the “astonishing” claims about Gandhi you found to be untrue.”

    Your claims about the orderly transfer via home rule, etc., stretched incredulity to the maximum. Of course, one is entitled to their own views. I am not sure how many people you can find in Pakistan who were active participants in the independence movement and who can tell you about the ground conditions that existed in India prior to independence, but in India, till at least 15 years ago, you could find many people who were participants in the struggle or were at a vantage points in witnessing the events as they unfolded. It’s not such a bad idea to hear what they, the foot soldiers, had to say about the events then. It’s easy to be wise 50 years after the event. Even then, I find it difficult to believe that the British would have handed us power in due course, no doubt couched in excellent terms and all would have hale and hearty. As late as ’47, Churchill was fighting tooth and nails not to let that happen. In my view, and you are free to excoriate me on this account, mass mobilization was essential and even if it meant for nothing then, it has stood us in good stead. I am not going to repeat my arguments for/against it.

    I had the privilege of working with polio eradication scheme in Bihar and UP and, even for someone who is not unfamiliar with villages, it was an absolute shock to see the conditions of some of our villages. My admiration for Gandhi stems from that experience and a multitude of other reasons. Contrary to what you think, making fun of Gandhi and his ideas is a rite of passage for most college going kids in India. Jinnah is barely mentioned. It’s only when we venture out of our own small bubbles we realize his ambition and his worth. He is more like the directive principles in our constitution, something to aspire to or, in some cases, act a inconvenient spoilsport when some of us are overtaken by a newly developed hubris. We don’t need Obama to remind us of that.

  149. Chote Miyan

    Vijay ji,
    There have been scores of reformers, commentators, etc., even before the advent of Islam, as far back as during the time of Upnishads, who vehemently derided the caste system.

  150. YLH

    Dear Chote miyan,

    While we can have a difference of opinion, I find it strange that you discount a perfectly plausible idea which has gotten currency by those studying the Indian period closely.

    See for example Alex Von Tunzelmann’s book Indian Summer Page 96 where she states:

    “there are ample grounds for thinking that a more earthly campaign led by a united Congress perhaps under the joint leadership of Motilal Nehru and Mohammad Ali Jinnah, could have brought dominion status to India in the 1920s. Gandhi’s spiritual style of leadership was a source of inspiration to millions, but politically speaking it was erratic”.

    Anyone who has read the going ons in the Indian legislature of 1920s with the Independent Party and the Swarjists knows that it was almost certain.

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  151. Prasad

    YLH: You would love to believe that Indians could bring in dominion status in the 1920’s. Indian Union at that instance was ‘full of’ great men and women who were working hard at their own means be it in England or in India to manage our independence in as shapes possible. Unfortunately India was a subcontinent with full of princely states in excess to 500 if I am to believe history. Now how would you bring dominion status there?? Gandhiji’s Quit India movement was the best there…His policy was simple..win over people with 100’s of languages singlehandedly, bring in some amount of homogeneity to that extent. We could not have won british through ‘conventional’ means..so this was the only option. IF GANDHI WASNT AROUND AND IF WWII WOULDNT HAVE BROKEN OUT, we and many of British Dominions would have never won independence in 1940’s…

  152. Prasad

    Mohamed Ali Jinnah was a flawed man like Gandhi and Nehru. The only important issue being MAJ went on arguing for a ‘Muslim’ state inspite of not believing it himself. Note he was an atheist. He went against his own principles and broke the subcontinent on religious grounds. Today what we see in Pakistan is nothing but absolute antithesis of what Jinnah ever believed in. Blame it on that devil

  153. Prasad

    MAJ with his obsession of a State for ‘Muslims’ ensured single handedly that Hindus got wiped out of what is Pakistan today. Indus Valley is finally extinct..like the dodo in Mauritius…Lets celebrate this…Zakir Naik please join in bring in your ‘Arab’ kids like how ‘Due aka Ganpat’ would like to reiterate

  154. Prasad

    YLH the greatest learned scholar in Pakistan, Pls initiate banning me from PTH for defaming MAJ and being ‘communal’

  155. YLH

    Prasad,

    The view I quoted was from Alex Von Tunzelmann. My own view is that it would have been possible around 1935.

    We have had the princely state discussion on these boards and as I am traveling right now I don’t have time to get into that.

    As for Jinnah…he was as flawed and contradictory as Gandhi and Nehru I am sure. But there is no saintly halo on his head. Those who admire Jinnah admire him for his legal adroitness, honesty and integrity. Read Cowasjee’s article in the Dawn today.

    Jinnah in my view did not break up India or atleast not alone. Jaswant Singh’s book confirms what most political scientists and historians in the west already know: Jinnah would have agreed to alternatives and did agree to alternatives.

    Pakistan needs to hark back to the vision Jinnah gave it…and it needs to undo the myths the state has built around the Pakistan movement.

  156. YLH

    No I’d let your post stay as an example of ignorance and how Indian textbooks of history are as distorted and warped as Pakistani ones. Also that when you can’t defend Gandhi start abusing Jinnah- the only strategy Indians like you have.

    In re: Jinnah’s so called “obsession with a state for Muslims”…it was necessitated by conditions created by politics of agitation and religion that Gandhi initiated. Surprising as it must be to Indians and most Pakistanis, most of Jinnah’s life was dedicated to the pursuit of a United India… a whopping 31 years by even the most anti-Jinnah estimates and 41 years if we consider the Ayesha Jalal school of thought.

  157. YLH

    “Singlehandedly”

    Yes ofcourse Gandhi and Nehru had nothing to do with it …and everyone from Ayesha Jalal, Patrick French, H M Seervai, Tunzelmann to even Maulana Azad were lying.

  158. Prasad

    YLH:://Pakistan needs to hark back to the vision Jinnah gave it…and it needs to undo the myths the state has built around the Pakistan movement.//

    well you are too late my friend….fundamentalists swarming all over pakistan will first annihilate hindus…christians…shias…ahmedias…then seculasunnis…the sufis…..you need all the guts to wage a resistance against these aurangzebs…..

  159. YLH

    Prasad,

    That is what Indians hope but it is not true. If Pakistanis allow democracy to work all these negatives will be reversed.

    Due mian,

    No need to resort to personal attacks because most of you Indians don’t like it when I resort to personal attacks you guys start whining.

  160. Prasad

    //all these negatives be reversed// HOW?? will conversions be reversed???…Jinnah’s divisionist blunders cannot be reversed…..how will you reverse Jinnah’s Islamic blunders???? MAJ may have been a great soul..however he converted 1/3rd of subcontinent into needless religious cesspool…now it so turns out very difficult to bring the region back to moderate levels…any drone attack on fundamental jokers is against islam…any attack against US army is a vict0ry of sorts for Islamic renaissance!! WOW how do you define it Sir??

  161. Vijay Goel

    @ Vajra and Chote Miyan Hinduism has not ever been poorer by borrowing Love and Mercy from Christianity and Brotherhood from Islam. If our Upnishads and reformers were against the Caste system why did it take such a stranglehold in Hinduism. Christianity fought it with conversion on a pretty large scale. Probably that and the brotherhood of Islam made our leaders, Gandhiji being the foremost to face it head on. We are greatful to all our forefathers who could start a campaign to rid us of this scourge. I for one am truly happy that Castism is recognised as a scourge in our country now at least amongst most of our men and it does not matter whether it was Islam, Christianity, or Hindu leaders who made us realise our folly.

  162. YLH

    Prasad mian,

    Like I said this is your ignorance about the man and his alleged blunders. Your sad brainwashing about Jinnah mirrors Zaid Hamid and Moin Ansari’s brainwashing about Gandhi.

    In any event it is Gandhi who converted the entire subcontinent into a religious cess pool.

    As for how it would be reversed …then clearly you don’t understand why democracy is important. The little sanity there is in India despite Gandhi’s religiousity is because of democracy.

  163. Prasad

    brahmins were expected to continue education…Kshatriyas were expected to survive attacks…. vaishyas were expected to trade and shudras were expected to work…during the rigvedic and subsequent era of Hinduism devoid of islam and christiniaty…. ultimately it so ensured that Brahmins and Kshatriyas ensured all others got a bad deal for centuries…well not withstanding conversions even to this date converted Muslims and christians have a bad deal due to casteism…these varnas exist there as well…unfortunate need to be completely eradicated…I would say education is the ONLY varna to be recognised..,.,nothing else matters (if you were to go with metallica..)

  164. YLH

    “MAJ may have been a great soul…”

    I cannot comment on “souls” as these as far as I am concerned are a religious comment.

    Jinnah was a great lawyer and an incorruptible politician who lived his life with honesty and integrity and tried to find the best compromise between Hindus and Muslims…but all his attempts were sabotaged unfortunately…

    I am frankly not concerned about the afterlife of Mr Jinnah and I don’t care if he was a good soul or not.

  165. YLH

    Yawn. I don’t have time for idiots. India’s secular democracy is despite Gandhi (and thanks to Ambedkar who was opposed to Gandhi). Pakistan’s Islamic Republic is despite Jinnah (and thanks to the same Mullahs who were opposed to Jinnah).

  166. YLH

    Come now. When I did have time I gave you and your sister more than you deserved.

  167. YLH

    Btw the proponents of India secular secular should tell me why a Hindu idol has a legal personality under law … That judgment – interestingly – dates back to Nehruvian era.

    It is as hilarious (if not more) as Pakistani Supreme Court’s use IP law to restrict Ahmadis from using Islamic symbols.

    Sad. The difference between Indians and Pakistanis is that Pakistanis don’t try and sell shit as halwa but Indians do.

  168. no-communal

    Bokhari Sb,

    Religion was hardly responsible for the partition. Those who demanded and agreed to it were among the most secular. Those who were most religious, Gandhi, Azad, etc., fought against it until the very end.

    Religion as a motivating force was used by many independence leaders, for example, Tilak, Aurobindo, Bipin Pal. Tilak popularized Shivaji and Ganesh Utsav. Anushilan Samiti was influenced by Bankim’s writings and Vivekananda. Even Bose drew his inspirations from Vivekananda and wrote about it. Religion as a motivating force for self-sacrifice was not Gandhi’s invention and was nothing new.

    Ultimately, partition was due to the divide and rule policy of the British and our leaders’ succumbing to it. It was due to the discord and power struggle between Congress and Muslim league. The same factors were in full operation in 1905 Bengal, long before Gandhi was on the scene.

  169. Suvrat

    @Chote Mian
    “All your efforts are quite useless. People here have formed an opinion about Gandhi before they shed their diapers. As you and I have noted before, these gentlemen sometimes have mutually contradictory claims against Gandhi”

    You can change the hearts and minds of ignorant people but not those who are blinded by prejudice. You can wake up a sleeping man but cannot wake up a person who is awake.Even if the greatest minds on earth thought that coming generations could “scarcely believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”

    In a way their stubborn refusal to see the truth in this matter is no different from the purveyors and followers of conspiracy theories who claim that Jews destroyed WTC. It is simply too painful or too inconvenient to them that millions of people have been moved or benefited from Gandhian methods.

    It is a matter of pain to them that Gandhi is known to the world as an apostle of peace and non violence but Jinnah is hardly known outside of subcontinent and leader of the most powerful nation on the earth sees Gandhi as an inspiration.

  170. YLH

    It is merely a matter of amusement. Jinnah’s my hero. Doesn’t matter jack to me if he is not admired by the leader of the most powerful nation.
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  171. Gorki

    @ CM and Suvrat:

    While I can understand the reason for your cynical comments, it would be a mistake to dismiss those like YLH, Vajra or Hayyer as any less patriotic or committed to social justice than Gandhi was.

    Gandhi himself would understand.
    In 1931, days before his hanging, Bhagat Singh’s comrade Sukhdev wrote Gandhi a letter attacking his appeals for pacifism. He asked MKG to stop undermining the revolutionaries and angrily wrote

    “If you cannot help them, then please have mercy on them and leave them alone. Let them alone; they can better take care of themselves…”

    Sukhdev dared Gandhi to react to the letter publicly and pointedly ended his letter ‘Yours, one of the many’.

    It was a difficult time for Gandhi, the congress annual conference was in session and many were raising pro revolutionary slogans; some were even attacking Gandhi and other leaders for not doing enough. Gandhi not only published his response but also the letter in Young India.

    He wrote: “The writer is not one of the many. Many do not seek the gallows for the sake of political freedom. However condemnable political murder may be, it is not possible to withhold recognition of the love of the country and the courage which inspires such awful deeds. Let us hope that the cult of political assassination is not growing…”

    Similarly even if we may not share YLH’s views on Gandhi one can’t help but admire his attempt to uphold human values against all odds in his country.
    I think we should support people like him and wish them luck.

    @NC, Tilsim, thank you for your comments.

    The wish for a gentle inspiring but forceful personality is not misplaced in today’s world. I find the PTH debates are great for learning. Gandhi is faulted by many for introducing religion into political sphere but after reading excellent debate here recently by AA Khalid, yourself, Feroz Khan, Perspective, BC, Bin Ismail and so many other learned minds; one is forced to re evaluate the role of Gandhi and faith in the public sphere.

    Before we get into Gandhi, I must say that reading all the arguments there, it is hard to deny the powerful hold of faith on humankind. It seems faith motivates most men; even the most rational of men; and that it touches all aspect of human interactions. Further proof comes from the wider world itself for example, the contemporary American society, otherwise a highly literate, rational and secular democracy. Here, even before 9/11 brought faith into focus, issues like intelligent design and opposition to abortion and gays rights, prayer in schools and other such faith based initiatives have been perennial hot button political issues.

    Similarly Indians has always been very religious as a people. Hayyer once wrote in another context that secularism in India was a deviation from that norm, in part inspired by Nehru’s forceful advocacy of secularism and India is now reverting back to its normal state of a public display of religion and religiosity.

    There are other such examples. YLH rightly pointed out above, the huge influence of men like Julius Caesar even in today’s world due to their powerful political and military position in the Greco Roman World. However even more striking is the influence of the other JC or Jesus Christ; a poor carpenter who never held any power, wrote any books, or travelled more than a few hundred miles from his place of birth in his short life; yet he has been far more influential over the centuries and his appeal remains undiminished even today.

    Due to all of the above, one comes to the inescapable conclusion that faith is a powerful human emotional urge almost on par with the attraction between the sexes. It is a part of our collective cultural DNA, and it affects all aspects of human experience. One can even argue that faith can no more be legislated out of the public sphere involving homo sapiens than say romantic urges among the young adults of the species.

    Neither can one remain oblivious to the counterargument that some of you made against too aggressive an advocacy of secularism; that a zero tolerance of any faith based discussion may be a form of intolerance, and an imposition of another kind of faith; e.g. atheism; on to reluctant society.

    If we follow this line of reasoning, then it becomes hard to buy the simplistic argument that Gandhi alone, and single handedly, introduced religion into political life of India.

    This is not to deny that Gandhi was a deeply religious man or that he did not use this to appeal to people’s sense of justice and basic humanity. Yet even in this, Gandhi understood his own limitations.

    He wrote in the Harijan:
    “You see that my influence, great as it may seem to outsiders, is strictly limited; I may have considerable influence to conduct a campaign for redress of a popular grievance because people are ready and need a helper. But I have no influence to direct people’s energy in a channel in which they have no interest in.”

    In other words, he knew that he could only channelize people’s own urges, not create new ones out of nothing. It was a smart observation but hardly original or stuff of greatness; many politicians before and since understand this fact well.

    Gandhi’s genius lay in first understanding that faith was not only an extremely powerful motivator but also a double edged sword; it could do just as much harm as good.
    Secondly, and this is what elevates him to greatness; he chose to not only use this potent human force to fight injustice and political discrimination but also to lay a foundation for a greater interfaith understanding; an absolute requirement if a multicultural India was to develop into a tolerant, pluralistic society.

    He was a deeply spiritual man who no doubt often spoke of God, but unlike most other such men of his day and since, he refused to hold his own faith as an example of perfection at the cost of others. Here below is Gandhi’s definition God, one that even an agnostic like me cannot dismiss out of hand:

    “God is that indefinable something that we all feel but which we do not know. To me, God is Truth and Love, God is ethics and morality. God is fearless, God is the source of light and life and yet He is above and beyond all these. God is conscience. He is even the atheism of the atheist. He transcends speech and reason. He is a personal God to those who need His touch. He is the purest essence. He simply Is to those who have faith. He is long suffering. He is patient but He is also terrible. He is the greatest democrat the world knows. He is the greatest tyrant ever known. We are not; He alone Is.” (Young India March 1925)

    Another time when asked what he meant by truth, he said each one of us must find it out on our own; for himself he had discovered that it was a small voice within himself that he had to listen to. It is a definition that pins even me, an agnostic down, from which I find no easy escape.

    He drummed this message of a universally acceptable divine over and over again to his illiterate yet deeply religious and divided countrymen. For example, consider the following words:

    ‘The time is now passed when the followers of one religion can stand and say, ours is the only true religion and all others are false’ he wrote in the Indian Opinion (August 26, 1905).

    And these:

    ‘Religions are different roads converging at the same point. What does it matter that we take different roads so long as we reach the same goal?’

    Another time he wrote:

    ‘No one faith is perfect. All faiths are equally dear to their respective votaries. What is wanted, therefore, is a living friendly contact among the followers of the great religions of the world and not a clash among them in the fruitless attempt on the part of each community to show the superiority of its own faith over the rest . . . Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Parsis, Jews are convenient labels. But when I tear them down, I do not know which is which. We are all children of the same God’ (Harijan, April 18, 1936).

    As a student of history, I find these words not of a Hindu zealot of the yester years or even those of a contemporary man but perhaps a post-modern interfaith messiah who may yet have relevance for mankind. And it is for this reason that I find that equating him with other narrow minded religious leaders like say an Advani of today or Maha-Sabhaites of his day not so much an injustice to him but our own sense of justice and fair-mindedness.

    Gandhi did not bring religion into public life in India; it was already and always there; what he tried to do was to bring a little secularism into the Indian religious discourse.

    Another common mistake that people here on the PTH and even academic historians make is to think of him only in the context of the Indian independence. His aim for the Indians was not limited to a political independence but rather a profound transformation of Indian society.

    Another Gandhi biographer, Judith Brown wrote about him that:
    ’He visualized a total renewal of society from its roots upwards, so that it would grow into a true nation, characterized by harmony and sympathy instead of strife and suspicion, in which castes, communities, and both sexes would be equal, complementary and interdependent’.

    Whether one likes Gandhi or not, one can’t deny that those last are lofty goals. Just like in Gandhi’s day men like Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev opposed his methods but shared his dreams, I hope that fair minded people here may not like Gandhi himself but can still empathize with Tilsim when he wishes that a pacifist leader of a Gandhian mold and stature may arise and help deliver our common homeland from more bigotry and hatred in the name of religion.

    Regards.

  172. Girish

    Gorki,

    Your brilliant post has awakened me out of hibernation – I cannot stay away from publicly appreciating it. And it is posts like yours that keep bringing me back here despite some discussions on this blog that evoke only despair and even disgust.

  173. T.S. Bokhari

    Thanks! A wonderful treat it was all, including primarily the one by YLH.

    I am specially indebted to Gorki whose latest post, containing some quotes of Gandhi Ji brought tears to my eyes. I thought I learnt Quranic ‘Touheed’ by reading Gita but what Gandhi Ji said “We are not. He alone Is” gave me the real meaning of the Kalimah ‘La illaha Illillah’.

    Thank you Gorki!

    ciao

  174. Suvrat

    @Gorki
    Thanks for your wonderful post. You put it better than any of us could have. I agree with you that even if he used religious connotation, it was not to the exclusion of others. He never claimed that Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis had no place in “Ram Rajya”. He never relegated any of them to inferior status. His concept of secularism was “sarv dharam sambhav” which meant equal respect to all religions.

    Therefore the talk of introducing religion in politics does not hold much water. He cannot be compared to any contemporary politician who plays religion card, because they are almost always to the exclusion of other religions.

  175. swapnavasavdutta

    Perhaps Obama can say the same too

    ” Gandhi’s my hero. Doesn’t matter jack to me if
    some two bit Joe Schmuck from some country thinks I do not follow my hero so I am a hypocryte”.

  176. @Gorki

    As ever, without prejudice, you are one of the most eloquent advocates of faith, and of the soul, the spirit, and transcendental forces seeking the transformation of society from the grass roots onwards. Whether you write as Gorki or as another, you are equally moving and persuasive.

    It is a pity that those who are not of this persuasion, that there are these ideals, and this idealistic framework of society and of interpersonal relations, are left cold by the logic, while they are warmed by the honest and genuine conviction that infuses the words. This honest and genuine conviction also being an idealist construct, there is little that a materialist can carry away. Other than a warm feeling about the writer.

  177. Jay

    Interesting comparison between Gandhi and Ambani.

    FYI — Gandhi, Ambani and Jinnah were all Gujaratis.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2010/10/25/india-journal-my-mini-tour-of-india-for-obama/?mod=google_news_blog

  178. YLH

    Due to a problem with my track ball I am unable to browse the internet … However let me state unequivocally: I DID NOT POST THE RESIGNATION AS CO-EDITOR.

    I have a commitment to Raza bhai and given that he has always stood by … I will not abandon ship the first sign of trouble. Infact Raza Rumi would have to kick me out to get rid of me.

    Yasser