Mahatma Gandhi, with his real name Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Karamchand Gandhi is his father’s name also called as Kaba Gandhi), lovingly called Bapuji by Indians, prime Architect of our freedom and Father of our Nation was one of the greatest personalities, world had ever seen and revered. His thoughts, ideals and principles of life and style of his life are worthy of following by every man. He not only preached his values, but lived them. His ideas, beliefs and principles on which he lived and style of his life can be called as’ Gandhism’.or Gandhi-marga or Gadhiji’s way of life. His teachings are very much relevant today for developing a peaceful and prosperous life, when we find tendency for exploitation of man by man and that of violence.Though we consider him as ‘Father of our Nation’ and pay verbal tributes during his birthdays and other occasions,, it is doubtful whether we understand his teachings and give him due respect and pay real tribute by following his ideals in our life. An attempt is made in this Article to throw light on his ideals and how he practiced those in his life, hoping that the readers would feel inspired to follow those ideals in their lives. My attempt here is not exhaustive, but only exploratory. I hope other scholars would extend this work. The value enshrined in his life is expansive like ocean. I have just been on the surface of my enquiry. But the strong point that I have made in this essay is that we pay true tributes to him or repay our debts to him for whatever he did to us and to our Nation, only when we try to understand the values he preached and practiced throughout his life and practice those in our life as much as possible. We see his picture imprinted whenever we handle currency Notes. Has it any time reminded us of his greatness, is the question we should ask ourselves?
He was not born with silver spoon in his mouth. He was an ordinary child of parents belonging to middle class family, who rose to become a man of global fame by the stint of his righteous living, hard work and personal sacrifice. This shows that it is the ‘will or determination and persistence’ in the face of hardships and never straying away from path of virtues are qualities of extraordinary people. It is not for amassing wealth, eating, sleeping and enjoying comforts of life and harming others or without concern for the welfare of others that we are born as human beings, the king and crown of creations. Gandhiji had enough material possession to lead comfortable life, which many of us lead, still, he was drawn into public life of uplifting down trodden masses, raising against the mighty British rule and winning freedom for our country, which was a dream come true.
He was born to Karamchand Gandhi and his wife Putlibai in Vaishnava family on 2nd Oct, 1869 in Porbandar, in the present state of Gujarat. He was favorite of their children and called him affectionately as Munna. He got his early moral training from his mother, who was pious and cultured. He upheld honesty or truth in all his actions right from his childhood. .As student he was shy, but studious. Inspector from Education Department once visited his school to examine standard of boys. During test he spelt wrongly the word ‘kettle’. His class teacher wrote it with the point of his boot, without inspector being noticed and gestured to Mohandas to copy it down. . But Mohandas did not copy it. Later he told his teacher that he had not learned coping .This shows the value he attached to truth even as a small boy .He did not notice faults of others, even if they caught his attention, unwittingly, he never dwelt in those . He prepared his lessons for the school well, as he disliked being taken to task by his teacher as much as he disliked hoodwinking him by giving false excuses .As a boy he had fascination for incidents depicting human values. A scene showing Sravana carrying his blind parents by slings fitted on his shoulders, depicting love of children to their parents and the story of Shri Harischandra, epitome of truth left indelible impression on his mind .King Harischandra lost everything including his wife and son, worked as Guard and collector of fee for cremation in cremation ground. One day his wife brought the body of their son for cremation. ShrHarischandra refused cremation without making payment of the charges, which his poor wife could not give. What an amazing commitment of Harischandra to truth. Can we see any better example of truthful conduct . Values are more valued than any other strong sentiments. Where else can we find this other than in our ancient land Bharath varsha.
Gandhiji got the bitter taste of casteism and untouchability as a young boy. He had friend by name Ukka belonging to family of sweepers. Even his mother was against Mohandas moving with him. Though he held his mother in high respect, he ignored her when he was warned against being friendly with his friend. Division by caste, Religion, sex , economic status such as rich and poor are the real bane of Hindu Society, practices of which were not part of Hinduism, when it originated .Even today we witness evil effects of this social discrimination. This compartmentalization tears apart our social fabric .It was Gandhiji’s lifelong mission to eradicate this social evil. One’s birth and such other criteria as mentioned above should not determine one’s position in society and one’s fate. All human beings are created as equal by God and there is no justification in such patent social discrimination .It is togetherness rather than divisiveness that contributes to harmony in human life .Whatever material progress man makes will not help him enjoy life, unless social discriminations are eschewed .Social equality is a highest value to be practiced .Law alone cannot bring about this change . There is need to bring about changes in the attitudes and behaviors of people through education .Lives of great persons like Gandhiji should teach us valuable lessons.
He was favorite student of his teachers. He always got certificates and prizes for character and conduct. He did not have high regard for his ability. He got scholarships for being a good student. However, he jealously guarded his character. He did not participate in sports and games. He realized physical training was as important as mental training. only much later in his life .However he took long walks, which gave him good physique. Another reason to skip physical education was the time he spent in nursing his sick father. This shows his caring attitude towards his father, which is rarely found today. Infarct, he learned the art of nursing by nursing his father and he later used his nursing skills in serving old , sick and those who wounded in war. That skill helped in his social service. He did not believe until late that good hand writing was a part of good education and he repented for his neglect later .Though he tried to improve upon it later, he could not succeed. We cannot compensate for something which we lost in our childhood in later years. He reminds good handwriting is a part of good education. He suggests that children should be taught art of drawing, before they start writing for good hand writing. He recounts difficulties, he faced during his school days and how he overcame them. He found it difficult to follow instruction in English in fourth standard, though teacher taught well. So also he found it difficult to master Geometry. Being industrious and having strong will, he could master both .This teaches us a lesson that we can surmount difficulties by paying undivided attention and persistent efforts. We should not retreat in the face of difficulties nor should we follow path of least resistance .We should perceive difficulties as challenges by changing our mind-set and bring our enthusiasm to bear upon it .Gandhiji belonged to pious vaishnava family, the members of which practiced strict vegetarianism. Due to influence of one of his friends, he was made to believe that meat eating was necessary to develop strong physique. He was also haunted by fears such as fear of ghosts, snakes and darkness. He was made to believe that he could get rid of those fears and be bold if he practiced eating meat. Thus, he started eating meat outside without his mother’s knowledge. .He even started relishing the meat. We develop undesirable habits quicker than good habits and once those are developed, it is difficult to route them out .The abhorrence of meat eating shown by Jains and Vaishnavas In Gujarat was to be seen , nowhere else, it was so strong. Gandhiji, so attached to his parents, was aware that his parents would be shocked to hear his taking meat. Whenever he ate meat, he skipped his food at home on the plea that he lacked appetite. This went on for some time. He knew he was lying to his parents and was feeling guilty and uncomfortable. He thought that his mother would be angry with him. if she knew about it. Ultimately, he divulged the matter before her. Contrary to his expectation, she was not angry towards him..she kept mum showing her regret. Gandhiji could sense her suffering. Because of his love for his mother and also love for truth, he gave up the habit and became staunch promoter of vegetarianism later. It was the first time he realized value of ‘ahimsa’ or the spirit non-injury, which was his family tradition. It was also probably was his first experiment with truth. He found that he did not lose love of his mother, when he told her the truth. He was free from the uneasy feeling of guilt. He thus saw triumph of truth over falsehood. He was honest in his every action thereafter in his life. He fought for justice which is another form of truth many times. He became apostle of truth and non-violence.
One cannot enjoy peace and happiness ,if one acts against one’s conscience which is a moral police within us. Though he gave up eating meat, he did not abjure the company of his friend, because of whom he developed this habit. Many lessons for mankind follow from this action. If a person does something wrong, instead of seeing his action as wrong, we generally condemn him as evil person. In other words, we develop prejudice against him. Once he acts wrongly, we suspect that he would be vulnerable for evil action. What we lack is objectivity or openness of mind. It is case of closed mind or narrow mindedness .Gandhiji gave more importance to love and respect towards his parents than to taste, he would enjoy by eating meat , which is a creature comfort , as the former is much higher in the hierarchy of human values .He sacrificed his personal comfort for following the ideals set by his parents and because his love, affection and reverence for them . Love towards parents is a spiritual value, which is higher than materialistic value of appealing taste of meat. The love towards his parents was truth at a higher level. He tried to take to that in the face of opposing force of materialistic instinct. Often we chose materialistic values, when there is conflict between materialistic and non- materialistic values. For instance, children whom the parents brought up and made them capable, leave them with no support given to them, seeking better prospects to them. Hardly are they ready to sacrifice their personal materialistic interests for caring their parents in their old age,. Truth is the very nature of man. He enjoys peace of mind and happiness, when he is straight forward. He experiences distress, whenever he speaks lie or falsehood or cheats or deceives others. Although he may not understand such causal connection.
Gandhiji had a strong conscience or sense of morality or understanding of what is right and what is wrong. Many times his sense of morality prevented him from doing wrong even under strong temptations. At other times, even if he had done something wrong, he could correct it before much damage was caused. He quotes how he once visited brothel under the influence of his bad company and how his conscience stalled his carnal urge before he indulged. On all such occasions of personal crisis, he took vows that he would not budge an inch from morality. His life was an open book. He divulges even the secrets of personal life. It is a healthy life style. One who leads such life enjoys much better mental health and would be happy.
His capacity to honor his vows was tremendous. In other words his will power was extraordinary. Another occasion to show his moral strength was when he picked up the evil habit of smoking. As a child in the company of other children of not so good character, he was fascinated to smoke cigarettes. He did what children would have done. He saw his uncle smoking and felt it was a sign of being independent or permission to do what one wanted to do. . He stole money from pocket of their servant to buy cigarettes. At one time he even felt that it was not worth living, if one could not do what he wanted to do. Overwhelmed with such feeling, he once attempted to commit suicide. During such times of moral crisis, good sense prevailed upon him. He repented for his acts and resolved to quit his bad habits He vowed that he would never smoke nor would steal. He committed petty thefts in his childhood days for which he repented, confessed to his ailing father and resolved never to steal again .Those incidents show that Mohandas, as child was like any other children engaged in such minor immoral activities. But the difference between him and others is that he understood that he committed wrong, repented for his mistakes and resolved not to repeat those in his life. In other words, he learned from his past mistakes and reformed himself .Of ten we are blind to our shortcomings or even if we are aware of, we cover them up. We don’t go by the dictates of our inner voice or conscience or sense of morality. This lesson of purifying our mind is well worth learning from Gandhiji’s life.When Gandhi confessed to his father his theft, though it was painful to his father, he showed sublime forgiveness, not being provoked against him, which moved Mohandas and it had tremendous transforming power. Thus it was first experience on the part of Mohandas to know about captivating power of love and ahimsa or non-violence .Mohandas did not steal with evil motive. It was more a childhood prang. Still he understood that character building starts just from the childhood. The seed of righteous living should be sown right at the stage of childhood..
Elders may condone misbehaviors among children, which become irreparable later in their lives and become part of their personalities. Disciplining positively should start right from childhood. Children should develop strong moral character. Positive discipline is guiding and counseling lovingly and not through threats and punishments.
Gandhiji gave much importance to cleanliness in habits and keeping the environment clean and tidy. He found this necessary for maintaining health .His paternal uncles were closely attached to each other. He and his generation imbibed that habit. It was one of Gandhiji’s brother who financed his legal studies in England .Do we find such attachment between brothers and sisters today? We find children of same parents, when grow up, fight with each other for cornering the property left by their parents. They even try to see who gets more by hook or crook or even by hoodwinking parents. Caught in the whirl wind of materialism, basic human values are thrown to the wind.
Gandhiji had great faith in Hindu Religion during his teen age. Being born in Vishnava family, he used to visit Haveli or place of worship daily. But he did not like pomp, glitter and ostentation practiced in temples. The story of immorality and corruption practiced by priests had also discouraged him from Going to Haveli. He did not approve the evil practices in Hindu Religion such as untouchability, animal sacrifice and so on. He had strong faith in epics like Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita. He conceived Religion as means of purification and realization of self He had strong belief in the power of prayer offered with deep faith in divine. Never a day was passed without prayer .It helped him to calm down the mind and become resourceful .He believed true faith in God is to see divinity in all and reaching out to the needy with helping hand. Scholars of other Religions like Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Islam use to visit his house and discuss with his father. He used to listen. This helped him to learn more about other Religions and develop respect other religions, while at the same time holding his Religion –Hinduism in high esteem.
He completed his secondary education in Rajkot. There was no college there. The nearest was in Bhavnagar. He moved to Bhavnagar and joined college. Learned in Gujarati, he found it difficult to cope with English medium in the college.
A Brahmin advisor of his family told his mother and his brother that a decent job like the post of Diwan which his father held was not easy to get at that time, just with a graduate degree and that he should be sent to England for three years to become barrister, which would give him good future. As he did not like the routine way of teaching, he wanted to quit his college. Thus it was a welcome suggestion to him, when there was a proposal to send him to England. Due to his father’s demise,, responsibility to take care of his family fell on his shoulders. He sought a sundry job to keep the fire in their kitchen burning, for a while; till his elder brother took upon the responsibility .Though his elder brother was not so t rich, still he gave financial support to Gandhiji for his studies in England. It was not easy for Gandhiji to go to England .His caste people opposed to his going to England, as they thought that he would have to take to their habits such as eating meat, smoking and drinking, which a devout Hindu would not do . Initially even his mother was not willing to send him fearing that he might cultivate evil habits. It was on the advice of his family friends, and on his vow that he would keep away from three vices namely :meat, wine and women that she allowed him .His caste people even out- casted or excommunicated him. But it had no effect on Mohandas He ventured against the opposition of his caste people and their superstitious beliefs.Ths shows his greatness and adventurous attitude. He had a larger view of life. He was sure that he would remain as true Hindu in the midst of people in foreign land. He was against discriminating people as good and bad based on their habits of life. He was definite about the purpose of going there, that was for study. He resisted peer pressure to attend parties, where meat and drinks were served .He faced criticism or ridicule on that account. He kept his promise [promise given to his mother and he never compromised on truth even on matters such as eating habits, which might appear as of minor importance to others . He was a man of great conviction. Generally, people don’t keep up their words. They act according to exigencies of the situation, they face. Gandhiji had iron will, which he proved in every of his actions such as going for long fasting and persisting his efforts in winning freedom in spite of all hardships till freedom was won .
At last he left for England. While in the steamer he had difficulty in speaking with the crew in English .He was new to use of fork and knifes. He did not dare to ask them whether the food served contained meat. So he did not join them at the table. He managed with sweets and fruits, he had taken with him. He was shy in talking with co-passengers .One of English passengers drew him into conversation with helpful attitude. He advised him to eat meat, lest he could not survive in the cold weather in England .Gandhiji replied that he had vowed to his mother and that he should keep it .He added that he would return to India, if he found it difficult to stay there without eating meat. As staying in a hotel was too expensive, he hired a room and did self-cooking, as he wanted to lead a frugal life.. English life, customs and etiquettes were new to him. He was haunted by memories back home. It was difficult days for him. However, he reminded him that he had there for studies for 3 years and there was no question of returning to India We find him very decisive .He picked up his courage, regained his confidence, became studious and completed his studies.
Though Gandhi could afford ordinary comforts, he preferred to lead a Spartan or frugal life due personal reasons. Born in a poor country, he felt he should not lead a rich man’s life, even if he could afford. He also thought that only those who could sacrifice personal comforts could really serve the poor. Public spirited people should share feelings and sufferings of people who live in poverty and should serve them serve them without self interest. Only such people can uplift the people and the nation. We find many who are in the public or political life siphon off money to their pockets meant for public welfare.
Gandhiji was very prudent in spending money whether it is his personal f or public funds. He maintained accurate accounts of income and expenditure It helped him to manage public funds .There was always balance in the account than deficit. .None had complaints against him regarding misappropriation of funds .Misappropriation of public funds is common today. We hear about Scams, kick backs, frauds, bribery and so on . which eat up the vitality of our economy, with the result we find mass poverty in our country even after over six decades, after attainment of freedom Gandhi ji started leading Spartan life from very early in his life, when he was in England for his law studies, when he was in his teen age .He used to cut his personal expenditure as much as he could .He would walk down the distance between the place of his stay which was just one room in England and the school of law, instead of going by bus. Frugal life, which is self imposed should make us realize the value of economic resources and the feeling of the need to feed other hungry mouths .Initially he mistook that he should dress up like English men and follow their style; very soon he realized that it was false prestige and he returned to his native simplicity. We should not rate a person high because of his riches, pompous dress and manners . Simple living and high thinking are the hall marks of greatness which is spoken about in our Epics and tradition. This is the lesson which Gandhiji teaches us .When he was in South Africa working to alleviate poverty among Indians and fighting against repression by white minority, he gave up even the basic necessities and lived like a poor man, wearing a loin cloth and walking bear-footed. He felt that he would be stronger in pursuing higher human ideals or in search of truth or pursuit inspired by ‘sathyagraha ‘ or desire for truth, if we lived a modest life or under conditions of deprivation of our personal needs. This was the logic behind his practice of fasting for days together .In our life we generally divert and dissipate all our energy in hunting for material pleasures, with the result we hardly entertain any higher motives or those of wholesome living and show inclination and sincerity for our public work.
We live for ourselves, even at the cost of others, which is the reason for violence to be the very nature of our social life. Gadhiji could have lived for himself – a cozy life, but he preferred to lead life of austerity. In fact, he did not live for himself, he lived for others with the result, and he was endearing to masses. When British police could not quell the violent crowd, a word from Gandhiji brought the crowd under control, which amazed the police. .He had identified with their cause and made personal sacrifice to win their cause. He was dear to the mass, he was an unquestionable leader. There is peace and real joy, only if people are concerned with and work for the wellbeing of each other. We should ask ourselves this question whether we live this way.
Gandhiji was ambitious and hard working even from early years. He was not good in speaking in English. He was also shy of speaking. He knew speaking skill is required to become a successful lawyer.. He determined to improve his presentation skills. He joined coaching classes .He turned out to be a good and impressive speaker . He teaches us lesson that we can achieve anything with concerted efforts. He was not an impulsive speaker. He spoke with due deliberation. such that he never wasted his words, nor exaggerated nor suppressed nor distorted ideas. His speech was authentic and well received .He became an impressive speaker while he moved to South Africa first to take up a case of his client and later when he plunged into public life to alleviate the repression of Indians by minority white rulers or to fight against Apartheid or discrimination based on color prejudice. Young generation has a lot to learn from Gandhiji’s student life . He says that the law course was rather easy to pass. Examinations were held four times a year one on Roman life and another on common law . Many, he says got through exam in Roman law just by jostling through pages of scrambled notes . Even one could get a pass on common law just going through notes taken down in the class ,although text books were prescribed. But Gandhiji did not take law course lightly. He took it seriously. He read the text books and also made additional reading. His aim of pursuing law course or any course, for that matter was not get a pass and get a certificate, but to study the subjects diligently so as to acquire mastery, which only helps to enter into professional world. Gandhi was a person who understood purpose behind action, a man of strong will and determination and had fascination to pursue the line of action passionately once chosen convincingly. In other words, he enjoyed learning. Do we find this in the student population today? Are not those qualities worth emulating? Gandhiji reports the gulf between academic learning and practice, even in the course of law, which is taught in most practical way. Though he was academically qualified, he found that it was not easy to succeed in practicing as a lawyer. He had put lot of efforts to translate what he learned in the class to practice in the court .As soon as he was qualified in law, he started developing his skills in practicing law. We find these days students take their degrees and diplomas as pass port for entry into jobs. They become frustrated when they fail in their repeated attempts to land on a job ., without realizing that academic degrees constitute at most half the requirements for getting a suitable job . Job readiness or learning outside class rooms or in the real world of work is another equally important part .Gandhiji had to learn entirely new subjects like Hindu and Mohammad an laws before start practicing in India, after returning from England .But that did not deter him in any way . He did not stay a day more in England after his law course than required and returned to his country of birth . He wanted his country which nurtured his growth should benefit from his services. His love to his mother, wife and son whom he left back home was another motive for joining them .In other words , he was patriotic . These days we talk of ‘brain drain’. People on whom our nation has spent it’s rare resources, leave the country once they complete their education in search of greener pastures overseas. Today we notice this especially in the Information Technology sector ..Even if there are justifiable reasons for this flight of people to oversees, those who leave and settle down overseas should feel that they are indebted to their country of origin, without whose liberal support they would not have been where they are now and should pay off their debts to their mother land in terms of services, which they can render .Of late, Govt of India has recognized the importance of ‘Pravasees’ or people of Indian origin in foreign lands, the contributions they can make for India and has given them due recognition , in the form of foreign investments for the industrial growth, participation in the welfare programmes, rendering free professional services etc . We find some response from overseas Indians. But considering the population of Indians abroad, what is being done is perhaps negligible.
Gandhiji went to South Africa to take up the case of Dada Abdulla, A muslim merchant of Indian origin. While in South Africa he saw the ugly practice of color prejudice shown against Indians by white minority. Indians were treated very badly. They could not travel in the first class train compartments with whites. They were engaged only for hard or menial labor. They were taxed heavily. They were kept as indentured labor brought from India. They were to pay poll tax to stay there . They were not allowed to start any venture of their own. They were prohibited to come out of their houses and move about outside after 9 o clock in the night. Only those with special permission were allowed to move out. Gandhiji himself meted out inhuman treatment by the English masters. He was thrown out of the first class compartment while he was travelling. He was also tortured for moving out late in the evening, though he had obtained official permission. Thus he experienced the bitter taste of color prejudice. Whenever white authorities tortured, he never resisted violently He put up with it , as he was a staunch believer in non-violence or not hurting others. He forgave cops who tortured him .He also knew that counter violence would make the offender more aggressive. He was convinced that non-violence was a powerful weapon. It was proved to be most effective .He knew that the white Regime could be made to protect the rights of Indians only by making them realize that their acts were barbarian by communication, public protest and defying the laws that were against the interest of Indians. He knew that it would be a tremendous force, if all Indians could be united and the Government would not be able to withstand the non-cooperation of the people. This is what he did in South Africa. He could unite people and make them vocal to redress their grievances in a peaceful manner or without arms struggle. He perfected his weapon of what is called ‘Sathyagraha or in conquest of truth or Civil disobedience during his political life in South Africa. It was through Sathyagraha, Indian independence was won.
But ultimately, he realized that his mother land needs his services, he responded to the call of his mother land, India and returned to India, leaving everything including his earnings and large quantity of gifts given by the people there. He asked them to set up a trust for all his possession for use for the welfare of the poor people, especially, Indians in South Africa .It was a great example of personal sacrifice of all material needs for serving mother land. Gandhiji’s worth did not confine to his possessions and belongings. His worth for the humanity was inestimable.
When Gandhiji left for England, his caste people had excommunicated him. After return, he had to remain outside his caste. His brother took him to Nasik for holy bath and arranged a caste dinner. He prevailed upon his caste people to readmit him. Thus he got readmitted. Gandhiji was not keen to join his caste. Even as a small boy he had resisted caste discrimination. He paid no heed to words of his mother not to keep company with a sweeper boy in his school days, though he never went against mother’s wish on all matters. He did not want to disobey his elder brother who loved him most and who sponsored his studies. So he accepted the idea ofr re-entry into his caste to please him. The seed to fight against social discrimination such as caste, class etc was sworn in his mind even when he was a small child. Later, in his life it became one of his missions in life. He served in slums of India to improve their sanitation and alleviate their poverty and superstition .He joined them in cleaning their latrines. He never thought that one job is superior to another. In other words he propagated ‘dignity of labour ‘ and self-reliance. He called people belonging to lower caste or the so-called ‘untouchable’s as’Harijans ’, meaning children of God to elevate their social status. He admitted a pious couple belonging to backward caste to his Sabarmati Ashram against the opposition of other members of the Ashram, including his wife Kasturba, who later reconciled and went along the wishes of her affectionate husband .According to him, God has created all human beings as equal and it was l unjust social system created the caste hierarchies and hence all should live like brothers and sisters .He was against discriminating people according to sex. He believed that women are equal partners like men in all walks of life .He worked for the improvement of status of women particularly in rural India. We can see how catastrophic is the social divide in terms of caste, Religion, sex etc. He conducted literacy classes to make illiterate people in rural areas and urban slums to awake them economically, socially, politically and culturally. He knew that India could be rich, only if the majority of the people living in villages have the skills and the opportunity to engage in gainful employment. In other words only if village economy is developed .Keeping this view, he proposed setting up of village industries using local resources. He also proposed’ Panchayat Raj’ setup in administration of the country decentralizing authority at the village level . Although this set up is introduced, it is doubtful whether benefits envisaged by Gandhiji and other national leaders have been reaped. . The reason for the benefits falling short of expectations is lack of proper implementation of the art of Public Administration.
Caste discrimination has thwarted harmonious living of the people .With plethora of laws enacted by our Government and Gradual social transformation that was taking place in our country, for the more than six decades after our country became independent, we cannot say we have been able to wipe out evils of social discrimination .Even today many atrocities are committed in the name of caste, Religion, sex etc we find cases of rape, female infanticide, Dowry deaths and so on shocking the nation. These are not to be left to law enforcing Agencies alone. On the other hand, it should be personal responsibility of each and every India n to uproot such social evils. This is one of the apt ways to pay our tribute to Gandhiji who fought throughout his life for truth, equality and social justice and also ultimately sacrificed his life for preserving those values . Village industries, which Gandhi envisaged was for the use of locally available resources, which makes cost effective and promotes employment generation.
Gandhiji loved children. He could come down to their level when he mixed with them. He enjoyed playing and joking with them. Only persons having clear conscience or innocent can be childlike. He maintained love towards children throughout his life. This part of his behavior is very significant. It shows purity of his mind. It helps us not to be too sensitive or touchy, the attitude of which robs us of our happiness. We should not take everything too seriously and start worrying. We should not make mountain out of mole hills .We should be light- hearted and humorous .Our estimation of ourselves or what is called ‘feeling of self worth or self-esteem ‘should not depend upon what others think about us and about our capacities. We should not be affected by other’s criticism .We should have confidence in us , which helps to have positive self- concept .Being with children helps us to de-stress ourselves and keep our mind calm and composed . . Children are innocent and spontaneous in the expressions of their feelings and emotions. They do not show bitterness, revenge, hatred, jealousy, inhibition, dishonesty and other evil qualities, which adults show in their behavior .Children learn those evil traits as they grow up either emulating their parents or due to their wrong parenting. We find this quality of love towards children in all the great people. Children too liked Gandhiji equally.
Gandhiji encountered many difficulties in establishing himself in legal practice, after he returned to India. Many unethical practices were followed by lawyers at that time such as engaging touts to bring cases on commission basis, which is a form of bribery, overcharging clients, using personal influence and so on. Gandhiji being an honest man refused to adopt such methods. He never compromised on truth for earning livelihood .At one point of time he even thought of quitting lawyer’s profession and taking up teaching English in school. He was not selected for teacher’s job, for want of graduate degree. . He was compassionate towards poor unlike other lawyers, took up their case and many times charged them very small fee or no fee at all. It was at that time, he got an offer from South Africa offered by Abdulla and company to assist in a case filed against them for unfair trade practices. He was to counsel the Barristers appointed to appear in the court. Though it was not the kind of assignment, which a person qualified to practice law would prefer to take up, Gandhiji, being modest accepted it as considering it as an opportunity to gain some new experience and also to see new country. Thus he landed in Natal in South Africa. Gandhiji knew that justice was on Abdulla’s side and hence took up the case. He succeeded in settling the case by arbitration or settlement outside the court, which was beneficial for both the contending parties. No Advocate would have done it. They would prefer for legal settlement through court of law, which would boost their income. He was not for earning money. He was compassionate. Abdulla’s opponent was not able to make immediate payment. He would have become pauper, if he had to clear off his debts immediately. In such case he would have attempted to end his life, it was shameful as per the custom, he followed. Gandhiji saved his life. He asked Abdulla not to claim from his opponent down payment of what he owed to him and permit him to clear in installments, to which he agreed. This shows Gandhi’s generosity or large heartedness. He took up only genuine cases, meaning the cases in which justice was on the side of his clients. He never accepted false cases for the sake of money. In many cases, he advised arbitration or out of court settlement forgoing his income, which other lawyers are unlike to do. Those who are practicing law and even other professions have to follow the ideals followed by him. Whatever profession one practices, he should follow professional ethics and earn income in a fair manner. .One should not indulge in corruption in his public life.
Gandhi was large hearted. He did not entertain even an iota of prejudice towards any one. He did not return harm to those who harmed him. He use to forgive his offenders .He refused to identify his offenders for legal action against him, when the authorities wanted him to identify, when he was tortured in South Africa. He told he had already forgotten about the incident and had also forgiven the offender .He added that he would not go to the court to redress his personal grievances .Gandhiji never hated Britishers, but hated the colonial system that was established , with the result even public in England supported Gandhiji in his fight for freedom. Let us compare Gandhiji’s attitude to those of the people of today. If a person of a particular caste or Religion victimizes person belonging to another caste or Religion, he would see the caste or Religion of that person as responsible and violence is targeted against all the people belonging to his caste or Religion. In other words, it turns out to be communal violence leading to lose of lives and property of innocent people We can see how venomous communal attitude is ?
Those who are active in public life have to learn from Gandhi. A true public spirited man cannot stand as a mute witness to the sufferings of the people. Gandhiji though he left for South Africa as a lawyer engaged by a Business man, he was moved by the hardships faced by Indians there and he plunged in activities to free Indians from slavery imposed on them by white rulers. Similarly, when he returned to India from South Africa during early nineties, fighting against British rule and freeing Indians from oppressive colonial rule was his mission. He fought till he succeeded to free our country from foreign rule. He even gave up legal practice and started leading life of a poor man. He disclosed that no one could really serve others, unless he gave up his personal comforts. Those in Public life , who have not given up personal comforts would misappropriate public funds. Gandhiji entered public life not for wealth, power, fame or influence but for the welfare of the down trodden. He was busy in pacifying people during Hindu-Muslim riots in the Northeast Region that took place immediately after India attained independence, when our nation was celebrating independence. He experienced joy and self-fulfillment from the very act of serving the poor and the needy .This should be driving spirit behind public service.
Gandhiji was a great visionary. The weapon called ‘Satyagraha’ offered by him was more powerful weapon than fighting with arms for freedom .It consisted of non-cooperation or defying repressive laws and boycotting schools , colleges and jobs and foreign made goods especially British made good in preference to locally made ones . Such passive resistance, without physically harming oppressors either being offensive or defensive, made British regime difficult to continue their rule in our country.
Britishers exported raw materials from India at the cheapest rate for Industries in England and found market for their finished products in India, making huge profit. In other words, British economy depended upon India for its sustenance. It was Gandhiji’s idea to strike at the root of this advantage by exhorting people of India to boycott British made goods and go for locally made ones. Gandhiji also fought against injustice faced by Indian workers who received low wages in farms and factories run by British companies by organizing them into unions and raising mass protest. Gandhiji also introduced Khadi, which was backed by innovative idea .Khadi meaning coarse clothe or clothe woven in handlooms from handspun cotton as the common man’s clothe in place of mill made clothe. He first took himself to khadi. He ran spinning and weaving sheds in his Sabarmati Ashram. He popularized use of khadi. He also promoted other village industries which created jobs and provided means of living for rural workers .The message he spread among people by t introduction of khadi was to lead to a frugal life for being really happy and contented rather being attracted by comforts and luxuries . It also leads to self-reliance, which is a commendable quality. We find what he conceived was a great truth. It is doubtful whether we give as much importance as given by Gandhiji to village industries and austere living. He himself took to austere living. In other words, he practiced, what is preached and that is his greatness. Boycott of foreign goods include clothes also affected the income from, exports from England, affecting British economy, which also brought pressure on British Government to grant freedom to our country .
Gandhiji’s leadership style is worth emulating by political leaders and others in other walks of public life. He was selfless. He served the masses with sincerity. He identified with them. He stood for their cause and endeavored to ameliorate their conditions .He did not impose leadership on people. People chose him to be their leader.Leaving life of opulence, he lead life of the poor. He knew that unless personal needs are kept under control, he would not able to serve people sincerely. He never misused public funds. He never sought wealth, name, fame or influence in public life. He faced several hardships while engaged in freedom struggle and working for the upliftment of poor masses .He never offended any one nor did he return harm to those, harmed him. He settled differences amicably and disputes by debates and reasoning. He showed extra-ordinary skill as negotiator. He was sent to negotiate with British regime. He never showed prejudice based on caste, Religion etc. Everyone was equal to him. In fact he saw the supreme spirit in every one. Similarly, every one endeared him. He had immense patience, forbearance and self-restraint or control over himself and his passions. He practiced self-control by observing fasting ( that is by avoiding food and remaining in meditative state for a long time to be able to act righteously and for being resolute) and leading a disciplined life. He was a true patriot, par excellence.
To recapitulate, Gandhiji was an embodiment of several sterling qualities described above and more to be brought to light. His guiding principles of life were truth, non-violence, tolerance, austerity in living, magnanimity, strong will power, ethical way of living and spirit of social service and patriotism. He was a perfect man in the true sense of the term.