...and Gandhi lives on!
As a kid, I always considered Mahatma Gandhi as someone who was no less than God. After all, his was the most common picture to grace many walls only after Lord Ram, Krishna etc. But as I grew up, I discovered to my horror that there were people who oppose even a personality like him.
He was human, I agree! And humans are not supposed to be flawless. Gandhi had his own flaws, or at least that’s what his opponents always emphasize upon.
He is often blamed for Partition. People accuse him of favouring Muslims and above all, he is held responsible for the death of the great revolutionary, Bhagat Singh. But for me, he continues to be the ultimate superhero.
I have my own reasons to believe what Gandhi achieved was impossible for anybody less than a divine incarnation. To lead a nation of 30 crore odd people with diverse castes, cultures, regions and religions is a miracle in itself. Politicians of today will do anything to achieve that kind of mass following. But Gandhi just wheeled his charkha.
For a person who was so meek in appearance, it was astounding to take the mighty Britishers head on with panache. To fight a war of Indian independence, he just used the weapons of truth and non-violence.
Wouldn’t winning a war as big as that without any widespread bloodshed be called a divine act, then?
If you look back at India’s freedom struggle, you will see he made use of things close to the common man for protests that yielded outstanding results. He burnt foreign-made clothes, made salt and embarked on various padyatras, but these simple means of protest left an indelible impact.
His strategy - now also called Gandhigiri- is still followed by anyone who wants to prove a point.
I am too small a person to defend someone like Gandhi, but for his opponents I have some basic logic.
First things first. He should not be blamed for India’s Partition. It was the circumstances, and not Gandhi, that were responsible for the Partition and the same has been well debated recently. Above all, ultimately it was the ‘divide and rule’ policy of the Britishers that led to the division of the country. The simple argument that clearly says it all is that when Gandhi fought for the independence of undivided India, why would he favour Partition?
Now, as far as the allegation that he favoured Muslims goes, I am in agreement. Yes he favoured Muslims as he favoured Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Dalits and every community residing in India. Gandhi favoured India and Muslims being a part of it were also benefited by his work. He supported what was right rather than backing a particular community and this gave him a cult status above other world leaders.
As for not saving the life of Bhagat Singh, he had his own reasons. Gandhi was a man of principles. He never supported violent means of protests. No doubt Bhagat Singh was one of the greatest revolutionaries India ever produced, but he was poles apart with Gandhi in terms of ideology. Gandhi would have contradicted his own philosophy had he supported Bhagat Singh.
He stuck to his ideology of non-violence at a time when popular belief could have gone against him. This only proves the strength of his character. These were the things that made him the Mahatma after all.
That is why, after 140 years of his incarnation, though we know that Nathuram Godse killed him on January 30, 1948, we continue to believe that Gandhi lives on.