We are not heading to any moral values peril. We are not a doomed generation. And we also love our country. Yet most of us dislike Mahatma Gandhi.
I have observed a trend of growing dislike for Mahatma Gandhi in my generation. Majority of discontent arises from the fact that his name is helping the corruption in our country (read current Gandhi family, which is left with very few of pure Indian origin).The others blame him for India-Pakistan separation and Pakistan’s terrorism. Several remember him for his odd experiments with young women on “Brahmacharya”. Also there are claims about giving him extra importance as a freedom fighter.
So father of nation has a nation full of rebelling youngsters. But little do they know that father of the nation would have liked the younger generation this way! I think a considerable damage has been done to his works by tagging him as “Mahatma”. Giving a demi-god stature to a mortal being often makes everybody curious about the flaws in personality, which bring anyone closer to being called human. If M.K. Gandhi was anything he was a truthful human being, and social-scientist. He accepted his flaws, reasoned the ways of society, followed a puritan approach in daily ways of life, and consistently improved upon himself through his experiments in life. His experiments encompassed variety of facets of life, including diet, religion, dress-up, social dogmas, hygiene, women inequality etc.
Limiting Gandhi to a freedom fight leader would be an injustice to his other contributions to India. If you try and read “The story of My Experiments with Truth”, there would be so many instances you would think you are reading a journal of unsuccessful young man, who is often bogged down by his own humility, who is confused about his career and probably a failure as a lawyer, almost gets carried away in company of opposite sex but is saved by divine grace, is extremely possessive about his wife, wants to teach her but admits wasting his energy lusting for her. And yet Gandhi is brave. For me yes he is. There is no drama in his persona. And that is what connects you to him. Gandhi is not a brilliant, handsome, strong or a powerful young man. But Gandhi reasons everything he does. Sticks to his experiments, accepts his failures, is enthusiastic about the change, consistently and methodically works to achieve his target, is patient, honest, and hardworking, without an ounce of self-glorification. He believes in God, accepts that he is saved from getting into embarrassing situations through some divine interventions, which probably was his own conscience. Do you think this guy is a Mahatma? This is next door boy struggling with his ideas about the world and the reality he faces. How many times have you seen a Hollywood movie with a similar storyline and have appreciated it? Why not appreciate our own hero M.K Gandhi for it?
Politics has its own way of working against anybody’s positive image. Noam Chomsky once commented, “if you want to rule a country give them a god to worship”. Tagging Gandhi as “Mahatma” was an intelligent move by political leaders at that time. It made him a phenomena, and attracted several followers across the country. The Gandhi we think we know about is probably not an ounce of the great human being he was. An ordinary and yet a great human being. His story is about conquering your own fears, sticking to your principles and practicing austerity with almost a cent percent perfection. It was his belief in his experiments which made him the leader. In fact Gandhi was himself against popularizing Gandhism “There is no such thing as “Gandhism,” and I do not want to leave any sect after me. I do not claim to have originated any new principle or doctrine. I have simply tried in my own way to apply the eternal truths to our daily life and problems…The opinions I have formed and the conclusions I have arrived at are not final. I may change them tomorrow. I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and non-violence are as old as the hills.”
I am saddened to see so many amongst my generation condemning Gandhi. Although I am not sure if they rebel for the sake of rebelling, or they have their own solid reasons. Instead of valuing what he left us, in form of his unique non-violence methodologies, we try and focus on what damage he did. I strongly believe that several issues of the modern world could be resolved if we look into the principles he followed. Blinded by the rampant consumerism, we have done enough damage to the planet. The planet will save itself, by eliminating the greedy species of humans. Practicing austerity, and common sense, might lead us to a healthier and more live-able planet. There are several other sectors where his teachings still hold relevance. The recent fight of civil body against corruption, which swept the whole country, had its root in Gandhi’s methods.
Probably Gandhi is still alive in our minds. Maybe he has just lost his cool-quotient! Maybe all he needs is a good PR strategy to promote him as a cool guy, with unconventional and truthful ways of life, excessive will-power, full of love and humility. A strategy which portrays him with a soft hearted charisma of Shah-Rukh Khan, earnesty of Aamir Khan, and will power machismo of Salman Khan, all combined together, with uniqueness of being a Gandhi. Maybe then Gandhi would find a place in younger generations’ hearts again!