Gandhi Crucified?

Exactly One Hundred and Thirty Six Years ago a child was born in a small sea-shore town – Porbandar of Gujarat. Could any body expect then, what the future holds for this kid? Or more importantly, what future this kid holds for mankind in general and India in particular? Could any body have thought one day the ‘kid’ they are holding in their lap will become Bapu – The Father of the nation?

What he did, how he became Mahatma, why was he considered the prophet of Peace and Non-violence and the ambassador of mankind is a history now. And may pages (read MBs) of literatures will only prove insufficient to express Mahatma Gandhi. When he died on Jan 30th 1948, his death was unanimously considered as the second crucifixion of the history after that of Jesus Christ.

Who killed Gandhi ji? Nathu Ram Godse? Can a bullet kill an institution, a philosophy, a school of thought? Can Mahatma Gandhi die, if his thoughts, his philosophy continue to inspire? No. To Kill Mahatma Gandhi, or any one for that matter, you need to eliminate his ideals. And no one bullet, one man, or one organization can ever do it. So who killed Gandhi ji? Are we not among those who are crucifying Gandhi ji? And yes crucifixion is not complete.

Today, on his hundred and thirty sixth anniversary when I turned the pages of the newspaper I found a question, or rather a topic for debate – Is Gandhi still relevant? I am not shocked at the responses. Because if there is a question, there will be an answer. If there is a matter of debate there will be people to speak on the pros and the cons. So expectedly there are people who find Gandhi irrelevant. What vexes me is the question itself? And sadly this is not the first time we have put Gandhi ji to the dock to pass our judgment. We question Gandhi’s relevance. We question Gandhi’s deeds. We question Gandhi’s decisions.

But the important question – are we qualified enough to question Gandhi’s relevance, decisions or deeds? Do we know sufficient Gandhi to pass on our judgments? Do we know sufficient of India to pass our judgment? Have we really read even few of his own literature to know him better?

Let us today talk about his relevance alone. Let the discussion on his decisions and actions rest for another day. Now let us understand why Gandhi ji is no more relevant today:

Gandhi ji was for cottage industry and charkha. This is the age of globalization.

Charkha, the spawning machine, was not just the icon of cottage industry. It was the icon of self discipline; it was the icon of countries self respect. It was the icon of self dependence, self-reliance and faith in our-self and our country. Are these things irrelevant in today’s context? Sadly, but it seems, that in a race to prove Gandhi irrelevant, we are compromising with that self-respect, that self-reliance and love and faith for our country. How else could we explain our over joy over making India one of the biggest source of cheap labour? If Gandhi ji preached self-respect and we find self-respect costly; certainly Gandhi ji is irrelevant.

Somewhere Dalai Lama quoted – “India is known for exporting peace, harmony, warmth and dignity of soul. It’s a pity that we’ve stopped manufacturing all of these”.

In the Nuclear Age, Non-violence doesn’t stand a chance

There never had been a struggle without violence. Not before and not after the struggle of India’s Independence. From the beginning of human civilization and before violence had been an icon of struggle. And even when there was no nuclear weapon, there were weapons powerful enough to damage mankind. Non-violence was looked with all doubts even when Gandhi ji introduced it. It was reasonable then because there was not past reference in history. But can we still doubt it? After having a proof of it?

Gandhi ji selected non-violence, because, he felt, is the weapon of the strong and more civilized race. Even animals resort to violence. Is it not the time to distinguish ourselves from animals by resorting to higher methods? Has any violent method ever did any good to mankind. What good came out of World War 1, World War 2, the Iraq or Afghanistan war? Is there any real alternative of peace?

To quote Gandhi ji – “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way”. If we disagree, if we have any real alternative, yes Gandhi ji may have become irrelevant.


The irony is that Gandhi ji has become more relevant and a greater icon, than ever before, globally, and we Indians are questioning his relevance? The world leaders like Nelson Mandela and Dalai Lama finds him their inspiration. Albert Einstein, the icon of science and modernization, himself had said of the Mahatma: ”Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood”. Lord Mount Batten equated Gandhi ji with Jesus Christ and Gautam Buddha. George Bernard Shaw said “His death showed how dangerous it could be to be good”.

Apple computer made him the face of their Think Different campaign and another telecommunication company has made Mahatma the icon of globalization. Sad, we Indians still debate his  irrelevance.

(date of original publication on my other blog in answer to a question – Is Gandhi relevent?)

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