India witnessed a major calamity on 14th February, 2019. We lost 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel when a vehicle-borne suicide bomber attacked a convoy of vehicles carrying security personnel at Lethpora in Pulwama district in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan based Islamic militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed the responsibility for the attack, and relations between the two countries got worse than they actually are.
The Indian government claimed to avenge the Martyrs with an air strike on JeM bases at Balakot in Pakistan. This act, no doubt heroic, got involved into political controversies in the country, and has become one of the major election campaign topic for our political parties. Looking at the present situation, one cannot help but wonder where this country is heading after 72 years of independence.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, considered as Father of the Nation, gave the world a practical way to approach the philosophy of Truth (Satya) and Non-violence (Ahimsa). India in this age needs it more than ever. Gandhian philosophy is not only simultaneously political, moral and religious, it is also traditional and modern, simple and complex. It is his way of implementing that philosophy that gave the world a new ‘ism’. In his own words, “I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and nonviolence are as old as the hills.”
Ahimsa, far from meaning mere peacefulness or the absence of overt violence, is understood by Gandhi to denote active love – the pole opposite of violence, or ‘Himsa’. He believed that if all life is one according to the Divine Reality, then all violence committed towards another is violence towards oneself. He also believed that ahimsa is the most powerful force in existence. Had himsa been superior to ahimsa, humankind would long ago have succeeded in destroying itself. The human race certainly could not have progressed as far as it has, even if universal justice remains far off the horizon. From both viewpoints, nonviolence or love is regarded as the highest law of humankind.
Today, Gandhi and ‘Gandhism’ in India is limited mostly to political statements, slogans, and textbooks. Gandhi is rightly called the Father of the Nation because he single handedly stood up against the mighty British Empire, without any arms, and brought her independence. However, today, Gandhi is mostly forgotten and his relevance questioned even by his ardent devotees. Today Gandhi is remembered in India mostly on his birthday which is celebrated as a national holiday rather as a ritual. And perhaps that is the reason, we, the citizens of India should sit back and reflect upon the Philosophy of Gandhi. Because, it can provide a better way to sort disputes and live in the world without constant fear and violence. It is perhaps the best way that will work for India in this age, especially after Pulwama attack.
“An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” – M.K.Gandhi