Saturday, June 18, 2011

Is Satyagraha Relevant today?

Man is a social animal. If he remains alone in a forest for a few years he would either go mad or lose interest in life. It is especially so in modern days. People curse their fate and life if they don’t have a company or a thing to do even for a few hours at a stretch. The 20th Century earlier and 21st Century now have given enough to the humanity both in comforts and conveniences, thanks to the genius, scientific discoveries and technological developments. Mankind has progressed very fast in all spheres. However all societies and various sections in each society have not been so fortunate in equal degrees. The differences and the variations are so wide and explicit that the States have taken up the task of reducing them or eliminating them altogether if possible.

Despite all the progress man had made, he basically still continues to be a selfish being. He tries to develop himself, his family, his community and his nation at others’ cost. Exploitation seems to be the best and the most important tool for his self-aggrandizement. He adopts all means by which he can make a gain over others in the process. For the moment he seems to be succeeding in his approach and achieving his goal by wrong means. He hardly realizes that he himself would be critical of the means he had adopted earlier. Man’s lasting happiness is earned by his own mind and heart. No other external agency would ever succeed in giving him eternal and everlasting peace and happiness.

God or Nature has proved one thing clear i.e. He / it is neither partial nor biased. Otherwise, how can we explain this phenomenon? - Good and evil, beauty and ugly, mighty and meek, bravery and cowardice, land and water, day and night, man and woman, sun and moon, north and south, east and west, high and low, fat and thin, war and peace, drought and flood, rich and poor – both existing together in our midst. In such a situation man is bound to exploit surely and effectively. Such an exploitation of man by man is to be thwarted or contained to some extent. Otherwise the result would be either a revolt or a revolution at different points of time. Revolt or revolution in modern days would mean a great loss of men and materials. If we somehow devise a method by which we can express our disagreements or disapproval, annoyance or anachronism through peaceful means we not only save life and property but also achieve our goals effectively.

Gandhiji, the advocate of truth and non-violence devised his own method called Satyagraha to fight the evil forces, evil actions, evil persons and the evil Raj. It proved so successful in his early experiments in South Africa that he perfected the system and adopted it extensively in India when he led the freedom struggle and continued the same till his last days.

Satyagraha, as explained by Gandhiji on several occasions, is not an easy thing to practice unless the person who uses it as a technique should be a strong believer in truth and non-violence. Unfortunately, there have been several unsuccessful attempts by some leaders after Gandhiji, but that should not discourage anyone from understanding its usefulness. Modern societies need it much more now than it was so some seventy or sixty years ago.

Satyagraha is a powerful weapon in the hands of a leader who wants to expose the wrong doings of a person, an authority or of the State. Evil forces are at work and socially unacceptable conduct is noticed within our family, society and the nation. They can be easily countered and corrected by Satyagraha only. In a family a particular individual may be indulging in some wrong pursuits or causing incalculable damage to the property or the prestige. The person aggrieved by such a conduct can resort to several methods of correcting that individual. It may be in the form of physical assaults, mental torture, denial of personal comforts etc. etc. Such a step will only alienate the member from the family bondage, cultivate in him a sense of insecurity, anger towards others forever and make him a liability to all. On the contrary the same individual can be made to realize his mistakes by peaceful boycott or self sacrifice on the part of others. Similarly, in a society people should always come forward to help an aggrieved individual or family wronged by another individual or family through illegal or violent means or by an authority through unlawful methods or acts. Satyagraha is the only weapon which can be used by an individual or a group of persons collectively in such situations. At the regional or the national level, different political parties or social groups may take up a good cause through Satyagraha without causing any inconvenience to or violence towards those who are participating in it. A brute minority or majority should not arrogate to itself the task of deciding better things for all. Sometimes for want of financial assistance, public interest or moral support many a group or leaders shy away from taking up good causes and preventing unwanted and unjustified steps taken by an authority or the State.

Violence bequeaths hatred and revenge. Non-violence on the other hand breeds good neighborliness, sympathy and peaceful solution to all problems. Indian society and Indian democracy should proscribe violence in any form for any problem on any occasion. Violence is nothing but man’s instant reaction to an event or happening instigated by animal instincts in him. Temperament of different individuals varies from one another. Only the peaceful and non-violent methods through Satyagraha can find amicable solutions to common issues in India as well as abroad.

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