Philosophy comes from the Greek word philosophia meaning the love of wisdom. Philosophy is the study of the ultimate nature of existence, reality, knowledge and goodness, as discoverable by human reasoning (Penguin English Dictionary). The most distinguishing feature of the philosophy is a person who is interested in the truth about moral matters and in a pursuit of wisdom. The word Mahatma means “great soul”, Mahatma Gandhi is known as the father of the nation in India as he has fought for his country’s independent. Gandhi is known to be great philosopher, he had a great importance to the concept of Truth or Satya, Ahimsa or Non-Violence which are the important foundation of Gandhi’s philosophy. The word ‘Non-violence’ is a translation of the Sanskrit term ‘Ahimsa’. He stated that in its positive form, ‘Ahimsa’ means ‘The largest love, the greatest charity’, the term ‘Satya’ Gandhi also means is not only existent but also true. Gandhi said that Truth and Non-Violence are the two sides of a same coin, or rather a smooth unstamped metallic disc. Ahimsa is the means; Truth is the end. Gandhi identifies Truth with God.
The circumstance which have made Gandhi to come with such philosophy is when he faced the discrimination commonly directed at blacks and Indians in South Africa. One day in court at Durban, the judge asked him to remove his turban. Gandhi refused and thus taken out of the courtroom. He was also thrown out of a train at Pietermaritzburg, after refusing to move from the first class to a third class coach while holding a valid first class ticket. These incidents have made his to be a social activist. It was through witnessing firsthand the racism, prejudice and injustice against Indians in South Africa that Gandhi started to question his people’s status, and his own place in society. Gandhi adopted his still evolving methodology of satyagraha (devotion to the truth), or non-violent protest, for the first time at a mass protest meeting held in Johannesburg, calling on his fellow Indians to defy the new law and suffer the punishments for doing so, rather than resist through violent means. This plan was adopted, leading to a seven-year struggle in which thousands of Indians were jailed including Gandhi, flogged, and even shot. While the government was successful in repressing the Indian protesters, the public outcry stemming from the harsh methods employed by the South African government in the face of peaceful Indian protesters finally forced South African General Jan Christiaan Smuts to negotiate a compromise with Gandhi. Gandhi’s ideas took shape and the concept of Satyagraha matured during this struggle.
The strength and weakness of Gandhi’s philosophy of truth and nonviolence is the strength would be that through Satyagraha and the power of self-sacrifice in which it is possible to defeat prejudice and speak directly to the soul of another. Suffering love, as Gandhi argued, was profoundly redemptive. It redeems both parties as an appeal to humanity will let the other person to understand that one’s claim is similar to the other’s weakness were also present in Gandhi’s approach to achieve Indian independence.
The weakness is that he was successful in many ways but not in the way he was hoping for. He did not want Pakistan to become its own state and was hoping the Hindu and Muslim would get along but the violent in India only got worse after he died and the Indian society is became discriminatory once again.
The philosophy of Gandhi has relevance to the present days, the Tibetan leader Dalai Lama puts Gandhi’s success in right perspective. He said, “Many ancient Indian masters have preached ahimsa, non-violence as a philosophy. That was mere philosophical understanding. But Mahatma Gandhi, in this twentieth century, produced a very sophisticated approach because he implemented that very noble philosophy of ahimsa in modern politics, and he succeeded. That is a very great thing.”And that is precisely the greatness of Gandhi and that is the message of Gandhi to the modern world. In the past century many places in the world have been drastically changed through the use of brute force, by the power of guns in the Soviet Union, China, Tibet, Burma, many communist countries in Africa and South America. But eventually the power of guns will have to be changed by the will of the ordinary people. As Dalai Lama said, “We have big war going on today between world peace and world war, between the force of mind and force of materialism, between democracy and totalitarism.” To fight these big wars the common ordinary people in this modern age need Gandhism.If we try to analyze the secrets of Gandhi’s success, we would probably find Faith and Action and Populism, the three most important aspects of his life. Gandhi’s extra ordinary communion with the masses of ordinary people was another of his secrets.
Sharma, A. (n.d). Truth and nonviolence. Retrieved from: https://www.mkgandhi.org/articles/truth_nonvio.htmNo author. (October 29th, 2009). Mahatma Gandhi civil right movement in Africa. Retrieved from: http://pigeonproject.com/2007/10/29/mahatma-gandhi-1893%E2%80%931914-civil-rights-movement-in-south-africa/No author. (n.d). Gandhi’s first act of civil disobedience. Retrieved from: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/gandhis-first-act-of-civil-disobedience