Monday, 22 April 2013

The Beginning

2nd October 1969, was a very important day for all Indians, as the nation was celebrating the birth centenary of Mahatma Gandhi. I was a boy of eleven years. My school had organised several competitions, such as elocution, essay writing, photo-show on the life and deed of the Mahatma. I remember, I won the first prize in elocution competition and a biography of the Mahatma was awarded to me as prize. The book created an indelible impression on my mind. Particularly, Gandhiji's application of Ahimsa (non-violence) as the tool against the mighty British empire impressed me significantly. If some one slaps you on one cheek, show him the other cheek was Gandhiji's magic formula. As a child unconsciously the Gandhian concept of non-violence became a part of my core personality. My grandmother was illiterate. She had no scope to read any literature on Gandhian philosophy. But in a very strange coincidence, her world- view was remarkably Gandhian. She was my mentor and guide during my growing up stage in life -- childhood and adolescence. But, unfortunately when I look back in life, I feel Gandhi and grandmother made me unfit in the game of survival. I am certainly not contemporary or the Darwinian fittest to rise higher in evolutionary ladder. Yes, a lot of impractical, obsolete, ideas of existence have crowded my mind. Every new day appears like a burden of existence. Still I cannot come out of the shadows of Gandhi and grandmother. Added to this, love for books have aggravated my existential dilemma. This does not make a difference to the world. But I believe that there may be many people in this world who have been misguided by these value systems and suffering from value-laden guilt. We are living in a violent and cruel world. Some nations are more violent than others. India is more violent than many other developed countries of the world. India was historically not a nation in the true sense of the term. It was a land mass ruled by several Kings, Sultans, Nawabs, Badshahs, and Zamindars. It was extremely diverse culturally, linguistically and racially. The only thread that integrated this vast diversity,probably, was the commonality of their religious practices. It is definitely a matter of pride that from such diverse pluralities India has emerged as a nation. Thanks to the unification made by more than two hundred years of British rule. But historically the common man has lived a life of misery and cruel injustice has been handed down to the followers of non-violence. They have always been treated as weak and therefore the target of inhuman exploitation. I do not know whether Gandhiji, Lord Buddha and other votaries of non-violence had ever contemplated on this aspect of society before preaching their philosophy of non-violence, truth and love.In the present day perspective they have done more damage to their followers and disciples than any good. ( to be continued)