Saturday, October 4, 2008

My experience with the Mahatma's truth...

An autobiogaphy is a special part of an author's life and the reader has a unique oppurtunityto catch some special glimpses and unique experiences of his life. It was with the same zeal that I read Mahatma Gandhi's 'My Experiments With Truth'. However ,many a times it was difficult for me to agree with his views and sometimes even to digest them.

To start off with his principle of Vegetarianism.I believe that vegetarianism is only a way of life. A man's deeds does not change with his diet.If it does then it certainly shows his weak character. Gandhiji speaks about vegetarianism throughout the book and many a times even when the situation does not call for it. By speaking such a language does he mean to discredit the life of people having a non vegetarian diet ? I certainly hope not. Only he can answer.

The Mahatma's 'gift' to the world is the principle of nonviolence. Barack Obama says he has very high regard for Mahatma Gandhi and that he would follow the Mahatma's principles. However neither he has ever criticized the Iraq warnor does he speak of 'not invading Iran'. It is this same hypocrisy which I fear I see in Gandhi. The Indian army should have never been allowed to fight for the British Army during World War II. Gandhiji with his principles of nonviolence never seems to have strongly voiced a strong opinion against this proxy war which India was forced to fight. Where did he hide his principle of nonviolence at this juncture ?

Gandhiji never disapproved the death sentence awarded to Bhagat Singh and his men. He could
have very easily appealed to the House of Commons that the death sentence be reconsidered. But he never did. Such was his sympathy and compassion towards a fellow freedom fighter. His opinion was that Bhagat Singh's death would send a strong message to all those who followed
violent methods to achieve freedom. So much for Nonviolence !

Disappointments apart , I appreciate his support for the abolition of child marriage. Although he married at an early age he understood that child birth takes a heavy toll on the mother's body and hence delayed imposing this pressure on his teenage wife.

More than Gandhiji's principles, it his his attire which I believe struck a chord with the masses. I would also call Gandhiji a very shrewd leader. With a simple white dhoti,a shawl and a bare chest , he knew hecould win over the masses . He knew that the people would support a leader, with whom they could identify themselves.The Indian Freedom Movement desperately needed a leader would could unify the masses.

I would call my feelings after reading his book as some sort of a bitter sweet symphony.It taught me a lot about leading a simple life. It also taught me that a good leader is one who strikes a special chord with his followers.It has also taught me that its not enough to read about someone else's experiments with truth , even if that 'someone' happens to be 'the Mahatma'...
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