Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sources of Mahatma Gandhi's Political and Social Thinking

Following are the major political thoughts of Gandhi and their sources 

1) Ahimsha – This was an article of faith for Gandhi. His idea of Ahimsa encompassed not only non violence in physical actions but also in thoughts, speech etc. He suggested incorporating this concept not only in political sphere but also in social, economic and other spheres. Gandhi’s idea of Ahimsa was inspired by his understanding of religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Islam etc 

2) Swarajya – For Gandhi, Swarajya was important at the level of an individual. He believed that if man develops soul force and has control over his actions, there is no need of any external authority like the state for him. This influence on Gandhi is from Leo Tolstoy’s book “Kingdom of God within you”. In his book Hind Swarajya, Gandhi mentions that Swarajya is not simply liberation from foreign rule but ensuring a life of dignity and equality of opportunity for all individuals which is possible in Ram Rajya. Gandhian idea of Swarajya is influenced by Upanishads, Ramcharitmanas and also by ideas of Aurobindo Ghosh.

3) Satyagraha – Satyagraha for Gandhi meant a fight for truth. Since the fight is for truth the methodology employed must also be noble. Gandhi believed that Satyagraha is a long drawn out process, inspired by the ideals of Swami Vivekananda who exhorted individuals to rise up, awake and not stop until the goal is achieved. The tools of Gandhian Satyagraha was Non Cooperation, Civil Disobedience which was inspired by HD Thoreau’s idea of “right of individuals to resist if the state does wrong”

4) Views on state – Gandhi was an anarchist believing that state is unnecessary evil, incompatible with the idea of non violence. Even medium state according to him needed some sort of coercion and policing. State according to him is incompatible with the idea of Swarajya 5) Sarvodaya – This is Gandhian alternative to Marxist Socialism. Gandhi believed in the idea of class cooperation in place of class conflict. He gave the concept of Bread LAbour and Trusteeship theory to ensure that fruits of development are well dispersed. Gandhian idea of Sarvodaya is inspired by John Ruskin’s book “Unto this Last” Gandhian political philosophies had a profound influence on India’s freedom struggle and led to its independence in what Bipan Chandra calls the “largest, greatest, one of a kind, non violent freedom struggle”

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