Gandhi: National Liberator, Social Emancipator and Nonviolent Revolutionary A Peep into History

To adequately appreciate Gandhi's incredible achievement as a non violent revolutionary, the global and national scenario in which he struggled needs to be recalled, This is best done in the words of Gene Sharpe, who in his book "The Politics of Non Violent Action" writes "Gandhi was the contemporary of Tsar Nicholas, Lenin and Stalin, Kaiser Wilhelm and Adolph Hitler, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt, of the last Emperor of China, Sun Vat Sen, Chiang Kai Sheik and Mao Tse Tung. He bridged the span between the time when wars were fought by armies with rifles to the time when they were fought with atom bombs ... Racism ran rampant, women, untouchables and many others were denied dignity and opportunities. These were among the social and political evils for which Gandhi sought solutions".'

In India, nationalists exulted over Japan's defeat of Russia in 1905 and throbbed with strong revolutionary fervour. Their father figure was Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, the Bengali novelist, whose popular novel Anandamath' was the handbook of secret societies and its hero Satyanand, the model for "revolutionaries." It contained the rousing hymn Bande Mataram, dedicated to Mother India. The 1904 British decision to divide Bengal on Hindu-Muslim lines had outraged Indian nationalists.

In India, nationalists exulted over Japan's defeat of Russia in 1905 and throbbed with strong revolutionary fervour. Their father figure was Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, the Bengali novelist, whose popular novel Anandamath' was the handbook of secret societies and its hero Satyanand, the model for "revolutionaries." It contained the rousing hymn Bande Mataram, dedicated to Mother India. The 1904 British decision to divide Bengal on Hindu-Muslim lines had outraged Indian nationalists. Cambridge educated Aurobindo Ghosh, selected for the coveted Indian Civil Service, gave it up to join the radical nationalists and wrote Thabhani Mandir It was a stirring call to India's youth to sacrifice themselves, in Goddess Kali's name, for Mother India's unity and dignity. Rartaman Rananiti', (`Modem Art of War') published in 1907 propagated Bakunin's idea that in creating an equitable society destruction was inescapable. Several British officials were assassinated, in India and England, between 1905 and 1915. Viceroy Lord Hardinge, attacked while on a ceremonial procession in Delhi in December 1912, narrowly escaped assassination.

At the 1919 Amritsar Congress when Gandhi spoke about Truth and Nonviolence, senior nationalist Bal Gangadhar Tilak brusquely retorted "My friend, Truth has no place in politics". Two decades later, another important leader, Subhas Chandra Bose, Congress President in 1938, openly disagreed with Gandhi's non-violent strategy, and secretly left India for Germany and Japan. With the latter's collaboration he set up the 'Indian National Army' with British Indian troops captured by the Japanese in South East Asia, and marched in their train towards India. His battle cry was "Give me blood and I promise you freedom".

Gandhi succeeded in getting the Indian National Congress, and the Indian people, to adopt his non-violent strategy for national liberation only because of his total identification with the poverty stricken Indian people, his high moral stature, innovative communication, management and strategizing skills and the impressive results his non violent strategy produced 1920 onwards.

Gandhi evolved his Satyagraha'(firmly adhering to Truth) strategy in South Africa and formally launched it soon after the historic meeting in Empire Theatre, Johannesberg, on September 11, 1906. It is rooted in the firm belief that humans, having been created "in the image of God" and imbued with the "Divine Spark" have to be led by Truth and love, not by fear and hate. One has to live, and if necessary to die, for Truth, but never to hurt anyone. In his words "Satyagraha connotes the living Law of Life. The law will work, just as the law of gravitation will work, whether we accept it or not. And just as a scientist will work wonders out of various applications of the laws of nature, even so a man who applies the law of love with scientific precision can work even greater wonders". For him, "A nonviolent revolution is not a programme for seizure of power. It is a programme for transformation of relationships ending in a peaceful transfer of power."

Gandhism is a body of ideas that describes the inspiration, vision and the life work of Mohandas Gandhi. It is particularly associated with his contributions to the idea of nonviolent resistance, sometimes also called civil resistance. The two pillars of Gandhism are truth and non-violence.