The author is a famous Gandhist thinker, philosopher and author. He was very close to JP and Vinoba and is thought of as the propounder of the Total Revolution concept
AN epochal man knows the direction of an era and also how to merge it with the present. Two great men of the 19th Century made this happen in an extraordinary fashion. Karl Marx was a German who hogged the limelight when he identified the exploitation of labour class by the Capitalists by studying the history of civilization for nearly 10 years at London’s British Museum. There can no better example than Marx of self study leading to social philosophy.
The second example is of Gandhi who practised a new vision of life and social philosophy through meditation and changed the overall perspective of revolution. There is a similarity between the philosophies of the two. Marx understood the exploitation and violence on workers and Gandhi understood the discrimination and violence based on racism.
As per Marx, all the civilizations had their roots in violence. Before Marx, no other thinker has identified this truth. Although Gandhi’s period comes 24 years after the Karl Marx theory, when Gandhi was confronted with the theory of Karl Marx and was asked by journalists whether he agrees with it, he said that he will fully subscribe to it if the ‘Indian civilization’ is added to it.
We are always proud of our civilization being spiritual, but never thought that violence could be lurking somewhere under our spiritualism. Nobody thought of this before Gandhi. This was revealed to us by none other than Gandhi himself. If we combine Marx’s exploitation and Gandhi’s racial discrimination, then we will be able to clearly see the roots of developed civilizations till date.
When Vinoba started his Bhoodan Yagya Movement, he was actually searching for an ownership which was free of exploitation. Will we consider this discovery as that of Marx’s exploitation-free society or Gandhi’s exercise for a non-violence culture? In reality, Vinoba did the task of bringing two great minds together. Vinoba spread the message of co-ordination in his 13 years of journey on foot to the villages during which he gathered lot of support. This was the material lesson of human life which Gandhi had started and was continued by Vinoba. Jai Prakash’s total revolution was perhaps not the last letter of this lesson and we will probably never find that last letter. Because man will keep on growing, the forms of civilizations will keep on changing and level of coordination will keep on manifesting in newer forms.
An important thing which did not click Marx’s mind was that a citizen will be independent only if he attains freedom from the state, but he was unable to find a solution to the question that how will a person’s life be free from violence? This was done by Gandhi. This was also done by Buddha. Buddha accomplished his goals by his spiritualism and meditation.
We cannot expect every citizen to be a master of meditation who will attain all values of life through his meditation. Gandhi accomplished this task - by spreading a culture of peace. In fact, he trusted modern teachings for the purification of the mind rather than depending upon meditation. Vinoba too evolved himself through a combination of intensive study and meditation. This process had a touch of politics but was devoid of any struggle for power. It had spirituality but without practices used in the name of spiritualism. We have all the three samples of life before us: Gandhi’s Satyagraha, Vinoba’s Public Service and Jai Prakash’s Advanced Citizenship. In today’s scenario, the citizens of India individually and as a society should decide as to which of the examples quoted above is beneficial to him as well as will be followed by him.
It has been proven that the current day politics has no room for advanced citizenship. Similarly, the religion of the priest is also devoid of high values of life. There is no planning for new life in the prevailing system of education. In view of the prevailing circumstances, the need of the hour is a new culture which will enable us to live a life where there is no violence, where a person is able to earn his living without any exploitation and violence, and our relations with our neighbours are free from violence.
We live in a traditional society. The second phase of change is democracy and the third phase is that of an ethical society about which Gandhi wrote extensively in his book ‘Hind Swaraj’. The basic challenge being faced by us today is that how can the traditional society be transformed into a democratic one. We were ruled by the British which has now ended but we have attained freedom, and independence only in the sense that British have departed from India. The assassination of Gandhi at the hands of a Hindu had made it clear that Hindus and Muslims cannot stay together. Does Swaraj also imply the same thing that people belonging to different races, castes, religions and cultures cannot stay amicably together as neighbours? If we don’t want to say this, then we will have to assume that there is no place for diversity in a democratic society and it should be the endeavour of the society as well as the Govt to minimize the dissimilarities as well as to nullify them at a particular point. Buddha laid down the principle of having meetings, dialogues and conversations till there is a meeting of minds between them.
Today’s democracy patronises opposition. Why will there be an opposition if everything is done on the basis of consensus and mutual agreement? We feel that opposition is a vital aspect of democracy since many decisions are required to be taken. Minority opposition always opposes the government. All these tasks may be accomplished on the platform of advanced citizenship. To tide over the critical situations, it is not enough to just form a political party and convene an all-party meeting to prevent racist politics from taking over a racist country like India. This is why we need a culture of peace. The culture of peace never puts before us any demands which cannot be fulfilled by means of education or educating people. Developed and enlightened citizenship will make democracy thrive where there would be no need for intervention of the police or the judiciary.
In the Congress plenary session in 1934, Gandhi proposed an amendment in the constitution of the party. It was clearly written in Congress’s basic objectives that freedom would be obtained only through peaceful and valid means. Gandhi wanted to replace ‘Peaceful & Valid’ with ‘Truthful & Non-violence’. His proposal was rejected by the Congress General Body which made Gandhi disassociate himself from the Congress.
This example was necessary to show the differences between the Congress and Gandhi on the issues of Satyagraha. Nehruji used to spin the wheel and cut the yarn but he never considered Khadi (handloom) more than an attire for gaining independence. But for Gandhi, Khadi was a weapon as well as the means for serving the downtrodden, thus helping in the creation of a new society. The allegiance towards Khadi by Gandhi as well as that of other workers of Congress and the principles of truth and non-violence were also of prime importance to Gandhi. To some, it was a weapon for resistance, so we see Satyagraha in a different perspective altogether. People who advocate that we are free now and there is no need to lay emphasis on truth and non-violence as well as proclaim why to make khadi mandatory in building the society, are only propagating their views and not those of Gandhi.