Saturday, 13 May 2017

Gandhi and his religiousness

"Of late years it has been the fashion to talk about Gandhi as though he were not only sympathetic to the Western Left-wing movement, but were integrally part of it. Anarchists and pacifists, in particular, have claimed him for their own, noticing only that he was opposed to centralism and State violence and ignoring the other-worldly, anti-humanist tendency of his doctrines.
But one should, I think, realize that Gandhi's teachings cannot be squared with the belief that Man is the measure of all things and that our job is to make life worth living on this earth, which is the only earth we have. They make sense only on the assumption that God exists ... "
Mark Johnston Perhaps some of us Western pacifists and anarchists have been influenced by Gandhi within the limited frame that our experiences allow us to understand and, whilst accepting that our understanding is limited by this, the influence has been positive. Gandhi learned from the bureaucracy and laws of the British establishment and from anarcho-pacifist critics and this knowledge along with his far more important understanding of the ordinary peoples of India helped him in the campaign for independence for India but, sadly, was not as successful in achieving swaraj. Well not yet anyway. I cannot experience life through the same spiritual lens that Gandhi did so I have to try to understand him within the context of my own beliefs, history and cultural traditions. Those of us trying to create a better future within or as an alternative to the violent and oppressive British State perhaps could be allowed to respect and try to learn from Gandhi. Claiming him as our own whilst remaining unable to comprehend the cultural and religious context of the man and his philosophy and campaigns would be wrong.
Aparna Krishnan Gandhi has lessons for everyone. That many Indian intellectualts pride themselves on deriding him is what is most unfortunate. Not learning the vast lessons that he has pointed out to, and instead choosing to nitpick on his compromises - far fewer than one's own.
Aparna Krishnan Anyway the intellectuals in my land are all coconuts - brown outside, and white inside. Quite irrelevent, but sadly powerful.
Aparna Krishnan The sad legacy of colonialism. I wonder is any colonized nation escaped this abject mental colonization of the English educated elite.
Mark Johnston Certainly my country hasn't, it hasn't even escaped from being part of the British Empire yet.
Aparna Krishnan But our current intelligensia love to deride Gandhi. Thats how far we have reached. No one denies that he made his compromises, but I am sure far less that his modern day critics have.
Mark Johnston If you value the accumulation of money and power over community and sacrifice then deriding Gandhi may seem to make sense. Perhaps they fear that the continuing influence of Gandhi risks turning a little boy into someone who will point at them in the street and tell everyone that 'The Emperor has no clothes!' causing the masses to see them as they are and laugh their power over others away. Hopefully that is not mixing stories, cultures and metaphors too much.
Aparna Krishnan Maybe you are right. Because many of these intelligensia who claim to write for the poor, I am now suspecting, are attached to name and fame. And yes, engageing with Gandhi means facing oneself very squarely, and the million concsious and subconcsious compromises. 

Aparna Krishnan Yes, Gandhiji threatens the intelligensia and their super opinion about themselves. The ordinary people have no great image of themselves to protectm and are able to face and respect Gandhi  more simply.

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