English Essay on “Gandhism — the philosophy of non-violence” for School, College Students, Long and Short English Essay, Speech for Class 8, 9, 10, 12 and Competitive Exams.

Gandhism — the philosophy of non-violence


Mahatma Gandhi like Swami Vivekanand was deeply influenced by the ‘Advaita’ Philosophy of the Vedanta School of India thought and to the end of his life he was convinced that his alone could be the future religion of all thinking humanity. He felt that the ‘Vedanta’ was not only spiritual but rational, and in harmony with scientific investigations, of external nature. This Universe has not been created by any extra cosmic God. No is it the work of any outside genius. It is self-creating, self-dissolving, self-manifesting, one Infinite Existence – the “Brahman”. The Vedanta ideal, as Gandhiji interpreted it many a time ‘was of the solidarity of man and his in-born divine nature, to see God in man is the real God vision, man is a manifestation of the highest and sublimed phases of God’s work’.

Hindu sages of the past were famous for expounding philosophic doctrines, and in this respect they are in no way behind their Greek counterparts. The various schools of Hindu Philosophical Thought has made a deep impact on the mind of man in various ages. The ‘Bhagwat Gita and the `Upanishads’-the most popular theories of ancient Hindu thought – had an inspiring effect on some of the greatest western minds as well.

There is, in the ‘Upanishads’ a continual emphasis on the discipline of both body and mind, before effective progress can be made. The acquisition of knowledge, or any achievement, requires restraint, self-suffering, self-torture and self-sacrifice. This idea of some kind of penance—’Tapasya’ is inherent in Indian thought both among the thinkers at the top and the unread masses below. It is present today as it was present some thousands of years ago, and it is necessary to appreciate it in order to understand the psychology, underlying the mass movements which have convulsed India under Gandhiji’s leadership.

One of the aspects of our ancient thought was individual-ism, which led the ancient Indian philosophers to attach little importance to the social aspects of man—of man’s duty to society. Throughout our history it was a weakening factor. The appeal was made, always to the few selected ancient authorities, but little attempt was made to interpret their truths in terms of changing conditions. The creative spiritual force declined, and only the shell of what used to be so full of life and meaning remained.

Gandhiji was never an individualist. He was for the masses, in the first place. Writes Nehru. “And then came Gandhi. He was like a powerful current of fresh air that made us stretch ourselves and take deep breaths, like a beam of light that pierced the darkness and removed the scales from our eyes, like a whirlwind that upsets many things, but most of all the working of people’s mind. He did not descend from the top, he seemed to emerge from millions of India, speaking their language and incessantly drawing attention to them and their peasants and workers’ he told us, all you who live by their exploitation; get rid of the system that produces this poverty and misery.”

Gandhiji, more a man of the people, almost the embodiment of the Indian peasant, represented other basic aspects of ancient Hindu tradition as well renunciation and asceticism.

One of the baneful effects of mass mobilization of Indian people for a long political struggle (under the inspiring leader-ship of Mahatma Gandhi) against alien rule is the way of politics in all spheres. Politics, of course, is an important human concern, but its domination at every time corrodes other higher pursuits. Especially when political practice is negative and unprincipled imitation of political thought is inevitable. Truth is, we have none of the true philosopher’s exploration of nature, man, society, morality and so on, which are integrated into a coherent world view to serve either as a code of rational political behaviour or as a framework for practical, moral and political thinking.

“No doubt, Gandhism is usually regarded as a political philosophy; but students of that discipline agree that Gandhiji was strictly, neither a philosopher nor a mere politician. How-ever, the moral imperatives and techniques he introduced into political thought and action, do have religious philosophical implications. But they make insufficient grist to the exacting mill of philosophy”.

The most potential of criticisms on Gandhian philosophy is that ‘Gandhism’ is more venerated on formal occasions than lived, tested and developed in real life. Some of the modern political thinkers and western statesmen opine that Gandhism, as a branch of political philosophy, is more a theory than a concrete practical approach to the basic problems of the day. However, this criticism of Gandhiji’s practical philosophy, is itself more a theoretical assumption than a reality.

In the first place, Mahatmaji laid maximum emphasis on the cult of non-violence in the field of politics. “Ahimsa”, said he, “is the crux of all noble attitudes of man towards himself, towards his fellow human beings, towards life and its manifold problems and finally, towards God-his Master”. He held that “end cannot justify the means and that everything in politics must be fair and honest, based upon the noble principles of non-violence and non-injury.” He said in 1927, “If India has patience enough to go through the fire of suffering and to resist any unlawful encroachment upon its own civilization, which imperfect though it undoubtedly is, has withstood the ravages of time, she can make a lasting contribution to the peace and solid progress of the world. If we were to be saved and are to make a substantial contribution to the world’s progress, ours must emphatically and predominantly, be the way of non-violence”.

A political system, according to Gandhiji, which has no foundation of peace or non-violence, is the negative proposition of its significance. An ideal statesman’s highest quality, according to him, should be non-violent and peace-loving nature.

Gandhiji did not like the western system of polity ; he was bitterly against the mechanical outlook of the western political thinkers. He maintained that India should not imitate western political institutions with all their gigantic horrors of urban living, with their cut-throat competitive skirmishes and the uprooting of people from organic connection with their environment.

To him, the western democracy was nothing but “democratic oligarchy”. Modern western industrialism, according to Gandhiji, creates insatiable hunger for material goods; voluntary limitation of wants and self-sufficiency of villages are essential for preservation of democracy. As a matter of fact, modern western democracy “is based on a negation of the social nature of man and the true nature of human society. “Democratic institutions” according to his viewpoint, “should express and represent the living together, of people rather than the abstracted individual, the problem of civilization is to recreate the community.”

Mahatma Gandhi looked upon the western democratic sys-tem as a huge fraud. “It has no ethical approach to man’s spiritual advancement. It relies too much on the numerical strength of votes and voters.” The spirit of democracy, the true democratic ideal, according to him, are wholly absent in the western system. A democratic institution with four or five members, sincerely and selflessly representing the community as a whole, he opined, is much more democratic than the one consisting of millions of members having no genuineness of representative outlook.

“All exploitation whether through wealth or power”, according to Mahatma Gandhi “, is violence, and wherever there is violence, untruth is bound to creep in.” Through recognizing the need for the satisfaction of material wants he embodied in his immortal saying, “I can carry God the poor except in the form of a vowel”. His concept of India’s social and economic regeneration was based upon three fundamental factors—individual freedom, non-violence and truth. He was opposed to the abnormally increasing material wants. There must be a limit to our material wants, says he and “when this limit is crossed the result is the inner barrenness and moral sterility —Man then becomes part of a machine.”

Gandhism is not merely a political or economic theory, it aims at not only the political and economic emancipation of man, but also his social and moral rehabilitation and cultural renaissance. It is an all-pervading philosophy of life that the Father of the Nation prescribed for the malady that is eating up the vitals of our nation. To the extent we in India in particular strive to be loyal to his teachings and ideals we would prove ourselves true to him and worthy of his rich legacy.

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