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1. A witty Mahatma had outwitted Palanpur nawab 2. Gandhi's Arrival in South Africa 3. Satyagraha in South Africa 4. Origins of Satyagraha: Term and Influences 5. Satyagraha: Definition and Method 6. Satyagraha in the Indian National Movement 7. The Legacy of Satyagraha

A witty Mahatma had outwitted Palanpur nawab


I Am Bania & You Cant Befool Me, Gandhiji Told Him

The world may remember Mahatma Gandhi as an apostle of peace and nonviolence.But,the royal family of Palanpur and their close associates remember Gandhijis witty and funny side. The late Nawab of Palanpur,Iqbal Mohammad Khans father,Nawab Talley Mohamed Khan,always accorded a warm welcome to Gandhiji and even travelled with him in the third-class compartment.Iqbal Mohammad Khan died two years ago. Narrating an anecdote,Dinesh Hathi,a 72-year-old retired banker,said that in 1931 Talley Mohammed got a telegram about Mahatmas return journey from Delhi to Sabarmati by the Delhi Mail,which was scheduled arrive at Palanpur station at around 5 p.m. As usual,the Nawab reached Maval railway station towards Abu Road that fell under the Palanpur States jurisdiction.He took goats milk and some fruits for Gandhiji, said Hathi. Coincidentally,that day was a Monday when Gandhiji observed silence and communicated only through gestures or writing on a slate. After he took the fruits and milk,the Nawab sought answers to his three questions.He asked Gandhiji how long would he stay in Sabarmati,how his health was and when would Mahatmas name and photo would appear on the currency notes, the banker said. Gandhiji replied to the questions on health and his stay in Sabarmati but did not answer the question about currency notes.When the Nawab insisted for a reply to the third question,Gandhiji quietly replied,You have given me two things,milk and fruits.How can you expect me to answer three questions I am a Bania and you cant befool me. As everyone was left in splits,the Nawab realized that the witty Mahatma had outsmarted him roundly. Gandhiji had given Talley Mohammad a new name,Khan Abrader,who was an admirer of the Mahatmas witty and amusing nature.

One of the greatest leaders that the world has ever seen, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was a political figure, a social and political reformer, a humanist, a visionary and a spiritual leader, who took the country on the road to freedom. Gandhi, popularly known as the Mahatma, not only led the freedom struggle in India but also performed a pivotal role in the struggle of the Indians for civil rights in South Africa. Victimized by incidents of racial discrimination, Gandhi embarked on a crusade against injustice in South Africa that he continued the rest of his life. The twenty long years that Gandhi lived in South Africa, had a considerable influence on the formation of his political ideologies and the philosophies of his life. It was in South Africa that Gandhi's stature gradually began to gain height. His experiences and activities in South Africa provided the necessary background for his subsequent emergence onto the Indian political scenario. His greatest achievement in South Africa was perhaps the unification of the heterogeneous Indian community that comprised of disgruntled merchants and the bonded laborers. The ideological concepts with which Gandhi revolutionized the Indian political scenario were molded to a large extent in South Africa. The celebrated notion of satyagraha emerged as a consequence of various influences that worked on him. He extensively read religious books on Hinduism, like the Bhagwat Gita, and Christianity in South Africa. The works of Henry David Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy, John Ruskin and Ralph Waldo, also had significant influences on his thoughts. The notion of non co-operation, as a civilian weapon to fight governmental tyranny was discussed by all these major writers, but it was Gandhi who gave practical shape to the concept. He was the first one to organize satyagraha struggle in South Africa. For Gandhi the doctrine of satyagraha entailed passive resistance and commitment to the forces of truth. His second weapon, non violence or ahimsa also evolved in South Africa. This cardinal principle of Gandhian philosophy was imbibed from Jainism and Vaishnavism. Gandhi showed to the world how non violence could be used as an effective political tool to fight the injustices hurled by an oppressive government. For Gandhi, ahimsa entailed self control, swaraj or self rule, and chastity. Alongside, Gandhi embraced a philosophy that disapproved of the norms of Western civilization and conceived of moral reformation of the Indians.

Gandhi's Arrival in South Africa

Upon returning from England with a degree in law, Gandhi began a legal practice in Mumbai and Rajkot, Gujarat. However, he was unsuccessful to establish a career as a lawyer in both the places. At this point, Gandhi received an offer from the firm Dada Abdulla Seth and Company, to be the legal representative of the firm in South Africa. Gandhi accepted the offer and set sail for a whole new world in April, 1893. In the month of May, 1893, Gandhi reached Durban. Accompanied by Dada Abdulla, one of the richest Indian traders in Natal, who also happened to be his employer, he went to visit the Durban Court. The European magistrate at the court instructed Gandhi to remove his turban. He not only disobeyed the commands of the magistrate but issued a protect letter to the press. This was, however, just the lull before the storm. The final provocation took place during

his journey to Pretoria from Durban shook the consciousness of the young lawyer to such an extent that he assumed a staunch position against racial prejudice. This incident played a major role in carving out the future course of Gandhi's life. Gandhi was traveling on a first class ticket, bought by his client to Pretoria. When his train drew into Petermaritzburg, a white man entered his compartment and sought the help of an officer to move Gandhi to the third class compartment. This was only because Gandhi was a 'colored' person, of Asian origin. When Gandhi refused to oblige the white man, a constable turned him out of the compartment to suffer in the bitter cold at the waiting room. Humiliated and insulted, Gandhi reflected on his next action. It was at this moment that a steadfast determination took hold of him. He resolved that under no circumstances would he allow racial discriminations to get an upper hand. The larger cause of human respect and the honor of the Indian community became critical to him. After few weeks in Pretoria, Gandhi called a meeting and addressed the Indian community, where he upheld before them the dismal conditions under which they lived. To represent Indian interests, Gandhi and other Indians, decided to form a permanent body. This organization was named the Natal Indian Congress and Gandhi assumed its leadership. At the same time Gandhi worked assiduously for the lawsuit that brought him to South Africa. As Gandhi was preparing to return to India, after the completion of his lawsuit, the news of a proposed bill, to be introduced by the Natal Government, reached him. This bill would lead to disenfranchising of the Indians in South Africa. Pleaded by his fellow Indians, Gandhi remained back and took up the issue. Although the bill was passed inspite of Gandhi's attempts, his crusade continued for twenty long years. As part of his struggle, he drafted memorandums, distributed petitions and wrote to the newspapers. His activities in South Africa enabled him to gain an image as the patron of Indian civil rights and an important political leader. In the year 1896, Gandhi returned to India for a period of six months. During this period, he sought to present before the Indians, the pitiful situation of their fellow men in South Africa. However, Gandhi's activities were blown out of proportion by the press in South Africa. When he landed in South Africa, an agitated mob comprising of the whites, attacked him. As the news of this attack, spread rapidly, Joseph Chamberlain, enjoined the prosecution of the assailants. During his second phase of stay in South Africa, Gandhi adopted a simple mode of living, renouncing the lavish standards of living. When the Boer War broke out, Gandhi requested the Indian community, to extend their support to the British. In 1901, Gandhi returned to India but he had to return to appear before Joseph Chamberlain, to plead the Indian case. However, he failed to win over the understanding of Joseph Chamberlain. It was also at this time that Gandhi resolved to lead a celibate life and took to reading Ruskin.

Satyagraha in South Africa

The first satyagraha struggle that Gandhi launched in South Africa was against the background of the passage of Asiatic Registration Act by the government of Transvaal in 1907. Realizing that his techniques of prayers and petitions had

been rendered ineffectual, the tactic of passive resistance emerged as the new method of opposing. He urged the Indian community to disobey the Act and resort to picketing of the major offices like the permit offices. In 1908, in the month of January, Gandhi and other satyagrahis were jailed. Following this a movement commenced where the satyagrahis began to burn the certificates in a bonfire. In the month of September, Gandhi was arrested for the second time, this time sentenced for two months. The following year, saw Gandhi once again behind the bars for three months. It is pertinent to mention here that Gandhi founded a small colony by the name Tolstoy Farm, where his fellow satyagrahis could lead a bare existence. The Indian women joined the satyagraha struggle, with the pronouncement of the Supreme Court judgment that annulled all Muslim, Hindu and Zoroastrian marriages. As the women satyagrahis were arrested following their march to Newcastle, several Indian miners, under the guidance of Gandhi, decided to cross over Transvaal border, resorting to non violence means. Even Gandhi's wife Kasturba Gandhi was included among the imprisoned women satyagrahis. In the year 1913, in the month of November, fifty seven children, one hundred and twenty seven women and two thousand and thirty seven men resumed the march. Following the 'blood and iron' policy adopted by government of South Africa, two Christian men Pearson and C.F Andrews were sent to aid Gandhi. This initiative was taken by Gopal Krishna Gokhale, one of the most prominent Indian politicians. The Viceroy of India, Lord Harginge, criticized the policies of the South African government. Pressurized by London, negotiations commenced between South African Government and Gandhi. In an agreement that was finally arrived upon, certain concessions were made. The 13 taxes imposed on the previously indentured laborers were abolished, marriages performed according to Indian customs received legal acceptance and a domicile certificate, with the thumb impression of the holder, was adequate to permit entrance into South Africa. With a trail of significant achievements behind him, Gandhi finally returned to India in the year 1915, and within a brief span of time became the leader of the Indian Nationalism. With satyagraha, Mahatma Gandhi ushered in a new era of civilian resistance on the political scenario of the world. The word was coined to aptly define the mode of non-violent resistance that the Indians at South Africa were building against the oppressive British colonialists. The word has been variedly interpreted, but literally it is a combination of two words, signifying truth and force. By connotation, it means an unshaken faith in truth, unwavering even in the face of adversity. Satyagraha for Gandhi was the only legitimate way to earn one's political rights, as it was based on the ideals of truth and non-violence. Satyagraha was the key aspect of all revolutions of the Indian National Movement in the Gandhian era of Indian history for more twenty long years, and its legacy was carried on long after him as Martin Luther King used it in his battle against racism. Satyagraha has not been free of criticism, but its

methodologies have gained wide acceptance around the world as a more potent tool of resistance than armed violence.

Origins of Satyagraha: Term and Influences

Gandhi was in need of a term to connote the revolution against the British imperialists that he organized in South Africa. 'Passive resistance', his first perfunctory choice, was not only a foreign term that Gandhi had strong reservations about, but the connotations of the term was also inadequate to highlight the aspect of truth and moral courage that Gandhi associated with nonviolent political resistance. Moreover, it put political ends at the forefront, dissociated from deeper ideological values. Gandhi needed an Indian name that could encompass all these aspects of the revolution within it. A competition was thrown open in the local newspaper, 'Indian Opinion', and 'sadagraha' was elected as the best entry. Gandhi took the term, but changed it to 'satyagraha' highlighting the aspect of 'truth' in it. 'Satyagraha' was based on the principles of non-violence, which was the founding principle of Gandhi's political ideology, that was based on as much as theological tenets of Jainism, Buddhism, Upanishads and the Bhagwatgita, as on the political theories of Tolstoy, Ruskin and Thureau.

Satyagraha: Definition and Method

Satyagraha is fundamentally a way of life, which guides the modes of political activism undertaken by the followers of its principle (or satyagrahis). On a personal front it involves a life committed to truth, chastity, non-attachment and hard-work. On the political front, satyagraha involves utilisation of non-violent measures to curb the opponent, and ideally to convert him rather than to coerce him into submission. A satyagrahi wants to make the evil-doers see the evil that they are indulging into, and realize their injustice. In an ideal way, it involves transforming them into acceptance of the right, and if that fails to come around, then at least to stop them from obstructing the right. Picketing, noncooperation, peaceful marches and meetings, along with a peaceful disobedience of the laws of the land were typical modes of resistance adopted by satyagraha. Reverence to the opposition was one of the unique features of the satyagraha preached by Gandhi. Under no circumstance, should the opposition or the flag of the opposition be insulted in a Satyagraha movement. Resistance on the part of the authorities would be expected, but a true Satyagrahi had to bear all hardships, including physical assault with patience, not ever stooping to anger, and to defend the faith even at the cost of life. Gandhi believed that the Satyagrahis had to be extremely strong in inner strength and moral courage in order to do that, and also realized that could not be achieved unless the Satyagrahis maintained a pure and simple life. He made his own life a veritable example of his teachings, and also turned his ashram at Sabarmati as a haven for individuals who chose to maintain a life based on his teachings. Non-violence of all forms were to be resisted and refrained from. Abuses and swearing were strictly prohibited and all forms of abstinence from sensual pleasures were highly advocated. Hard labor was an integral part of Satyagraha. Every one was meant to work for his or her food and the clothes. Khadi developed as the very mark of nationalism, and simple life became the order of the day. Absolute secularism

and eradication of every shade of untouchability were also distinct characteristics of satyagraha. It was only in such a way, Gandhi believed, that the Indians would be strong enough to tread the paths of a truly non-violent revolution.

Satyagraha in the Indian National Movement

Gandhi achieved success in the revolutions he led in South Africa by following the path of Satyagraha. He had an innate belief that it would succeed in India too. In fact, Gandhi had an innate belief that it would be the only effective way to fight the powerful British, because two centuries of colonial rule has financially and morally emasculated India to such a degree, that any other form of resistance was bound to fail. Gandhi's satyagraha methods had few takers in his early years at the Indian National Congress. However, under the able guidance of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Gandhi's method gradually gained acceptance. Gandhi shot into political prominence by successfully employing methods of Satyagraha at the indigo planters revolution at Champaran in Bihar. The same method was repeated with similar results at Kheda in Gujarat against the raised taxes from the British authorities. Satyagraha became the foundation of the noncooperation movement of 1920, following the infamous Rowlatt Act. Noncooperation movement ended unceremoniously with the Chauri Chaura incident. However, it was during the Civil Disobedience movement that Gandhi reinroduced satyagraha in a big way. His peaceful denial of government rules started with the celebrated Dandi march and the making of salt on 12th March 1930, defying the British Salt Law that prohibited the making of salt without government permission. Although ridiculed in the early years by a majority of the Western and particularly British press, the true power of satyagraha was soon realised by the British government, as all government endeavors and enterprises were in doldrums following mass boycott from Indians. Gandhis's satyagraha reached the pinnacle of success, and Indian Nationalist movement reached a feverish pitch, forcing the government to initiate procedures towards the Gandhi-Irwin pact, followed by the second round table conference, where Gandhi gave one of his greatest speeches exposing the evils of the British rule and endorsing the methods of satyagraha. Satyagraha by that time has gained wide popularity, and there were committed satyagrahis all over the country. Quit India Movement reclaimed the ideals of satyagraha, which finally went a long in securing Indian independence.

The Legacy of Satyagraha

Gandhi had to pay for his ideals with his life, but he never veered from his innate faith in non-violence and his belief in the methods of satyagraha. The significance of satyagraha was soon accepted worldwide. Martin Luther King adopted the methods of satyagraha in his fight against the racial discrimination of the American authorities in 1950. Satyagraha is more than a political tool of resistance. It is a holistic approach towards life, based on the ideals of truth and moral courage. The similarity of

the satyagraha to some of the greatest philosophical and religious tenets of the world have been observed and much written about. However, in the specific context of India, Satyagraha was an immense influence. It went a long way in instilling among the Indians a dignity for hard labor and mutual respect. In the traditional Indian society torn apart by caste and creed based discriminations, satyagraha stated that no work was lowly. It championed secularism and went a long way in eradicating untouchability from the heart of India's typically stratified society. Satyagraha glorified the role of women as an important member of the society. All in all, satyagraha instilled in the Indian mind a dignity and a self respect that is yet unprecedented in its modern history.