By Prof. A.V. Narasimha Murthy, former Head, Department of Ancient History & Archaeology, University of Mysore
India became independent on 15th August 1947 and consequently the British rule came to an end. Gandhiji, Nehru and many other leaders played a very important role in sending the British out of India. As all of us know Gandhiji’s part was very important. Most people of this generation had no opportunity of seeing Gandhiji as he had been assassinated. It is reported at that time Gandhiji had said Hey Ram. There was no television then and hence we were glued to Murphy Radio.
Gandhiji had always dreamt of Ramrajya which meant that any unmarried girl or married couple could walk during midnight without being molested or troubled by the bad people. The word Satyagraha adopted by Gandhiji has an origin and evolution. It was first named as Sadagraha and subsequently it was named Satyagraha as we see today. Gandhiji said Satyagraha should not be resorted to personal ends but used against atrocities committed against the oppressed people. Even when the British left India in 1947, Gandhiji said that Britishers were not our enemies now and will not be our enemies in future also. We should love the Britishers and give them a warm send off when they leave this country.
Once Gandhiji said, ‘I have no enemies and all are my friends’. We may differ on many issues theoretically but we are friends and will remain so for ever. Thus love and affection were the watch words of Gandhiji.
Satya: To him, truth was everything in life of all people and all over the world. Americans, Britishers, Germans, Burmese etc., are the votaries of truth. That is the reason why he named his autobiography as Stories of Experiments with Truth. And this has been translated into many languages.
Gandhiji was influenced by the Bible, the Quran and the Upanishads because all these holy texts speak only a language consisting of love, affection, fraternity and social justice. Thus Gandhiji wanted everyone to have international outlook. Indian Constitution speaks of all these values in glorious terms. While doing Satyagraha it may be opposed by the masses but one should continue to do with the hope that one day in future people will be convinced of the good purpose of Satyagraha and will accept it as a normal practice. Further, there should be no secrecy in all these works but it should be like an open book. Then people will not get any doubt and accept it happily.
When Gandhiji returned to India from South Africa, he resorted to Satyagraha against the atrocities committed against the farmers, workers of all sorts including factories at Champaranya, Kheda and Ahmedabad. Thus he experimented with Satyagraha and subsequently jumped into international-level.
Gandhiji’s most important aim was to send the British back to their country and allow us to live in independence. This agitation was held for about 27years from 1920 to 1947. This important agitation became a Satyagraha of all people immaterial of their caste, creed, richness or poverty as long as they wanted to be in peace and be independent from the foreign rule.
To achieve this goal, Gandhiji resorted to various Satyagrahas such as Non-Co-operation Movement (1920), Salt Satyagraha (1930), individual Satyagraha (1940) and Chale Jav (British go back) Satyagraha (1942). These are some of the important Satyagrahas in which he took part. He had trained the volunteers in such a way as not to create fear among the people but they should be made to voluntarily participate in these movements. Gandhiji used to cite examples from ordinary homes. If the mother does not allow you to eat sweets and more sweets, it does not mean that she does not love her children. But she cares more for the health of her children and the children do not become angry against their mother because she is taking care of their health than any professional doctor. The children automatically realise the importance of their health and thank their mother. That is the reason why mother is given the first place while father comes next and teachers as well as guests later.
In one of his speeches Gandhiji has quoted the famous dictum ‘Mother is a Goddess, father is a God, teacher is a God and guests are Gods on earth in contemporary life’. After all these Gods and Goddesses are gone, they still bless their children from wherever they are.
These teachings became a lesson for everybody to achieve independence. In fact the greatness of Gandhiji’s Satyagraha influenced many world leaders such as Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Angasan Suki of Mayanmar (Burma). In fact some of the successors of these votaries of truth have realised the importance of Satyagraha as practiced by Gandhiji and now it has become a worldwide phenomenon. In fact the famous scientist Einstein has remarked ‘That future generation would not believe that such a man as Gandhiji walked on the roads of many countries silently spreading the messages of love, affection and Satyagraha’.
Unfortunately, a class of people were called untouchables. But Gandhiji thought this is not the correct name and coined the word Harijans which meant they are God’s children. Even today this word is being used and it will continue in future also. In fact Gandhiji started a weekly newspaper called Harijan in 1933 and thus he gave a higher status to this class of people. Of course, there was opposition from upper class of people. But slowly they adjusted to this name Harijan. This is one of the most important contributions of Gandhiji and many Sociologists consider this as a more important contribution than political independence.
Gandhiji resigned from the membership of the Congress party and devoted his time and energy for the development of villages. He always believed that unless the social conditions of the villages were improved, no improvement can take place in cities. He wanted a calm and peaceful place to concentrate on his work and chose the Sevarama near Wardha.
In 1939 Gandhiji waited to help the Britishers if they assured that independence would be given to India. But no such assurance came from the British Government. Then Gandhiji resorted to Satyagraha by himself. Tragedies struck Gandhiji one by one. Mahadeva Desai and Kasturba were arrested along with Gandhiji and they were kept in the prision in Poona. Desai and Kasturba died in the prison itself.
Ultimately the Britishers left the country but before doing so they partitioned India as Hindustan and Pakistan. This partition is still continuing today and Pakistan has been giving pin pricks now and then.
When Gandhiji was assassinated, the entire India cried and felt that this is the end of an era. Thousands of condolence messages were received from all over the world. Gandhiji was a great devotee of Sri Ramchandra as he wanted Ramrajya which is full of peace without any fear. We are yet to achieve the goal.
I have a book with me the title of which is None High: None Low published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (BVB), Bombay and on the first page there is a writing with the signature of M.K. Gandhi which reads as follows:
I like Anand Hingoran’s Idea of collecting my writings under suitable heads. The reader will not fail to appreciate the labour he has given to securing attractive printing and binding – M. K. Gandhi
Let us follow this ideal this Independence Day.