Gandhi was gunned down on January 30, 1948 while on a walk at Birla Bhavan by Hindu nationalist Nathuram Godse. The Indian independence leader was 78 years old at the time of his death.
However, it is more important to remember how he lived and not how he died.
Mohandas Gandhi, the middle class British educated Indian lawyer was transformed into a principled strategic non-violent activist in South Africa at the end of the 19th century struggling against racist laws and policies of the colonial authorities.
The most important theoretical result of the South African campaign was the development of Satyagraha. Gandhi announced on September 11, 1906 in his newspaper Indian Opinion a contest to submit names to describe this movement. The final name was the fusion of two words as explained by Gandhi: “Truth (Satya) implies love, and firmness (agraha) engenders and therefore serves as a synonym for force…the Force which is born of Truth and love or nonviolence.”
The documentary series "A Force More Powerful" studies Gandhi the nonviolent strategist in his struggle for Indian Independence, but an interview with Fox Movietone News in 1931 shows us Gandhi's personality and sense of humor:
Gandhi despite his successful revolution and the establishment of the largest democracy on the planet was felled, after repeated assassination attempts, gunned down as he went to worship. They murdered him because they did not believe that India could survive with Gandhi promoting Satyagraha.
Gopal Godse, a co-conspirator and brother of the assassin Nathuram Godse, argued as late as February 2000 in a Time magazine interview that: “In politics you cannot follow nonviolence. You cannot follow honesty. Every moment you have to give a lie. Every moment you have to take a bullet in hand and kill someone.”
|Body of Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi lies in state at Birla House in New Delhi.|
The ends justifying the means which was espoused by Niccolo Machiavelli in the 15th Century in his political treatise The Prince dealt with using amoral means to achieve "moral" ends such as destroying your adversary utilizing violence and lies.
Gandhi took the opposite approach, his autobiography was subtitled "my experiments with truth" and he sought to convert the enemy into a friend using truth and nonviolence to reject injustice and oppression stating that, “real non-cooperation is non-cooperation with evil and not with the evil doer.”
Below are ten quotes to read and reflect on from this practitioner of nonviolence:
"No people have risen who thought only of rights. Only those did so who thought of duties."
"Appeasement has become a word of bad odor. In no case can there be any appeasement at the cost of honour. Real appeasement is to shed all fear and do what is right at any cost."
"I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson toconserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power that can move the world." - Young India Journal, September 1920
"It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow beings.
"Terrorism and deception are weapons not of the strong but of the weak."
"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty."
"A saint who considers himself superior to a sinner forfeits his sainthood and becomes worse than the sinner, who unlike the proud saint, knows not what he is doing."
"Centralization as a system is inconsistent with non-violent structure of society."
They say, 'means are, after all, means'. I would say, 'means are
, after all, everything'. As the means so the end.
"The truth is that cowardice itself is violence of a subtle type and therefore dangerous and far more difficult to eradicate than the habit of physical violence."