Saturday, April 13, 2024

Mahatma Gandhi- Not So Maha ‘Atma’? – Part Two

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Continuing with our previous article, we bring forth to you the many known yet hidden facts about our ‘Father of the Nation’ Mr. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The under-cover shades that have been cleverly kept away from the eyes of the public shall be brought forth.

A web of narratives has been spun around his personality, to display a notion of false aura and bring forth to the public an impression of him which exuded compassion, inclusivity, love, affection, tolerance and all godly virtues. Sometimes, this comes across as too good to be true, depiction of one as a saintly figure without any vices… but is that the reality?

Today, we discuss the man he was. Was he actually a crusader for rights in South Africa or he himself practiced closeted racism? What beliefs did he have with regards to nation’s interests? Did he equally love Hindus and Hinduism; these are the questions which need to be looked into.

We share some incidents and quotes from the man himself and give a touchdown on the his various facets;

Gandhi has been proclaimed as the leader of the Anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa and is taken to be as the mythological hero for the same. But just like the moon, which has a dark and a bright side, Gandhi too being a human had different sides, one his real self and the other, how world perceived him. Gandhi himself practiced staunch yet passive racism against the Black population in South Africa, and this is what he wrote “Ours is one continual struggle against a degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the Europeans, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir [a slur now classified as hate speech and generally considered to be the equivalent of “nigger” in the United States] whose occupation is hunting, and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with and, then, pass his life in indolence and nakedness,” Gandhi said during an address in Bombay in 1896.

Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilised—the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animals,” he wrote in Indian Opinion in 1908.

Since there are so many incidents associated with the life and times of Gandhi, unfortunately we won’t be able to mention all the instances, but we attempt to do it in such a way that we can highlight the major ones.

Gandhi’s actions came across as full of paradoxes, one where he tried to maintain an image of a peace-loving, magnanimous and an equalitarian being but in reality he exuded warmth and appreciation for fascist dictators like Mussolini. In a book written by author Romain Hayes ‘Subhash Chandra Bose in Nazi Germany’ (2011), he explains that after the two met in 1931, Gandhi had some great words for Mussolini and called him as  “one of the great statesmen of our time,“. Post that he wrote the following in a letter to his friend, “Many of his reforms attract me. He seems to have done much for the peasant class. I admit an iron hand is there. But as violence is the basis of Western society, Mussolini’s reforms deserve an impartial study.”

For someone who was appreciative towards divisive, fascists and violent dictators, isn’t it surprising that he was the front leader in taking up cudgels against Britishers in India? So just to remove an iota of doubt, here are some excerpts regarding what were his thoughts on the nationalists, who actively fought and contributed towards securing us our hard-earned independence.

Post the Jallianwala Bagh incident, when Uddham Singh rightly shot and killed Michael O’Dwyer, Gandhi labeled it as an act of insanity and this is what he said’ “The news of the death of Sir Michael Francis O’Dwyer and of the injuries to Lord Zetland, Lord Lamington and Sir Louis Bane has caused me deep pain. I offer my condolences to the deceased‟s family, and hope that the injured will soon recover. I regard this act as one of insanity. Such acts have been proved to be injurious to the causes for which they are committed. I hope this will not be allowed to affect political judgment.” ( page- 55)

Till now we all are very well aware about the love for Islam he fostered and that he was never appreciative for Hindu and Sikh resilience against the Islamic invaders. This was put by him in mild yet affirmative words and he stated the following, “But by test of the theory of non- violence, I do not hesitate to say that it is highly likely that had I lived as their contemporary and in the respective countries, I would have called everyone of them a misguided patriot, even though a successful and brave warrior.”  ( page-142)

Gandhi’s love for Islam and its followers could be understood from the following incident;

Asaf Ali who was the right hand of Gandhi and held important political positions post
independence, read the Namaz for the funeral procession of Abdul Rashid. So who was Abdul Rashid?

On 23rd December 1926, a Muslim assassin called as Abdul Rashid stabbed and killed Swami Shraddhananda, when the Swami was sick and lying on his bed. Swami Shraddhananda was a preacher of Arya Samaj and was instrumental in starting a Suddhi Yajna (True Path) to re- convert Muslims of India back to Hinduism. Gandhi himself had sought Swami Ji’s help to bring his eldest son Hiralal back in the fold of Hinduism who had converted to Islam.

This action of Suddhi Yajna by Swami Ji infuriated Muslims. Added to this was an incident where a couple of months earlier, a Muslim woman along-with her children approached Swami and expressed her desire to return to Hinduism. Riding on insecurity, her husband took Swami to court on false charges of abduction of his family. The court rightly quashed the allegation by dismissing the plea and set Swami Ji free. This verdict made Muslims extremely angry and prompted them to seek revenge. This is when within a few days; Abdul Rashid assassinated him in a treacherous assault.

Post this incident a few days later, an ignorant Gandhi in his speech at the national conference of INC at Gauhati, when there was a widespread atmosphere of despondency and depression among Hindus due to the cruel assassination of Shraddhananda left everyone dumbfounded by addressing the assassin and the treacherous killer Abdul Rashid as “Bhai Abdul Rashid” and said:
Now you will perhaps understand why I have called Abdul Rashid a brother, and I repeat it. I do not even regard him as guilty of Swami’s murder. Guilty indeed are those who excited feeling of hatred against one another.

Thus, Gandhi directly held Swami Shraddhananda responsible for his own death, by stating that he was propagating hatred through his Suddhi Yajna. This was Gandhi’s unique trademark, of contradicting himself, by conveniently forgetting that he was the one who wrote in the obituary note for Swami Ji: “He (the Swami) lived a hero. He died a hero.” And forgot all what he did for his son and his family…this goes on to show the innate hatred Gandhi had for all the Hindus.

His love for motherland and his policies with regards to securing Indian interests can always be assessed from his publicly shared thoughts and expressions. His love and compassion for the colonial masters can be interpreted from the following statements;

Soldiers should become farmers and that India was best served if its army was non-violent:
Our army will lead the world if it adopts non-violence instead of violence.
( page-157)

Appeal for enlistment of Indians in World War 1 for the English:

“As long as we have to look to Englishmen for our defence, as long as we are not free from the fear of the military, so long we cannot be regarded as equal partners with Englishmen. It behoves us, therefore, to learn the use of arms and to acquire the ability to defend ourselves. If we want to learn the use of arms with the greatest possible despatch, it is our duty to enlist ourselves in the army.” [ page-83]

Doesn’t this show the juxtaposition of thoughts? How can a nation of farmers not in the army fight for Britishers or how come those who wish to fight side-by side with Britishers become farmers??

Somehow, these actions taken by him didn’t reflect clarity or promotion of love and equality, which unfortunately resulted in a series of failed steps for our country and have left some indelible marks. This image of anyone, who is believed to be holier than thou can’t go on ad-infinitum and shouldn’t either. There are many facets which are yet to be seen and understood and brought out in an objective and an unbiased manner, for it is in the best interest of our fellow countrymen to understand who Gandhi was, in reality and understand history from their lens and not what is painted by the leftist historians.






Part Three –

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