Mahatma Gandhi, often referred to as the “Father of the Nation” in India, celebrated for his philosophy of non-violence (ahimsa) and his role in India’s struggle for independence from British colonial rule.
However, we must critically examine Gandhi’s life, beliefs and actions beyond these famous quotes to gain a more nuanced understanding of his legacy.
I would tell the Hindus to face death cheerfully if the Muslims are out to kill them. I would be a real sinner if after being stabbed I wished in my last moment that my son should seek revenge. I must die without rancour. … You may turn round and ask whether all Hindus and all Sikhs should die. Yes, I would say. Such martyrdom will not be in vain.
Those who do not wish to misunderstand things may read up the Koran, and they will find therein hundreds of passages acceptable to the Hindus; and the Bhagavadgita contains passages to which not a Mahomedan can take exception. (Hind Swaraj, 1938, p. 48)
M.K. Gandhi arrived in India in 1915 and led the Indian National Congress in the fight for independence. Nevertheless, we must bring to light his blood soaked legacy.
Gandhi played a role in recruiting Indians to fight in World War I, resulting in the death of more than 100,000 Indian soldiers. He received the title of Kaiser-e-Hind for this, in stark contrast to his pacifist image.
Moreover, Gandhi suspended the Non-Cooperation Movement after the Chauri Chaura incident. A mob burned policemen alive, raising questions about his commitment to the cause. He deemed the lives of these policemen more precious than those of Indian soldiers in World War I or the victims of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. It highlighted the hypocrisy of his ideology.
Hindus should not harbor anger in their hearts against Muslims even if the latter wanted to destroy them. Even if the Muslims want to kill us all we should face death bravely. If they established their rule after killing Hindus we would be ushering in a new world by sacrificing our lives. None should fear death. Birth and death are inevitable for every human being. Why should we then rejoice or grieve? If we die with a smile we shall enter into a new life, we shall be ushering in a new India. (Prayer meeting, April 6, 1947, New Delhi, CWMG Vol. 94 page 249)
The Khilafat Movement, which M.K. Gandhi supported, aimed to reinstate the Ottoman Caliphate but later transformed into an anti-British and, at times, anti-Hindu movement. It contributed to communal tensions and eventually the partition of India in 1947. Gandhi’s involvement in this movement and his silence on the violence against Hindus during the Moplah riots raised concerns about his approach to religious unity.
View On Rapes Of Hindu Women
Gandhi’s views on issues like celibacy, sexuality, and his statements about rape victims have also raised eyebrows. His beliefs about women’s ability to prevent rape through purity and cooperation with their assailants are deeply problematic.
One of the most contentious aspects of Gandhi’s philosophy is his statement regarding rape victims during times of communal violence. He suggested that women, if faced with the threat of rape by Muslim assailants, should not resist but cooperate, even to the point of lying still “like a dead body.” M.K. Gandhi believed that a woman’s purity and non-resistance would shame the attacker and potentially prevent the act. This viewpoint is widely criticized today for victim-blaming and placing the responsibility for preventing sexual violence on the victim rather than the perpetrator.
Hindu Lives Don’t Matter
If all the Punjabis were to die to the last man without killing (a single Muslim), Punjab will be immortal. Offer yourselves as nonviolent willing sacrifices. (Collins and Lapierre, Freedom at Midnight, p-385)
I am grieved to learn that people are running away from the West Punjab and I am told that Lahore is being evacuated by the non-Muslims. I must say that this is what it should not be. If you think Lahore is dead or is dying, do not run away from it, but die with what you think is the dying Lahore.
During times of communal violence, such as the Noakhali riots in 1946, Gandhi advised Hindus to stay in their homes, not to retaliate, and to face violence without resistance. His philosophy of non-violence led him to believe that by doing so, they could set an example of courage and non-violence for their Muslim neighbors. However, this advice has been criticized by some as impractical and even harmful, as it seemed to suggest that Hindus should passively accept violence against them.
Gandhi’s stance on Bhagat Singh, Shivram Rajguru, and Sukhdev Thapar’s execution, while signing the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, showed a lack of support for those who chose a different path of resistance. His insistence on non-violence as the only means of achieving freedom disregarded the sacrifices made by those who believed in armed struggle.
While Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence and his role in India’s independence movement remain influential, it is crucial to recognize the complexities and contradictions in his life and beliefs. Elevating him to a god-like status without acknowledging the controversies surrounding him does a disservice to history. It is essential to critically examine his actions and statements to learn from the past and shape a better future. Gandhi’s views on religious harmony and his approach to communal tensions during his time have been a subject of debate and criticism. While Gandhi advocated for Hindu-Muslim unity, his methods and some of his statements have been perceived as favoring appeasement and submission to certain situations. Gandhi’s life involved subjugating and shaming the Hindus to bow before Muslims!