MK Gandhi

Gandhi was born at Porbandar (Gujrat) on the 2nd of October 1869. He made efforts to secure India’s Independence from colonial rule by applying the method of Satyagraha. His moral philosophy is as follows;

Satyagraha – Satyagraha includes three basic values – truth, nonviolence, and self-suffering. The purpose of Satyagraha is to bring an end to injustice by changing the heart of the wrong-doer by awakening through love and self-suffering. One has to offer love in response to emotional and physical violence.

Truth – Gandhi was committed to truth in the sense of being truthful, seeing that truth covers all ethical action. Unethical action is as much a violation of Truth as making a false statement. He accepted the Jain theory of the multidimensionality of truth (anekantvada), and emphasized the necessity for open-mindedness and soul- searching. In critical situations, he relied on his ‘inner voice’ which was tuned to the call of Truth through long practice.

God – Gandhi was in the beginning an ardent believer in God. Gandhi confessed that he had no argument to convince the existence of God through reason because faith in God transcends reason.

Love – Love is the cardinal virtue which serves truth. If a person’s actions are motivated by love for all, those actions will be conducive to the highest good. According to Gandhi, ahimsa is not just refraining from injuring others, but positively enhancing their well-being (rather loving them). Genuine love is rooted in egolessness which is the highest personal virtue. It is nishkama-karma, acting without attachment to the fruits of action which expresses love and self-surrender.

Social Reform – Gandhi’s social action was aimed at the transformation of society based on two basic convictions –All human beings are brothers because they possess the same soul and All human beings are fundamentally good. He fought for the equality of women and Harijans within Hindu society. He aimed at Sarvodaya (everyone’s self-development) and founded several ashrams where he gathered men and women of different castes and religions and encouraged them to lead a life of simplicity.

Religion – Gandhi believed in the equality of all religions since all principal religions are equal and true. The essence of all religions is not dogmas and doctrines, but ethical action based on self-surrender

Economics – His economic views were unorthodox but he was against unbridled economic liberalization and material prosperity at the cost of human values. He worked to create cottage industries and cooperatives in villages. The spinning wheel was a symbol of simplicity and self-reliance. He was also against welfarism because no able-bodied person should live on charity. Everyone must work hard to earn one’s own bread. He did not believe in the expropriation of the wealth of the rich since that would result in violence. So he evolved the theory of Trusteeship in which the rich should act as trustees of their wealth, which they should use for social uplift.

Politics – He believed in the decentralization of power in which the base of political power should be small community groups patterned after the village panchayats. The state must have minimum power consistent with the aim of Sarvodaya, universal self-realization. Ahimsa should be the guiding principle of all political relationships.