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Tag: Gandhi

Happy Birthday Bapu

Today, Oct 2nd,  is Mahatma Gandhi’s 141st Birth anniversary which is also celebrated as International Day of Non-Violence. More than ever, world needs to understand and embrace his ideals and  principles in present world. These days it has become kind of a fashion to bash Gandhi and his principles but those are the people who, frankly speaking, have no clue what Gandhism is. We need more Mahatmas like him  in today’s world. Happy Birthday Bapu!

The video above is the first talkie movie of Mahatma Gandhi, a very rare footage!

I will try to list some of famous quotes of Gandhi here:

  • Non-violence is a power which can be wielded equally by all – children, young men and women or grown-up people- provided they have a living faith in the God of Love and have, therefore, equal love for all mankind.
  • There is a limit to violent action and it can fail. Non-violence knows no limit and it never fails.
  • A rabbit that runs away from the bull-terrier is not particularly non-violent. The poor thing trembles at the sight of the terrier and runs for very life.
  • Non-violence, in its dynamic condition, means conscious suffering. It does not mean meek submission to the will of the evil-doer, but it means putting of one’s whole soul against the will of the tyrant.
  • All true change comes from within. Any change brought about by pressure, is worthless.

My Ahimsa would not tolerate the idea of giving a free meal to a healthy person who had not worked for it in some honest way, and, if I had the power, I would stop every Sadavrat where free meals are given…It has encouraged laziness, idleness, hypocrisy and even crime. Such misplaced charity adds nothing to the wealth of the country, whether material or spiritual, and gives a false sense of meritoriousness to the donor.

  • I am endeavouring to see God through service of humanity, for I know that God is neither in heaven, nor down below, but in every one.
  • There is no such thing as ”Gandhism,” and I do not want to leave any sect after me. I do not claim to have originated any new principle of doctrine. I have simply tried in my own way to apply the eternal truths to our daily life and problems. Truth and non-violence are as old as the hills. All I have done is to try experiments in both on as vast a scale as I could do. In doing so I have sometimes erred and learnt by my errors. Life and its problems have thus become to me so many experiments in the practice of truth and non-violence.
  • To me God is Truth and Love; God is ethics and morality; God is fearlessness. God is the source of Light and Life and yet He is above and beyond all these. God is conscience.
  • Scientists tell us that without the presence of the cohesive force amongst the atoms that comprise this globe of ours, it would crumble to pieces and we cease to exist; and even as there is cohesive force in blind matter, so must there be in all things animate and the name for that cohesive force among animate beings is Love. We notice it between father and son, between brother and sister, friend and friend. But we have to learn to use that force among all that lives, and in the use of it consists our knowledge of God. Where there is love there is life ; hatred leads to destruction.
  • I believe that the sum total of the energy of mankind is not to bring us down but to lift us up, and that is the result of the definite, if unconscious, working of the law of love. The fact that mankind persists shows that the cohesive force is greater than the disruptive force, centripetal force greater than centrifugal.
  • Non-violence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed.
  • We have to make truth and non-violence not matters for mere individual practice but for practice by groups and communities and nations. That, at any rate, is my dream. I shall live and die in trying to realize it.
  • The very first step in non-violence is that we cultivate in our daily life, as between ourselves, truthfulness, humility, tolerance, loving kindness. Honesty, they say in English, is the best policy. But, in terms of non-violence, it is not mere policy. Policies may and do change. Non-violence is an unchangeable creed. It has to be pursued in face of violence raging around you. Non-violence with a non-violent man is no merit. In fact it becomes difficult to say whether it is non-violence at all. But when it is pitted against violence, then one realizes the difference between the two. This we cannot do unless we are ever wakeful, ever vigilant, ever striving.
  • Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.
  • Ahimsa is a science. The word ‘failure’ has no place in the vocabulary of science. Failure to obtain the expected result is often the precursor to further discoveries
  • I am an irrepressible optimist. My optimism rests on my belief in the infinite possibilities of the individual to develop non-violence. The more you develop it in your own being, the more infectious it becomes till it over-whelms your surroundings and by and by might over sweep the world.
  • No matter how weak a person is in body, if it is a shame to flee, he will stand his ground and die at his post. This would be nonviolence and bravery. No matter how weak he is, he will use what strength he has in inflicting injury on his opponent, and die in the attempt. This is bravery, but not nonviolence. If, when his duty is to face danger, he flees, it is cowardice. In the first case, the man will have love or charity in him. In the second and third cases, there would be a dislike or distrust and fear.
  • Seven social sins: politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice.
  • To call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man’s injustice to woman
  • Religions are different roads converging to the same point. What does it matter that we take different road, so long as we reach the same goal. Wherein is the cause for quarreling?
  • You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.
  • We need to be the change we wish to see in the world.
  • If you want to give a message again to the West, it must be a message of ‘Love’, it must be a message of ‘Truth’. There must be a conquest — [audience claps]  — please, please, please. That will interfere with my speech, and that will interfere with your understanding also. I want to capture your hearts and don’t want to receive your claps. Let your hearts clap in unison with what I’m saying, and I think, I shall have finished my work. Therefore, I want you to go away with the thought that Asia has to conquer the West. Then, the question that a friend asked yesterday, “Did I believe in one world?” Of course, I believe in one world. And how can I possibly do otherwise.
  • Gandhi’s Talisman -“I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away.” [One of the last notes left behind by Gandhi in 1948, expressing his deepest social thought.]

Picture credit: Flickr user Paulo Fehlauer | Used under creative commons license

Leave a Comment October 2, 2010

Ubuntu: I Am Because You Are

Let’s start our day with a beautiful thought, a beautiful philosophy which is desperately needed in today’s world which thrives on the maxim of Me, Myself and Me.

While watching one of the FIFA Worldcup games, I came across one of the commercial which was not selling anything, just giving a message- Tolerance, Respect, Friendship, Ubuntu–Say no to Racism. All the football players coming together and spreading the message. And as a curious person, I wanted to know what Ubuntu means. My first thought was-is it about the Linux based operating system Ubuntu? I still don’t know whether the commercial is run by FIFA or someone else, but I know the meaning of the word Ubuntu now.

Ubuntu is a philosophy or say it a way of life which believes in people’s allegiance to each other and world as a whole. It’s a classic African concept and the word itself comes from Bantu language. Here is what Ubuntu means:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu offered a definition in a 1999 book

A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu further explained Ubuntu in 2008:

One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.

Nelson Mandela explained Ubuntu as follows:

A traveler through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?

A traveler through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve? [Wiki]

It’s a beatiful philososphy and I hope the message spreads all across the world that we exist just because of the world, the people around us. We have to accept others even if they have different ideologies, color, race, religion, caste, language, nationalities etc. Others are part of us, part of our happiness, reason for ur existence. I am because you are! Africa has lot to offer to the world and Ubuntu is one of the philososphies we need to embrace and carry forward. Whoever wins the worldcup Spain or Netherlands, let’s hope the true winner from this worldcup be Ubuntu.

PS: Recently while going to airport in NewYork, I boarded a bus, unaware of the fact that the buses in NewYork don’t take paper money for fare, atleast that bus did not accept paper money. I got in the bus with not enough coins while I kept searching my pockets. One stranger offered to pay for me, I offered him $5 bill which I had but he refused to take and just said have a nice flight and left. That’s Ubuntu!

2 Comments July 9, 2010

Invictus: The Unconquered Ones

With the soccer fever catching up and South Africa being in the limelight, I thought of learning more about the Rainbow Nation. I started with Wikipedia and ended up with watching movie Invictus. I know mainstream commercial movies are not always the best way of learning about a country or a person, but movies can be fairly informative if historical information is not misrepresented. The good thing about Invictus was that it represented most of the historical facts accurately, as the movie critiques pointed out (although vuvuzelas were missing in the stadium scenes).

Invictus is a story of Nelson Mandela and his efforts to unify the nation with the help of Rugby, the sport which was played majorly by the white South Africans or Afrikaaners as they were called (speaking Afrikaan langauge) .Thereby their team Springboks was hated by the black South Africans, infact during the games, they cheered for opposing teams. Also, it was clear that none of Rugby followers or players voted for Nelson Mandela in the country’s first democratic universal elections in 1994. After Nelson Mandela’s party came to power, black leaders and sports authority wanted to totally change the structure of Springboks team including the name, color and anthem, which according to them represented hatred and oppression during the apartheid era. They almost did it, but Nelson Mandela opposed their views and stepped in and stopped any changes. He saw this as an opportunity to win trust of white Afrikaners, who loved the game. He wanted to build a unified South Africa, a rainbow nation, and supporting Rugby and asking the whole nation to rally behind the team was one of his approaches of reconciliation between blacks and whites. It took effort but the nation building process was started and South Africa ended up winning the Rugby World Cup in 1995 and brought much needed reconciliation.

I am always amazed reading or watching stories about great visionaries and leaders such as Gandhi and Mandela. Their focus, determination, willpower, courage, patience and dedication for the cause mesmerizes me. These are the men of their principles who defy all adversities. While today’s leaders follow partisan and popularistic politics, these leaders were not afraid of opposing their own followers and supporters if it was against their ideals. Wish today’s leaders had even a fraction of these ideals. Gandhi and Mandela both were leaders and politicians who looked at the bigger picture rather than short term gains or benefits. Who else would have thought and worked on the idea that Rugby can unite the country torn with racial discrimination since years? Who else would have thought that fasting and adopting non-violence means could instill fears in hearts and minds of British colonial rulers. They also took criticisms well and accepted their mistakes when they were wrong and instead of pointing fingers at others they worked on to rectify it. Mandela was criticized for not handling AIDS epidemic during his tenure and since then until now he has been constantly working for the cause, probably realizing that he overlooked the problem and now rectifying it. Even at this fragile age of 92, he keeps doing his part, though he has retired from public life to spend more time with his family. He was very happy when FIFA 2010 world cup was announced to be hosted in South Africa but unfortunately he was unable to cherish the moment as his 13 year old great grand-daughter died just a day before the event started after she met a fatal accident when a drunk driver hit her. She was returning from FIFA 2010 kick-off concert. Sad turn of events for him and his family, which has been a recurrent feature in his personal life.

I learnt a few things about South Africa while watching the movie Invictus.

  • The country had two national Anthems from 1995-1997– Die Stem van Suid-Afrika (The call of South Africa) and Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (God Bless Africa) in order to assimilate both black and white groups . In 1997, an unified or hybrid version was adapted combining both the anthems and employing 5 major languages of South Africa in the lyrics.
  • Nelson Mandela is affectionately called Madiba in South Africa, which is his clan name.
  • In the movie, they show the cell where he spent first 18 years of his 27 years in prison (Robben Island). The cell is the exact cell where he spent those years and one of the best moments in the movie (picture of the cell shown below)It makes you wonder how a man who spent those many years of his lives in that tiny cell and did rigorous labor during the day had the strength to come back and lead the nation; what kept him going? Salute to Nelson Mandela, you inspire me and many others all over the world.

Gandhi, Mandela, Martin Luther King were all Invictus, the unconquered ones, and they were the masters of their souls. The poem “Invictus” by William Henley probably describes very well the struggles of such souls amongst all the obstacles, still emerging victorious.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gait,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Picture Credit: Top image-Madame Tussauds Wax museum, Amsterdam by Flickr user Berto Garcia

Second image from during FIFA 2010 by REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Third image: Young Mandela in Robben Island Prison by Guardian UK

Last image by Flickr user Paul Mannix. Used under creative Commons License.

Leave a Comment June 20, 2010

Quiz of the Day

How many times was  Mahatma Gandhi nominated for Nobel Peace Prize?

What was the topic of Einstein's dissertation?

Who is the youngest Nobel Laureate in Literature?

Leave a Comment February 27, 2010


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