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The Individuals advocate!

Gaurav Sabnis makes a very valid point in this post that - "...it is not necessary to hate* Gandhiji to admire Bhagat Singh ... to hate Gandhiji is not the same as disagreeing with some or most of his ideals". I have reverberated such thoughts in past on this blog.

Whether one agrees with Gandhiji's views on Ahinsa or not; we should credit Gandhiji with the discovery of the individual's power. As Louis Fischer put it - 'The individual was Gandhiji's major concern and it is this concern which makes him so intimately relevant to the present day India. Most of Gandhiji's ideas can be ascribed to some inner quality of his mental eyesight that kept him from seeing people as a mass. He never saw or judged Indians or Frenchmen or Christians or Muslims in millions. He considered each human being too holy, too important to be the mere instrument of a remote impersonal terrestrial power called state."

Freedom for Gandhiji was not mere political - it was the individual's freedom that he longed for. For Gandhiji the development of Indian into a free man was more important than freeing of India politically. National independence for him was a means to a better man and a better life.
Ahinsa and Satyagrah* was the elixir that Gandhiji fed to the (powerless) individuals - peasants, pedlars, miners, labourers and young unformed men, whom he drew into his work. Again quoting Fischer - "The individual's fear is the dictator's permit. Gandhi, on the other hand took the proverbial docility of the Indian and adding courage forged it into the weapon of freedom!".

It is probably not that obvious to understand how Satyagrah, practiced by people en-masse is actually a weapon of the individual. It does not require a mass to gather, and requires no weapon other than the individuals determination and will power to practice. Gandhiji in this respect was ahead of his times in his discovery of the individual and his power.

Even today, Satyagrah is relevant. If each individual in this country decides to refuse to pay a bribe, corruption can be removed. If every individual decides to keep his surroundings clean, we may soon have a clean country and so on. "Gandhi's idea of a democracy was that he took misdeeds and faults of others as a reproof to himself; he had not done enough to improve them" - says Fischer. If each individual starts practicing the same philosophy, we may soon be the best nation in the world.

The individual is infinitely powerful, even Ayn Rand would agree!

*Satyagrah: I wonder where Gandhiji discovered this wonderful term, so deep in meaning and such a powerful weapon. And if he invented the term - another million bows to the man!

1 comments to " The Individuals advocate! "

  1. slightly off the track...

    every good thing has two sides... the bad and the evil... and most often ppl tend to take the latter... with individualism, things have worked out differently today... it's an individualistic society with 'me first', and 'what's in it for me!' attitude... gathering momentum with 'i care a damn' habbit...

    the concept of indv freedom was supposed to get freedom from indv fears ... resulted in indv egos.

    what sibins says is right but then there is always 'the other side of hte story' too.. ;)... the bigger Qs is will the craziness of either of the extremists work in today's scenario... may be not!

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