“Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”
— Albert Einstein on Mahatma Gandhi.
In a global survey on the most effective leader of the 20th century, the one name that stood far ahead was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the leader we call “Bapuji” or “Mahatma”. If such was the stature of Gandhi, why did we kill him? He was killed not by any enemy but by his own countryman.
From time immemorial, mankind has co-existed with people of different ideologies, faiths, view points etc. Probably, it is the nature of life on this planet which has created varieties and dichotomies of all kinds. Did we kill Gandhi because of difference in ideology? What is the similarity that we see in the killing of Christ, Socrates and Meerabai?
Well, all these personalities were killed by people who believed in ideologies strongly opposite to what they stood for. In the case of Gandhi, let us not go into details of whether he was killed because he agreed on partition or making a payment to Pakistan. These cannot be the reasons because from 1934 onwards, there were six attempts to kill Gandhi. It was the ideology of fundamentalism which killed Gandhi. Fundamentalism is a culmination of long term systematic brainwashing which makes people or communities believe that nothing other than what they think is right, a view that any free society would condemn — as much then as it would now.
History has witnessed innumerable times when differences have been resolved over dialogue. But when the mind is cluttered with only ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘mine’, it is not open to receive, accept any other point of view, regardless of the power and merits of the other thought.
The person who goes through this long term systematic brainwashing is a helpless person. It is inability to manage one’s thoughts, feelings and action together in the larger, global, social environment of coexistence. This results in intolerance, and intolerance breeds violence. Such violence in thought continues to breed itself, like Hitler saying, “People belonging to ‘X’ faith do not have the right to live.”
It is the attachment to our idea and aversion to any other idea that covers the mind and locks it. One cannot see clearly; at this time if the brainwashing continues, there is a trap, and the person cannot see the other’s point of view or the truth. As Swami Vivekanada puts it, “Anger clouds our thinking and leaves us ineffective and irrational.”
According to the Gita, when anger is aroused in a person, it deprives him of his power of discrimination. He is unable to weigh the pros and cons of a question or a situation. He will not heed the consequences of whatever he does in a fit of rage. This delusion grows, man forgets in what relationship he stands with those around him, what he should do and what he should not, how he had planned to do a thing, and what he is actually doing. When the mind is clouded, man loses his reasoning abilities and exhibits violence.
Vedanta gives ways of cleaning up the layers of mind, through antakaran shuddhi.
The power that Christ, Socrates, Meerabai and Gandhi stood for is in alignment with the law of nature and therefore has the strength to be universal, not limited to time and space. Whenever a fundamentalist thought tried to kill it, it has gone out to strengthen it and made it perpetual.
If Gandhi did not die of bullets, what would he have done with Nathuram Godse?
Fully grounded in the Bhagvad Gita, he would have been compassionate with him as he did to people who inflicted violence on him at the South African shore. He would have thought along the lines of what Christ said, “God, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Today (Jan.30), on the occasion of Martyrs’ Day, let us resolve not to be intolerant, and not to kill many more Gandhis.