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Gandhi on Truth and Civil Disobedience

November 29, 2012

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948)

Below please find a web question based on the reading, “Truth and Civil Disobedience,” by Mohandas Gandhi, which you can find on pp. 365-370 in The Shaping of the Modern World. These were written by your classmate, Caryn Rosario.

How does Gandhi believe his teaching about ahimsa should be applied to government? Do you agree or disagree with his beliefs and teachings? Do you think they are an effective way to bring about political and social change?

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Nataliya Chornobryvets permalink
    November 30, 2012 1:51 pm

    Mohandas Gandhi believed that India should strive for independence from Great Britain through non-violent resistance (he followed religious principle ahimsa). He believed that truly religious person has only pure thoughts implying that violence cannot be applied to achieve the noble goals; violence itself is evil. Gandhi’s concepts were very distinctive from other political leaders’ ideas, and what is very important is that he never deceived anyone as many other leaders did. For instance, the slogan of Russian Revolution was “peace, freedom of the working class and the end of imperial usurpation”. How that was achieved? Through violent suppression of strikes of factory workers and hunting for wealthy peasants. Politicians reached the goals and satisfied their ambitions by manipulating people. Gandhi’s intentions were simple and pure – love others and be honest to self and others.
    I like Gandhi’s principles, but I do not believe that his teachings are effective in politics. Ahimsa is about inner world of an individual, it is moral quality. I do not see how ahimsa can be linked with politics; politics always means doing good things to one party through doing harm to the other party, intentionally or not.

  2. Fabiola Ramos permalink
    December 1, 2012 5:15 pm

    Gandhi believed that independence should be reached through peace. He didn’t believe in violence and thought that violence was absolutely wrong and evil. I think that his approach was made with good intentions and i respect the idea of not wanting to use violence. However i do not think that this is the most effective way to gain your Independence. Unfortunately the reason they are not independent is because there is another country who just wants control over them and can in some way be benefiting from them. Therefor, it will not sufficient to simply ask for u independence. it has been shown in the past that when a country wants something this radical to happen they have used violence. this doesn’t make the use of violence correct but in most cases the only way you can get what you want from another country is by intimidating them. And it has been shown that the only way you can really intimidate a country is by representing a threat. Not using violence can be effective for other matters such as trying to convince someone to change a political view or thought. But im not sure this non violent movement will be effective for everyone under all circumstances.

  3. Karina Casco permalink
    December 1, 2012 6:09 pm

    Mohandas Ghandi discusses that through ahimsa, one can find the “all-pervading Spirit of Truth”, and self- purification. Ahimsa, the farthest limit of humility, can be incorperated into politics so that a perfect vision of truth can be realized.
    Through resistance methods of non-violence and non-co-operation, Ghandi believed that truth will prevail and eliminate the evils that the English have brought upon the Indian people. According to Gandhi, Satyagraha is not a weapon of the weak. Satyagraha is used to enforce truth. Gandhi argues that man cannot use violence to punish, because man is not all-knowing.Methods of civil-disobedience and non-co-operation are branches of the peacful resistant method of Satyagraha.
    Mohandas Gandhi’s principles of peaceful resistance are rational ways of bringing about political and social change. He states that the Indian people can easily bring about change by using brute force like the English did, but in the end it will only make them as evil as the English are. I agree with his reasoning because in order to challenge your opressor, you must not “stoop to his level”. Ghandi believes his method of Sagyagraha is a more spiritually pure method of achieving peaceful social and political stability to India.

    -Karina Casco

  4. shahid khan permalink
    December 5, 2012 1:55 am

    Mohandas Gandhi was raised by his mother who was a devout Jain, a sect that preaches pacifism, vegetarianism, and self-enlightenment through strict self-control. Because of his mother teachings she had a great influence on his life. After a non-violent political protest during the Boar war in South Africa, his followers were inspired by his way of handling the government. Years later, as a true Indian leader, he used Ahimsa (non-violent) policy against the British government to gain independence. His believes were inspired around the world. I totally agree with his believe his belief of using non-violent against any government that acts as tyranny government. Being violent will give the government more power to control the people. In a positive way, I think non-violent is a great way to bring any political or social change. Another example of Gandhi’s belief of using non-violent and civil-disobedience is Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. instead of having a civil war between white and black people; Dr. Luther used the non-violent policy to change the political and social society.

    – Shahid Khan

  5. Richard Cabral permalink
    December 18, 2012 3:47 am

    Ghandi didn’t want his nation to gain independence though violence and revolution but instead with peace. To not attack his enemies but to stand firm with his believes and show them the conviction of his will. This method proved its effectiveness ( though sometimes the protesters broke out into violence) for the fact even later in the years many groups would use none-violence to have their word heard.
    I agree with Nataliya about how his teaching aren’t really for politics. I honestly believe his teachings were good and something to base our society on. However as unfortunate as it is, human nature is full of violence. Our history is riddled with it so in reality it would be impossible to have it practiced completely in a society. However as a base i do believe that it could bring social change to a

  6. Anastasia Davidyants permalink
    December 18, 2012 11:12 pm

    Ghandi advocated Ahimsa, which is defined as the absence of the desire to kill or do harm. It is a way of living that has places a deep respect on life and has a complete avoidance of harm and destruction. When its comes to government, he believed that if violence was used as a means to achieve anything, the result would just be more violence. Ghandi believed that non-violence is the best political tactic to liberate his people from foreign rule. He placed a large importance on standing by your ideals in order to get what you want, and that the righteous would achieve better results than those that went about using violence. He believed in civil disobedience and not following unjust laws and then facing the consequences. Ghandi’s outlook on government was very righteous and it would do a lot of good for the world if everyone followed his teachings. As Fabiola wrote, I respect his approach but I don’t think that this is the most concrete way to reach independence for a country that is being oppressed. At the end of the day, peaceful resistance is not always effective. If it was, we wouldn’t have wars or fighting or people dying. Unfortunately, that is just not the world we live in. Ghandi’s teachings have great intentions, but they are just unrealistic for today’s world.

  7. Syed permalink
    December 19, 2012 9:31 pm

    Ahimsa means not harming. It is a practice a of hinduism also practiced in buddhism and Jainism. by practicing ahimsa Gandhi was able to stay away from any violence. His teaching of ahimsa made him a leader of a unique ability. war and violence is lot he final solution for any crisis and Gandhi proved that by his Non-cooperation movement and later in salt march.Non- cooperation was hugely successful but he canceled the protest because of violent motives in his follower. i believe in his teaching because it can bring change in social change and Gandhi is the biggest prove of it. in this modern world world we need leader like Gandhi we do not holds any envy toward any body and will work for the better life for the everybody,

  8. Xing Hui Lu (Richard) permalink
    December 19, 2012 10:19 pm

    Ghandi actually embraced the idea of ahimsa which is another way of saying tolerance and non-violence. He got this idea from his twenty-two years of organizing communities against racial segregation in South Africa. When Gandhi came back to India and rose to power he had tactics of applying some ideas of ahimsa to the rebellion against the British. Two of them were the non-cooperation movement and the civil disobedience movement. I believe that his beliefs are very interesting, especially the boycott of British related things. The effectiveness of his ideas was really vivid and gained a lot of support from the people. In fact he was nicknamed Mahatna which also means “great soul”.

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