Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Orthodox Hindu institution

Gandhi’s non-violent resistance guidelines, (February 21, 2008)

Non-violent resistance methods (ahisma), and its extension of non-cooperative activities to unjust governments, are not synonymous with the concept of passive resistance adopted in the Western culture: simply, non-cooperation entails sacrifices, pain and suffering that the uninitiated cannot endure.

Even taking to the court for redress is considered by Gandhi as a form of violent method that should be avoided by the members of satyagraha.  Passive resistance is the method of the weak who does not believe in his internal strength facing violent forces and who eventually might use violent methods if afforded.

The members of satiyagraha adopt non-violent methods out of strength and confidence in the victory of truth by personal suffering. Thus, members of satiyagraha will never use violent means since the opposing person is not an enemy, but the unjust laws that rob the citizens of their dignity as human united in life.

Non violence or satiyaghara means to adhere to truth or God, who represents unity in every life.  Consequently, the initiated should be a true believer in God irrespective of which religion he belongs to.

According to Gandhi, finding truth is the responsibility of the individual and is what he believes is just and good and thus, since truth is relative, then non-violence methods should be adopted so that we don’t commit errors and crimes in forcing our positions by coercion lest we discover later on that we were mistaken.

The initiated should work toward “brahmacharya” or sexual chastity in thought, seeing and touching and also chastity for seeking fortune and celebrity. Once we manage to dominate our senses, even once in our practice, then we cannot lose that achievement. The initiated should discuss issues of a program at length until he is convinced but finally he has to ultimately follow faith.

Gandhi has developed the guidelines for non-cooperative movements against governments that broke their oaths and pledges to serving the people and are exercising cruelty, exploitation and oppression.  The program of non-cooperation is of four steps, each step is meant to reach a higher level of disobedience to the authority.

The first responsibility is to exposing, precisely, the project to the population at large through meetings and focused communication.

The next step is to convince the public servants to voluntarily abandon their titled positions and charges with the government and encouraging the lawyers and judges to stop serving the government.  No pressures should be exercised on the functionaries, especially if the movement is unable to provide for the bread winners. The private employees are excluded from the requirements of abandoning their services.

The third step would ask the army and security officers and soldiers to retreat from their duties.

The last step would amount to refusing paying taxes to the government.

In order to shorten the period of resistance with a successful outcome, the organization of the non-cooperative movement should cater to the weakest members in social status or economic needs.  The members of the movement should:

1.  stop taking loans from government funds;

2. conflicts among the members must be resolved through private arbitrage because lawyers should suspend the exercise of their official profession toward the government.

3. The members should start boycotting public schools; (in this request, I would include boycotting private schools so that no discrimination in economic status should be established).

4. The members should not attend any government reunions and meetings and ceremonies; they should refuse accepting any civil or military post.

5. In case of being under occupation, the members should rely solely on local and national products and manufactures “swadeshi” and thus, boycotting imported consumer’s products from the colonial powers.

On the first day of the non-cooperation the members should:

1.  spend the day in suspending work and focusing on prayer and fasting to clean the spirit of violent tendencies and exorcise anger and resentment because non-violent activities require serenity in thought, talk and action.

The strength of non-violent resistance is based on the pressures of the innocents on the tyrant’s behavior.

Gandhi had worked to instituting a non-armed security force, not carrying even batons, head gears or shields as a protection to the abuses of the mob.  This non-armed and non-violent security force of members adhering to satyagraha is meant to absorb the frustration and anger of the demonstrators at the expense of hurt and even death to the satyagrahis instead of returning violence with violent reactions.

Consequently, the members of this special security force would undergo serious training, physical, mental and emotional, that are meant to gain inner strength to facing the violent behaviors of fellow men.

This force would be highly disciplined even more than soldiers and obey orders to serving the people in dangerous situations and catastrophes.

One of the main duties of this non-violent security force is to communicate and come to aid to ever family in the locality in daily life so that the inhabitants recognize them and feel very familiar to them and thus preventing deterioration in acute situations.

Gandhi made a distinction between “hartal” or going on strike and civil disobedience:

Going on strike can be understood by children and didn’t entail serious punishment by government but is a potent method to disseminating the message to the population at large.

The civil disobedience is a dangerous endeavor that has grave consequences of reprisal by the power to be and only the initiated and well disciplined satyagrahis can sustain the punishment, privation and suffering.  He also distinguished the sit-ins with fasting for personal interest and those done for the general benefit of the public.

Many crooks learned to fast in front of private properties in order to extort money from the proprietors who did not wish publicity or humiliations and Gandhi viewed these non-violent private interest actions as violent in nature.

Gandhi also comprehends that the means used to an end reflect the consequences to the contemplated objective. Thus, if you steal a watch from a person then you are a thief; if you save money to purchase the watch then it belongs to you but if you beg the person to donate it then you are sending the message that you can be enslaved.

In that respect, people who revolt using violent means to obtain their rights end up not respecting the duties and responsibilities commensurate to their rights; however, if these same rights are snatched through non-violent methods then you are ready to assume your responsibilities and these rights do not turn out to be a burden to society in the long run.

Gandhi considers that the force of truth, using non-violent methods and attitudes, is the prime mover in our development.  History, understood as the recording of wars engaged by monarchs, is at best interruption in the natural course of peaceful endeavors by the normal people. Thus, it is the mostly non-violent activities of people that kept societies alive, functioning and developing.

Gandhi united with the Moslems of India during their “Caliphate” resistance movement against the British and maintained his alliance throughout all his movements of non-violence resistance.  There are several reasons for Gandhi’s relentless alliance with the Moslems in India: first, the British government had reneged on the pledge to maintaining the Caliphate institution after the WWI if the Moslems of India served in the British army.

At the time, the Sultan of Turkey was considered the Caliphate of the Sunni and the British eliminated that religious title for the Moslem Sunni of India.  Gandhi genius was:

First, to never undertake a non-violent resistance movement before allying to the Moslems of India and thus showing a united national front against the British colonial power and their countless unjust laws and atrocities of mass murders.

Second, Gandhi elevated the mere political alliance to protecting unity of a movement into another level of a united society regardless of creed or social status.

Third, Gandhi respected any religion that believed that the search for truth can be done by having faith in a unique God.

Fourth, Gandhi encouraged the majority in any Nation to capitulate completely to the minorities’ requests so that no suspicion or violent reactions may be generated within a society; the basic tenant of this concept is that the majority will always be the winner as long as no confrontations are activated.  It has been proven that when a majority violently attacks a minority then they end up loosing in the long run because history always catches up with cowardly endeavors.

The modern actualities are striking evidences as in Rwanda, Yugoslavia, and Israel.  Capitulation is also advisable when the problem is merely related to material belonging.  Resisting armed forces and defending honor is legitimate and necessary in his philosophy

Every government might have positive elements in its program but if it is unjust and does not preserve human dignity then the whole State system has to be pulled down.  It is not acceptable that a neutral State allows an invading army to cross its borders to attack another nation; Switzerland should have had at least the moral strength to prevent any resources to cross its borders toward Nazi Germany and never cooperate with this racist State.

 Anyone who refuses to do military service but accepts to cooperate with a military State is NOT a satyagrahi.  When you pay taxes and aid a military State to maintaining its hegemony then you are part and parcel of the unjust State. You cannot eat the food that the army is protecting you to produce and consume and then refuse military service; your alternative is to flee to the mountains and feed on what nature provides.  A soldier who shoots in the air to disperse the masses is doing violence and not doing his job and shouldn’t have joined the army or an armed security force.

When asked in 1940, whether an independent India would institute satyagraha to its armed forces to defend the homeland, Gandhi offered his own belief that India might be the first people that could show the way to peaceful entente with its neighboring nations.  He believed that letting conquerors capture the land without armed resistance is the shortest and direct method to evacuating them through non-violent resistance and non-cooperation; the numbers of martyrs would be far lower than the fallen soldiers and innocent civilians if a violent resistance is undertaken.

Any invading army that crosses over the cadavers of innocent people who resisted its incursion is not about to repeat this brutal act because of human nature.  Furthermore, the people would not be paying heavily for useless armaments and fortifications.

Gandhi declared that his allegiance to Hinduism is mainly pragmatic because it delineated clearly that the life struggle of an individual is to finding inner spiritual strength to linking with the truth of God and didn’t excite or scare believers into the notions of paradise and hell; Hinduism viewed the soul as indestructible and no clear distinction is made between spirit and body.

Gandhi struggled all his life to convince the Orthodox Hindu institution that casting the untouchable is wrong, and could not accept sermons of satyagrahi who practiced discrimination of the untouchables in their communities.




June 2023

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