17 Month Year
The Relationship Between Satyagraha and Swaraj for Gandhi and How His Concept of Nonviolent Resistance Relate to His Beliefs About God and Punishment
In Hindi and Sanskrit, Satyagraha means “holding onto truth” What the intention of this concept was that there was to be a nonviolent resistance against all that is evil, and specifically against the colonialists at the time The requirements of all his followers were to follow this rule there was to be an insight into what the evil was about, but more so that the reaction to it should be done with the utmost of nonviolence. If violence were to become part of anyone’s mind or actions, that would mean that the Satyagrahi (who is a nonviolent activist) would “lose [all] correct” insight (www.britannica.com). Gandhi received his insights from the area in which he grew up, which was Gujarat. This was where the concept of Satyagraha evolved from as most who lived in this area drew their beliefs and philosophy from “the ancient Indian ideal of Ahimsa.” Ahimsa meant “non-injury” to all (www.britannica.com). Gandhi made it clear that Civil Obedience was simply part of Satyagraha. The disobedience of these laws “are in themselves bad and obedience to which should be inconsistent with one’s self respect” (www.mkgandhi.org)
The goal of Gandhi’s Satyagraha was focused on Swaraj, or self-rule. The fact that these two had to happen at the same time meant that, in Gandhi’s mind, there had to be complete independence from the oppressors, but this had to happen with nonviolent resistance (Satyagraha). All Satyagrahi had to: “to reject and wholly uproot the British raj (rule) from within themselves and their communities; and, to regenerate new reference points, systems, and structures that enable individual and collective self-development” (www.swaraj.org). If Satyagraha were applied, the regeneration of the nation would have been much easier to accomplish. As Gandhi recorded in his book Hind Swaraj, that “the strengths, perspectives, wisdom and experiences” of regenerating India, would come from the “people living in village India” (www.swaraj.org).
The fact that Satyagraha means “holding onto truth, ” slots in with Gandhi’s belief that “truth is God” (www.mkgandhi.org). It is, therefore, important that any Satyagrahi “should have a living faith in God,” as well as belief in truth, as Gandhi reiterated that truth is God. In Hindu terms there is also the necessity of being pure. This was achieved through the “renunciation of worldly things,” and following God’s laws as these are not separate. Thus, if the Satyagrahi does not have faith in truth or in God’s law, there would indeed be punishment.
“God is Truth” (www.gandhi-manibhavan.org). Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance is, therefore, integrated with the punishment of God, should this “truth” be violated. This is in terms of the fact that for Gandhi believed that one could only find this truth through “patient endeavor and silent prayer.” Thus, the punishment is intertwined with Satyagraha as well as Ahimsa. However, the punishment is a matter of God evaluating the deeds of the individuals, and then makes his judgment based in that. What the judgment is, though, “is not vindictive, but its purifying, compelling punishment” (www.gandhi-manibhavan.org). It is also based in the fact that Ahimsa (cause no injury, do no harm) is a way of realizing the power of God within the individual. This is so, because Gandhi’s belief is that God is in everyone.
The concept of Satyagraha, therefore, and the fact that God is Truth, and the fact that God is within each person, allows one to love, and “identify ourselves with every human being without exception” (www.gandhi-manibhavan.org). In doing this, you can only but love and deal with everyone in a nonviolent way, no matter who they are. As in Gandhi’s case the oppressors from which his country needed to be set free with non-violence. For many, Gandhi’s beliefs and philosophy were problematic. It was difficult for many to reconcile Satyagraha, Swaraj, and Ahimsa, perhaps because of the lack of experience with the “the ancient Indian ideal of Ahimsa.” Gandhi had more time to assimilate these truths into his belief system, into his reasoning, and into his lifestyle.
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“Gandhi's Views On God.” Gandhi's Views On God. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 June 2015.
“Satyagraha | Philosophy.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 28 June 2015.
“Swaraj - What Is Swaraj?” Swaraj - What Is Swaraj? N.p., n.d. Web. 28 June 2015.