Gandhian Philosophy on Truth and Non-violence
Truth and non-violence
The idea of truth and non-violence is at the core Mahatma Gandhi’s political thought. But he himself confesses that non-violence or ‘ahimsa’ was not his inborn virtue. He simply states: ‘In the journey searching for truth I find ahimsa. I have only retrieved it, never discovered a new.? Actually truth and ahimsa are closely integrated with his philosophy of life. He used to believe that ahimsa lies within the truth and similarly truth is in ahimsa. Once he thought that God is truth but later he observed that truth is God. So, he named his struggle ‘Satyagraha’. The Satyagrahi will be the worshipper of non-violence which will be his life and duty.
According to Mahatma Gandhi, ahimsa implies uttermost selflessness. It means, if anyone wants to realize himself, i.e., if he wants to search for the truth, he has to behave in such a way that others will think him entirely safe.
According to Gandhi, this is the way of ahimsa. He did not consider non-killing alone to be non-violence. To him, non-violence is not a negative concept but a positive sense of love. He talked of loving the wrong-doers, but not the wrong.
He had strongly opposed any sort of submission to wrongs and injustice in an indifferent manner. He thought that the wrong-doers can be resisted only through the severance of all relations with them.
According to Gandhi, non-violence never evades violence. On the contrary, it carries on a constant struggle against arrogance and violence. This is why he did not regard the pacifist as non-violent. He considered non-violence to be a very powerful active force. The followers of non-violence would never retreat at the sight of violence. They would rather devote themselves to the task of changing the hearts of perpetrators of violence through self-torture for establishing truth.
According to Gandhi, to move fearlessly into the dreadful jaws of violence is called non-violence. Thus, in Gandhi’s concept of non-violence there was no place for timidity or cowardice. He considered violence to be preferable to cowardice. While commenting on this matter in his article entitled ‘The Doctrine of the Sword’, he says that, given a choice between cowardice and violence, he would prefer violence. But he firmly believed that non-violence was certainly superior to violence and forgiveness was far more manly than punishment.
Though Mahatma Gandhi accorded the principle of ‘truth and non-violence’ a pivotal position in all his activities all through his life, he realised that the common people of India and even the majority of the contemporary Congress leaders had not accepted non-violence as a ‘creed’. For this reason he commented that he had doubt as to how many persons fully believed in the creed of non-violence.
But he thought that his movements did not at all depend on non-violent workers as believers in the creed of non-violence. He considered it to be adequate for his purpose if they followed the print principle in practice. Like those days, today also there is acute shortage of person really believing in the creed of non-violence. Consequently, clash of narrow selfish interests, struggles for power, world-wide competition for weapons of mass destruction, struggle for establishing hegemony, etc. have brought the world on the verge of a deep crisis.
In the opinion of the followers of Gandhi, the relevance of the Gandhian concept of truth and non-violence cannot be ignored or denied at all. However, the Marxists think it to be a utopian idea as it is impossible to put the principle in practice.