1. Gandhiís Commitment to the Ideal of Self-Knowledge

William O'Meara, (c) Copyright, 1997

The Encyclopedia Britannica summarizes Gandhi's significance with the statement, "He was the catalyst if not the initiator of three of the major revolutions of the 20th century: the revolutions against colonialism, racism, and violence."

I. Being true to one's conscience is a fundamental ideal:

The major commitment of Gandhi 'a life is to live by truth, by conscience. Ho said: God is that indefinable something which we all fee1 but which we do not know. To me God is Truth and Love, God is Ethics and Morality. God is the fearlessness of the morally good man. God is the source of light and life, and yet above and beyond all these, God is conscience. H is even the atheism of the atheist.

Bertrand Russell tells a story that helps me interpret the point Gandhi is making. When Russell was imprisoned in WWI for his pacifist activities, the jailer asked him his religious belief, and Russell replied that he was an agnostic. The jailer replied that ha had never heard of that religion but that although people have many different religions, they all worship the same God. Russell did not correct the jailer, for had thought there was a wisdom in what had been said. For we can find a common ideal in both the religious believer and the agnostic. They both tell us that belief in God is and should be primarily belief in one's own conscience, that is, belief in living according to the truth.

There are many approaches to truth for Gandhi:

Gandhi is insistent upon the necessity for each person to live according to the truth as grasped by that person. He tells us that "it has been my experience that I am always true from my point of view and often wrong from the point of view of my honest critics. I know that we are both right from our respective points of view, and this knowledge saves me from attributing motives to my opponents or critics. The seven blind men who gave seven different descriptions of the elephant were all right from their respective points of view. I very much like this doctrine of the manysideness of reality. It is this doctrine that has taught me to judge a Muslim from his own standpoint and a Christian from his. Formerly 1 used to resent the ignorance of my opponents. Today 1 can love them because I am gifted with the eye to see myself as others see me. . . . I want to take the whole world in the embrace of my love.

Complete Honesty with the Self Leads to Our Best Development through Democratic Methods of Persuasion.

Gandhi writes "We do not always know wherein lies our good. That is why it is best to assume that qood always comes from following the path of truth." A commitment to honesty with the self and others is always likely to uncover inadequate motives in our behavior. For example, in his own appreciation of himself, Gandhi found that he was no guru, no prophet, no saint no infallible teacher. He was simply a human being, he talls us in his own words, who blunders from error towards truth." With this attitude towards truth and towards his own inadequacies, he found it necessary to accept without qualification democratic methods of reaching truth, to accept without qualification persuasion rather than compulsion. He tells us that he had no desire to conquer his adversaries by force. He wished to convert them, or rather he wished to communicate with them, to persuade them, to be persuaded by them of the truth. When a person approaches truth with this spirit, "the pursuit of Truth requires a recognition that no one man, no one party, no one class, no one race has the whole Truth that since all human views are partial every view should be given free expression, should be considered and respected, even as it should often be rejected and resisted. Man must be free to seek the Truth, and the Truth shall make man free."

II. Truthfulness leads to God

A. The mixture of order and disorder results in the uncertainty of the theoretical approach

Gandhiís commitment to truth leads him to theism even though he respects the atheism of the atheist. One argument that he gives for religious belief in a personal God who is Truth itself is an argument from the lawfulness of the physical world and the lawfulness of the human conscience in all persons. He writes "There is orderliness in the universe, there is an unalterable law governing everything and every being that exists or lives. It is not a blind law; for no blind law can govern the conduct of living beings [There must be an intelligent law for intelligent creatures.] That law, then, which governs all life is God. Law and law giver are one."

The problem of evil makes the theoretical argument a weak argument. He tells us that "I cannot account for the existence of evil by any rational method. To want to do so is to be co-equal with God. I am therefore humble enough to recognize evil as such. And 1 call God long-suffering and patient precisely because he permits evil in the world. I know that he has no evil."

B. Experiential, Faith Argument

Gandhi did not base his life's commitment on the theoretical argument from order in the world but accepted an argument from direct experience of God which he tests in his practical life. He tells us that "There is an indefinable mysterious Power that pervades everything. I feel it though I do not see it. It is this unseen Power which makes itself felt and yet defies all proof, because it is so unlike all that I perceive through my sense. It transcends the senses. [One way of experiencing this unseen power would be in the very search of people for the truth and through recognizing that it is the same divine power which is at work in every personís search for the truth.] The best definition of God for Gandhi is the statement that Truth is God. He is not substituting the abstract term `Truthí for God. Such a substitution would be a replacing of religion by philosophy. He holds it very important, not only that one commit oneself without reservation to Truth, but also that one believe with all the depth of oneís being that Truth is God. Without belief in a Personal source of the human search for Truth, the human commitment to truth will lack the emotional energy and sustaining devotion needed to carry out a difficult search. For the person must face real ordeals in trying to live the life of truth, the life of nonviolence, which inevitably involves a life of suffering through non-violent resistance to evil.

1. Practical test: First believe, then test that belief

 Gandhi tells us that we can in our own lives test the fact of God's presence by a living faith. Since faith cannot be proved by evidence outside the act of faith, the safest course is to believe in the moral government of the world and therefore in the supremacy of the moral law, the law of truth and love. Gandhi once summed up his belief with the statement: "I believe in the moral law, the law of truth and love." Such a belief rules more than the intellect; it transforms every practical aspect of a personís life.

2. The Example of Gandhiís life in acting on faith

It was by this practical method of acting on a working hypothesis, like the experimental method used in science, that Gandhi increased his faith day by day. The subtitle of his autobiography was : the story of my experiments with the truth. Working like a scientist on the hypothesis that God as truth and love ruled the world and united all beings, he behaved with love and trust toward all his fellow beings in his private and political life. The response of love and trust which he obtained from others strengthened his faith and sustained him even when some of the others would not respond to his life of non-violent resistance against social and political evils.

The above material is (c) copyrighted by William O'Meara, 1997.

The material below is by Sanderson Beck and is not copyrighted. It may be found on his website: http://www.west.net/~beck/WP19-Gandhi.html

BECK index

Mahatma Gandhi's Nonviolent Revolution

"Gandhi continues what the Buddha began.
In the Buddha the spirit of love set itself the task
of creating different spiritual conditions in the world;
in Gandhi it undertakes to transform all worldly conditions."
Albert Schweitzer

"Nonviolence is the law of our species
as violence is the law of the brute.
The spirit lies dormant in the brute,
and he knows no law but that of physical might.
The dignity of man requires obedience to a higher law -
to the strength of the spirit."
Mahatma Gandhi

"If man will only realize
that it is unmanly to obey laws that are unjust,
no man's tyranny will enslave him."
Mahatma Gandhi

"There can be no inward peace without true knowledge."
Mahatma Gandhi

"Science of war leads one to dictatorship pure and simple.
Science of nonviolence can alone lead one to pure democracy."
Mahatma Gandhi

"For self-defense, I would restore the spiritual culture.
The best and most lasting self-defense is self-purification."
Mahatma Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869 in western India. His father was a local politician, and his mother was a religious Vaishnavite. At the age of 13 Mohandas was married to a girl his own age and began an active sex life. After some undistinguished education it was decided that he should go to England to study law. He gained his mother's permission by promising to refrain from wine, women, and meat, but he defied his caste's regulations which forbade travel to England. He joined the Inner Temple law college in London. In searching for a vegetarian restaurant he discovered its philosophy in Henry Salt's A Plea for Vegetarianism and became convinced. He organized a vegetarian club and met people with theosophical and altruistic interests. His first reading of the Bhagavad-Gita was in Edwin Arnold's poetic translation The Song Celestial. This Hindu scripture and the Sermon on the Mount later became his bibles and spiritual guidebooks. He memorized the Gita during his daily toothbrushing and often recited its original Sanskrit at his prayer meetings.

When Gandhi returned to India in 1891 his mother had died, and he was not successful at breaking into the legal profession due to his shyness. So he took the opportunity of representing an Indian firm in Natal, South Africa for a year. South Africa, which is still notorious for racial discrimination, gave Gandhi the insults which awakened his social conscience. He refused to remove his turban in court: he was thrown out of a first-class railway compartment; and he was beaten for refusing to move to the footboard of a stage-coach for the sake of a European passenger. As a lawyer Gandhi did his best to discover the facts and get the parties to accept arbitration and compromise in order to settle out of court. After solving a difficult case in this way he was elated and commented, "I had learnt to find out the better side of human nature and to enter men's hearts. I realized that the true function of a lawyer was to unite parties riven asunder." He also insisted on receiving the truth from his clients, and if he found out that they had lied he dropped their cases. He believed that the lawyer's duty was to help the court discover the truth, not to try to prove the guilty innocent. At the end of the year during a farewell party before he was to sail for India, Gandhi noticed in the newspaper that a bill was being proposed that would deprive Indians of the vote. His friends urged him to stay and lead the fight for their rights in South Africa. Gandhi founded the Natal Indian Congress in 1894, and their efforts were given considerable notice by the press. When he returned from fetching his family from India in January 1897 the South Africans tried to stop him from landing by bribing and threatening the shipowner Dada Abdulla Sheth; but Dada Abdulla was Gandhi's client, and finally after a long quarantine period Gandhi was allowed to land. The waiting mob recognized Gandhi, and some whites began to hit his face and body until the Police Superintendent's wife came to his rescue. The mob threatened to Iynch him, but Gandhi escaped in a disguise. Later he refused to prosecute anyone, holding to the principle of self-restraint in regard to a personal wrong; besides, it had been the community leaders and the Natal government who caused the problem. Nevertheless Gandhi felt it his duty to support the British during the Boer War which he did by organizing and leading an Indian Ambulance Corps to nurse the wounded on the battlefield. Even this effort was somewhat delayed by race prejudice, but when three hundred free Indians and eight hundred indentured servants volunteered, the whites were impressed. Gandhi ended up spending twenty years-in South Africa. He experimented with celibacy during his thirties, and in 1906 took the Brahmacharya vow for the rest of his life.

The first use of civil disobedience on a mass scale came in September 1906. The Transvaal government wanted to register the entire Indian population. The Indians held a mass meeting in the Imperial Theatre of Johannesburg; they were angry at the humiliating ordinance, and some threatened a violent response if put to the test. However, they decided as a group to refuse to comply with the registration provisions; there was complete unanimity. Yet Gandhi suggested that they take a pledge in the name of God; even though they were Hindus and Moslems they all believed in one and the same God. Every one of the nearly three thousand Indians present took the solemn pledge. Gandhi decided to call this technique of refusing to submit to injustice "Satyagraha" which means literally "holding to the truth." One week after the pledge Asiatic women were excused from having to register. When the Transvaal government finally put the Asiatic Registration Act into effect in 1907, Gandhi and several other Indians were arrested. He was given only two months without hard labor, and he spent the time reading. Yet during his life Gandhi would spend a total of more than six and a half years in jail. Gandhi was called to meet with General Jan Christiaan Smuts, and they agreed on a compromise. Gandhi declared to his followers that a Satyagrahi must be fearless and always trust his opponent, "for an implicit trust in human nature is the very essence of his creed." Satyagraha uncovers hidden motives and reveals the truth; even if it results in the opponent's falseness, the wrong will be more sharply felt and will be more clearly seen, and we must continually give him the opportunity to be true. While reading in jail Gandhi discovered Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" and the works of Tolstoy. He was "overwhelmed" by The Kingdom of God is Within You and "began to realize more and more the infinite possibilities of universal love."

The protest movement for Indian rights in South Africa continued to grow; at one point out of the 13,000 Indians in the province 2,500 Indians were in jail, while 6,000 had fled Transvaal. In being civil to the opponents during the disobedience Gandhi developed the use of ahimsa, which means "non-hurting" and is usually translated "nonviolence." Gandhi followed the precept "Hate the sin and not the sinner." Since we are all one spiritually, to hurt or attack another person is to attack oneself. Though we may attack an unjust system, we must always love the persons involved. Thus "ahimsa is the basis of the search for truth."

Gandhi was also attracted to the simple agricultural life. He started two rural communes for Satyagrahis-Phoenix Farm and Tolstoy Farm. He wrote and edited the journal Indian Opinion to elucidate the principles and practice of Satyagraha. Three issues brought the quest for Indian rights in South Africa to a crisis-the tax on ex-serfs, the ban on Asiatic immigrants, and the invalidating of all but Christian marriages. In November 1913 Gandhi led a march of over two thousand people. Gandhi was arrested and released on bail, arrested again and released, and arrested once more all within four days. He was sentenced to three months' hard labor, but the strikes and demonstrations went on with about 50,000 indentured laborers on strike and thousands of free Indians in prison. The Christian missionary Charles F. Andrews donated all his money to the movement. Gandhi and the other leaders were released and announced another march. However, Gandhi refused to take advantage of a railway strike by white employees and called off the march in spite of Smut's broken pledge in 1908. "Forgiveness is the ornament of the brave," Gandhi explained. Finally by negotiation the issues were resolved. All marriages regardless of religion were valid; the tax on indentured laborers was canceled including arrears; and Indians were allowed to move more freely. Gandhi summarized the power of the Satyagraha method and prophesied how it could transform modern civilization. "It is a force which, if it became universal, would revolutionize social ideals and do away with despotisms and the ever-growing militarism under which the nations of the West are groaning and are being almost crushed to death, and which fairly promises to overwhelm even the nations of the East." Smuts expressed his respect for Gandhi and his gentle but powerful methods which had made him realize that the law had to be repealed.

Meanwhile India was still suffering under British colonial rule. In 1909 Gandhi had written Hind Swaraj which means "Indian Self-Rule." In this diatribe against the corruption of Western civilization Gandhi suggests that India can gain its independence by nonviolent means and self-reliance. He rejects brute force and its oppression and declares that soul force or love is what keeps people together in peace and harmony. History ignores the peaceful qualities but takes note of the interruptions and violations which disrupt civilization. Gandhi returned to India in 1915 and again supported the British during the First World War by raising and leading an ambulance corps.

The great poet Rabindranath Tagore gave Gandhi the title "Mahatma" meaning "Great Soul," and Gandhi founded the Satyagraha Ashram for his family and co-workers near the textile city of Ahmedabad. When a family of untouchables asked to live in the ashram, Gandhi admitted them. Orthodox Hindus believed this polluted them. Funds ran out, and Gandhi was ready to live in the untouchable slums if necessary, but an anonymous benefactor donated enough money to last a year. To help change people's attitudes about these unfortunate pariahs, Gandhi renamed them "Harijans" or "Children of God." Later he called his weekly magazine Harijan also.

In 1917 Gandhi helped the indigo sharecroppers of Champaran throw off the unfair exploitation of their landlords. He was arrested, but the officials soon realized that the Mahatma was the only one who could control the crowds. Reforms were won again by civil disobedience, this time in India. The textile workers of Ahmedabad were also economically oppressed. Gandhi suggested a strike, and when the workers were weakening in their resolve he went on a fast to encourage them to continue the strike. Gandhi explained that he did not fast to coerce the opponent but to strengthen or reform those who loved him. He did not believe in fasting for higher wages, but he fasted so that the workers would accept the system of arbitration to resolve the conflict, which they did.

Gandhi's first challenge to the British government in India was in response to the arbitrary powers of the Rowlatt Act in 1919. India had cooperated with Britain during the war, and instead of receiving Dominion Status civil liberties were being curtailed. Guided by a dream or inner experience Gandhi decided to call for a one-day hartal or general strike on all economic activity. Many signed the Satyagraha pledge, and Gandhi suggested making "a continuous and persistent effort to return good for evil." However, the philosophy was not well understood by the masses, and violence erupted in various places. The Mahatma repented declaring he had made "a Himalayan miscalculation," and he called off the campaign. In one infamous incident General Dyer had ordered his soldiers to fire into a crowd, wounding 1,137 and killing 379. The Hunter Report indicated that he was less concerned with dispersing the crowd and more intent on "producing a sufficient moral effect from a military point of view." Another general made the statement: "Force is the only thing that an Asiatic has any respect for." The report concluded that the moral effect was quite opposite from the one intended.

Gandhi founded and published two weeklies without advertisements - Young India in English and Navajivan in Gujarati. In 1920 Gandhi initiated a nation-wide campaign of non-cooperation with the British government, which for the peasant meant non-payment of taxes and no buying of liquor since the government gained revenue from its sale. Gandhi traveled throughout India addressing mass meetings. He urged people to spin their own cloth and designed a Congress flag with a spinning wheel in the center. By January 1922 thirty thousand Indians had been jailed for civil disobedience. Some nationalist patriots urged revolution, but Gandhi would never forsake nonviolence. Gandhi decided to try mass civil disobedience in Bardoli, a county of 87,000, but news of how an Indian mob had murdered some constables reached him. Although it was eight hundred miles from Bardoli, he once again canceled the campaign, this time before it had started. In March the British Viceroy ordered Gandhi's arrest. This was the only time that the British allowed him a trial. He made no apology and suggested the highest penalty "for what in law is a deliberate crime and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen." Gandhi explained, "In my opinion, non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good." The judge sentenced him to six years and hoped the government would reduce the term. He was in fact released after twenty-two months when he had an appendectomy.

Perhaps the greatest block to Indian unity and self government was the conflict between Hindus and Moslems. In 1924 Gandhi went on a twenty-one day fast to bridge this strife. He pleaded for unity in diversity, religious tolerance, and love for one another.

During the late 1920s Gandhi wrote an autobiography which he called his experiments with truth; it is quite candid and humble in the- way he examines his faults and his efforts to overcome them. In his speeches he pointed out his five-point program on the fingers of his hand: equality for untouchables, spinning, no alcohol or drugs, Hindu-Moslem friendship, and equality for women. They were all connected to the wrist which stood for nonviolence. Finally in 1928 he announced a Satyagraha campaign in Bardoli against a 22% increase in British-imposed taxes. Refusing to pay taxes the people had their possessions confiscated and some were driven off their land, but they remained nonviolent. It lasted several months, and hundreds were arrested. Finally the government gave in and agreed to cancel the tax increase, release all prisoners, and return confiscated land and property; the peasants agreed to pay their taxes at the previous rate.

The Indian Congress wanted self-government and considered war for independence. Gandhi naturally refused to support a war but declared that if India was not free under Dominion Status by the end of 1929, then he would demand independence. Consequently in 1930 he informed the Viceroy that civil disobedience would begin on March 11. "My ambition is no less than to convert the British people through nonviolence, and thus make them see the wrong they have done to India. I do not seek to harm your people." Gandhi decided to disobey the Salt Laws which forbade Indians from making their own salt; this British monopoly especially struck at the poor. Beginning with seventy-eight members of his ashram Gandhi led a two-hundred mile march to the sea over twenty-four days. Thousands had gathered at the start, and several thousands joined them on the march. First Gandhi and then others all along the seacoast gathered some salt water in pans to dry it. In Bombay the Congress had pans on the roof; 60,000 people assembled, and hundreds were arrested. At Karachi where 50,000 watched the salt being made, the crowd was so thick that the police could make no arrests. The jails were filled with at least 60,000 offenders. Amazingly enough there was practically no violence at all; the people did not want Gandhi to cancel the movement. Gandhi was arrested before he could invade the Dharasana Salt Works, but his friend Mrs. Sarojini Naidu led 2,500 volunteers and warned them not to resist the blows of the police. According to an eye-witness account by the reporter Webb Miller, they continued to march in until beaten down with steel-shod lathis by the four hundred police, but they did not try to fight back. Tagore declared that Europe had lost her moral prestige in Asia. Soon more than 100,000 Indians were in prison, including almost all the leaders.

Gandhi was called to a meeting with Viceroy Irwin in 1931, and they came to an agreement in March. Civil disobedience was called off; prisoners were released; salt manufacture was permitted on the coast; and Congress leaders would attend the next Round Table Conference in London. Gandhi traveled to London where he met Charlie Chaplin, George Bernard Shaw, and Maria Montessori among others. On radio to the United States he spoke of a way better than brute force more consistent with human dignity. In discussing relations with the British he said he did not want isolated independence but voluntary interdependence based on love.

While in prison in 1932 Gandhi went on a fast on behalf of the Harijans because they had been given a separate electorate. It was to be a "fast unto death" unless he could awaken the Hindu conscience. The issue was resolved, and even Hindu temples were opened to untouchables for the first time. The next year Gandhi went on a twenty-one day fast for purification, and British officials, afraid he might die, released him from prison. Gandhi announced that he would not engage in civil disobedience until his sentence was completed. By the time the second world war was approaching Gandhi had been confirmed in his pacifist principles. He pointed out how Abyssinia could have used nonviolence against Mussolini, and he recommended it to the Czechs and China. "If it is brave, as it is, to die to a man fighting against odds, it is braver still to refuse to fight and yet to refuse to yield to the usurper." As early as 1938 he exhorted the Jews to stand up for their rights and die if necessary as martyrs. "A degrading manhunt can be turned into a calm and determined stand offered by unarmed men and women possessing the strength given to them by Jehovah." Gandhi even recommended to the British nonviolent methods of fighting Hitler; no longer could he support any kind of war or killing. He decided on mass Satyagraha in defiance of the ban on propaganda against the war. Gandhi promised Congress he would stay out of jail, but 23,223 others were arrested including Vinoba Bhave, Nehru, and Patel. In 1942 Gandhi suggested ways to resist the Japanese nonviolently. He sent an appeal to the Japanese people for the sake of "world federation and brotherhood without which there can be no hope for humanity."

However, Gandhi continued to preach a nonviolent revolution for India, and in 1942 he and other leaders were arrested. He decided to fast again; he barely survived. When the war ended he asserted the need for "a real peace based on the freedom and equality of all races and nations." In his last years he became more of a socialist. He said, "Violence is bred by inequality, nonviolence by equality." He went on a pilgrimage to Noakhali to help the poor. Independence for India was now imminent, but Jinnah the Moslem leader was holding out for the creation of a separate state of Pakistan. Gandhi prayed for unity and tolerance, and he even read from the Koran at his prayer meetings. Hindus attacked him because they thought he was partial to Moslems, and Moslems demanded he let them have Pakistan. Gandhi went to Calcutta to calm the Hindu-Moslem strife and violence. Once more he fasted until the community leaders signed a pledge to keep the peace; before they signed he warned them that if they broke their word he would fast until he died. His last fast in January 1948 also did much to heal the conflicts between the Hindus and the Moslems over the division into two countries which left minorities in both nations. Although this religious hatred saddened Gandhi, India had gained her independence on August 15, 1947 accomplishing the greatest nonviolent revolution in the history of the world. Finally Gandhi was assassinated by an outraged Hindu on January 30, 1948 at a prayer meeting; with his last breath the Mahatma chanted the name of God.

Albert Einstein declared that Gandhi showed how someone could win allegiance, "not merely by the cunning game of political fraud and trickery, but through the living example of a morally exalted way of life." Einstein considered Gandhi to be the most enlightened statesman of their time, and he predicted, "The problem of bringing peace to the world on a supranational basis will be solved only by employing Gandhi's method on a large scale." The Encyclopedia Britannica summarizes Gandhi's significance with the statement, "He was the catalyst if not the initiator of three of the major revolutions of the 20th century: the revolutions against colonialism, racism, and violence." What was his philosophy of nonviolent soul-force, and what instructions did he give in the use of these methods?

Satyagraha means literally holding on to the Truth. The Hindu understanding of Sat is more than conceptual truth but means also being, existence, reality; ultimately we realize that our spiritual beingness is the essence of Truth as a reality greater than any concept of the mind. Thus the term "soul-force" conveys the idea of employing our spiritual energies. For Gandhi this Truth or spiritual reality is the goal, and the means to the goal must be as pure and loving as possible. Ahimsa therefore is the way of acting without hurting anyone or inflicting oneself against another spiritual being. We may hate an injustice for the harm that it brings to people, but we must always love all the people involved out of respect for human dignity. Satyagraha attempts to awaken an awareness of the truth about the injustice in the perpetrators, and by ahimsa this is done without hurting them. Since humans are subject to error and we cannot be sure we are judging accurately. we must refrain from punishing. Thus ahimsa is an essential safeguard in the quest for truth and justice.

Gandhi explains that Satyagraha is not a method of the weak, like passive resistance, but "a weapon of the strong and excludes the use of violence in any shape or form." Satyagraha is insisting on the truth and can be offered in relation to one's family, rulers, fellow citizens, or even the whole world. Gandhi elucidates three necessary conditions for its success:

1) The Satyagrahi should not have any hatred in his heart against the opponent.
2) The issue must be true and substantial.
3) The Satyagrahi must be prepared to suffer till the end for his cause.

Gandhi emphasized self-suffering rather than inflicting suffering on others. By undergoing suffering to reveal the injustice the Satyagrahi strives to reach the consciences of people. Satyagraha does not try to coerce anyone but rather to convert by persuasion, to reach the reason through the heart. Satyagraha appeals to intelligent public opinion for reform. In the political field the struggle on behalf of the people leads to the challenging of unjust governments or laws by means of non-cooperation or civil disobedience. When petitions and other remedies fail, then a Satyagrahi may break an unjust law and willingly suffer the penalty in order to call attention to the injustice. However, he does not hide or try to escape from the law like a criminal, rather he openly and civilly disobeys the law as a protest, fully expecting to be punished. In Hind Swaraj Gandhi wrote, "It is contrary to our manhood if we obey laws repugnant to our conscience." By eliminating violence Satyagraha gives the opponent the same rights and liberties. Satyagraha requires self-discipline, self control, and self-purification, and Satyagrahis must always make the distinction between the evil and the evil-doer. They must overcome evil with good, hatred with love, anger with patience, untruth with truth, and violence with ahimsa. This takes a perfect person for complete success, and therefore training and education are essential to even make it workable. Gandhi emphasizes that every child "should know what the soul is, what truth is, what love is, what powers are latent in the soul." Both men and women, and even children, may participate, and it demands the courage that comes from spiritual strength and the power of love. Surely it takes more courage to face the weapons of death without fighting than it does to fight and kill. From his experience Gandhi believed that those who wished to serve their country through Satyagraha should "observe perfect chastity, adopt poverty, follow truth, and cultivate fearlessness." It is through fearlessness that we can have the courage to renounce all harmful weapons, filling and surrounding ourselves with the spiritual protection of a loving and peaceful consciousness.

Gandhi elucidated specific guidelines for Satyagraha and civil disobedience. A Satyagrahi will not harbor anger but will suffer the opponent's anger and assaults without retaliating. However, he or she will not submit out of fear of punishment nor obey any order given in anger. Satyagrahis will voluntarily and civilly submit to arrest and will not resist the confiscation of their property; but if a civil resister has the property of another as a trustee, he will refuse to surrender it, holding on to it at the cost of his life. Satyagrahis will not insult or curse their opponents nor participate in shouted cries which are contrary to the spirit of love (ahimsa). Civil resisters will not salute the flag of the government against which they are protesting, but they will not insult it or the government officials. In fact they will protect officials from assault even at the risk of life.

Non-cooperation is a comprehensive policy used by people when they can no longer in good conscience participate in or support a government that has become oppressive, unjust, and violent. Although Satyagrahis do not attack the wrong-doer, it is their responsibility not to promote or support the wrong actions. Thus non-cooperators withdraw from government positions, renounce government programs and services, and refuse to pay taxes to the offending government. While challenging the power of the state in this way non-cooperators have the opportunity to learn greater self-reliance. Gandhi held that non-cooperation with an unjust government was not only an inherent right but as much a duty as is cooperation with a just government.

Ahimsa or nonviolence is absolutely essential to Gandhi's civil disobedience. Satyagrahis were expected to give their lives in efforts to quell violence if it erupted. Gandhi interpreted ahimsa broadly as refraining from anything at all harmful. "The principle of ahimsa is hurt by every evil thought, by undue haste, by Iying, by hatred, by wishing ill to anybody. It is also violated by our holding on to what the world needs." Thus even greed and avarice can violate ahimsa. Nonviolence has a great spiritual power, but the slightest use of violence can taint a just cause. The strength is not physical but comes from the spiritual will. The following is Gandhi's summary of the implications of nonviolence:

1) Nonviolence is the law of the human race and is infinitely greater than and superior to brute force.
2) In the last resort it does not avail to those who do not possess a living faith in the God of Love.
3) Nonviolence affords the fullest protection to one's self-respect and sense of honor, but not always to possession of land or movable property, though its habitual practice does prove a better bulwark than the possession of armed men to defend them. Nonviolence, in the very nature of things, is of no assistance in the defense of ill-gotten gains and immoral acts.
4) Individuals or nations who would practice nonviolence must be prepared to sacrifice (nations to the last man) their all except honor. It is, therefore, inconsistent with the possession of other people's countries, i.e., modern imperialism, which is frankly based on force for its defense.
5) Nonviolence is a power which can be wielded equally by all-children, young men and women or grown-up people, provided they have a living faith in the God of Love and have therefore equal love for all mankind. When nonviolence is accepted as the law of life it must pervade the whole being and not be applied to isolated acts.
6) It is a profound error to suppose that whilst the law is good enough for individuals it is not for masses of mankind.

Gandhi's struggle was so overwhelming and significant, because he challenged the institutional violence of the modern state. He not only recommended refusing military service but also refusing to pay taxes to a militarized state. In addition to citizens' non-cooperating with an evil government, a neutral country also has the obligation to refuse to support or assist a military state or aggressor. Gandhi suggested a nonviolent army that could engage in constructive activities, lessen tensions, and sacrifice their lives to calm mobs and end riots. The qualifications for such a peace brigade would be complete faith in and adherence to nonviolence, equal respect for all religions, personal service and good human relations with the community, integrity and impartiality, and anticipation of brooding conflicts. The cost of training and equipping such a peace brigade would be practically nothing compared to the expenses of the modern military establishment. Gandhi envisioned a nonviolent state which would protect itself by not cooperating with any aggressor. Gandhi was concerned that the democracies would adopt the forceful methods of the fascists; but true democracy must ultimately be nonviolent, for violence is an obvious restriction of liberty. In 1946 Gandhi asserted, "Democracy to be true should cease to rely upon the army for anything whatsoever. It will be a poor democracy that depends for its existence on military assistance. Military force interferes with the free growth of the mind. It smothers the soul of man." He criticized America for its treatment of the Negro. Gandhi observed that armaments are used for greedy exploitation and that the competition and desire for material possessions and the Great Power's imperialistic designs are the biggest blocks to world peace. Also they must shed their fear of destruction; then by disarmament peace can be attained. Gandhi warned, "If the mad race for armaments continues, it is bound to result in a slaughter such as has never occurred in history. If there is a victor left, the very victory will be a living death for the nation that emerges victorious. There is no escape from the impending doom save through a bold and unconditional acceptance of the nonviolent method with all its glorious implications." Gandhi urged us to go beyond family and country to consider the good of the world, and he recommended a world governing body which would recognize the equal independence of each nation. He once said, "The golden way is to be friends with the world and to regard the whole human family as one."

Chinese Sages: Lao Tzu, Confucius, Mo Tzu, and Mencius
Indian Mystics: Mahavira and the Buddha
Greek Conscience: Pythagoras, Socrates, and Aristophanes
Jesus and the Early Christians
Francis of Assisi
The Magna Charta
Dante on One Government
Chaucer on Counseling Peace
Erasmus and Humanism
Crucé's Peace Plan
Grotius on International Law
George Fox, William Penn and Friends
Rousseau's Social Contract
Federalist Peace Plans of Bentham and Kant
Emerson's Transcendentalism
Thoreau's Civil Disobedience
Religion for World Peace: Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l Bahá
Leo Tolstoy on the Law of Love
Mahatma Gandhi's Nonviolent Revolution
Woodrow Wilson and the League of Nations
Franklin Roosevelt and the United Nations
Einstein on Peace in the Atomic Age
Schweitzer on Civilization and Ethics
The Pacifism of Bertrand Russell
Protests of A. J. Muste
Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement
Lessons of Vietnam
The Clark-Sohn Proposal for World Law and Disarmament
Women and Peace
The Anti-Nuclear Movement

BECK index