And Then Gandhi Came

Summary / Review / Appreciation

Jawaharlal Nehru in his Discovery of India discusses the mood of India after the First World War when Gandhi appeared in national politics.  Indians had thought that the end of the war would bring progress and peace.  But instead, the British rule became more repressive.  People were filled with a sense of humiliation, anger, helplessness and hopelessness.  Unemployment was rising.  India had become a derelict nation.

When Gandhi came to this gloomy political scene, it was like a current of fresh air.  Like a beam of light he opened the eyes of Indians.   As he was a common man who rose from them, people could easily identify with him. 

As an expert psychoanalyst, he probed in to the root problems of India and suggested remedies.  Finding that the British rule was thriving on the fear in the mind of the people, he asked them to address this issue straightaway.  He taught them to confront reality and not be afraid of the phantoms created by fear.  According to him, truth was a working remedy for fear.

Gandhi also attacked the prestige and vested interests of certain classes.  British given titles lost their charm.  The pomp and splendor of the ruling class started to appear ridiculous.   Rich people became less interested in flaunting their riches.  At least outwardly, they adopted simpler ways.  Thus Gandhi attacked the foundations of British rule.  He trained the political leaders by sending them to villages.  Peasants were encouraged to come out of their shell.  

Gandhi’s approach was two pronged.  On the one hand he challenged and resisted foreign rule.   On the other hand he fought against our own social evils.  Gandhi had a clear vision about the future India for which he was working.  In that India the poorest people would have a sense of belonging.  They would have an effective voice in its making.  In that India there would be no class divisions.  Different communities would live in perfect harmony.  In that country there would be no role for intoxicating drinks and drugs.  There would be no untouchability.  Women in that India would enjoy equal rights with men.   

Gandhi was a proud Hindu.  But he considered every religion within the fold of truth.  He wanted all cultures to spread their fragrance near his house, but did not want to be fully influenced by a single culture.  He clung to his roots tenaciously.

Gandhi’s influence is far reaching.  It continues even today.  He has influenced many peaceful mass movements.  People like Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Su Ki were influenced by him in their political struggles.  Many contemporary political leaders like Barak Obama have also acknowledged Gandhian influence on them.  His values of truth and non-violence have become all the more relevant today.    

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