gandhii - Ankur Gupta Dr. Linda Hess Gandhi and Nonviolence...

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Ankur Gupta Dr. Linda Hess Gandhi and Nonviolence 25 October 24, 2005 #1 “Literally speaking, ahimsa means non-violence. But to me it has much higher, infinitely higher meaning. It means that you may not offend anybody; you may not harbor uncharitable thought, even in connection with those who consider your enemies. To one who follows this doctrine, there are no enemies.” These were some of the defining words of a man who defined Indian independence. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi has long since been revered for his work in achieving Indian freedom, and in particular for his methods of ahimsa and more specifically, satyagraha. Gandhi, though, was no saint. He personally admits his flaws of stealing, smoking, eating meat, dishonesty, jealousy, and much more. Gandhi’s marriage was extremely important lesson for him in the development of his ideas of ahimsa. Gandhi recalls his regret about how he had treated his young wife and wished that he had not looked upon her with such lustful passion. This step was very important in Gandhi’s development of his ahimsa because it further his ideals of purity and more importantly detailed when Gandhi became into full realization about the difference between love and ahimsa. Gandhi also recalls a spelling test during his first year in high school. During this test, the teacher prompted him to cheat off his neighbor, but Gandhi did not. This early incident demonstrates Gandhi’s development of self-purification, which was the path to ahimsa according to Gandhi. At an early age, Gandhi understood that the ends do not justify the means, but that ahimsa, or love and honesty, was the only means to a justified and proper end.
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Thus, given his later circumstances, Gandhi made undeniably great strides for the cause of liberty. It all began when Gandhi arrived in South Africa as a lawyer, only to find the Indians there treated like 3 rd class citizens. He himself, in a manner reminiscent of the late Rosa Parks, had to deal with abuse on public transportation, being called dirty and a “coolie barrister” on the trains. The slow accumulation of abuse, including poll taxes and the Black Act, was the ultimate cause of Gandhi’s development of ahimsa. The fledgling idea began to evolve when Gandhi started holding local meetings for Indian immigrants, preaching first the importance of truthfulness. These meetings developed into a forum for political action as they started creating large scale petitions and civil disobedience. Influenced by Tolstoy and Thoreau's, Gandhi performed just that: civil disobedience. Specifically avoiding "passive resistance," his concept was now clearly formulated in his mind but the word to describe it was wanting. His cousin Maganlal Gandhi suggested sadagraha, meaning holding fast to truth or firmness in a righteous cause. Gandhi liked the term and changed to satyagraha. Thus Gandhi's most original idea was evolved and formulated into political action. Personally, I find Gandhi’s approach extremely compelling. After reading his
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course ENGR 10 taught by Professor Cappelli,m during the Winter '08 term at Stanford.

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gandhii - Ankur Gupta Dr. Linda Hess Gandhi and Nonviolence...

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