A Legacy Of Peace

“I regard myself as a soldier,
though a soldier of peace”

For a generation far removed from the struggles of the freedom movement, Mahatma Gandhi seems to have been reduced to just a face in their history books and on their currency bills. Neither the high flying, tech savvy, middle class Indian on his race to compete with the rest of the world, nor his poor rural counterpart in the struggle to put food on his table, appears to have time to spare this ‘half naked fakir’ or his legacy, a thought.

Except perhaps, when – and if – they attend an independence day celebration, no doubt presided over by a local ‘Neta’ who will pay obeisance to a garlanded image of the Mahatma, to further his own political dreams.

“The things that will destroy us are: politics without
principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth
without work; knowledge without character; business
without morality; science without humanity; and
worship without sacrifice”

That hijacking his name, and his method of protest, lends legitimacy to every group – left, right or center – should be heartening, for it does imply that underneath all that apathy, lies a conviction that Gandhi was, and will always remain, a standard for exemplary moral behaviour, a beacon for truth and honesty, an apostle for peace.

“What difference does it make to the dead,
the orphans and the homeless, whether
the mad 
destruction is brought under the
name 
of totalitarianism or the holy name
of liberty or democracy?”

Today, 64 years after his death, on the anniversary of a freedom achieved at the immense human cost of partition, and the certainty of never ending conflict with our neighbour…..in an increasingly violent, selfish and self centred world, I ask myself…..can we “be the change we want to see in the world“?

“You must not lose faith in humanity.
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean
are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty”

Happy independence day to all my Indian and (24 hrs too late) to my Pakistani friends.

 

Related articles:

Quotes by Mahatma Gandhi

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on instagram.com/theurgetowander

95 thoughts on “A Legacy Of Peace

  1. I stumbled on this post by accident and found this important tribute to the Mahatma. I was born a slave and we were all free after one year. I remember in the fiftys my elders complaining that the Raj days were better. They had seen nothing. they will now say if they ever come back that the fifttys were better days, when they see today’s corruption and decay of values, both in Pakistan and in India.

    1. I am hoping we have – on both sides of the border – reached such depths that there is no way but up from here. Can’t imagine values eroding any further. You missed being a midnight’s child by a year then 🙂

      1. Haven’t read “Midnight Children” (Rushdee’s?) so cannot say what entails being one, but I certainly missed the honour narrowly. 🙂

  2. Mahatma Gandhi was an remarkable man – human, he had everything – the heart, the soul and the wisdom. Love the music – know very little about India – been stranded one night in Bombay between flights from Hong Kong to Frankfurt. Wonderful post.

    1. Thank you Viveka. I feel it is considerable enhanced by the addition of the music. You are the first to read it ‘finished’ 🙂

  3. Whenever I read one of Gandhi’s quotes I get goose bumps … what an advanced soul he is … in my next life I want to be HIM.

  4. What a thoughtful and lovely post, Madhu. Unfortunately, it is the way of heroes. After a generation, their deeds are mostly forgotten and the ideals that they fought for, buried somewhere in the pages of history books which hopefully have not been revised to suit a particular political or social philosophy.

  5. Hi Madhu! Thank you for visiting my blog again. I’m not Indian, but I love what Gandhi stood for. When I was in university, I minored in telecommunications and took acting class. For one project, my partner and I acted out a scene from the infamous movie “Gandhi”. I played the part of his wife when she became a bit defiant towards him. I loved that and still remember it.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to politics, people use whoever or whatever will secure them the most votes. Apparently, Gandhi is that who when it comes to politics in India. I think every country has its “who” whose name will be wholeheartedly used but other times wielded as a tactic just for gain. However, in some hopes, either way it that “who” is used, may it bring about some remembrance or awareness to the people in greater way than it is used for the moment for something even better.

    1. How interesting that you played the part of Kasturba Gandhi! Yes we can only hope for better utilisation of Gandhi’s legacy. Thanks for dropping by 🙂

  6. I admire Mahatma Gandi and the goals he strove to achieve. His non-violent approach was adopted by The Reverend Martin Luther King. Unfortunately, both were assassinated.

    Madhu, I do believe that Gandhi’s philosophy of “be the change that you want to see in the world” is an admirable one. I really loved the quote you published in your post. I’d never heard this before:

    “You must not lose faith in humanity.
    Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean
    are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty”

    1. I added that quote after I clicked publish Judy! I needed to reaffirm MY faith in humanity! Thank you for your input.

  7. From one Indian to the other ….hello! I would have said “Vanakam” but since you’re on a sabbatical i decided to take the informal route. Loved your Independence Day post.Today Gandhi has become a catchword to garner attention. And most of the avowed Gandhians of the world barely have a coherant idea of all the principles he espoused. Sometimes i wonder if he would have appreciated what Independent India has made of its freedom. But i guess i’m a bit more cynical than you are….cause i think our system has some pretty deep seated flaws that would need another Gandhi to fix. But here’s to India’s 66th birthday…Jai Hind!

    1. Did I seem any less cynical? In fact I don’t write about India much because it ends up sounding hopeless and sad! It does seem like we need another messiah to pull us out of the quagmire……but the present lot of would be messiahs seem like a bunch of charlatans. By the way, ‘Namaskara’ would be the right greeting, even if I live in Chennai 🙂 Appreciate your sharing your thoughts and look forward to exploring your Kafkaesque world.

  8. Well I think everything you had mentioned finally gets summarized in the last point “be the change that you want to see in this world”. There is no other way out. The system cannot be changed. So we have to stop blaming about stuff that is going around us and just be the change that we want to see. there is a small world around each of us. Just doing a little bit everyday to make that world better or happier is all we need.

    1. Too cynical to believe that is quite enough, but one can only try. Thanks Goks! Appreciate the visit and comment.

  9. In my eyes a topclass post – G as Gandhi is so right – yeeeah… 😉

    Gandhi maybe greater aboard than in India – I think Gandhi together with Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill was some of the greatest fighters for civilization where “violence” was not an instrument of power but an instrument used in defense of civil civilization itself – unfortunately, people around the world too weak or “stupid” to see that many are using force and violence (often in the name of civilization) to harm civilization for their own profit – it doesn’t matter if it’s groups or states that doing this – I hope that we all become so civilized, most of us, so we understand these “front runners” message… 😉

    “In war, truth is the first victim” (Aischylos, greek poet)

    I’m not a foolish pacifist, actually so have my “father of the father” line in the last 9 generations had 7 officers and 2 sergeants in the danish military – I’m part number 8… 😉

    Freedom and Responsibility – belong together, one of them is nothing without the other… 😉

    Sorry Madhu – you hit a button on the “Le Drake Noir”
    which was close to the heart… ‘hahaha’

    Great post… 😉

    1. I am glad I did Ledrake 🙂 It is an accepted fact that Gandhi is greater abroad than in India! We have certainly not embraced his teachings of freedom with responsibility. Far from it.

  10. An amazing man with a heart of gold, a mind of brilliance, and a soul of that is pure. We need role models like him in today’s world. Our children needs to know people like him and not the flashy celebrities of t.v. Great post.

  11. Great article about a great man. US civil rights leader Martin Luther King said:

    “Christ gave us the goals and Mahatma Gandhi the tactics”.

    British musician John Lennon referred to Gandhi when discussing his views on non-violence.

    Perhaps with all the violence in the world we should look at the teachings of the great man and learn his non-violent methods to achieve our aims.

    1. Obama too! Perhaps we should look at his legacy to end violence, but will we is the question? Thanks Jane 🙂

  12. So sad. Happy Independence Day to you and hoping things will get better in both India and Pakistan as the younger generation learns from our mistakes.

    1. Would like to believe that Khaula. But have not much hope. The man on the street wants that I know. But too many people on both sides benefit from the status quo.

    1. I don’t know Frizz. Passive resistance was enough to overthrow Mubarak in Egypt! But Gandhi wasn’t just about non violent protest. His message of respect and tolerance is more important to sustain the freedom gained by Ahimsa. That is what I am bemoaning here.

  13. Great post! When our generation is so far removed, the next gen barely know his name and is more of ‘fiction’ to them!

    1. Glad you agree Deepa! We need to acknowledge there is a problem before we can address it. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  14. Hoping you had a great day and found some inspiration for the future. I can never hear about it now without thinking of Rushdie after I read the brilliant Midnight’s Children.

    1. Rushdies story is indeed brilliant! His fiction was way more authentic than the our/their versions of history doled out in school textbooks! Thank you for reading 🙂

      1. MC is one of my favourite books. He creates such a brilliant atmosphere that transports you right there. And it was such a clever concept for a novel.

        1. I agree, and I’m so interested to hear Madhu say it has more truth than the sanitised stories that have become the popular conception of that time. You know MC was voted the Booker of Bookers a few years ago, on the anniversary of the prize?

        2. Yes, I think I did actually hear that (surprisingly in my insulated world), and I currently have a different Rushdie book next to my bedside in Spain that I am re-reading.

          I think the only comparable author in terms of amazing fantasy mixed with reality that comes to mind for me is Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

        3. He’s the master, I think. Though it’s interesting, there are a lot of young Indian writers who’re using similar techniques to great effect. One of my favourites is Vikram Chandra’s ‘Red Earth and Pouring Rain’.

        4. I don’t know about younger ones but I have read Chandra – not that particular one, and quite a few others. I am rather partial to Indian authors.

  15. Happy independence day Madhu. A lovely post and tribute to a great man. If only more people could live by his values the world would be a better place.

  16. “What difference does it make to the dead,
    the orphans and the homeless, whether
    the mad destruction is brought under the
    name of totalitarianism or the holy name
    of liberty or democracy?”

    Shame our modern leaders seem to forget this one …

    I noticed little tin pot précis on the TV the last few days – so it wasn’t a surprise when you said people were forgetting – what a tragedy. To have spawned one of the greatest men of the modern era, and for his teachings to have faded from memory so fast.

    1. Yes, the disconnect is very disappointing. People don’t seem to realise that patriotism isn’t just about singing a few songs and donning the right colours. Just as ‘culture’ isn’t about ones attire or rituals! His message has been buried amidst the rhetoric.

  17. His words “you must be the change you wish to see in the world” are embroidered on a pillow I keep on my bed. It’s the first thing I see in the morning and the last I see at night. Beautiful post Madhu!

  18. A wonderful post that gives much for the reader to ponder. Happy Independence Day to you.

    1. That was a reminder to myself Grover….my faith in humanity needs constant refreshing! Appreciate your stopping by to comment 🙂

  19. and his enormous determination and patience for peace. Happy independence day your and to Indian!

  20. Love your choice for the challenge. Gandhi has always been of interest and respect in this country. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

  21. When I first learned about Gandhi back in school, I was captivated by Ahimsa. Maybe because at that time Indonesia was in a such turbulent time, so the idea of a peaceful resistance was very interesting for me.

    1. I grew up in an idealistic nation, but I would like to believe that his message is still relevant today. Thank you Bama.

  22. Happy Independence Day to you! Great inspiring post.
    The quote of Gandhi which speaks to me the most is, “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

  23. Such a moving and uplifting post…I especially like your header photo of the lotus blossom/water lily; such beauty grows in often dirty or stagnant water. Awesome ;o)

  24. What a tribute, Madhu, to a man who never lost faith in humanity. Let’s hope we all do our part to prevent those things that will destroy us.

    1. Thank you AD, that quote is a ray of hope….to remind myself not to get too cynical 🙂

  25. Gosh, Madhu, so much to ponder here. Ghandi is someone every schoolchild here in the UK knows: a figure who gained such respect through peaceful protest, who was filled with words of wisdom which have endured. So thought provoking to hear your perspective.

    1. Thank you Kate! Came out more cynical than I intended, but the disconnect between our youth and their legacy is a bit disheartening.

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