Forced Ahimsa or non-violence of ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ cost millions of lives, billions of rupees of property destruction, and wounded people’s hearts throughout the Indian subcontinent to the extent that the pain and agony of the India-Pakistan partition riots are still fresh in the minds of people.
When anything is forced or imposed, it only causes damage to either the one who is forced or to the one who forces it. Such was Gandhi’s non-violence. It was neither natural to him, nor did he preach it like a ‘Mahatma’ who would not force people to do anything they didn’t want to.
In her diary, Kasturba Gandhi, his wife, writes that Gandhi’s ‘Ahimsa’ or non-violence was born out of his shame of being afraid of darkness, ghosts, thieves, dacoits, and even snakes and wild animals. He was ashamed of admitting these fears within his heart. But Kasturba was his wife, and therefore, she knew him better than anyone else.
Therefore, it’s clear that Gandhi found Ahimsa as an excuse to defend his inability to retaliate physically at the time of confrontation with physically superior opposition. He had no shame or hesitation using his force on his wife, but he was a Sanyasi and non-violent protestor in front of a violent oppressor. He was cunning and strategic, no doubt!
A great example of Mahatma’s forced imposition of will is the non-cooperation movement started by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in 1922. Gandhi prescribed the movement to be a peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience movement across the country. This movement was catching up momentum with time and looked like it would shake the British government by the time 1922 came.
But a violent Chauri Chura incident happened on 4th February 1922 when the police fired upon a group of peaceful protesters. In retaliation, people attacked and set fire to a police station killing all of its occupants.
In response to this incident, Gandhi abruptly halted the entire movement altogether and shocked everyone. All sacrifices made by hundreds of thousands of people across the country were of no value to Gandhi. In just one place in a large country like India, one incident was enough for Gandhi to condemn everyone and all their sacrifices and cancel the whole movement. He was criticized for his decision then and continues to be criticized to date for his ego-driven decision without any regard to millions of freedom fighters who had suffered or were jailed or killed by the British during this movement supporting Gandhi’s call.
With this action, his message was loud and clear. People needed to take his orders seriously and follow to the letter. Any deviation shall not be tolerated!
With such imposition of his will, he forced millions of people to follow his version of ‘Ahimsa’ or non-violence that meant not hurting the other even if the other is hurting you. This had a dramatic effect on people’s minds and lives.
The people of India (Hindus and Muslims) did not and could not fight the British with force. They did not and could not hurt the British Empire. But the fire was there; to retaliate when suppressed, to fight is just natural human instinct. So, as a side effect, Hindus and Muslims killed each other, and that anger of imposed non-violence of Gandhi caused bloodshed that cost tens of millions of innocent lives as Gandhi watched it all as a spectator.
Yes, Gandhi was responsible for the bloodshed that followed the India-Pakistan partition. He played a significant role in that bloodshed, and this was one of the many reasons why Nathuram Godse decided to eliminate Gandhi.
Gandhi showed off his love for ‘Ahimsa’ and ‘non-violence’ and preached to everyone to follow in his footsteps. Through the writings of Kasturba Gandhi, we can easily deduce that he was not much of a saint in his personal life at home. But are there other examples of Gandhi’s self-imposed fake ‘Ahimsa’ making him violent?
There are plenty of such examples.
During his Brahmacharya Prayog (experiments with celibacy), there are numerous examples where he used his influence to convince, emotionally blackmail, and force young girls and women to sleep naked with him on his bed. He even forced married women to sleep with him naked in his bed, and when they refused, he was distraught at them and complained.
Let’s keep aside the morality question about his act of sleeping naked itself. But forcing women to undress in front of him against his will, violating their dignity in the name of his so-called ‘Bhrahmacharya Prayog,’ is beyond doubt an act of violence.
Gandhi’s never trusted anyone, and therefore he insisted that his views be accepted and not questioned. How he forced Subhas Chandra Bose to resign from the position of the president from Congress is in the public domain. The emotional blackmailing and coercion he used to force Subhas Bose show his disdain for Bose because Bose held a different view than him even though the goal was the same.
The story of Gandhi forcing Sardar Patel to resign from the democratically elected presidential position of the Congress so that Nehru, who didn’t even get one vote in his favor, could be the president of the party is common knowledge. Even there are movies built on that topic.
Do these activities and conduct of Gandhi indicate that he was a non-violent person who had any respect for the institution, dignity of other men and women, or even valued truth?
The study of the life of Gandhi through the writings of the people close to him, it’s clear that Gandhi valued truth, Ahimsa, Satyagraha, Brahmacharya, and all the good virtues as long as other people followed those and as long as it benefited him. He spoke the truth as long as it helped him gain from it, and if a lie was helpful in some situation, he didn’t hesitate to lie. He also lied about the post partition violence and kept mum when atrocities on Hindu community was rampant by Moplah Muslims. He chose silence when it suited him or when he wanted to appease Muslims.
One of the most trusted documents that everyone should read is Kasturba Gandhi’s writings compiled under the book “Kasturba Ki Rahasyamai Diary’. Coming from his wife, this is an authentic document that gives us a peek into his thinking and conduct.
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