Gandhi’s Historical Impact During the 19th and 20th centuries, there were many people who rose to power and demonstrated themselves as leaders with strong influences over their followers. This time period consisted of a few historically significant leaders such as Lenin, Hitler, Mussolini, and Mao Zedong. The main objective of these leaders was to spread their version of totalitarian ideas. Yet, another leader was prominent during the same time period, but unlike Hitler, Lenin, and Zedong, his goal was the spreading of democracy using nonviolent tactics throughout his nation as well as across the world; this leader as Gandhi.
Mahatma Gandhi was a rebel, who successfully gained a large following and much support without formulating any violent war plans, or issuing violent attacks on the opposition. According to many of his writings, nonviolence and morality are the keys to achieving unity. Various peoples, such as Muslims and Jews, have encountered various situations throughout history where Gandhi felt as if using tactics other than war would be considerably effective and beneficial to the overall goal of unity and liberty as long as a strong following aided in the process. Mahatma
Gandhi: Selected Political Writing focuses on the different values that Gandhi practiced, as well as preached. Much of these values were critical during a time period when many nations were experiencing turmoil, and many people were not sure how and who to trust. The writings cast Gandhi as more than a spiritual leader, but also a political leader. Through his writings, it is evident that Gandhi had a negative view in regards to the way in which communism was being spread. This communism focused on economic inequality among the varying classes, and Gandhi sought to have this eliminated.
Gandhi’s teachings were very important to his period and generation, due to the fact that the leaders attempting to spread communism at the time focused a lot on nationalism and segregation. When this separation of classes, lifestyles, races, cultures, and religions took place, it allowed for much of the violent attacks and killings that we know to have occurred at the time. Hitler, Lenin, and Zedong were notorious political leaders who had a reputation for killing anyone who was deemed as a threat to their over goal communistic goals. “The socialists and communists say, they can do nothing to bring about economic equality today.
They will Just carry on propaganda in its favor and to that end they believe in generating and accentuating hatred. “l Gandhi’s era took place during a time in India where there was much religious extremism present at that point in history. This has been a significant part of India’s history and culture, and usually history had shown us that religious conflicts usually brought about bloodshed and battle. Gandhi wanted to use religion as way tool to help end conflicts between Hindus and Muslims in India, rather than allowing it to be a contributing factor to the hostility between the two roups.
If approaches to different religious conflicts are observed throughout history such as the Nazi’s treatment of Jews, one can truly appreciate how unique and out of the ordinary Gandhi’s methods truly was. His primary focus in these writings dealt witn achieving and maintaining his method ot nonviolent power, known as “satyagraha. “2 Gandhi’s strong political influence was a result of using the mind and philosophical teachings rather than brute force, lies, corruption, and dishonesty as a way to persuade a large following and to help gain India’s independence from the
British. Mahatma Gandhi: Selected Political Writing takes place during a time period where India was seeking to gain its independence from the British during the 1930s and 1940s. This is a momentous piece of history due to the fact Gandhi’s political influence helped India become the world’s largest democracy at the time. Gandhi’s era also occurred during a point in history where World War I and World War II had taken place and many nations seemed to have a distorted interpretation of the implication of morality.
Many of Gandhi’s lessons addressed in these books occurred uring the 1930s; therefore it is natural that he would also relay much of his attention to the crises occurring in Europe as a result of Hitler’s force and brutality used to control Germany. He is quoted as having said that Hitler’s tactics are “naked, ruthless force reduced to an exact science and worked with scientific precision”3 Gandhi had many Jewish friends and knew that his teachings could be used to assist Jews experiencing the horrific immoral acts by the Nazis in Germany.
Although Gandhi advocated Jews not to use hostility in their political campaigns against Hitler, e felt that war and violence in attempt to stop Hitler and the Nazis from murdering an entire race would be warranted. In Rediscovering Gandhi: Volume 2 Gandhi clearly stated his view of the Nazi situation with “If there could ever be a Justifiable war in the name of and for humanity, a war against Germany, to prevent the wanton persecution of a whole race, would be completely Justified. 4 He then hypothetically stated that if he were a Jew facing that situation his peaceful method would be to face the Nazis and give them the option of shooting him or locking him in a dungeon o that more Jews would choose this option with hopes of the Nazis accepting that they would not take the discrimination any longer, thus ending the attempted genocide. This issue of morality is addressed in An American Looks at Gandhi: Essays in Satyagraha, Civil Rights, and Peace by James D. Hunt. He stated “While thinking of morality, all we need to see is that the act is good and is done with a good intention. 5 Here, Gandhi’s writings expresses that the purpose behind living ethically is to better our character and he expresses that a key part in being moral is to never act on compulsion. It is understandable why his focus on the issue of morality is so important to him, because selfishness and compulsion are what contributed to the horrors other political leaders at the time put their nations people through as a result of communism and extreme nationalism. This is seen from leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini, who tended to rely on power in their political settings and agendas rather than Justice and equality.
Egalitarianism amongst all classes and religions in India was a key problem during Gandhi’s era. It was a problem that he felt practicing morality could resolve. Gandhi recognized that in rder for India to successfully gain its independence from the British, equal opportunity and unity between Hindus, Muslims, and the Untouchables in India would need to take place. His messages focusing on liberty and freedom were spread through his use of nonviolence, by declaring hunger strikes in protest to the corruption present in India.
An example of this is found in Spiritual leaders and thinkers: Mohandas Gandhi by Anne n w c the British were attempting to sway the elections by having the Untouchables vote with the Hindus in an attempt to separate them from the Muslim population in India. Gandhi was appalled at this plan… and did not want to see them separated from the rest of the people. “6 In this situation, rather than persuading his followers to attack and fght with the British, Gandhi turned to fasting while in prison.
His ‘satyagraha’ method lead to the Yeravda Pact, which eradicated the separate elections for the Untouchable class in India, thus ending Gandhi’s fast. This was also an important piece of Gandhi’s historical contributions to India, because the lives of the Untouchable class began to improve as “… hundreds of Hindu temples began to open their doors for the first time to Harijans. 7 All the cited sources address Mahatma Gandhi’s notions on morality, liberty, nonviolence, and compassion as tools to successfully accomplish various political campaigns.
This allows Mahatma Gandhi to stand alone as a leader who was significantly different from others at his time. He was a successful leader whose leadership qualities go beyond the basic ‘do as I say techniques which had been demonstrated worldwide for ages. He was also a leader who taught everyone, and did not Just aim his teaching at Indians alone. He taught to everyone who needed guidance and who seeked an alternative to a vehement and chaotic approach to chieving egalitarianism and being treated humanely.
Mahatma Gandhi: Selected Political Writings demonstrates to us about studying world history that although Gandhi’s nonviolent approach to hostile situations is a goal most people would like see achieved, certain circumstances leave warfare and retaliation as the only possible method to protecting and securing the lives of the innocent, as Gandhi realized with Nazi Germany. Yet, we can learn to utilize Gandhi’s peaceful methods in certain scenarios, such as an unfair political election which he battled with his hunger strike, which then lead to the Yeravda Pact.
Gandhi gives history a positive political figure that had tactics and strategies to achieve certain goals that were outside of the normal war and treaty methods. References Anne M. Todd, Martin E. Marty, Spiritual leaders and thinkers: Mohandas Gandhi (Infobase Publishing, 2004). Gandhi (Mahatma), Dennis Dalton, Mahatma Gandhi: Selected Political Writings (Hackett Publishing, 1996). James D. Hunt, An American Looks at Gandhi: Essays in Satyagraha, Civil Rights, and Peace (Bibliophile south ASta, 2005). Jonathan K. Crane, Rediscovering Gandhi, Volume 2 (Concept Publishing Company, 2007).