On 30 January 1948, Mahatma Gandhi, a pivotal leader in the liberation of India from British rule and a living example of active nonviolence, was assassinated at the age of 78 by a Hindu fanatic.
As a lawyer and activist, he inspired his early struggle for the defense of his fellow countrymen, discriminated against and mistreated in South Africa, with a combination of Hindu culture, the ideas of the Russian Christian anarchist Tolstoy, and the action of civil disobedience advocated by the American writer Henry David Thoreau.
On his return to India in 1915, he began the movement that the world would come to know as Satyagraha, a neologism he coined meaning “force or insistence of truth”.
One of the high points of the Ahimsa would be the Salt March in 1930, a mass action by which Gandhi encouraged his countrymen to openly challenge the monopoly imposed by the British government on the production and distribution of salt.
Finally, after much struggle, repression, hunger strikes, and imprisonment, then painful killings between brothers, independence came, which is part of his great legacy. However, Gandhi could not prevent the partition into two countries, which would eventually become three, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
But there is no way to outline in a few lines the profound significance of “Bapu’s” life and struggle for India and the world, so we turn to some of his phrases that resonate, inspire, and retain their relevance today as yesterday, at a time in humanity when division and discouragement seem to reign supreme.
“In reality, there are as many religions as there are individuals. …. Religions are different paths converging towards the same point. Why does it matter that we take different paths as long as we arrive at the same goal? What is the reason for disputes?”
“I have learned by bitter experience the supreme lesson of conserving my anger, and as conserved heat is transmuted into energy, so our controlled anger can be transmuted into a power capable of moving the world.”
“Nonviolence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed.”
“A small group of determined spirits, animated by an insatiable faith in their mission, can alter the course of history.”
Thank you for everything, Big Soul!