HEARTBEATS – Brand Human

Today is 2nd October, this day in 1869 that great soul was born, who was described by Einstein that future generations will scarce believe that a person called Gandhi ever lived on this planet in real blood and life.  A substantial portion of any library across the will occupied by biographical and other presentations about two persons, one, The Mahatma, and two, William Shakespeare.  What is the meaning of Mahatma  (Maha = Great + Atma = Soul = Great Soul),.

There are many examples where moral forces have won over physical forces.  His life itself was a solid one.

On his death, on 30th January 1948, Friday, Government of India received 3441 condolence messages, all unsolicited, from foreign countries,  UN lowered its flag by half-mast, 110 nations mourned his death, and millions across the world did not light their kitchen fire, did not eat, did not sleep, and wept as if one of their close relatives has expired, that includes even people who have not seen him, except that they knew that he was a rare human being, a good human being.

All this for a private citizen, without wealth, property, official title, official post, academic distinction, scientific achievement, or artistic talent, yet possessed the power of a king, a great administrator, and a great leader ever lived in this world. just because he represented human beings across the world.  “Mahatma Gandhi was the spokesman for the conscience of all mankind” said General George C. Marshal, United States Secretary of State then.

Having ended the riots in Kolkata by his moral force of fasting, Gandhi returned to Delhi on September 9, 1947.  The city was reported to be choked with Hindu refugees who left Pakistan and Muslim refugees ready to go to Pakistan.  He visited Hindu camps, Muslim camps, and made arrangements for prayer from Hindu scriptures, the Koran, and the Bible, to send out the message that unity of all religions is very important, the real principle of Hinduism.   There were people talking behind him about his taking side of other religions.  Most unfortunately his own countrymen failed to understand him.

When he died, his accumulated earthly possessions consisted nothing more than a pocket watch, two pairs of sandals, a book of the text of Gita, a Hindu scripture, a rosary of beads, his pair of glasses, and a few items of basic crockery and cutlery.  That symbolized the Mahatma.

The funeral, Oh God, nothing like that has ever happened and most likely will never happen again, with an ocean of humanity, it took five hours to cross five miles, especially in those days with no social media coverage.  It was not a hired crowd even.

Nirupama Subramanian reported from New York (Indian Express dated 25.09.2015) the remarks of a Cabbie driver “I know one thing about your country.  Years ago there was a beautiful man without whom you would not have got your liberation from the British.  His name was Gandhi, and he worked only with his mind, he didn’t need weapons. He was a great man”.

She also reported that the cabbie driver who was an African-American was curious to know whether our children learn about him in schools.  Should we not really teach our school children about him?  What other teachings can we include to make good human beings?

The Mahatma who is still the inspiration to millions all over the world, is not a hero to many who nurture the opposite ideologies, unable to understand the language of love and universal brotherhood.  We are now in a society where even hero-worship is being partitioned.  We have given enough support to him, now Nathuram Godse also should be given a chance, many people who are in support of the ideology of the assassination, may be of the opinion.

How do you define the greatness of a person?  I endorse the views of Swamy Vivekananda who opined that the activities of a person in ordinary situations should be the criteria, because in a created situation anyone will exhibit polished behaviour fitting to that of a gentleman.  The refusal to copy the word, disregarding the recommendation of the teacher, during a class test in the presence of the education inspector, employment of a low-caste young man in his home against the established custom of untouchability prevailing in the society, relinquishing the insurance policies, and gifts worth thousands of rupees in those days, and similar other activities of Gandhi in ordinary situations of life, are the testimonials of his greatness.

At least let us try to make proper use of the highest faculty of human mind, the ability of reasoning, and try to perceive things about him without coloring.  Humanity needs it, society needs it.



(Further Readings: 1. Mahatma Gandhi, His life in Pictures, Gandhi Study Centre, Chennai, and 2. The Life of Mahatma Gandhi by Louis Fischer.)

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