Gandhi – Saint/Politician/Myth?

All around us, we see men today being elevated to the demi-God status. Indians especially seem to bitten by this bug (The late Sathya Sai Baba, Baba Ramdev, etc…) Which makes me go back a century and think about the original GodMan, Gandhi who was given the title of Mahatma by a nation starved of real heroes.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi might have been a successful leader and politician but in my books, I can’t put him on the pedestal of a saint. My judgment is based on limited historical facts, read and absorbed through the years (Though history itself is always colored depending on the writer’s race, creed and nationality).

Let’s delve on 4 aspects of the man’s well-publicized life, before you can start shooting your darts at me:

 1) Gandhi attained independence for us?

Did the Brits really leave because of Gandhi’s determination? Maybe he was one of the major irritant in their lives, but to me our independence was the side-effect of World War II.

  •  The immense devastation in Europe, which left most imperial powers incapable of holding on, led to the eventual decolonization and freedom of India, Malaysia and a few other South East Asian countries.
  •  Also, post WWII, 2 new superpowers came into play – USA and USSR and it also spawned a whole new group of institutions like the UN and EU, and peace, country sovereignty, etc. were the new buzz words.

2) Non-Violence against Oppressors!

The idea of offering your 2nd cheek if someone slaps on the 1st reeks of two problems:

  • It goes against the universal law – “Survival of the Fittest”…Why would 350 Million people allow 0.2 Million people to trample them and the only retort we have is that we won’t raise a hand on you!
  • Standing in front of a gun and ready to die without putting a fight is tantamount to suicide – amoral and illegal (let’s keep the debate on euthanasia for some other day/post)

3) Partition

Yes Gandhi was always against partition, but despite his strong views on the subject why didn’t he influence his brethren to share power with the Moslem League?

  • The eagerness to appease to all factions and in the bargain hurting everyone led to the massive bloodbath, which has left stains till date and has exploded into other negative dimensions.
  • We don’t know whether he could have done anything better, but in my mind this is Gandhi’s biggest failure as a “Father of the Nation”…

4) Experiments with Truth? 

Sharing a bed with young women in the buff and practicing abstinence doesn’t make sense. Atleast that’s not what nature intended and Gandhi seemed to find logical explanations for doing so! And there are various such small idiosyncrasies in his autobiography, which are hard to digest for the ‘Saint’.

Let me close by saying that whatever said and done, I still believe that he was an individual who had a few fantastic qualities like the guts to hold onto the truth and have an entire population dancing to his tunes – Yes, Gandhi was a great politician…But a saint ? Open for debate !