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Mahatma Gandhi and Ahimsa - USA

By Sohoni Das

Ahimsa or non-violence is the weapon used by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to free India from the British Rule. Ahimsa is a Sanskrit term found in Devanagiri script meaning to do no harm, literally the avoidance of violence (himsa). Ahimsa originated from ancient India and is practiced in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. According to the ancient mythology, Ahimsa is a binding code of conduct that bans on hunting, butchery, meat eating and use of animal products provided by violent means.

Gandhi used this principle against the British during the Indian Independence movement. He believed that the best way to resist tyranny is through civil disobedience, which is founded upon Ahimsa. Gandhi started Non-cooperation movement by protesting the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km (kilometer) Dandi Salt March. Gandhi was able to identify the real motive of the East India Company i.e. trade, hence he decided to boycott all foreign goods and products. He then started the Quit India movement, which became the most forceful movement in the history of the Indian struggle for freedom, with mass arrests and violence on an unprecedented scale. He wanted his disciples to follow the principles of Ahimsa. He asked the Indians to be non-violent during the protests and avoid any violence that are initiated by the British.

The movement brought the entire nation together which left the East Indian Company paralyzed. The British retaliated by offering British Cabinet Mission in 1946, which aimed at grouping Muslim majority states. Gandhi was quite suspicious about the Mission and it was the root cause of partition. Between 1946 and 1948 over 5,000 people were killed in violence. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of the Muslim League, earned a wide-spread support from West Punjab, North West Frontier Province and East Bengal; hence he wanted a separate nation with the Muslim majority. Thus the partition was approved by the Congress leadership to stop the wide-scale Hindu-Muslim civil war.

At midnight on 15th August 1947 India became an independent nation and on 14th August 1947 Pakistan was declared a separate nation with the Muslim majority. Gandhi’s all efforts to keep India united went futile. But even to this day as the Indians prepare themselves to celebrate their independence day on 15th August, the Indians all over the world remembers Gandhi for his struggle and sacrifice to free India from slavery, poverty and end untouchability.

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” quoted by Gandhi the follower of non-violence. His tactics and principles had influenced many leaders like Martin Luther King, James Lawson, and Nelson Mandela to name some. Even to this day the world needs a person like Gandhi to bring about a revolution, a movement to end terrorism, poverty, and to spread the wisdom of Ahimsa. He is known as Mahatma (Great Soul) and Bapu (the father of nation) by all Indians living world wide.

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