Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum



 Nandini Voice For The Deprived, a Chennai based not for profit organisation  organised an All India essay competition for college students on  “Has  Gandhiji’s  Ahimsa  Philosophy  Stood  The Test  of Time?” There was  good response for the competition from students all over India.

The essays submitted by the following six students have been selected for the award of prize

  • ·          Ms. Karthika .V  - PSGR Krishnammal College for Women, Coimbatore
  • ·          Mr. Piyush Goyal, Chanakya National University, Patna
  • ·          Mr. Santosh Kumar Patel, Shri Govindram Seksaria Institute   of Technology, Indore
  • ·          Mr. Subham Ghosh, Hoogly Mohsin College,  Dist. Nadia , West Bengal
  • ·          Mr. Surya Sidhant Rath, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Bhubaneshwar
  • ·          Mr. Vishal Onkhar, S S N Engineering College, Chennai


                             HIGHLIGHTS OF THE VIEWS OF THE STUDENTS

 While several students have argued that ahimsa philosophy has  stood the test of time, there have also been other students who are of the view that the practice of ahimsa philosophy in its truest sense is not possible in the present time. Highlights of both the view points are presented below.

Ahimsa philosophy cannot be practiced in absolute form:

After Mahatma Gandhi’s time, the limitations of ahimsa philosophy has been repeatedly exposed. It now appears that ahimsa philosophy can only be practiced in a limited way.

Gandhiji employed ahimsa methods effectively  under conducive circumstances ,when Britishers were ruling India and British rulers had , by and large ,  faith in fair play.  Several British intellectuals at that time  even looked at India’s demand for independence approvingly. It is extremely doubtful whether Gandhiji could have employed his ahimsa methods  successfully against  someone like Hitler.

Contrary to popular opinion, non violence has never been an accepted norm in Indian history. Chanakya was said to have  advocated  use of violence when dealing with those who are recalcitrant. In fact, Gandhiji himself was  known to have said “I do believe that when there is only a choice between cowardice and violence , I would advise violence”.

Recent historical events in India shows that ahimsa could not have been  employed in certain cases like Khalistan movement launched by Sikh extremists. India did not hesitate to use its armed mite to liberate Bangladesh and the entire country viewed Indira Gandhi’s decision to use force approvingly, when Pakistani forces in erstwhile Bangladesh suppressed the freedom movement.

In conclusion , it can be said that while ahimsa is an idealised course of action practiced by some exceptional individuals like Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, the hard fact is that one cannot live in Utopian world based on high ideals and values that are fine in theory but impracticable considering the ground realities.

While ahimsa may not be the best solution to the present day’s world problems, neither is unrestricted violence. Violence can be justified only in specific circumstances and should not be resorted to as an act of pure vendetta.The world conscience and opinion should ensure this.

Ahimsa has stood the test of time:

It appears that the legacy left by Mahatma Gandhi was not well guarded by those who ruled India in the post Gandhian period, who have never completely understood what ahimsa is all about.

Several persons are not willing to practice ahimsa today , as it requires a person to have high level of courage and conviction to stand against the wrong and do personal sacrifice in the process. Perseverance and character are extremely important for the practitioners of ahimsa principle.

There are immediate examples  before us of Aung Sang Suu Kyi, the founder of National League for Democracy in Myanmar and she stood against the military junta with passive and non violent  resistance  as a matter of principle. She has succeeded already to a considerable extent. Anna Hazare  has proved the power of non violent protest and fast very recently when the government was forced to listen to him. Sharmila Chanu of Manipur is another role model  and she has taken the path of Gandhiji’s non violence to strongly protest  with regard to the Armed Forces Special Powers  Act in north eastern India. She has already shaken the conscience of the nation.

The world is now gradually realising  that  ahimsa is the best antidote to mitigate  the march of violence and promote the social consciousness of understanding, cooperation , coordination  and reconciliation which are of paramount importance to  ensure peace and harmony .

Gandhiji  proved  the strength of ahimsa philosophy in  his life time. Let us not  question the practicability of ahimsa philosophy , when the fact and truth is that most of us today , while  respecting  Mahatma Gandhi as Father of Nation,  has  failed to live upto the standards set up by him.




twitter : @nsvchennai

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