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Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

Means and the Ends
Written by Balamurali Balaji

Quite often, we tend to forget the way we lived and followed in the past as we get into troublesome circumstances and run through unexpected affairs in our life. We, often, try to justify the current state of despair or loss to our inabilities and ignorance while many others still believe that our suffering is indirectly proportional to sins and ‘karma’ we did in our previous births. Feeling inferior and owing our failures to birth, both these reasoning seems not only idiotic and superstitious, but also have power to stop our growth and prosperous future.

A good parenting of a child shall not be construed as a flop just as a right coaching of playing a football would nurture one as a good football player. Even though practice make it a perfect finish, it is very important how we develop ourselves, both inner and outer environment, while going through the procedure, however difficult the ordeal is. In general, education is the means for survival on this planet. Education parted to a child through many years not only develops the knowledge of the child but also helps the man to meet his ends.

What we sow is what we harvest! We cannot expect apples from a palm tree. A solid foundation and the rightful approach to build our skills and talent would make our career bright. A profession or career that has not given the right path of learning and practice would not last longer. In the world of jobs, we see people who jump from one profession to another, shifting their career from one discipline to another who finally end their work with no remarkable satisfaction or fruitful outcome.

A faithful dedication is very much needed for any cause or goal we aimed for. One may have to tread through a rough path of thorns and stones in order to achieve their target. A soulful adherence to that faith would take us to the top of any mountain. As Gandhiji said, “If you have faith in the cause and the means and in God, even the hot sun will be cool for you.”, one would overlook any difficulty over the time he traverse through the path of success. The roughness is never a coarse of barriers and resentment.

Furthermore, we must the right goals and targets. We shall not be greedy or highly imaginative in deciding our objectives so unattainable. Every accomplishment by a man always has a plan, timeline, procedure and process. Every successful man, scientists like Edison and Einstein, and leaders like Gandhi, King and Nelson Mandela had all have such means to meet the ends they desired for. Gandhiji’s nonviolent freedom struggle is one supreme example for how the right means worked out rightly at the end. He believed that “Means to be means must always be within our reach, and so ahimsa is our supreme duty.” Given the circumstances, a right approach for a right cause would never go wrong.

A wrong approach for a wrong cause would never go right; Bad people that included terrorists, anti-national and anti-social elements have never succeeded as their wrongdoings along their path for the quest of their goals remain to be wrong. Not everyone would go for the wrong and support the wrong cause. After all, driving the car wrong way is an offence, we know.

Some of us are great thinkers and creators. They do dream a lot for fancy life of nothing but pleasure and small-time efforts that is of no use to anybody. They do it simply for time pass and joy. Such a cause of funky lifestyle and sloggy means to attain that life would never go one on each other smoothly. Such people do hard work and toil for nothing but for being a spendthrift and sulky life in their social environment. It is waste of time and effort for them to lead a life without values. It is like tilling the desert for cultivating crops.

The following table shows the various combinations of means (approach) and the ends (target or cause) and their outcome (result).

Approach / Means Cause / Target Result / Outcome
Right Wrong Right or Wrong
Right Right Right
Wrong Wrong Wrong
Wrong Right Wrong

For Gandhi, truth and nonviolence are both the means and the end. With the right kind of men doing the right chores, have made him, his mission a success.

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