Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Story Of My Experiments With Truth - M K Gandhi


I am not a Gandhi fan. At all.
The only reason I decided to read the book was that, it is the autobiography of a famous man. That too an Indian.
And he was instrumental in deciding the fate of India, whether or not I like it.

Having read the book, I must say there is no change in my sentiment towards him.
One thing I have learnt from this book however is that, men, very great and famous can actually be unbelievably bad at writing.

This is a badly written autobiography. Not that I have read many autobiographies, but I do know this one is really bad.
Add to that, the fact that this a Navjivan Trust publication.
Even as I turned the leaves, I could see the book growing old - pages tearing at the spine and all.
I wonder if the pride and joy with which Gandhi fans proclaim his generous act of restricting by law, the price of the book to 30 rupees a copy, for several years to come, is worth the quality of the book that will not survive a second reading.
Fortunately (for the already dilapidated book) not many would want to read it a second time.

1. There were way too many mentions of people whom Gandhi met in South Africa and India and none of the names are popular, so, I simply read on without interest.

2. The absence of dates obscures the picture. It leaves you without perspective of chronology. Part of the story is told. Part kept for later chapters. Therefore dates become important.

3. Certain parts of his life are omitted from the autobiography as he has already covered them in another book or article. There are missing pieces.

4. Too much digressing, too much dietetics, fasting etc.

5. Why were the Ali brothers arrested? What was wrong with Rowlatt Act? Nothing is explained. You don’t understand.

6. Much is said about Khilafat movement - but what was Khilafat?

7. The problem of Indigo plantation in Champaran is not explained in detail and even after reading the last sentence of that episode, I did not understand what the actual cause was.

These episodes might not have needed introduction/explanation those days. But he was mistaken in assuming that people would remember all about freedom struggle even after 50 years of it.

For these reasons and many more this is not a well written book.

The first 200 pages did not interest me much and hence took a long time to read.
The setting of the story was South Africa (mostly) and not a part of popular history taught in India.
The book actually became interesting at a point when Gandhi returned to India from South Africa and started his work in India. Only the last 100 pages are dedicated to India’s freedom struggle.

Those were the facts and now, my opinions.

I found the man eccentric. And I am not sure if his experiments and advocacies have any relevance in today’s time.

Since most of the experiments dealt with dietetics - eating one thing, not eating another, fasting and starving… he might as well have called the book ‘experiments with food’ instead of ‘experiments with truth’.

Some of his experiments are noted below.

Having one meal a day
Fasting (just like that)
Fasting as a penance for delinquency by pupils
Starving
Taking no grains
Taking no salt for years
Taking no pulses
Giving up milk
Living on a fruit diet

Most experiments conducted were at the convenience of others surrounding him (as he admits it himself).

What with his diet of fruit and nuts, goat’s milk and a thousand restrictions, wherever he went, he caused inconvenience to people around him, with everybody having to wake up the whole night peeling nuts for him, pay attention to him, take special/extra care and all.

I found all this complication directly in conflict with his principle of simplicity.

He believed that most of the illnesses could be cured with Earth and Water treatment. He refused medicines not only for himself, but his wife and son too, and that too when their condition was critical.

He refused milk even when he had pleurisy though Gokhale advised him to take milk.

He refused to take medicine even after 30 motions of dysentery – causing panic to everyone.

He threw away Kallenbach’s binoculars into the sea as they were against the ideal of simplicity.

Another of his experiments was Brahmacharya – abstinence from sex. With the consent of his wife, he took to Brahmacharya when he was 36. Not only that, he induced one of his friends to take the oath of Brahmacharya too.
But he does admit that he was very lustful before that. In fact when his father was on his deathbed, he was preoccupied with thoughts of his wife. He entered a room with his wife and by the time he came out, his father was dead. He confesses that he is most ashamed of himself.

What purpose all his eccentricity served, is not clear to me yet.

He condemns very generously, Hindu hypocrisy and slovenliness, as if there is no hypocrisy elsewhere in other countries and among other people.

After I closed the book, there remained in my mind the question of the relevance of such abstinence in the present times, especially since religion and spiritualism are no longer the opium of people unlike in yesteryears.
One of my friends argued that they are still the opium of people. Look at how many of them go to cults and how much money these cults are making.
True. Cults (Art Of Living, ISKCON, Sai Baba…) are making money but the shopping malls, the movie theatres, the eating joints and boutiques are making more money in a day than a cult makes in a month.
The opium of today’s people is entertainment, recreation and indulgence.
I don’t deny the presence of an element of spirituality or religion in the lives of people but they occupy a different position in the lives of people today than they did during Gandhi’s times. Today, spirituality is merely an instrument and not a goal in itself. People don’t go to spirituality in order to realize the supreme self but because there are other incentives. They do pranayama because it increases lung capacity, prevents cancer, keeps them healthy. They meditate not to realize the supreme self but because it releases stress, improves concentration/memory and so on.
So spirituality is a convenient and handy instrument with which people may further their goals, all of which are well within the paradigm of the material world (not the spiritual world) –the instrument of spirituality to achieve material goals.

Abstention from indulgence is not the objective of people anymore – not even of an idealist of today’s times.

To this, friend said ‘we do abstain. From sex, for instance. We are well into twenties and have abstained from sex.’
I say - the kind of abstinence we practice (not smoking, not drinking, not eating meat, abstaining from sex) is no abstinence at all. It comes naturally as a consequence of the unconscious conditioning of the mind. It’s a way of life. It does not require humungous effort on the part of people.
Whereas the abstinence advocated and practiced by Gandhi was not a way of life even in those days. People those days, though they abstained from indulgence to a much greater extent than we do today, did not practice the kind of abstinence that Gandhi did. He went out of the way.
His abstention required humungous effort and it was severe - not eating salt for 8 years, only groundnuts and dry fruit, goat’s milk, Brahmacharya after marriage and all. And how such abstention helped and whom, I do not see at all.

An idealist living in today’s times will surely, be required to live by a set of principles, follow some discipline and make certain sacrifices but what kind of ideals and goals will call for severe abstention of this kind, I do not understand.

For all the audacity of the above opinions and impressions that I hold to now, I know my knowledge of the man is only partial.
I am, therefore, going to give myself another chance by reading his biography. I am sure there are many of them. You are welcome to recommend one to me.

And now…

Facts I noted as I read…

During his struggle in South Africa, he was loyal to the British empire and believed it existed for the good of the world.

He did not believe in formal education imparted in schools and colleges and deprived his own children of formal education. He believed that children should learn through parents.

Imparting education through education and not formal training was what he believed in.

As Ahmedabad was an ancient centre of handloom weaving, it was likely to be the most favourable field for the revival of the cottage industry of hand-spinning.

He recruited people for the war. To fight for the empire.

“As I grew up, several well meaning attempts were made both in India and South Africa to reinvest me with the sacred thread but with little success. If the shudras may not wear it, I argued, what right have the other varnas to do so? And I saw no adequate reason for adopting what was to me an unnecessary custom. I had no objection to the thread as such, but the reasons for wearing it were lacking.”


Certain lines from the book that I found to be of value.

The newspaper press is a great power. But just as an unchained torrent of water submerges whole countrysides and devastates crops, even so an uncontrolled pen serves but to destroy. If the control is from without, it proves more poisonous than want of control. It can be profitable only when exercised from within. How many journals in the world would stand the test? But who could stop those that are useless? And who should be the judge? The useful and the useless must, like good and evil generally, go on together, and man must make his choice.

A poet is one who can call forth the good latent in the human breast. Poets do not influence all alike for everyone is not evolved in an equal measure.

A lawyer’s profession is a liar’s profession.

In trying to cure one old disease, we give rise to a hundred new ones; in trying to enjoy the pleasures of sense, we lose in the end even our capacity for enjoyment.

Ahimsa is a comprehensive principle. We are helpless mortals caught in the conflagration of himsa. The saying that life lives on life has a deep meaning in it. Man cannot for a moment live without consciously or unconsciously committing outward himsa. The very fact of his living - eating, drinking and moving about - necessarily involves some himsa, destruction of life, be it ever so minute. A votary of ahimsa therefore remains true to his faith if the spring of all his actions is compassion, if he shuns to the best of his ability the destruction of the tiniest creature, tries to save it and thus incessantly strives to be free from the deadly coil of himsa. He will be constantly growing in self-restraint and compassion, but he can never become entirely free from outward himsa.

So long as there are different religions, every one of them may need some outward distinctive symbol. But when the symbol is made into a fetish and an instrument of proving the superiority of one’s religion over others, it is fit only to be discarded. (the holy thread)

I prevented the struggle from assuming a political aspect.
Even where the end might be political, but the cause was non-political, one damaged it by giving it a political aspect and helped it by keeping it within its non-political limit. The Champaran struggle was a proof of the fact that disinterested service of the people in any sphere ultimately helps the country politically.

The performance of a duty automatically confers a corresponding right.

You can wake man only if he I really asleep. No effort that you may make will produce any effect upon him if he is merely pretending sleep.

This characteristic difference in the popular attitude- partiality for exciting work, dislike for quiet constructive effort…


My last thought. People those days were prepared to sacrifice their all for public work. I don’t know if they were superior people or their circumstances made them that way.

That’s all. Until I read more about Gandhi.


15 comments:

சங்கரன் said...

Sowmya,

ur article covers two different topics. as you told, The autobiography of gandhi is the worst book to read gandhi. but the truth is, he is the only successful politician in the world, succeeded in creating a nation that stands until now amidst now.he pioneered the successful methodology of nation buliding, helps in south africa. There's lot of researches going on Gandhi's importance in modern world but almost all are conducted in overseas. It's a very big topic to discuss in comment box. But I would suggest to read rajmohan gandhi and ramachandra guha's "india after gandhi"

Street Hawk said...

I am deeply hurt by the tone of disrespect through the blog for a man who is the father of our nation.

Am surprised by your attempt at trying to comprehend the unfathomable depths of a man by detailing his way of life

You seemed to be so stuck in the brahmacharya and the abstinence bit that you haven't even mentioned why this Indian man who wrote a book so badly which costs only Rs.30/- is actually famous for? Why is he the role model for Martin Luther King, Dalai Lama and Barack Obama?

The least I can do is lock horns with you over a cup of coffee which I would be glad to sponsor. Am not even going to touch the sensitive topic where you accuse my generation of passivity and abstinence as a conditioned deformity of the mind :)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
சங்கரன் said...

I didnt understand why such disgustingcomments are coming. nobody in this world is apart from review and rationalization. in fact it's our duty to question everything taught to us and then to find the truth. also, everyone has right or deny anyone in this democratic land under proper reason.

Gandhi is not a personality beyond criticizing. We have every right to criticize him with reasons as we have right to worship him. let's debate and will conclude. not to put full stop in the starting itself as 'mighty' talibans

Sowmya said...

சங்கரன்

Thanks a lot :)
Thats perfect, Nobody is above and beyond criticism and verification. And we need not (in fact should not) believe what is taught in history books in school.

Street Hawk,

Thanks for the comment to you too.
Looks like you missed a para from my article. Here it is.

"For all the audacity of the above opinions and impressions that I hold to now, I know my knowledge of the man is only partial.
I am, therefore, going to give myself another chance by reading his biography. I am sure there are many of them. You are welcome to recommend one to me."

Do recommend to me your favourite book on Gandhi.

Rishi said...

This is getting interesting. The man Gandhi was, you will get to know the best by his Autobiography by reading it straight and reading between lines. As no one will know him better than himself.

But to know the Leader in him, his achievements as a human being one needs to read analysis of his work by other people have done thorough research.

There is no doubt that he was a great leader, to first emerge out as a leader within his own people then to understand his opponents and contemporaries across the world and influence upon them effectively, be it actually instrumenting the freedom, choice of Nehru to lead and uniting the states.

So in personal capacity what I should look up to him for, I think only leadership. Gratitute there are many more who never got a name. Morality and principles to follow in life, I think those are straight forward.

The abstinence discussed in the book I am not sure what is the basic goal for that. I think eat,sleep and lead life normally is one should follow. Why it was needed for freedom struggle I don't know. Those are his personal opinions and there might be something to it. It is for us to choose if we follow them or not.

Nice discussion though in the even of Gandhi Jayanti. I am sure he will be proud of Modern India.

Rishi.

Brahmanyan said...

Your Blog on Gandhiji is interesting. It reveals the thoughts of the young generation on the great man who appeared to unify this Country of diverse Culture, race, language, religion,caste, social customs and so on. He was not just a Political Leader, he was much more than that. Yes, he was a controversial personality even during his life time. But, he touched the hearts of the common man of our Country. He was an "avathar". A reformer like Sri Ramanujacharya, Vallabhacharya,Nanakdev, Swami Dhayananda Saraswathi, Kabir and others we have known. As one who was born in British India, I have seen the entire nation responding to the call of this "half naked fakir" without reservation. He shaped his actions echoing to the needs of Socio Political conditions of his time. He was a bold man, who used simplest methods of our ancient culture "Ahimsa" and "Sathyagraha" to drive away the foreign rulers.
He was considered obstinate by his adversaries but,he was gracious enough to accommodate all hues of political thoughts while organizing his movement.
You might have understood Gandhiji better if you had born and lived during his time. Next best thing is to go though his writings available in plenty in websites and read it along with the Historical facts during the British period.

Regards,
Brahmanyan,
Bangalore

Sowmya said...

Thank you all for your comments.

This article is not a study of Gandhi or my views of Gandhi.
It is meant to be my experience of reading one book. Thats all.

jitendra said...

u said that Autobiography of gandhi is a badly written book. It may be true, but this can't be true that he was not a great man. as you are a wonderful writer but you are not any great personality.
I have read all the book and it was so much interesting. you have told that gandhiji have not described about any famous personality. I want to ask you a question "have you not seen the picture of gandhiji with albert einstien or winston churchill?"
another question "is 30 rupees a copy for a novel not good enough so that each and every person can read his autobiography?"
kya book costly ho tabhi koi famous ho sakta hai?
gandhi was/ is/ and will be a famous personality.

Pramshanks said...

For me, it's not only about whwther I agree with you; it's also about the fact that you have said it. Many of us think it's sacrilege to even question someone who we have been tought to be infallible. But for you, he's someone we need to think over with a balanced and sane mind. Kudos.

Gandhi took on his role in history and fulfilled it like nobody else could. I believe his conviction, love and creativity were amazing. But was he always right? Was he a great writer? Perhaps not.

Be brave... In a world where conformity stifles most voices, you are a welcome Change. Shine on, Sowmya.

Thiagarajan R said...

Sowmya

One curious Q first-Had any chance to read this book again or more on Gandhi since last 13 months?

Very interesting view and you are perfectly entitiled to though I have heard more critical comments about Gandhi since my school days.

Personally I have read this book 10times or more (you should be smiling reading this line!).Let me confess I discovered something new every time about Gandhi.There was never a perfect man (never will be ) but Gandhi had courage to admit this while in public life.

BTW, are your views based on your ideological prism than honest conviction..Please ask yourself and you may find Gandhi little more relevant than you thought of so far..

Anonymous said...

Fasting and Passive Resistance were two things which i do not agree upon.
But let me list out his contributions.
1> Education of WOmen and Preventing CHild Marriage
2> Untouchability eradication.
3> He tried to bring the unity between hindus and muslims . But failed in his effort and the nation was divided.

Mistakes :
1> He asked Nehru to lead the nation knowing fully that Nehru did not share the vision of Gandhi like Decentralization, Passion for Primary Education, Public Toilets.

This is from one of his experiments :

There was no limit to insanitation. Pools of water were everywhere. There were only a few
latrines, and the recollection of their stink still oppresses me. I pointed it out to the volunteers.
They said point-blank: 'That is not our work, it is the scavenger's work.' I asked for a broom. The
man stared at me in wonder. I procured one and cleaned the latrine. But that was for myself. The
rush was so great, and the latrines were so few, that they needed frequent cleaning; but that was
more than I could do. So I had to content myself with simply ministering to myself. And the others
did not seem to mind the stench and the dirt.


For me the greatest contribution was he designed and constructed PUBLIC TOILET projects in many villages. He even cleaned Public Toilets to get across the message of cleanliness to his country men.
No leader of any nation has done this in the history of mankind.
During Mahatma Gandhi's life and even after several attempts were made to develop a low-cost toilet technology.

This effort of Gandhi led Mr Pathak a Brahmin of Bihar to take up the cause of Scavengers. And because of Pathaks effort we find Sulabh Toilets in our cities with a technological solution to prevent the problem of scavenging.


http://www.sulabhtoiletmuseum.org/profile.htm

Anonymous said...

I think you need to look at Gandhi with more depth and more openness.
This is from Karunalu Ba beleke in prajavani written by gururaja karjagi.

ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿ ಬೆಂಗಳೂರಿಗೆ ಬರುತ್ತಾರೆಂದು ತಿಳಿದು ಎಲ್ಲರೂ ಅವರನ್ನು ಸ್ವಾಗತಿಸಲು ರೇಲ್ವೆ ನಿಲ್ದಾಣಕ್ಕೆ ಹೋಗಿದ್ದರು. ರೈಲು ಬಂದಿತು. ದಿವಾನರಾಗಿದ್ದ ಮಿರ್ಜಾ ಇಸ್ಮಾಯಿಲ್ ಅವರು ತಮ್ಮ ಪರಿವಾರದವರೊಂದಿಗೆ ಪ್ರಥಮ ದರ್ಜೆ ಬೋಗಿಯತ್ತ ನಡೆದರು. ಅದರಿಂದ ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿ ಇಳಿಯಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಆದರೆ ಹಿಂದಿನಿಂದ `ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿ ಕಿ ಜೈ` ಎಂಬ ಫೋಷಣೆಗಳು ಕೇಳಿದವು. ತಿರುಗಿ ನೋಡಿದರೆ ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿ ಹೆಗಲಿಗೆ ತಮ್ಮ ಚೀಲವನ್ನು ಹಾಕಿಕೊಂಡು ಸರಸರನೇ ನಡೆದು ಬರುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾರೆ! ಮಿರ್ಜಾ ಅವರು ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಗೆ ನಮಸ್ಕಾರ ಮಾಡಿ, `ನಿಮ್ಮನ್ನು ನೋಡಲು ಪ್ರಥಮ ದರ್ಜೆ ಬೋಗಿಯ ಕಡೆಗೆ ಹೋಗಿದ್ದೆ` ಎಂದರು. ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿ ನಕ್ಕು, `ನಾಲ್ಕನೇ ದರ್ಜೆ ಬೋಗಿ ಇಲ್ಲವಲ್ಲ, ಅದಕ್ಕೇ ಮೂರನೇ ದರ್ಜೆಯಲ್ಲೇ ಬಂದೆ` ಎಂದರು.

ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿ ವಾಹನಗಳು ಬೇಡವೆಂದು ಸರಸರನೇ ನಡೆಯತೊಡಗಿದರು. ಅವರ ವೇಗದೊಡನೆ ಹೊಂದಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವುದು ಉಳಿದವರಿಗೆ ಕಷ್ಟವಾಯಿತು. ಹೀಗೆ ನಡೆಯುತ್ತ ಹೋಗುತ್ತಿರುವಾಗ ಕೆಲವರು ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿ ಬರಿಗಾಲಿನಲ್ಲಿ ನಡೆಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದುದನ್ನು ಗಮನಿಸಿದರು. ಈ ವಿಷಯ ಬಾಯಿಂದ ಬಾಯಿಗೆ ಹರಡಿತು. ಗುಸುಗುಸು ಮಾತು ಪ್ರಾರಂಭವಾಯಿತು. ಕೆಲವರು ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿ ರೈಲಿನಲ್ಲಿಯೇ ಮರೆತು ಇಳಿದಿರಬೇಕೆಂದರೆ ಕೆಲವರು ಯಾರೋ ಅವರ ಚಪ್ಪಲಿಗಳನ್ನು ಕಳವು ಮಾಡಿರಬೇಕು ಎಂದರು.

ಒಬ್ಬರು ಹಿರಿಯರಿಗೆ ಹೀಗೆ ಮಹಾತ್ಮರು ಬರಿಗಾಲಿನಲ್ಲಿ ನಡೆಯುವುದು ಸರಿಯಾಗಲಿಲ್ಲವೆನ್ನಿಸಿತು. ಅವರು ತಾವು ಹಾಕಿಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದ ಹೊಸ ಚಪ್ಪಲಿಯ ಜೋಡನ್ನು ತೆಗೆದು ರಸ್ತೆಯ ಮಧ್ಯದಲ್ಲಿಟ್ಟುಕೊಂಡು ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಗಾಗಿ ಕಾಯ್ದರು. ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿ ಅಲ್ಲಿಗೆ ಬಂದೊಡನೆ ಚಪ್ಪಲಿಗಳನ್ನು ತೋರಿಸಿ ದಯವಿಟ್ಟು ಅವುಗಳನ್ನು ಮೆಟ್ಟಬೇಕೆಂದು ಕೇಳಿಕೊಂಡು ಕೈ ಮುಗಿದರು. ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿ ಆ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿಯನ್ನು ನೋಡಿದರು. ಆ ಚಪ್ಪಲಿಗಳನ್ನು ಧರಿಸದೇ ಪಕ್ಕಕ್ಕೆ ಸರಿಯಬೇಕೆಂದು ಸನ್ನೆ ಮಾಡಿ ಸರಸರನೇ ಮುಂದೆ ಹೊರಟೇ ಹೋದರು.

ಮುಂದೆ ಕುಮಾರ ಕೃಪಾಕ್ಕೆ ಹೋಗಿ ಅವರಿಗಾಗಿ ನಿರ್ಮಿಸಲಾದ ಕುಟೀರದಲ್ಲಿ ನೆಲೆಸಿದರು. ಪ್ರತಿದಿನದಂತೆ ಸಾಯಂಕಾಲ ಅವರ ಭಾಷಣ ನಿಗದಿಯಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಅಂದು ಸಂಜೆ ಮಾತನಾಡುತ್ತ ಮಧ್ಯಾಹ್ನ ಹಿರಿಯರೊಬ್ಬರು ತಮಗೆ ಚಪ್ಪಲಿ ನೀಡಿದ್ದನ್ನು ತಾವು ನಿರಾಕರಿಸಿದ್ದನ್ನು ಪ್ರಸ್ತಾಪಿಸಿದರು. `ಆ ಹಿರಿಯರು ಕರುಣೆಯಿಂದ ಚಪ್ಪಲಿಗಳನ್ನು ನೀಡಿದರು. ನಾನು ಧರಿಸದೇ ದಾರಿಬಿಡಿರೆಂದು ಸನ್ನೆ ಮಾಡಿ ಮುಂದೆ ಹೋದದ್ದಕ್ಕೆ ಅವರಿಗೆ ಈ ಗಾಂಧಿಗೆ ಎಷ್ಟು ಸೊಕ್ಕು? ಎಷ್ಟು ಅಹಂಕಾರ ಎಂಬ ಭಾವನೆ ಬಂದಿದ್ದರೆ ಅದು ಸರಿಯಾದದ್ದು. ಅವರು ಈ ಸಭೆಗೆ ಬಂದಿದ್ದರೆ ಅವರ ಕ್ಷಮೆ ಕೇಳುತ್ತೇನೆ. ಈ ಗರ್ವಿಯ ಮಾತನ್ನು ಯಾಕೆ ಕೇಳಬೇಕು ಎಂದು ಅವರು ಬಾರದಿದ್ದರೆ ನಿಮ್ಮಲ್ಲಿ ಯಾರಾದರೂ ಅವರ ಪರಿಚಯವಿದ್ದರೆ ನನ್ನ ಕ್ಷಮೆಯನ್ನು ಅವರಿಗೆ ತಿಳಿಸಿ. ನಾನು ಚಪ್ಪಲಿ ಹಾಕಿಕೊಳ್ಳದಿರುವುದಕ್ಕೆ ಒಂದು ಕಥೆ ಇದೆ` ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿ ಮಾತು ಮುಂದುವರೆಸಿದರು.

“ನಾನು ಮುಂಬೈನಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರತಿಯೊಂದು ಹೆಂಡದ ಅಂಗಡಿಗೆ ಹೋಗಿ ಅಲ್ಲಿ ಬರುವವರಿಗೆ ಅಂಗಡಿ ನಡೆಸುವವರಿಗೆ ಈ ಚಟವನ್ನು ಬಿಡಲು ಬುದ್ಧಿ ಹೇಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದೆ. ಈ ಚಟದಿಂದ ಆಗುವ ಅನಾಹುತವನ್ನು ವರ್ಣಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದೆ. ಆಗ ಗುಂಪಿನೊಳಗಿಂದ ಒಬ್ಬ ಚಪ್ಪಲಿಗಳ ಹಾರವೊಂದನ್ನು ತಂದು, `ಏಯ್ ಗಾಂಧೀ ನಿನ್ನ ಉಪದೇಶ ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿದೆ. ಅದಕ್ಕೇ ನಿನಗೆ ಈ ಸನ್ಮಾನ` ಎಂದು ನನ್ನ ಬಳಿಗೆ ಬಂದ. ಆಗ ನಾನು, ಇನ್ನಷ್ಟು ದೊಡ್ಡ ಹಾರ ಮಾಡಬಾರದಿತ್ತೇ ಸನ್ಮಾನಕ್ಕೆ? ತೆಗೆದುಕೋ ನನ್ನ ಎರಡು ಚಪ್ಪಲಿಗಳನ್ನು, ಇನ್ನಷ್ಟು ದೊಡ್ಡ ಹಾರ ಮಾಡು ಎಂದೆ. ಆಗ ಯಾರೋ ಅವನನ್ನು ಎಳೆದುಕೊಂಡು ಹೋದರು.

ಆದರೆ ಮಾನಸಿಕವಾಗಿ ಅವನು ನನಗೆ ಚಪ್ಪಲಿಯ ಹಾರ ಹಾಕಿದ ಹಾಗೆಯೇ. ಆಗ ನನಗೆ ಒಂದು ವಿಷಯ ಮನದಟ್ಟಾಯಿತು, ಇಂಥವರಿಗೆ ಮನವರಿಕೆಯಾಗುವಂತೆ ತಿಳಿಹೇಳುವ ಬುದ್ಧಿಶಕ್ತಿಯಾಗಲೀ, ಹೃದಯ ವಿಸ್ತಾರವಾಗಲೀ ನನ್ನಲ್ಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಆದ್ದರಿಂದ ಕೆಲವು ದಿನ ಶ್ರಮಿಸಿ ಆ ಶಕ್ತಿಯನ್ನು ಪಡೆಯಲು ಪ್ರಯತ್ನಿಸುತ್ತೇನೆ. ಅಲ್ಲಿಯವರೆಗೂ ನಾನು ಚಪ್ಪಲಿ ಹಾಕಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವುದಿಲ್ಲ ಎಂದು ತೀರ್ಮಾನ ಮಾಡಿದ್ದೇನೆ. ಈ ಕಾರಣಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಹಿರಿಯರು ನೀಡಿದ ಚಪ್ಪಲಿ ಹಾಕಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲಾಗಲಿಲ್ಲ” ಎಂದರು ಮಹಾತ್ಮ ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿ.

ಹೀಗೆ ಸದಾ ಕಾಲ ತಮ್ಮ ಚಿಂತನೆಗಳನ್ನು, ನಡವಳಿಕೆಗಳನ್ನು ಒರೆಗೆ ಹಚ್ಚಿ, ಪರೀಕ್ಷಿಸಿ ತಮ್ಮನ್ನು ತಾವೇ ಬದಲಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಪ್ರಯತ್ನಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿ. ಈ ಸದಾ ಕಾಲದ ಅಂತರೀಕ್ಷಣೆಯೇ ಅವರನ್ನು ದಿನದಿನಕ್ಕೂ ಎತ್ತರದ ಬೆಳವಣಿಗೆಗೆ ತರಲು ಸಾಧ್ಯವಾದದ್ದು, ಅವರನ್ನು ಪ್ರಪಂಚದ ಸಾರ್ವಕಾಲಿಕ ಶ್ರೇಷ್ಠ ನಾಯಕರ ಮುಂಚೂಣಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ನಿಲ್ಲಿಸಿದ್ದು.

Anonymous said...

In the words of Sarojini Naidu, "It costs the country millions to keep this one man in poverty" probably sums up Gandhi. A man who put others through pain and suffering for his self concocted ideals. Ascetics go through self mortification as a part of tapasya, but they seldom inflict pain on others. Having said that, Fasting and Brahmacharya have their place even in married life. Fasting has been proven to be an effective method of detoxifying the body & mind, while giving the body time to recover from the assault of man's appetites. Re brahmacharya, in olden days husband and wife slept together for the express purpose of having children. Abortion and contraception were not widely practised. This is the type of Brahmacharya suitable for householders. Unless the couple happen to be expert Yogis and have complete knowledge of Vajroli, in which case Brahmacharya can be followed even while each being is into each other.
The most distasteful episode in his life was probably sleeping naked with his nieces to prove his Brahmacharya to himself....he could have tested it better by taking a walk on Copacabana/Ipanema/Bondi..:)

Chenthil Kumar. P said...

Told the same to my father "It is not experiments to truth.. It is experiments with food". But i was already on a fruit and nuts diet at that time.