My Life Is My Message
Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi
Born: 02 October 1869 m Died: 30 January 1848
Once asked to give a message to his people in India, the great Mahatma Gandhi
replied, "My life is the message." Indeed, one frail and unarmed man whom Winston Churchill ridiculed as a "half-naked fair" and practicing non-violent civil disobedience eventually brought the mighty British Empire to its knees and granted India its political independence in 1947. This self-assured belief that a determined will does not need arms to get the result one needs is best shown when he said: "Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will."
Throughout his adult life spent mostly in politics starting out as lawyer in British South Africa, Gandhi has shown a strong willed tenacity towards peaceful non-violent show of collective unity against overwhelming odds. It was this character that has endeared him to both Muslims and Hindis in his country and defined his signature political style when he unequivocally said "Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man."
This political philosophy is leveraged on his belief that "Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment."
Gandhi had been in the forefront of civil rights for his fellow Indians and even Blacks when he was a lawyer in South Africa, another British colony. Commenting on the British colonizers who maintain an attitude of superiority towards a conquered race, Gandhi was known to have quipped: "It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow beings.
Gandhi may have been born and raised as a Hindu but was adhered to various philosophies that underpinned great religions of East and West with an eye towards truth. It can be said that was a pioneer for ecclesiastical religion where all religions is a celebration of God and truth. It was from Buddhism that his espoused the ideas of non-violence and universal brotherhood. He also borrowed heavily on the Christian tent of loving the enemy and turning the other cheek. He once said "I like Christ, but I don't like many Christians." This was clearly a disguised contempt he had for the British who appeared to him as hypocritical in exposing the religion that Christ founded but fall short of the virtues that Christ wants in anyone who follows him. Gandhi also echoed the sentiment of one of the sermons in the mount to Love thy enemy when he said, "It is easy enough to be friendly to one's friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion."
On 30 January 1948, Gandhi was assassinated while on his way to a platform to deliver a talk for a prayer meeting. His last words were "Oh God." Over 2 million Hindus, Muslims and Christians joined a 5-mile funeral procession while Indian businesses in London were closed in mourning. His place in history has been assured, but more importantly, human greatness was farther enriched by his life and quotes that have endured as timeless examples of a man for all season.