Was Gandhi a great man?

There is something called past.

In the physical realm of the universe it exists in the form of momentum and inertia. In this realm this past is often used to predict the future. This is because any entity with momentum holds its path. Also when a larger entity hits a smaller entity, it can change the course of that smaller entity.

In the metaphysical realm however, the past exists only and only in the mind. And here it is all powerful. It moves the humanity. It is the consciousness that drives the humanity and more often than not it is the past that as the conqueror of the consciousness drives the humanity.

The greatest hurdles in the road to future have been created by the past in the collective consciousness of societies and nations. People often find it easier to overcome challenges that prop up in the present than to face challenges that are rooted in the past.

The two strongest social forces – religion and politics – best exploit this nature of the past.

If the human mind loses its affinity and submission to the past, both religion and politics will lose considerable grip over people.

To know how it feels to try and stop a car moving at even 10 kmph from the front, one needs to try to do this. It can be unexpectedly and highly damaging. The past morphed into prejudices like casteism and racism also acts like a moving car.

Thus, to know how it feels to face the wrath of racism, one needs to face it once. It can be humiliating in the least and devastating to the unthinkable levels.

To stand in front of a juggernaut of racism and force it to change its course can only be called an act of sheer greatness.

This is because standing in front of this juggernaut means fighting with the past rooted in the collective mind of a great many people.

In other words I am suggesting that racism is partially a manifestation of the Golem effect. Golem effect is a situation when poor expectations of the boss lead to below par performance of a subordinate. When a race with a past of astonishing achievements looks down upon another race that lacks the momentum of achievements, it can be difficult for the latter to break free.

Try to visualise a 19 yr old in the end of the nineteenth century going to London to study Law. When he came back to India in 1891 he was too shy to succeed as a practising lawyer. The same young man went to South Africa (a British colony at that time) in 1893 as an employee of a law firm and spent 21 years there.

Gandhi young

During this time he came across a number of humiliating experiences directed at him on the basis of his color. These experiences were in no way extraordinary as it was common in those days for the people of non-white origin to be subjected to humiliation and abuse.

However his response to these experiences was truly extraordinary.

He decided to come in the way of racial juggernaut; and that too without any violence. This idea in itself would seem extremely ridiculous to many.

While in South Africa, he continuously fought for the cause of the expatriate Indian community. He witnessed a number of irregularities in the Indian society, which was in itself divided on the lines of caste and religion.

Again his response was extraordinary.

He decided to challenge another juggernaut. He dreamed of an identity that was “Indian” unencumbered by the ideas of caste and religion.

The greatness of the man was in challenging the status-quo and believing that he will succeed.

When someone is determined to succeed he/she goes about acquiring whatever is need to succeed. Else success would remain elusive and wishful thinking. A person willing to stand up against the vices like racism and casteism, has to fight in the public domain, meeting, negotiating with and convincing both the people and the authorities. Gandhi realised this and worked on these skills. He also realised that to fight the collective power of racism, he would need the power of masses which needed to mobilised from a state of dormancy.

So much so that by the time he came back to India in 1915 he was a skilful public speaker and negotiator. He could effectively present his ideas and project his dreams. He could identify the areas of grave injustice and devise non-violent ways of protest.

I am not saying that India won freedom because of one man – Gandhi.

What I am saying is that even in today’s age of relative liberation it is difficult to imagine a person standing up non-violently against injustice.  So it is nothing short of greatness to lead a long term and nonviolent protest against the might of the imperialist forces of a race that was highly confident of its superiority; a protest that unmistakably dented this confidence.

I am not saying that Gandhi was a saint – free from the human vices.

What I am saying that it can be only after fighting a very long battle with sustained and unwavering grit and determination against a mighty adversary that a person can earn love and respect of millions of fellow countrymen and admiration of people across nations and races.

No doubt Gandhi was a great man. He did not hold any government position of power, he was not awarded the Nobel prize, but he is and will remain alive in the collective consciousness till ages.

He was great because showed that to fight the momentum of injustice a counter-momentum of awakening and mobilisation of society can be only way and also showed us how to walk on that way.


Today as our society is facing widespread injustice perpetrated by our own race and countrymen, what are the chances of getting someone like Gandhi? Unsure? I will tell you. The chances are abysmally low.

That’s because a great man like Gandhi is born once in centuries!


13 responses to “Was Gandhi a great man?”

  1. The greatest fact in the story of this man on earth is not his material achievements, the nation he helped build ,but the growth of his soul from age to age in its search for truth ,goodness and equality… One can’t understand Gandhi without understanding what he was responding to.. Many believe that esteem for Gandhi depends on the continued success of the Indian democratic experiment but surely he would live elsewhere even if India failed, through his techniques of non-violence…
    This is a very apt tribute to the Mahatma… WOW!!!!!

    1. Thanks Nitesh. Very apt observations. It’s really heartening to find out that this generation – living in altogether different times- appreciates Gandhi.

  2. Gandhi lived his life as as “one” entity fearlessly –physically & spiritually. His quest to stay connected with nature, laws of nature and application of the higher powers –the self in his case and their implementation in his surroundings was something remarkable. Every time in doubt he turned to his inner–self .
    Normally people infer non-violence as a mere mode of not resorting to violence and adopting peaceful methods on which Gandhi relied . But Gandhi viewed non-violence as a physiological battle or war with “patience’ being the cardinal role factor in emerging victorious. Again for this strength he connected more and relied with his inner-self . He viewd his actions in pursuit of “dharma” . When one follows “ dharma”, results or gains are superfluous the process of action and its effect is more important.
    Success and failures.: Technically speaking none of Gandhi’s movement was a success. Non-cop1917, Civil-Disobedience-1927, Quit India 1942.—-they all ended abruptly nowhere near their their projected aims. But with each technical failure he rose higher and higher and his presence got ingrained with the masses and the classes.
    The word History/race/religion/ past/: I feel “identity” in itself is the most dangerous word /term mankind or humans as a single entity have encountered. We seem to, not live without it and we cannot live with it. Again we relate religion less with religion and more with the “identity” aspect of it. Similar is the case of politics. Rulers/ Politicians dig this word “identity “ in politics and stick to it to cash on it . Politics in itself is not bad . Likewise , “Past”, is not dangerous but when we create /relate /mould “identities” it acts like a hydrogen bomb.
    Gandhi never craved for an identity, he simply did his job and left every time and he never claimed himself to be a perfectionist even at the time when India was synonymous with Gandhi and vice-versa.
    But how do we get rid of this word “identity”.?

    Lastly, Thank you Sir, for sharing your ideas via this medium.

    1. Thanks Varun. I completely agree with your views. It’s not possible to capture – in any number of words – the greatness of what Gandhi did over his lifetime. Our honest appreciation can be the only tribute to him.

  3. Ishansh Niranjan Avatar
    Ishansh Niranjan

    Great article. Wonderful opening and follow-up. I would like to add that what made him really great was his intelligent and innovative manoeuvre to cut across boundaries of caste, class, region and language at a time when Gokhale and Tilak were busy with their propagandas oriented majorly at ‘urban’ diaspora. MG understood the loophole and innovated on his own, the theory and practice of satyagraha. As rightly pointed by you that he believed in mass mobilization, which is necessary for the issues taken up by him like untouchability, promotion of Hindu-Muslim harmony, upliftment of women, revival of village and artisanal economy amongst others. It was the grit to face the juggernaut coupled with strategy to harness the the exponential power of mass mobilization makes Gandhi an immortal force.

    1. Thanks Ishansh. What a great supplement you have written. I completely agree. While world usually sees him as a saint he was more of a strategist and a die hard crusader for genuine social causes.

  4. Wonderful post. I found it helpful and inspiring to read, today. I am very grateful.

    1. Thank you so much for these kind words of encouragement.

  5. This is an exception review of an exceptional man!
    Thank you for subscribing to my site and allowing me to enter your world! Eddie

    1. Thank you so much for your generously kind words. It’s my pleasure to follow your blog. 🙂

  6. i don’t know why this faggot is given the title of father of our nation, he was non violent but at the same time he send british indian army to fight against GERMANY in WWI ,WHY!!!? People say we got independence through his efforts and yes we achieved it “NON-VIOLENTLY”, really???? then what AZAD HIND FAUJ was doing at that time??? i heard that lakhs of people die in the course of independence, but still we amuse ourselves by believing in all the crap he told, BULLSHIT, this is my personal opinion u r a scholar,i am nothing , i heard GANDHIJI was thrown out of a train in SA and then all this crap happen and he came to INDIA, i wish he was thrown out of a moving train, then there would no JAWAHARLAL NEHRU,no INDIRA GANDHI,no SONIA GANDHI,no RAHUL BABA no PAKISTAN,no nothing perhaps india would have been a better place to live in, and how can be a person non violent when people from some x country torture them RAPE there sisters,looting them , i think its cowardness

    1. I can understand your disgust which is rooted in a number of factors including our quest for an ideal man. Sadly no one i repeat no one is ideal in this world. You name anyone in this world and enough negative data against him can be discovered. I doubt that you have not even read the article, beacuse i have mentioned that i dont see him as the main reason behind independence. I dont even agree to his political views. But he had the guts to stand against some major social vices of his times against a mighty opponent. I challenge any leader to try and emulate his levels of mobilizing the masses and keeping them mobilised for years. People chicken out at even criticising the present cong leadership else pay the price which Khemka is paying. To stand against the ruthless British was no mean task to say the least. I don’t expect you to respect someone whom you seem to hate. Also I appreciate your honesty in this comment. But I would expect you to be more receptive to any great positive even in an otherwise ordinary man. 🙂

  7. I just want to quote one line…
    He came he saw he conquwered

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