Spiritual, Moral and Political Strengths of Mahatma Gandhi’s Character

Question

Having read Fischer’s book on Gandhi, evaluated what you think the spiritual, moral and political strengths of Gandhi’s character were, as well as his limitations.  What were Gandhi’s goals, and the obstacles and frustrations that impeded the realization goals, including Gandhi’s own errors or limitations as you may see them.  Finally, what role does Fischer portray Jinnah as having in this real-life drama?  Should by 6-9 pages.

 

Answer

Introduction

Mahatma Gandhi is among the greatest leaders that ever lived. He is renowned for his civil rights activism, characterized by the insistence of nonviolence. In the quest for Indian independence, Gandhi influenced his fellow Indians to employ nonviolent civil disobedience in response to suppression from the British colonial government.

Apart from his political philosophy, Gandhi believed in a servant, exemplary, and transformational leadership. In this regard, he led a simple life as he lived in self-sufficient residence, wore traditional attire (dhoti and shawl), opted for a vegetarian diet, and engaged in long periods of fasting. For his principles, Gandhi was subjected to inhumane treatment by imperialists, more so, through detention or imprisonment.

Also of concern is that he spread his belief in non-violent civil disobedience beyond India to other countries, especially South Africa. Through his efforts, Mahatma Gandhi is an embodiment of good governance as he strived for social justice throughout his life. This paper will discuss the spiritual, moral, and political strengths of Gandhi’s character as well as his limitations.

In addition, it will highlight Gandhi’s goals and the obstacles and frustrations that curtailed the realization of such goals. The paper will also explain the role that Fischer portray Jinnah as having in real-life drama.

The Spiritual, Moral, and Political Strengths of Gandhi’s Character as well as His Limitations

Spirituality, based on Gandhi, is a product of self-realization. It influences an individual’s behavior in a way that they can make significant contributions to society without having to speak or use gestures. Precisely, it is a spirituality that gives one the drive to pursue their mission successfully. For instance, a preacher can only influence their congregants positively if they possess spirituality. An artist will also come up with the best artwork or product if he/she is spiritual. These statements imply that spirituality influences every variable of life.

Thus, the spiritual dimension of Gandhi’s character was strong given that he perceived every of his action as being motivated by God’s will. Gandhi believed that his position as a servant of God required him to cover almost every field of life, including politics. In this regard, Gandhi’s spiritual aspect influenced his moral and political dimensions.

Being a Godly person, Gandhi was convinced that he ought to participate in all parameters of society’s development, including politics. He also reiterated the essence of politics in society, arguing that it influenced all members of society. This implied that politics has profound implications not only on religion but also morality. Therefore, it is impossible to divorce politics from religion and morality.

In terms of morality, spirituality encouraged Gandhi to live positively through the reinforcement in beliefs such as gender equality, economic and social equality, and education based on the promotion of indigenous languages. Other aspects of morality that characterized Gandhi’s strength of character entailed the abstinence from alcohol, the adoption of a vegan diet, and simple clothing.

It is worth to note that the choice of a vegan diet focused on creating a harmony-inclined relationship with the environment; this move would also ensure that spiritualized soldiers stayed alert in their quest to implement change in the society through non-violence[1]. In a way, Gandhi favored righteousness to unpleasant habits such as opulence and extravagance. Gandhi also based his moral instructions through the emphasis on principles such as honesty, truthfulness, tolerance, discipline, self-reliance, and hard work. With these values, there was mutual respect among Christians, Muslims, and Hindus.

Evidently, the political philosophy of Gandhi hinged on the cosmological argument given that it leaned towards spirituality. In this respect, Gandhi did not believe in political systems, which encouraged him to express his political ideologies in compliance with his deeper, inner feelings and sincerity as opposed to leaning towards populism.

From time to time, Gandhi would review his opinions but preserve his conceptual framework that centered on spiritualism. Gandhi believed that politics or political power ought not to be perceived as an end but as a means to empower individuals or the society towards improved living conditions. This belief led to the conviction that political representation is unnecessary in a perfect state since such a society is self-regulated.

Gandhi, being observant and pragmatic, restrained from contesting any political position as he believed that a politician would always be determined to attain, regain, and retain power through all means possible. With the influence Gandhi enjoyed during his time, he would have easily ascended to any political position of his choice; nevertheless, his spiritual and moral strength restrained him from harboring political ambitions.

In spite of Gandhi’s progressive ideologies in political, moral, and spiritual dimensions, he had limitations that hindered the effectiveness of his philosophy in certain situations. His policy of nonviolence was incompatible with some situations, especially those involving extreme violence. After a few years in South Africa, for example, Gandhi realized that non-violence was unfit for certain circumstances as it implied supporting the oppressor.

This is because he failed to convince the prejudicial, white-dominated apartheid government to stop their inhumane practices; this situation convinced Gandhi that reason had limitations, which means that he supported violence indirectly. Gandhi, himself, knew that non-violence had boundaries and was ready to concede in circumstances that the policy was ineffective and failed. The Indian experience also made it difficult to apply the non-violence policy effectively; some conditions needed for the success of the policy included the presence of a mutual foundation of comprehension, an opponent’s ability to demonstrate self-reflection, and open-minded society.

The diverse nature of India made it difficult to implement non-violence because varied groups had their own perspectives. Hindu fundamentalists, for instance, believed that Gandhi’s tolerance for other religious groups corrupted Hinduism by introducing some Christian doctrines into the religion. It was also difficult to practice non-violence in day to day life; for instance, it is difficult for one to continue loving an individual who beat them regularly.

Gandhi’s Goals as well as the Obstacles and Frustrations that Curtailed Their Realization

Gandhi hoped to preach nonviolent civil disobedience as the primary way to solve problems. At the expense of physically engaging the oppressor, Gandhi believed that nonviolent means such as non-cooperation would help to end imperialism, which was mainly in the form of colonialism in India. Even though Gandhi ultimately succeeded, he faced some challenge. In South Africa for instance, his nonviolent philosophy failed because of the rigidity of the apartheid government.

Another goal of Mahatma Gandhi was the desire to incept a new concept of legitimate democracy, also known as Swaraj. This philosophy encouraged individuals to mobilize available resources towards the service of the common good; in this context, resources encompass physical, spiritual, and economic aspects. Gandhi believed that an effective leader, under Swaraj, is that who led every individual towards the realization of dharma.

This statement means that Gandhi envisioned an ideal leader as that focused his/her energy towards the creation of a perfect society that would not necessitate a need for representation. Despite the progressiveness of the policy, it was difficult to implement swaraj because of the nature of Indian politics that were marred with corruption and hypocrisy. Concisely, this ideology seemed unrealistic because politicians and other selfish groups would prefer to maintain the status quo to satisfy their selfish interests.

Gandhi also focused on encouraging society to embrace spiritualism. This move would allow persons to attain self-realization that would oblige them to lead upright lifestyles. Apart from tolerance, spiritualism would instill attributes such as hard work, determination, honesty, and respect in individuals. The main obstacle towards Gandhi’s quest for spiritualism was the opposition from Hindu fundamentalist who alleged that Mahatma contaminated their religion via the introduction of Christian doctrine to Hinduism.

An introspective outlook of Gandhi’s obstacle suggests that he tended to perceive issues from one dimension. His obsession with nonviolent civil disobedience to agitate for reforms, for instance, hindered his ability to consider alternatives mechanisms. Even when Gandhi conceded defeat in his adoption of the nonviolence policy, he did it with reluctance.

As much as Gandhi can be lauded for his efforts towards liberty in India and beyond, it is clear that he was a rigid individual who had an unbelievable obsession with his principles; this attribute might have made him insensitive towards diverse certain diverse opinions.

The Role that Fischer Portray Jinnah in Real-Life Drama

Fischer portrays Jinnah as an antagonist in real-life drama. This perception is because he was the opposite of Mahatma Gandhi, in terms of ideology. Jinnah opposed Gandhi’s political philosophy like no other person. One notable premise that Jinnah opposed was mixing religion/spiritualism and politics. Jinnah’s opposition of Gandhi played a salient role in the division of their country into India and Pakistan.

Gandhi remained in India, which was dominated by Hinduism while Jinnah spearheaded the formation of Pakistan, which was dominated by Muslims. It is ironical and pretentious to realize that the irreligious Jinnah advocated for the formation of a religious nation while Gandhi, who was entirely religious, favored a secular state[4]. The move to oversee the formation of Pakistan brought out Jinnah as an enemy of the Indian nation as the effort caused disunity, which marked the long rivalry between India and Pakistan.

Jinnah’s also betrayed the nationalist effort by Gandhi and other leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru by collaborating with the British to establish a state from India. All efforts to prevent secession by Gandhi were thwarted by Jinnah who refused to cooperate by turning down calls that would have prevented the move.

Conclusion

This paper has discussed different dimensions of Mahatma Gandhi based on the reflections from Louis Fischer’s, The Life of Mahatma Gandhi. The spiritual, political, and moral strengths of Gandhi’s character are intertwined. Through spiritualism, one gains self-realization that positively influences their political and moral dimensions.

In terms of leadership, spirituality obliges one to use their position to mobilize resources to improve the living standards of their people. Meanwhile, an individual upholds the highest levels of moral principles such as hard work, honesty, and respect for others. The goals that influenced Gandhi’s actions include the desire to lead his people towards true democracy and spiritualism. On the other hand, Jinnah’s portrayal by Fischer is that of a villain because of his vehement opposition towards Gandhi’s political ideologies.

 

References

  1. Fischer, Louis. The Life of Mahatma Gandhi. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1953.

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