Today is the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi was an enigma. Nobody could understand him fully. He is admired or at least known all over the world yet in the countries of the sub-continent which he helped to free from the yoke of British imperialism, many people love and admire him passionately and many other people hate him.
He was such a person that one could love him or hate him but not ignore him. Most people are influenced by his sayings such as “An eye for an eye would leave the whole world blind”, “Hate the evil but not the evil doer”, “Laziness is also a form of violence”, etc.
Those who admire and love him say that he was instrumental in freeing India from the foreign yoke by non-violent passive resistance and his Swadeshi movement. They find in him an apostle of peace. On the other hand, those who hate him state that he was an appeaser of Muslims and was responsible for the partition of the country.
These people say that India achieved its independence because of martyrs like Bhagat Singh, Kartar Singh Sarabha, Udham Singh Kamboj, Khudiram Bose, Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaque Ullah Khan and the INA movement of the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose as well the navy mutiny. They also stress that UK had suffered such heavy financial and manpower losses in the second World War that they found it practically impossible to rule over such a large country and hence gave it its freedom.
One of his critic Osho Rajneesh thought that he was a dictator like Hitler. According to him, while Hitler said that if someone did not obey him, he would kill that man, Gandhi said that if people did not obey him, he would kill himself by going on fast unto death.
In the international arena also, he had a lot of admirers like George Bernard Shaw, Einstein, etc. Even amongst the current leaders, the American vice president in the Clinton administration, Al Gore is his admirer. Of course, there were people like Winston Churchill who hated him. In fact, Churchill refused to meet him stating that he would not meet that naked fakir.
Paradoxically, when Gandhi went to see Mussolini and came out of latter’s house with his goat, Mussolini’s sons laughed at him but Mussolini put a stop to their laughter by rebuking them and telling them that that man with a goat was shaking the very foundations of British empire.
Whether one hated him or loved him, one was bound to Gandhi by one’s feeling of love or hatred. After all, one cannot forget a man whom one hates most. Even his killer touched his feet before killing him.
Although most of us do not think that his idea of village republics, Khadi, prohibition, abstaining from sex, etc. are practical yet we cannot deny the fact that the man had a charisma to move the masses and to top it all, he was a man of principles, a fearless fighter and one of the most kind man the world has produced, who loved even those who hated him.
But therein lies his charm.