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Monday, August 10, 2009


Yes, I know it’s been another trip away from Insanity Avenue for me. However, life has been pretty busy with poor me being carpet bombed with assignments, exams, deadlines, group projects and god knows what all!


One of the highlights of the week gone by was the submission of an assignment on Gandhi. One of the Hindu scriptures, the Mahanarayana Upanishad, lists down some 12 pillars of leadership excellence. We had to evaluate Gandhi according to those pillars and comment on him.


I do have my reasons (or biases if you want to call them that) against that half-naked fakir. However, for academic purposes, I decided to be as fair to him as possible.


I don’t really consider him the architect of our freedom. In fact, personally I think we won freedom not because of Gandhi, but despite him. However, I do appreciate the fact that he was a man with an iron will, and was truthful throughout his life.


Still, I don’t think sleeping with two naked girls embracing you just so that you can prove your chastity and show the world that you shun sexual pleasures is not noble, it is sick! (Especially if one of those girls happens to be your grand niece.)


Also, my research indicated that he was not really trying to do some good when he refused to disembark from a ‘white’ compartment in South Africa. Apparently, he was just trying to protect the rights of upper caste Indians. (In fact, he wrote many letters to the South African government referring to the blacks as ‘kaffirs’.)


Agreed that he did practice penance and self-denial. However, the Upanishad says that self-denial practiced to attain some goal or purpose is ‘asuri tapas’ – meaning it is somewhat devilish or satanic. (Not exactly though, but the English language has no suitable translation there.)


One positive about him was that he was frugal and a man of few needs. He didn’t mind touring abroad in just a flimsy loincloth.


The conclusion that I reached was that being a human, he did have his set of failings and weaknesses. However, there were many positive contributions also that he made. Still, I think that ‘Father of the Nation’ is a bit too much.


Your take?


A journey called Life said...

my knowledge of Gandhi was imposed learnings on how he was the architect of our freedom, plus to have a grandfather as a freedom fighter only added to his cult status..
as regards, para 5, i came to know of that very recently and just on the basis of that one deed(s)the hitherto held respect vanished.i somehow couldn't approach brand Gandhi in a holistic manner anymore.i think im stirring up a hornet's nest with my comments here, but couldnt hold back

Rane (The Orchid with All Shades Pink) said...

that was extensive research in there.. i wont be the right person to comment on it..unless i have studied Gandhi well..
so as of now after reading you i can say,
that apart from being 'the father of the nation' Mr Gandhi was human.with his strengths and weaknesses..

Eidothia said...

To question widely held beliefs and give ur take on it - thats our quest for truth. And I appreciate yours esp when it is weighed against a Gandhi who has been stuffed down and flushed by our throats since we were kids. However, this man surely was a leader who accumulated a big human force and gave it direction to achieve a goal. With all his failings one can still appreciate him for that one big task he did. Believe me - leading the masses is not easy. Try leading a pack of 2 to start with to realise what I mean.

Sid 'Ravan' Kabe said...

I totally agree with my belief he was just another politician and since his ancestors are ruling(read: spoiling) our country since last 40 years...he is claimed as the Father of the nation.

Anyways that comes to a new point, was India ever meant to be free??

Sid 'Ravan' Kabe said...

I appreciate your when I was studying on Bhagat Singh, I realized many misleading sentences in the trial of Bhagat Singh as well as that of Nathuram Godse.

May be one day the truth will come out.

:) said...

as far as my knowledge of Gandhi concerned ...yeah father of the nation is a bit too if u c the qualities on management basis or otherwise ... he was one of the best leaders and ...I think I can respect him for his knowledge :)

Saurabh said...

good to see u back, sumit

i just read some of the articles on your site (dedicated to HR concepts), and i feel it's very nice and well presented. hope it helps me in my interviews (in case my desperate attempts in written exams fetch me a call) ;)

anyway, i don't know the fine details of ghandiji's life, so i'd better shut up !

Nikita said...

i havnt ever made an attempt to research gandhi. but hind swaraj n my experiments with truth were shoved down my throat 3 years back and iske liye main DU ko kabhi maaf nahi karungi. i developed an aversion to the man, almost. it is all right to appreciate his strength and resolve as a leader n the hold he had over masses...but for the life of me i dnt understand why he wanted us to go back to the stone age. the way i see it, he talked abt no development at all, instead of sustainable development, as shd've been the case. he even called the railways a sickness of the civilisation and abhorred doctors. also, the book 'meera and the mahatma' gives good insight into the way he ran his ashram. i clearly remember one instance where a man felt really guilty abt masturbation and gandhi made him more so...making me wonder if he ever wanted nething human to survive in humanity. it all seemed a question of forced restraint and resolve to b shown off and exercised only for the sake of itself than some greater good.

of course, sleeping with girls et al has been talked of plenty and adds to my list of peeves against him

Megha said...

I never felt Gandhi only brought us freedom. We have him on our currency, but sadly references to many other freedom fighters are lost in these years.
His concept -Ahinsa is good but it makes sense only when the opposite person understands it's meaning. We can't stand in front of terrorist without arms teaching him the value of non-violence. He would straight away blow us.

Para 5 is new to me, haven't heard before.

He contributed to the freedom, but I would go ahead and say that he was a clever politician than a freedom fighter.

Freya said...

Um, I never knew he slept with naked girls. Ew, that is disgusting.

Gandhi was an hypocrite. That's what I can make out from his principles. Nobody knows what he was really.

@Sid: whom to do you mean by ancestors?

Sumit said...

@Aparna... I detested Gandhi before this research, but I guess after it, I've learnt to differentiate Gandhi the leader from Gandhi the man. (Still, I do agree that there were lots of wrongs that he is still responsible for.)

@Kajal... Yes, he was human. And perhaps the reason why I detest him is because I was brought up believing that he was more than human.

@Eidothia... Yes, he did accomplish a lot. But I still can't bring myself to respect him as a person for reasons mentioned.

@Sid... I think we did deserve to be free, but we're making ourselves slaves to pettiness, regionalism and casteism.

@Sugandha... agreed. :)

@Saurabh... thank you and good luck for your exams. There's lots more planned on the site front so, do watch out!

@Nikita... yes, his aversion to all things foreign was almost obsessive. And actually, I would have had nothing against his sleeping with girls (assuming the girls were fine with it). My objection stems from the fact that he used those girls as commodities/objects to prove his chastity.

@Megha... I also think that he was more of a shrewd politician than anything else. :)

Roshmi Sinha said...

All the storm generated by Jaswant Singh's book these days... make me want to write this. I think the BJP wanted to get rid of him... from the party... and used the book as the means to that end.

Infact, Jinnah was the one who defended Shaheed Bhagat Singh and the INA heroes. It was Jinnah... who adviced Gandhi against using students for political purposes... since he was of the opinion that sooner rather than later India will gain freedom. And thereafter, lay the huge task of nation building... which required qualified Indians and that was precisely why students should be left alone and not used by political parties for their rallies. Plus they should not be encouraged to boycott classes, etc.

He was a brilliant lawyer and earned a fortune for himself. He was completely a self made man.

He came from a very humble background. Infact he was a converted muslim... from a backward background. His father Jhinabhai Poonja... was a man of very meager means. His name 'Jinnah' is a corruption of 'Jhinabhai'.

Both Gandhi and Nehru were poor students and failed lawyers... apart from being sad and terribly wanting in qualities... as fathers and husbands. I agree with you... when you say: I don’t really consider Gandhi as the architect of our freedom. In fact, personally I think we won freedom not because of him, but despite him (and Nehru).

Also, it was sleeping with five naked girls... and not two. And it is said that one of them was his grand niece... Manu Gandhi.

Wonder why Ambedkar and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad were built up by the Gandhi-Nehru lobby... was it to counter Jinnah's influence... ???