Thinking of Gandhiji…
1. Some lines from a conversation in the chapter ‘Aswaththama’ in Dilip Simeon’s novel Revolution Highway (Penguin, 2010)
They think so much about the future, they’ve forgotten the present. They claim to know a future that ordinary people don’t, so they place themselves beyond ordinary moral standards. They are forever innocent.
Politics has played havoc with history. Everyone prefers fairytales to inconvenient facts.
What do I make of Gandhi? A man at odds with is times. But we needed him. We still do, because we’re as in much the same situation as we were in his lifetime.
I’ll tell you something that took me a very long time to understand. People want all the good to be on one side. They yearn for simplification. They can’t accept that their community, or their party, any place to which they belong, could do anything bad. They will invent any fiction and tell lies to their children, to avoid admitting that our moral capacity is unstable, that we are capable of just as much evil as the other side.
Read Yudhisthira’s answers to the Yaksha, the tree spirit beside the forest lake…Yudhisthira answered his questions to revive his brothers. One of the questions is about the supreme virtue.
What is the answer?
Read it and find out yourself!
2. Two poems by Suman Keshari (‘याज्ञवल्कय से बहस’, राजकमल, 2008 से)
कितना कठिन है
शब्दों में तुम्हें समेटना
तुम एक परछांई सी सूरज की
उसी के वृत्त में अवस्थित
चंदन लेप के समान
उसको उसी के ताप से दग्ध होने से बचातीं
उसे भास्कर बनातीं….
2.बा और बापू।
चलते चलते आखिर थक ही गई
इशारे भर से रोक लिया उसे भी
उस ढलती शाम को
जो जाने कब से तो चल रहा था
प्रश्नो की कंटीली राह पर
नियम तोड़ रुक गया वह
भीग गई आत्मा
कोरों पर चमकी
यह जानते हुए भी
कि देह भर रुकी है उसकी
शय्या के पास
मन तो भटक ही रहा है
किरिच भरी राहों पर
उन प्रश्नों के समाधान ढ़ूँढ़ता
जो अब तक पूछे ही न गए थे…
3. Some lines from an article by yours truly. Published in ‘India 60’, (Editor Ira Pande, Harper Collins, 2007), this article was based on a lecture delivered at Gandhi Peace Foundation, Delhi, on 2nd October, 2005.
Way back in the early 1960s, as a child in a north Indian town, one of the many popular sayings I grew up listening to was “Majboori ka naam Mahatma Gandhi.” The phrase conveyed that Gandhi was another name for meekness bordering on timidity…
The assassin proved Gandhi right. The act of murder manifested not the strength, but the helplessness of the assassin. He killed a man who was utterly vulnerable and yet had a towering stature, someone who was a target of attacks from all quarters and yet remained steadfast…Gandhi was not a meek ‘victim’- he quite probably knew he would pay with his life for his fortitude. Then, as now, it required a degree of personal courage to believe in essential goodness of humankind, and to maintain an unshakable faith in ethical acts and dialogue. It required great wisdom to interrogate ‘sacred’ violence, and Gandhi did precisely that.
On that particular 30th January of 1993, I became convinced that word majboori (helplessness) needed to be replaced with Mazbooti-the Hindustani word for fortitude. We had to understand the sheer fact that Gandhi was a man of immense strength.
Mazbooti ka naam Mahatma Gandhi!