Someone said that Great Men such as Mahatma Gandhi, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill were not born, but they evolved overtime. All Great Countries such as the United States, Great Britain, Ancient Rome, Ancient Hindustan India and Ancient Egypt were created by great men. Great Men and Great Nations did not appear suddenly. The Great Men evolved through their struggles, and developing and reviewing their ideas, concepts, and philosophy. The evolution of Great Men took place over many years. Great Civilizations evolved over centuries. As great as ancient: India, Egypt, and Rome were during their eras, they were not perfect. The Italian Renaissance created connections with the Middle East; which, stimulated interest in the sources of Italian Renaissance wealth; from Indian spices and Chinese silk etc. This interest led to the rise of great Modern Western Empires such as Spain, Portugal, Dutch, Britain and France. Great Britain and France brought the modern world into being. Britain gave us the industrial revolution. France gave us the modern concepts on civil liberties such as the rights of the individual versus the state/king, and the sovereignty of the people over the king. Yet these Empires had many faults: class differences; racism; slavery; and exploitation.
The point I am making is that development is not “linear.” Great Civilizations make great contributions in the past. Similarly, today great nations are making great contributions for the future of civilizations. Yes, all these Great Civilizations and Great Nations, while they made great contributions; made many mistakes in their treatment of many people from slavery to the exploitation of the colonies. However, most “would be” immigrants still prefer to immigrate to America and Western Europe. Currently, there are tens of millions of migrants living illegally in the West; many more millions are swimming to Western countries, in hopes of finding an improved standard of living for themselves and their family.
All these “Great Western Countries” were created by Great Men from George Washington to Mahatma Gandhi. Not only is the Western World a magnet for immigrants, but India is a magnet for immigrants from East Africa to Bangla Desh. At the time of “Partition;” Pakistan was supposed to be for Muslims, and India was supposed to be for Hindus. Gandhi’s India provides a home for over 225 million Muslims, and over 100 million Christians. More Muslims and Christians prefer to live in India than any other country in Asia. Muslims have voted with their feet, by remaining in India, and crossing into India every day from surrounding countries. Gandhi must have been great to a create modern India to be attractive, because; most people in neighboring countries prefer to live in India than other South Asian countries. On March 23rd 1956, Pakistan declared itself to be an Islamic state to provide a “Paradise” for Pakistanis. Instead, corruption, poverty, and dictatorship plagues Pakistan. Today, more Pakistanis would prefer to live outside of Pakistan. Pakistan is facing bankruptcy. Its’ friends: China and Saudi Arabia are abandoning friendship with Pakistan for friendship with India. This is the “Greatness”
of Gandhi’s India.
Gandhi and Washington laid the foundations for their countries to be great. America, with all its’ imperfections, is the main country that most other nations, look to for help in peace time or war. Today, China is threatening every country in Asia. America is leading the “Quad;” India, Japan,
Australia, and of course the United States. Imagine, Gandhi’s India is a leading member of the “Quad;”which will provide protection for Asia and the rest of the world in the coming future.
This represents the pure “Greatness” of these two countries, in the modern era, which were “created” by two of the greatest men in history: Gandhi and Washington.
Nothing in nature is perfect; except God. Everything in nature from living things to non-living ones, exist in a state of constant change; because, they are not perfect. Nature allows everything, especially, living things the ability to change and adapt to survive in any environment. Can anyone describe a perfect: mango, apple, grape, goat, cow, beauty, picture, sculpture, philosophy, ideology, or a human being? All great leaders accomplished great achievements for their nations and their people. Bhadase Maraj, Basdeo Panday, Adrian Cola Rienzi (Krishna Deonarine), Cheddi Jagan, Mahendra Chaudhary, and Jagannath Lachmon were great in the sense they devoted their lives to serve their nations and their people. Did these “Heroes” have faults; of course.
We should not judge our “Heroes” by their few awkward limitations and mistakes. We should judge our heroes for their accomplishments. Cheddi Jagan, when he became President, after the death of the dictator Forbes Burnham; revived the Guyanese economy. When I visited Guyana, during the Forbes Burnham era, I personally witnessed massive poverty, hopelessness, and lack of food supplies, especially among the Indians, who were suffering under intense racism. We should recognize our leader’s limitations and shortcomings; for example, Cheddi Jagan wasted too much time chasing after a futile “Socialist Dream.” In Trinidad, Indians suffered tremendous racism under Eric Williams. Even when Basdeo Panday joined the NAR, in a nationwide coalition, to bring unity among all the races in the island; ANR Robinson displayed a racist attitude towards Mr Basdeo Panday.
I remember, when ANR Robinson gave a speech saying that certain people pretend to be his friends, but they stab him in the back. Most Indians knew ANR Robinson was referring to Mr. Basdeo Panday and members of the United Labor Party; the forerunner of the United National Congress. What everyone forgot is that Mr. Basdeo sacrificed the most, by passing up leadership of the NAR. ANR Robinson had only 2 seats from Tobago. Karl Hudson Phillips’ “Organization for National Reconstruction (ONR)” did not have any seats in parliament. ONR was an unproven political party. Mr. Basdeo Panday had at least 12 seats in parliament. Before the election of Mr. Basdeo Panday, before he became Prime Minister, many Indians were despondent about their political input in the political processes in Trinidad and Tobago. Mr Basdeo Panday brought a sense of pride to Trinidad Indians. They finally felt they can influence Trinidad politics after about 30 years of Eric Williams’s racism. Finally, Mr. Basdeo Panday was able the rebuild the Trinidad economy, after years of problems and decline under previous governments.
Now, let us return to discuss Mahatma Gandhi’s contribution to India’s independence. The British had ruled India for approximately 200 years. Until the coming of Gandhi, no Indian leader was able to command the “National Attention” of Indians throughout India. Gandhi was able to unite Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Buddhists across India. Although, there were many “Great Indians Revolutionaries,” who fought for India’s Independence before Gandhi; it was only Gandhi who brilliantly came up with “original ideas” and implemented other pro-independence strategies that galvanized nationwide support from Indians that frightened the Daylights” out of the British colonists.
Most Indian leaders looked towards European political and European leaders for political inspiration. Many, if not all, got their inspiration from Marxists/Socialist Europeans. These leaders believed that India has to follow some form of a European model to modernize and industrialize. This attitude of looking towards Europe for a developmental model for India was a colonial policy implanted in the minds of Indians to denigrate Indian religion and culture; as not being able to accomplished modernization. As I have said previously, it was Lord Macaulay’s policy to replace Hindu culture with English Culture. Part of this policy was to create in the minds of Indians that their culture was inferior and European culture was superior. European culture became the model of a: modern, scientific oriented, rational, and pluralistic society that can integrate all members of the society. Indian/Hindu culture, and to a certain extent Islam, was presented as not being or having a: scientific or rational orientation, superstitious, stuck in an atmosphere of feudalistic intolerance that is not capable of being pluralistic to include all sectors of society.
The following are quotes from Nehru, and describes Nehru’s thinking about religion, especially, Hinduism. It is said that Nehru toured Europe in 1936, where he became interested Marxism: “his yardstick of his economic thinking became Marxist……Nehru said religion…at any rate…organized religion in India.. ..filled me with horror….I have frequently condemned it and wished to make a clean sweep of it….Nehru thought that religious taboos were preventing India from going forward and adapting to modern conditions… No country or people who are slaves to dogma and dogmatic mentality can progress, and unhappily our country and people have become extraordinarily dogmatic and little-minded.”
— Toward Freedom: The Autobiography of Jawaharlal Nehru (1936); pp. 240–241.
Nehru displayed all the prejudices of British colonialism. Nehru’s prejudices were reflected in his views. This happens when people don’t develop their own political philosophy and ideology. They begin to “Look Down” at their own culture; and, they look towards other nations and culture for a model of development and an ideology. In the Caribbean, we have a similar situation developing in Guyana. Some Guyanese want to “Piggy Back” on the “Black Ideology” of Negritude developed by Aime Cesaire of Martinique. Mr. Cesaire developed his ideology to suit the needs of Black people. These Guyanese, lack the ability to develop a philosophy to suit Caribbean Indians/Hindus such as Hindology; they want to call their ideology “Coolitude.” We cannot take an ideology that was developed to suit another people, and think it will fulfill our needs. If we do such a thing; then we will suffer the “Pitfalls” of the people from whom we copy our ideology. As Caribbean Indians/Hindus, we must be must be “Authentic” in developing our ideology to suit our specific needs. To adopt the term “Coolitude” would make us look “Stupid and Incompetent, Intellectually.”
Unlike other Indian Leaders, Gandhi did not look towards Europeans for ideas to develop his ideology that would awaken the sleeping Indian Giant- the Indian Nation. Gandhi turned to the
ancient Vedas for inspiration. Gandhi developed his concept of “Satyagraha” from the Vedas. In Sanskrit: Satya means truth; agraha means insistence or holding firmly to truth. Satyagraha therefore means holding firmly to the truth; and in Gandhi’s ideology it meant non-violent resistance or peaceful civil resistance. Satyagraha influenced Martin Luther King civil rights movement in the United States. Satyagraha, also, influenced Nelson Mandela’s civil rights movement in South Africa. Satyagraha, also, influenced many leaders of Eastern Europe during the “Orange Revolution” in their demands for Democracy in the post Soviet era.
In India, in 1930, when Gandhi began his “Civil Disobedience” using the philosophy of Satyagraha in his “Salt Marches,” strategy, which started from Sabarmarti Ashram to Dandi, a journey of approximately 240 miles; Nehru and most of the Congress Party leaders were not initially on board with Gandhi’s proposed march. When Gandhi “Salt Marches” began to pick up thousands of supporters along the 240-mile journey, it became a “National Phenomena” in India’s political awakening. Nehru and the Congress Party were overwhelmingly impressed with Gandhi’s success. Indians from all walks of life, from the urban dweller to the villagers, began to think, not just in the traditional manner about the welfare of their village or their province, but they started to think of India as a united polity. Their political loyalty was no longer tied to their village, state or region; it was now reflected in a “National Struggle” for freedom and Independence. Gandhi, “singlehandedly” turned Indian village and regional politics into National Politics. No Indian Leader ever accomplished this political feat, before in the history of India. This is certainly Greatness.
The “British Monopoly Salt Laws” that prohibited Indians from making their own salt were broken. Gandhi was now the undisputed leader of the Independence movement. Nehru and other Congress leaders realized that if they were to achieve any success in the Independence movement; they would have to “piggy back” on Gandhi’s success. After the “Salt Marches,” anything Gandhi did had a magical effect on the Indian masses. Gandhi was famous for his spinning wheel, which was adopted from the traditional Indian cottage industries for making yarn/thread for producing cloth. Both the “Salt march” and the “Spinning Wheel” were symbols for Indian self-reliance. Gandhi wanted to teach Indians that they don’t need to purchase any British manufactured goods; they could make or produce whatever they needed. The idea of self-reliance became a national idea; and the motto of Satyagraha and independence. Gandhi accomplished this Herculean task, initially, without the support of the Congress Party.
These accomplishments made Gandhi a great man; above all other politicians of his time. Although, Gandhi was a great man, did he as well as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Winston Churchill have faults or made mistakes. Of course, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson created the American Constitution; the greatest document on a citizen’s right to basic freedoms, and to elect their own government. However, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were both slave owners. We must remember that their greatness lies not, in the mistakes, these men made; but their greatness lay in the fact that they overcame many of the prejudices of the era, and rose above their contemporaries to create a country that is still a beacon of freedom for the rest of the world. America is the only major Western Country to elect a
“Black Man” in the person of Barack Obama as President, and a Black Woman, Kamla Harris as Vice President. Winston Churchill helped saved the Western Democracies from Nazism and
Communism. Gandhi is often criticized for ignoring the “Untouchables, the Caste System, Accommodating Muslim demands at the expense of Hindus, and the Muslim riots,” which killed hundreds of Hindus. Gandhi was a religious leader; he could not call for Hindu revenge.
Gandhi started his political work in South Africa. It is in this African country, where Gandhi was brought face to face with the brutalities of racism and British Colonialism. Gandhi spent 21 years working for the civil rights for all peoples in South Africa. Gandhi worked for the improvement of Indians and Africans. Gandhi founded the African National Congress (ANC) to fight for civil rights for all South Africans. Some critics claim that Gandhi doubted some of the abilities of some Africans. Remember, Great Men are not born; they evolve over decades of struggles, in which they constantly review their revolutionary ideas, and adopt new ideas, which make them great. In South Africa, Gandhi had just started his political journey into a great man or the Mahatma. When Gandhi left India to study in England for his law degree; he was no “Holy Man” or “Mahatma.” At the time, most colonial natives were proud to be British and felt they were serving a “British Empire That Was Theirs.” Colonial natives were proud to be British. I remember, when I was growing up in Trinidad, as a young child in school, we were thought to be proud of the British Empire; salute the Union Jack/British Flag; and, sing patriotic British songs to the British Monarch.
It took decades of political studies for me to shake the British prejudices, and the love of the British Empire; that, I had learned growing up in Trinidad. I, also, suffered decades of prejudice from Christian Trinidadians, both Black and Indian, because I was a Hindu with “funny sounding” Hindu names. I remember, Presbyterian teachers insulting me for being a Hindu. They told me I have to convert, in order, to be saved. The point being, Colonial peoples had to experience a political journey to free their minds from our “Colonial Sludge Thinking.” Gandhi, also, travelled on that journey. Yes, he made mistakes on his political journey, in regards to the Castes System and some Africans. In England, Gandhi was a proud British Barrister at Law. He learned “Ball Room” dancing. When Gandhi arrived in South Africa, he was the perfect Englishman. As I said, Gandhi began his journey from a proud Brown Skinned Englishman wearing a three piece suit; to wearing an Indian Dhoti, and developing his Satyagraha Philosophy of non-violence. Gandhi made mistakes in England by becoming an Englishman; he made mistakes in South Africa with African issues; and, he made mistakes in India, regarding the caste system. But the most important factor, in Gandhi’s life, is that he evolved from a Brown Skinned Englishman to the Mahatma to we know today.
What are the significances of Gandhi’s teachings and philosophy: does it mean that Gandhi would want Indians to ignore modern industrial technology, and go down to the sea and make their own salt or use a village “Spinning Wheel” to make Yarn and cloth, and ignore modern Industrial weaving and knitting machines? Absolutely not, Gandhi used the “Salt Marches” and the “Spinning Wheel” to make the point that we could find ways to make ourselves independent. Today, India is rapidly Industrializing by developing new modern scientific technologies. India is a leader in the manufacture of modern: Satellite technology; Medicines and Vaccines; Space
Rocket Launchers; and, Agriculture, to the extent that India went from faming to food exporter. India is building: roads and highways; tunnels through mountains; airports; and, most of its weapons from Inter-continental Ballistic Missiles to aircraft carriers. Would Gandhi approve that India is on its way to becoming a modern industrial power; I think so. However, Gandhi being a religious person may oppose weaponry systems.
However, just as other Great Leaders, Gandhi is not the solution for “Every Problem.” Gandhi showed us that if we are creative, we can find our own solutions in every historical period. If we learn anything from Gandhi; it is that we must be independent by sustaining ourselves with our own creativity. We don’t have to walk around with a “Gandhi Book;” and, whenever we encounter a problem, we look in the book, to get the answer. Ponder this situation; if China is not respecting India’s peaceful sovereignty; should we sit back and let the Communist Chinese run over us? I don’t think so! We should not let the Chinese have their way, as in the Sino-Indian war of 1962. We should fight to the last man standing; that’s Hindology.
Hindology was founded by: Ramesh “Rennie” Ramracha;
Ramesh “Rennie” Ramracha is:
Founder and President of THE TRIGUSH (Trinidad, Guyana, Surinam, Hindus) ASSOCIATION;
Chairman of the TRIGUSH LIBRARY;
Mr. Ramracha was a lecturer at City University, N.Y;
Retired Teacher from the Dept of Ed, N.Y.C;
He holds a few graduate degrees from N.Y. area universities.