Sunday, 30 September 2007


Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was an ordinary man with extraordinary acumen and charisma thrust upon him by the people to his great discomfort, who dreamt of an utopian world full of promises that was destined not to happen, at least till he comes back again and get into it. He fondly called it the Rama Rajya (the kingdom of Lord Rama) but could never comprehend it fully to even his own amazement and enjoyed it too. Like Jesus the Christ and Goutama the Buddha, he very clearly knew that by its very nature, the worlds of ours are imperfect and further that its inherent contradictions are its only strengths and realities, including those dreams.
Gandhi liked to habitually experiment with something that he called truth. It somehow made him quite different sort of a person in a time characterized by falsity, even after realizing that the truths that he was in search of would be the only casualties amidst the simmering din of raging falsehood and fallacy. True to his nature, he never compromised and his compulsive adherence to truth instantly made him a celebrity or a champion of a difficult cause that can not be achieved by us; though it bordered on the plains of the relative truths.
Gandhi was born like anyone of us in a nondescript place and time as usual but he was reborn sooner out of a tumultuous time into which he was sucked in for no faults of his. As a result he preferred to turn non-violent knowing well that that was the best course of action to preserve the dignity at the expense of a cheap life that he was wearing at that point of time and had no courage or the required money to buy a weapon.
It was the best way to be the winner, he was forced to reason out to best of his advantage against his tormentors and cunning sharks. By doing this, he certainly won few of the thrust upon skirmishes and some wars by violating the rulebooks or throwing out the necessary norms bare handed and bare footed but lost finally when he was assassinated and died abruptly becoming an unwilling character, very much comical, of the violence he wanted to eradicate in his simplistic ways. The saddest part of the drama was that the violence was perpetuated on him curiously in response to his non-violence that mocked its very efficacy. He devised his own rule of engaging his detractors and enemies by confusing them. But than they say, there are no rules in love and war!
Very strangely, Gandhi was never a politician or a revolutionary in the conventional sense yet he surpassed all of them without being aware of it. At best he was a hurt ordinary folk of the countryside, who was so simple that he thought by asking for the birth rights of his fellow countrymen, he would be able to convince the people in power and having brute naked force to secure it for a song. And surprisingly, he sure did it by shocking and shaking the mighty, manipulative and unscrupulous forces who justifiably felt humiliated by his rustic methods and fakir attires. He got what he wanted but lost all for he reposed enough unnecessary faith in the people who were in disguise and crowding around him day out day in proclaiming themselves as his best buddies yet waiting to manipulate and gobble him up to disprove him, malign him in order to reinforce a politics as a as a normal process of acquiring ill-gotten power and wealth. Though Gandhi knew of the machination of selfish gain he tolerated to change hearts but failed miserably when finally the black forces annihilated him and mauled him in broad daylights.
As a person, Gandhi suffered much like anyone of us be he never kept it to himself or inside his private shell but laid bare all his shortcomings, vices, virtues, agonies, strengths, weaknesses and even his fragile lean body and nearly starved soul so that others can minutely examine it and draw lessons for themselves. He thought that it will largely free him from the bondages and place him with the ordinary man who would be also suffering like him. He made the mistake of considering the ordinary man for real never knowing that in actuality in does not exit. Since he was unlike anyone amongst us,he quickly caught our imagination. People flocked to him to examine a curious person who was very different and ultimately discovered him to be nothing much of substance. Yet, these people fancied him as a subject matter of caricature while at the same time trying to copy him in parts and bits to their own advantage. It was sort of cannibalizing him with his permission. On the part of the people, they enjoyed being ecstatic and derived the feel good factors finding Gandhi to be the storehouse of such goodies.
For many of us, it is not possible and easy to believe that a man could be like him and that he existed in flesh and blood for we are used to the monstrous characters whom we find everywhere, including in the us.
But Gandhi certainly did exist and that he in a limited sense was a symbol of the unusual as per the meanings of our own dictionaries. The only fault with the man was that he did not dabble in religion by claiming to be the chosen prophet of an unverifiable mute god or brokered power for the sake of nourishing his stunted egos. He only wanted to be a common man and here, he could only approximate them as an esoteric being.
Gandhi talked of an economy of the people of spinning wheel and cottage industries that would be fit for sustaining the republics, by saturating and satiating the wants; simultaneously nurturing mother earth. He conceived man and all other beings as the extension of nature and not different from it. Even if it had tremendous potential to succeed, it never too firm roots as a process of a new political economy though people everywhere would have liked to be the ‘good of such an arrangement of a pristine societal economy based on love, faith, cooperation, understanding, want saturation, spontaneous exchanges of gods and services and a new social order bereft of any nasty competition and happy citizens universal in their outlook and action. Though, such a society of Gandhi’s imagination sufficiently impressed us, it failed to materialize because we preferred to remain as greedy as before and only partially wanted to his promised economic heaven by faking our intentions. Naturally Gandhi was puzzled to the core and his economies crumbled for good, even during his lifetime.
I simply love the man called Gandhi for all his follies and failures and of course for all his pure thoughts. If you try to know him unconditionally, you would too start loving and liking him though you and I may not start strictly following him or be his disciple.
Gandhi is a figure and personality that can not be compared how much hard we may try or whatever methods we follow to evaluate; not even the so called common man could be deployed as a yardstick to measure him—except perhaps with Gandhi. And mind you this is the best part of him. Gandhi is a man who can not be dismissed or ignored once he is known. So decide to either know him or all together not to know him but nothing in between. He is also the only person one can be critical of without being able to demolish him for his resilience and relevance of a different order. We was also a man of loosely knitted integrities neatly foraged by him with much labor and care from various sources that incidentally includes his enemies-whom he called his best friends.
Gandhi tried very hard to be something resembling a saint flaunting a couple of misfiring tricks bordering religion and divinity that invariably went against him because he had more of the non-saintly qualities than the so called saints themselves. The communalists mistook him for a rabid communalist and the secularists took him for granted as a staunch diehard secularist. He was neither of it but above it. May be he was a humanist or something like that to deduce about his convictions. Many believe that he actually understood nothing of it. But that is perfectly fine with Gandhi. This is so because he was nothing more and never ever a grown up child who was mistaken as a matured patriarch for his bizarre theatrics and truancies habituated to the attention of others.
Gandhi enthralled and entertained all and sundry enacting his heavily borrowed folk antics at the same time speaking the dialects of cross sections of people with an innocent looking agenda in tow having the potency stirring the hornet’s nest. He knew how to spread wildfire for a worthy cause with much funfair.
He spoke of queer things as well to look more of a original thinker or generous but was non of it. He vigorously propagated the urgency of marital celibacy, vegetarianism, unity of religions and oneness of mankind and respect for the animals and inanimate things, etc., etc. and became a victim of it and found hardly any inspired takers. But never mind, that was the staple of the man who struggled to derive extra mileages for his other causes by saying and expecting of non-attainable ideals. Years after him, it is still true in a topsy turvy world of ours that is marred by contradictions is too narrow and selfish; where Gandhi was but destined to fail, even not being a failure.
Gandhi thought sincerely so much for others that he proved himself a miserable dud. He betrayed his tribe of cunning businessmen and traders of India by not booking enough wealth and profit from whatever he did for a living, neglected his wife and children starving them of their rights in abnegating his duties towards them and became the cause of upheaval, eruption, destruction and death while achieving his dreams. But sincerely ask anybody who suffered for Gandhi and you would instantly come to know that they simply like, enjoyed and loved it accepting it to be a rare a much sought after unique gift from their own Gandhi.
He additionally, stood for the cows, the holy varieties, for not to be cowed down by the bulls—the powers that were out in the open and having a free run—by firmly taking on the repressive trigger-happy imperialists and traders or the rabid racists by their horns chanting Ram dhoons (devotional songs for Ram, his ideal and hero) and a magical mantra—do or die. Gandhi cracked, whipped, kicked, pricked and shrinked the enemies of humanity and freedom and also made them lick their own wounds with—love. Only a Gandhi could ever do that.
Gandhi was partially undone with the partition of his home, India, that he considered to be his twin self and the ugly communal carnage and pogrom that followed soon thereafter. This event turn him into an apologetic, a pathetic one and a lonesome man with recurring nightmares. It failed Gandhi for he never learned the rudimentary lessons of history. A dejected Gandhi than found no way out but to align with the sordid fate to again continue his experiment with truth. And most probably he feared to face the people and wept a lot in self-confinement and gnawing solitude and despair. It was the time he also regretted for being Gandhi.
Gandhi, the man who hobnobbed with impunity with contemporary bigwigs of the world and the faceless and nameless people of the villages equally certainly had a very good sense of humor as well. Once he confessed to the people of an entire nation that being a veggie by tradition he had had not the chance to munch a piece of cooked mutton, yet very much craved for it for long. Once without the knowledge and permission of his family members, he stealthily ate a bowl full of steaming hot spicy meat curry with his meat eating friends. These co-conspirators and accomplices had earlier certified to Gandhi that meat really tastes well and would make him muscular, strong and brave and further that his satisfaction was guaranteed. However, that night Gandhi was jolted off from his slumber to greet an unfamiliar animal. In his black and white dream, he saw the ram or may be a goat weeping non-stop while calling him by his name to please spare him from the sharp knife of the ugly looking butcher standing nearby in solemnity to execute the mundane work. This vivid dream sufficiently rattled Gandhi so much so that he next morning confessed about his sin and misadventure of eating meat, to his family members begging for forgiveness. Throughout his life, Gandhi decidedly was out on the streets to aggressively promote the virtues of vegetarianism and tried hard to prove that a veggie could be equally strong. Courageous and healthy like his meat eating counterparts by becoming a Gandhi for demonstration. But a word of caution—never fall for the guy without examining and experimenting with the truth of the matter that vegetarianism is best, as per Gandhi’s own yardstick. He could be just kidding, you know.
I am certainly not out to vilify a man called Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, admittedly for being incapable of it. If Gandhi were alive today, he would have listened to me in rapt attention in person forgetting the mighty British and their rule with undulated simplicity of an innocent child with infectious smiles to understand the truths behind my views about him and perhaps would have extended an invitation to me to be the inmate of his serene yet busy ashram and cleaned my toilet to convert me as his fan forever. Believe me, he meted out this treatment to many and in the process swelled the rank and file of his unique proverbial troop that was famous as the Banara Sena or the Warrior Monkey Regiment of Gandhi. You may not be knowing that it was the very Banara Sena that drove out the repressive forces from the soil of India without firing even a single shot, captained and commanded by a half naked Gandhi.
Gandhi is best remembered not as the person who secured independence for the people of India and fought tooth and nail against all forms of injustice and discrimination or who stood for the dignity of man everywhere but certainly for his love for Rama and the Three Monkeys. While Rama taught him to be truthful, fearless and just; the Three Monkeys taught him the most cardinal principles of life and living—Speak not evil, hear not evil and see not evil—a fable that has much relevance but very limited utility in our world of today and of the future.
In sum Gandhi was a confirmed dreamer and doer.