Site icon Pratyush Pandey

In defence of Mahatma Gandhi

This was an answer to “Why do some people hate Mahatma Gandhi?”

Hate is a very strong word; but a lot of people seem to find Mahatma Gandhi overrated. Every few days you’ll see a statue being vandalized or someone taking offence to something he might or might not have said/done.

I strongly disagree with them.

This is a (biased) answer to why people feel that way. I’ve seen 3 types; there probably would be more.

First: The virtue signalling crowd:

It’s an easy way to signal how moral you are.

It’s a way of saying: Look at me, I’m so pure that even Mahatma Gandhi doesn’t make the cut; he doesn’t come close to my standards!

I think it’s just a total lack of self-awareness, mixed with a large dose of hypocrisy.

Set the bar at perfection and no one will make the cut. You’ll excoriate Socrates for not standing up against slavery and condemn Christ and Buddha for not organizing Gay Pride parades.

Everyone is, at least to some extent, a product of their time.

One day our ancestors might judge us for eating meat, for dumping plastic, for driving fuel guzzling cars.

It’s so easy to judge someone from another time by our standards.

And it’s so hypocritical.

You cherry-pick one or two incidents in a lifetime and judge a person for that – ignoring everything else. Like saying a movie is crap because of one scene, or hating a video game because of one bug.

If you applied the same standards to yourself – where would you be?

Second: The rebel / non-conformist.

It’s a way to flex ego.

Look at me, I see something beyond the masses of sheep. Everyone thinks Mahatma Gandhi was so great – they’re all wrong. know better.

I guess this is a common type among English-speaking youth in metros.

Again, a total lack of self-awareness – avoiding being honest with yourself why you think the way you do. Along with the same old hypocrisy.

Curiously enough, most of those I’ve met in these two categories are also usually the ones who’ve not read Mahatma Gandhi’s books. Such opinions are often based on random blogs or posts… that just happen to confirm everything you already agree with. Confirmation bias at play.

Third category: Those who’ve actually read extensively and disagree with the methods / results of Mahatma Gandhi’s actions, as well as his beliefs.

I usually find their reasoning a little harsh / speculative for my taste, but I can see why they might feel that way. I myself don’t agree with many of Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas on economy / technology etc.

Those in this group are often really good people – people who are indispensable for the universe.

It would be such a dull and boring world if everyone agreed on something.

And they don’t “hate” Mahatma Gandhi – they just don’t agree with his ideas. They’re able to separate the man from the deeds / thoughts.

To end this answer:

If we’re honest with ourselves, none of us will probably be able to do a fraction of what Mahatma Gandhi did.

Personally, I would respect him even if he did nothing else in his life – just for writing a book like “My Experiments with Truth”.

Look at all the stuff posted online today – it’s the exact opposite of what he did. That book is about holding nothing back and writing everything as it is, no matter how embarrassing, regardless of what people will think. And today, it’s all about writing or photo-shopping the exact opposite of the truth, just so you can impress people.

Sure, he wasn’t perfect – but if that’s where you set the bar then who is? And can you meet your own standards?

And I also think that having detractors is a sign of success.

It would be the dullest and most boring man who said nice things that everyone wants to hear all the time.

I’m also sure that Mahatma Gandhi wouldn’t care a bit whether people venerated him or cursed him.

If anything, he would probably be disappointed that so many people spend so much time and energy arguing whether a man who died over seventy years was “good” or “bad” , instead of actually doing something with their own lives.

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