Relevance of Gandhi Calling Maoists to espouse non-violence


The United Nations has declared October 2, as non-violence day to be celebrated universally. It is the birth day of Mahatma Gandhi who was born at Porbandar in Gujarat, in India, on 2nd October, 1869. The UN has done so to draw the attention of the peoples of the different regions of the world that are witnessing some or the other sort of intra and inter-community clashes. Since there is need for peace and tranquility in all the different parts of the world, the adherence to the path of non-violence will lead to a peaceful world by all means.

Readers may recollect that when the Maoists

were engaged in their

people’s war (before signing the twelve- point understanding with the seven-party alliance), their leader Dr. Babu Ram Bhattarai, through his article in a

national daily, had assured the people that the top

leaders like Prachanda and himself would not join

the government and would remain out of power

politics, like Gandhi and others. It is hard to challenge the integrity of his writing, but it is harder to challenge the efficacy of the non-violent method adopted by Gandhi. Should

one hold the circumstances responsible for shifting of his thought and action that followed therein after proving them as leaders hankering after power?

Before the Constituent Assembly election, the Maoist cadres first painted the walls with the slogan highlighting Prachanda, their supreme leader, as president of Nepal. Perhaps, the Maoist leader first wanted to become president with executive power of the newly born republic.

But they consoled

themselves by acquiring

the post of Prime Minister that has executive power

to rule the country. One

can feel that it is very difficult to give up power once obtained. Such an act of sacrifice is difficult for

the common people to

perform, especially for those who do and talk about politics in the name of people’s welfare.

It can be realized that

the kind of doctrine that they adopted does not

permit them to relinquish

or denounce power. It

was difficult for them to choose peaceful means to establish the republic

and democracy. But, they could have realized

that peaceful means has

its own merits. It does not take away the lives of thousands of people for bringing the so-called social and political transformations. It does not breed hatred against any one.

It is, therefore, proper

to understand the meaning underlying the term non-violence. The term used

by Gandhi for non-violence is Ahimsa. The usual

meaning of Ahimsa is non-killing. Since non-killing is merely one aspect of

Ahimsa, it is generally

considered as non-injury. Ahimsa can be understood as the opposite of Himsa, which means causing pain or killing any life out of anger, or with a selfish

purpose, or with the intention of injuring it.

According to Gandhi, killing or injury to life can

be an act of violence only under certain conditions like anger, pride, hatred, selfish consideration, bad intention etc. Any injury

to life done under these

motives is Himsa. Thus,

the negative meaning of Ahimsa is “non-killing or non- injury”, but this pre-supposes that a non-violent act is free from hatred, anger, malice and the like.

For Gandhi, the positive aspects of Ahimsa are much more basic than its negative characteristics. Ahimsa

is not merely refraining from causing injuries to creature; it stands for certain positive attitudes towards other living beings that one must cultivate.

Gandhi, while formulating the positive principles

of Ahimsa, precedes with

a basic conviction that it

is one of the basic and

essential qualities of mankind. While accepting

a place of Himsa in life,

he considered Ahimsa to be the law of life of man. It is more evident in Man who is both body and spirit.

Body can represent physical power and, therefore, can, on occasions, do Himsa: but man’s true nature is spiritual which is essentially non-violent evident from the fact that while the body or senses can be injured, the soul can never be injured. The moment the spiritual side of man is awakened, his non-violent nature becomes apparent.

In its positive aspect, Ahimsa is nothing but

Love, which is a kind of

feeling of oneness. In loving, one identifies himself

with the object of his

love, and this can be

possible when there is

its spontaneous outflow. Therefore, Ahimsa demands a sincere effort to free the mind from feelings like anger, malice, hatred, revenge and jealousy etc.

It is easy to hate, but it is difficult to love and especially when one has to love an opponent. Thus, for Gandhi, non-violence is meant for the strong and not for the weak as violence is essentially an expression of weakness. One who is inwardly weak develops a sort of fear and out of the fear starts arming against real or imaginary foes.

Thus, non-violence is required urgently in Nepal for drafting the new constitution and saving the peace process from derailment through consensus , mutual trust and love.

Prof. Mishra is former

election commissioner