The other Mr. G!

So, having just wrapped up one Mr. G’s Birthday – 10 days of noisy festivities, we arrive at another Mr. G’s Birthday – equally revered if not as noisy 😉

Gandhi is very much a world figure – an icon of non-violence, and the Father of my country, India. A Mahatma – ‘mahaan’ = great, ‘atma’ = soul. I’m not a huge fan…but of late, I understand better and am also better at not passing judgment 😛 Here is an old post I wrote 2 years ago on his Birthday – untagged and certainly not much read 😉

Not much has changed about the way I feel…except that I find my tone 2 years ago more strident than I would like! More than ever today I find, Gandhi – his ideals, his philosophy, his example vanishing from modern-day India. We pay him the mandatory lip-service – politicians & citizens alike, as we as we go about our brazen ways, doing exactly as we please, adhering to no one’s principle’s except our own. And I don’t see things changing in my lifetime…If Gandhi’s watching, I think he’ll be desolate at the state of his country. I know I am…and although there is always hope, at times it’s as tenuous as gossamer – translucent and invisible, unless tested by the weight of a burden. Perhaps that’s what I’m going through – a test of my faith in my country, its people and in myself. It’s a tough road and yet here I still am…one foot in front of the other.

Perhaps there is indeed a light at the end of this tunnel – if not for me, then for future generations of Indians. That is my wish and I think it would be his too. So Happy Birthday G! And if you have any influence at all with the other Mr. G, ask him to give us humans the ability to do what is right no matter how difficult & Bless this country of ours, that you loved so well!
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I’m not a huge Gandhi fan, never have been. To me, he’s always come across as a stubborn, egotistical, selfish man (his vow of celibacy being for me the ultimate example of selfishness), who was often weak when strength was required and had favourites among his followers, just like us lesser mortals! I dislike the way, every time Independence is mentioned, we keep hearing Gandhi rhetoric and non-violence as if he was the only reason, India is today a free nation. Can we truthfully claim, India’s Independence came through purely non-violent means?

What of all the hundreds of thousands of freedom-fighters that fought and sacrificed their lives, before him and by his side, anonymous and otherwise? Are Bhagat Singh, Azad and Bose and the countless others not as important? Were Nehru, Jinnah, Azad, Naidu and Patel not politicians of equal eminence in stature, strength and commitment? I believe they were. And yet, they are never given equal importance, rather always referred to as his followers, as if he were a saint and they his disciples! I get uncomfortable when human beings begin to deify one of their own! It upsets my rational self, I suppose! I think India would have gained Independence, with or without Gandhi and that’s why this whole ‘Mahatma’ worship bothers me, more often than not.

It’s not his fault of course. No, that dubious distinction belongs to us, the Indian people, and to our politicians, who have made Gandhi, big business! And that’s what he has been reduced to these days – Big Bucks! Think of all the money people make, printing posters and commissioning statues! All the mileage, politicians derive out of garlanding those very same pictures and statues! Hollywood made Gandhi and Bollywood went one better, with Gandhi, My Father and the now legend, Lage Raho, Munnabhai!

Gandhi, My Father, was very interesting. I thought it explored very realistically, the troubled relationship between the Mahatma and his oldest son. I was relieved to see that the Mahatma was human after all and made mistakes. Also that he then refused to accept them like all of us do. Rather reassuring that! Lage Raho Munnabhai was a hoot from start to finish! I enjoyed it thoroughly, not only because of a sterling cast and performances, but also for Gandhi’s characterization (Dilip Prabhavalkar was excellent!). He seemed ‘real’ and his ideals ‘attainable’. A 21st century Gandhi, a common man’s Gandhi! That, I understood, I identified, I rejoiced.

I do believe in non-violence though. Violence of every sort turns me off in a big way. I don’t see the point of it and I know for a fact, it solves not a thing! A look around the world is proof enough for me. Man is the only animal on Planet Earth that engages in violence, purely for sport! For pleasure! Frankly it’s beyond me – I have other ways of getting high and no they have nothing to do with drugs, sex or alcohol! Well – definitely not drugs! But it seems to me that though the man himself was non-violent and possibly never hurt a fly, his actions in combination with other events, certainly led to one of the most gruesomely, violent events in Indian history – the Partition.

I wonder, how and why a man so great, a Mahatma, has become irrelevant in society today. Yes, Gandhian ideology is still revered and being a Gandhi is certainly an achievement of sorts in India (beats me, as to why!), but seriously speaking – nobody gives a damn! Not the politicians who sing his praises and quote him at every rally, not the Indian people, for whom he was once ‘Mahatma’ and is now just another name in the history books and not me – though having said that, I did blog!

Hey Ram! Now that he would have understood…

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