10 September 2008

from "the hour of trial" in "my non-violence" by mahatma gandhi

I just want to sit for a minute and witness the faith displayed in the following lines of Gandhi. His total immersion in faith -- the clarity and firmness of his vision, his faith in humanity, his faith even in Hitler --

"Non-violence is not a cloistered virtue, confined only to the [saint] and the cave-dweller. It is capable of being practiced by the millions, not with full knowledge of its implications, but because it is the law of our species. It distinguishes man from the brute. But man has not shed the brute in him. He has to strive to do so. This striving applies to the practice of non-violence, not to the belief in it. I cannot strive to believe in a principle: I either believe in it or I do not. And if I believe in it, I must bravely strive to practice it. Ahimsa is an attribute of the brave. Cowardice and Ahimsa do not go together any more than water and fire. It is that Ahimsa that every [person here] has to make a conscious effort to develop in himself."

[NB: When Gandhiji talks about Ahimsa, it is the ancient yogic principle of total non-harm, at the level of intention. It can be translated as "non-violence" or "Love". When translated as Love it is most closely connected to the Greek concept of agape -- ankurbhai]


"You cannot build non-violence on a factory civilization, but it can be built on self-contained villages. Even if Hitler was so minded, he could not devastate seven hundred thousand non-violent villages. He would himself become non-violent in the process. Rural economy, as I have conceived it, eschews exploitation altogether, and exploitation is the essence of violence. You have, therefore, to be rural-minded before you can be non-violent, and to be rural-minded you have to have faith in the spinning wheel."

[written october 29th, 1939]

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