Satyagraha Movement by Gandhiji

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Satyagraha Movement by Gandhiji

Satyagraha by Gandhiji

Mahatma Gandhi adopted the Satyagraha Movement as a real and active weapon of winning violence. He believed that Satyagraha is a particular form of struggle where there is no question of victory or defeat. It is beyond doubt that his study of the Hindu tradition and his experience of passive resistance against racial discrimination in South Africa helped a lot in developing and concretizing his idea of Satyagraha.

Meaning of Satyagraha

The root meaning of Satyagraha is holding on to truth. Gandhi called it ‘truth force’, life-force’ or ‘soul-force’. Many people consider it a method of the political movement carried on against the British Raj.

According to Krishnalal Shridharani, ‘Satyagraha is a direct non-violent struggle.”

According to Dr. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, Satyagraha is a method of struggle against the evil and a way of settlement of disputes.

M.N. Jha defined Satyagraha as ‘ethical self realization process of dialectics.’

Nature of Satyagraha

This theory of Satyagraha is based upon two ideas: (i) satya or truth and (ii) ahimsa or non-violence. The essence of Satyagraha Movement is to fight against injustice with the utmost might, courting all sorts of sacrifice and sufferings. Satyagraha is resistance without any acrimony or hatred or injury to the opponent. The sum and substance of Satyagraha is to awaken in the mind of the opponent the sense of justice and win his heart without hurting him.

Satyagraha and non-violence

The Satyagrahi must always shun violence. He must be a worshipper of non-violence in thoughts, words and deeds. To him, non-violence was truth and truth was God. Austere devotion is required for the realization of truth, and even God. To Gandhi, self-torture was the austere devotion. A Satyagrahi is not at all afraid of sacrificing his own blood or life for the sake of resisting injustice. Gandhi believed that, if a Satyagrahi works in this way, the mind of the opponent will be struck with wonder, and, ultimately there will be a change of heart in him.

Techniques of Satyagraha:

Among the techniques of Satyagraha suggested by Gandhi, the following deserve particular mention:

  1. The Satyagrahi must be willing to court sufferings unto death.
  2. Without making the people prepared for the supreme sacrifice for Satyagraha, the Satyagrahis must not increase their number just to frighten the opponents.
  3. The Satyagrahi must always believe the opponent and must be ready to make compromise with him.
  4. There is no place for indiscipline in civil disobedience or Satyagraha.
  5. During the Satyagraha he must not put forward any unjust demand.
  6. As the Satyagrahis have to fight mainly on the basis of their self-power, it is essential for them to have their own newspaper in order to educate the people about the Satyagraha Movement.

Different forms of Satyagraha:

Gandhi has mentioned four types of Satyagraha in resisting tyranny and vindicating justice. There are:

1. Non-cooperation: Strike, hartal, boycott, resignation from different offices, rejection of honorary degrees etc. are different aspects of non-cooperation. Gandhi compared non-cooperative form of Satyagraha with the science of homeopathic treatment because this is the low dose of movement against the wrong-doer.

2.  Civil disobedience:  The most powerful and extreme form of Satyagraha is civil disobedience. Among the most recognized and popular techniques of civil disobedience movement, the most important ones are non-payment of taxes, disobedience to the state authority in its day-today activities, violation of laws and ordinances of the state. But in doing that a Satyagrahi should never use force.

3. Fasting: Resort to fasting produces deep repercussion in the minds of the people. As a result, the goals and objectives of the civil disobedience get wide publicity. The extreme form of fasting is fasting unto death. But, proper care must be taken before resorting to it. Steinberg has identified this type of fasting as the ‘sharpest weapon in the arsenal of the disarmed”.

4. Constructive programs: According to Gandhi, civil disobedience movement is like to be powerless without the proper adoption and implementation of constructive programs taken at a particular point of time. To Gandhi, the programme of constructive activities is the positive aspect of Satyagraha.

Evaluation of Satyagraha:

According to Narahari Kabiraj, Gandhi thought it sufficiently safe to conduct move­ments with the help of the elites known as Satyagrahis nominated by him. But despite all such criticisms, the positive aspect of Gandhi’s concept of Satyagraha can by no means be denied. For, the new weapon of Satyagraha gave a new direction to the freedom struggle.

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