Gandhi is Dead. Truly.

ShareYesterday a friend sent me a Facebook page for Mahatma Gandhi and I couldn’t wait to hit the “accept” button. Who, after all, would not want to be friends– well, at least Facebook friends — with the greatest soul to walk the earth, even if he’s been dead for more than 60 years now?

The wall was filled with messages from people around the world. “We miss you,” wrote one person. “Bapu is the best,” wrote another. My friend, Seema, who sent me the invite, wrote: “Would give anything to meet you, Bapu.. just once!”

But why do we miss Bapu, or Gandhi, so much today, when we have moved away so far from him?

Take Gandhi’s land of birth, Gujarat, in western India. The state that sired the apostle of peace — who fasted until he almost died to stop the terrible riots that followed the partition of India and Pakistan– is now led by an incendiary Hindu radical who faces charges for leading his state into one of the worst Hindu-Muslim riots ever witnessed on Indian soil (some consider it a genocide). The United States a few years back denied Narendra Modi, Gujarat’s chief minister, entry into the country citing violations of religious freedom. But Modi remains extremely popular in his state and continues to win elections, which is by itself a terrifying fact.

In Gandhi’s India, for which he gave his life, the religious divide between groups of Indians has never been deeper. A dangerous sense of bigotry seems to be sweeping over a nation that was once so proud of its tradition of tolerance and secularism. The web is filled with propaganda from Hindu extremists who seem to be modeling themselves after religious radicals around the world, and I sometimes see even friends who I once thought intelligent reflecting the hatred fed to them by these extreme points of view.

Equally bad, as the middle class in India thrives, it is leaving behind the poor, the very people Gandhi cared for. The farmers who live in India’s villages have been consumed by an epidemic of suicide as multinationals take away the seeds that were once their livelihood and stamp them with patents. The strong tradition of vegetarianism and kindness toward animals in India, of which Gandhi was such a champion, is receding under an onslaught of meat-selling restaurant chains that make eating defenseless animals appear “hip.” Worse, factory farming, where animals are mass-bred, abused and tortured like no living being should be– before being milked or killed for food– is fast replacing traditional methods of raising animals for food.

As for the rest of the world? Never before, perhaps, has there been so much violence, so much suffering, or at least the awareness of it. Terrorism, war, poverty, greed…violence in every form imaginable is rampant in our times. Even our home, Earth, has not been spared as we rob and pillage her, destroying the environment regardless of the future of our children.

So when I saw all those messages for Bapu, cynic that I am, I wondered what on earth would we do with Gandhi, if we were to get him all over again?

It’s not like we’ve heeded any of what he said. Maybe we didn’t deserve him the first time round.

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  1. says

    Thank you, Viashali, for a very thought provoking piece. Things seem to get better and worse at the same time, as people move towards extremes. Gandhi’s message and teachings will live on and spread to more and more minds, while others seem to grow more and more hateful and cruel. Peace, Stephanie

  2. says

    I think you are so right. We only get one time to get it right, we have to appreciate people while we have them.

    Sharing this piece with others now.

    Thank you!

  3. Anonymous says

    Thanks Vaishali. I think you are right Gandhi would not be happy with the current situation in Gujarat, in India or the world!

    His spirit is definitely alive in many people, but unfortunately often times the people who don’t follow his teachings are in power and have more influence.

    He would have been happy to see people in India stand up against genetically modified eggplant (BT brinjal), the many communities in India where people of different religions co-exist peacefully, etc. etc.

    He would be happy to see your blog and all your efforts to end violence against animals!

    Gandhi’s spirit is alive and we need to shine the light on you and everyone else who keeps his spirit alive!


  4. says

    What a coincidence to see a post from you on Mahatma Gandhi Vaishali.My husband and I were chatting lastweek on random topics and one of them was about Gandhi’s satvik way of living and against non-violence.We both were surprised about the fact that even after so many years Gandhi left us all,when it comes to non-violence we remember babu and talk about him.Our chat went on like ,how it would be now if gandhi was alive ,may be less violence,no bombblasts etc etc etc…..Anyways Great Post .

  5. says

    BBaker, :)

    Stephanie, Thanks. And you’re right– Gandhi’s message does live on through many people, and I hope that good is our selves will triumph over the evil some day.

    Kissie, very true. Thanks.

    Roshani, Thanks for your kind words– and thanks for mentioning the eggplant protest. That is a great example of hope.

    Sheba, I think Bapu would never have given up hope in us, which is why it makes me sad that so many of us seem to have given up our hope in his teachings.

    Zengirl, thanks for the links. I’ll certainly take a look.

    HappyCook, AMA, Imagination: Thanks!

  6. says

    You are a testament that his words were not in vain and have made a difference. It is sad that many have chosen to forget his messages, but there is always hope for those who remember and those who are reminded. Thanks for the reminder!

  7. says

    His birth state is so hypocritical in some respects,it is not even funny. I visited recently and was quite surprised at the close mindedness (not everyone please, so dont hurl abuses)of the community in some places.

    And as to why the head of the state is doing so well, thats because people are all ready to forget the genocide in the name of “development”.
    Including our shining paragon of virtue – AB – who has agreed to become its brand ambassador in its Golden Jubilee year

  8. says

    DJ, thanks for your kinds words.

    Miri, yes, I feel really depressed about Gujarat too, especially since the state I remember from many visits in my childhood was full of really wonderful, tolerant people. I would think they are still around somewhere, under the political cacophony.

    Debbie, Welcome and thanks for your kind words and for sharing the quotations from Gandhi. The one on change is also one of my favorites :)

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