Friday, February 19, 2010

gandhigiri and peace.

Gandhi's apporoach has often been criticised as impractical, even within india. There has been even a conscious campaign to malign gandhi and principles, cheifly by right wing parties. These efforts often sideline the facts that violent struggles have achieved little in the past, and there have been any number of non-violent struggles which have yielded results, and most of them inspired by Gandhi.

A recent popular bollywood movie, Lage Raho Munna Bhai, has showed in surprising vivid detail, how practical Gandhi is. The hero of a movie is one of the common men, a local Goon. People resort to violence under the circumstancial forces, and any people can become extremely violent, as evidenced by the otherwise peaceful Japanese during wwII and Gujaratis during the recent violence. It's the violence, the sin, that we try to wipe out, not the people who commit it, under their unfortunate conditions.

The hero, Munna Bhai, feigns as Gandhian to win the heart of a girl, but later had to study Gandhi thouroughly, to as to sustain his claim of being a gandhian. Only true knowledge can lead to gandhi, not blind belief or chanting. Gandhi himself tried to seek truth in his life, by hard experimentation, hence, the title of his autobiography. He applied scientific principles to the life. There are no shortcuts to truth, and life has to be lived in the hardway. The recent surge in the interest in pseudo-scienctific things like astrology, alternative medicines etc, show the current trend of seeking out quick pleasure and easy life. Science has only one path, and it's not an easy one.

Munna Bhai reaps success initially, using violence, in bringing the son of an old man, Athmaram, to his dad's birthday party. We are often misled by the temporary and easy success that violence yields, and then continue to use violence in our lives. Munna Bhai, though he had used violence, learns that he had to tell others that he had used none.

Munna Bhai faces a real problem in his life, that of revealing his actual identity to his girlfriend. The illusionary Gandhi in his brain advices him to reveal the truth to her. We face difficulties in our lives, while trying to conceal the truth, and trying to run away from the truth. We then live under the burden of our lies. When we err, we fail to acknowledge our failure, and lie to ourselves even though subconciously. Acknowledging our failures, at first to ourselves, and the to others brings out the man in us, and gives us the courage to carry on. Munna Bhai acknowledges his mistake in quarreling with his pal, Sarkeet, and apologises to him. Science differes from others in that it acknowledges it's pitfalls, corrects its mistakes, and then advances itself forward. A scientist must be a Sathyagrahi. He should anounce his failures to the world, so that another person doesnt persue the wrong path that he tried, and the collective effort of all men help in scientific advancement. Edison has said that he tries to prove at least one of his theories wrong each day. Freeman Dyson said that he'll be a happy man the day his son proves his theories wrong.

We face injustice, exploitation and brutality in our lives. In these extreme conditions, it's often easy to fall prey to the violent means. Only a courageous man can remain steady and be non-violent under these conditions. To be courageous, we need to be encouraged by the daily success we get by adhering to the truth. Non violence is not the path of the cowards, but of the extremely courageous men. Munna Bhai not only had physical prowesses, but also the mental courage that his truthfulness had given him. A builder tries to threaten Munna Bhai, but he adhers to non-violence. This changes the builder's mind, make him accept his mistake, and concede the case to Munna Bhai, and also be his friend again. By using non-violence and love, we not only win our case, but spread the peace and love in our society. If we use the violence, we may get success in our case, but we only increase the total violence in the society, rather than make it a better place to live.

Thus Munna Bhai has shown us that Gandhi is not just a man to be adorned but to be adhered and enacted.

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