OLDEST SATYAGRAHA IN THE WORLD (Post No.6100)

Written by london swaminathan

swami_48@yahoo.com


Date: 20 FEBRUARY 2019


GMT Time uploaded in London – 20-28


Post No. 6100

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  1. Rama Nanjappa

     /  February 21, 2019

    Satyagraha is a much misunderstood word, and misused by both its nominal advocates and critics. Mahatma Gandhi made it famous during the freedom movement , but he laid down such hard conditions that it could hardly be practised or pursued to perfection by the masses. But in the hands of a qualified and fit individual, it could become a powerful weapon- as demonstrated by Gandhiji and Rajaji during the individual Salt Satyagraha, in Dandi, and Vedaranyam, respectively. Satyagraha is not a mere political weapon, but unleashing of a moral force. It demands that the cause be just, and the practitioner be fair minded, free from personal hatred and malice. It also presumes that the ruler too be susceptible to some moral force- something which binds the rulers and the ruled. The British were first non-plussed as to how to deal with such a moral force but eventually, deployed British officers and mainly Indian police personnel to crush the Satyagrahis! Contrary to popular opinion, Gandhiji’s Satyagraha was not a success. And in Independent India, ruled by the so called followers of Gandhi, and the family bearing a Gandhi name. Satyagraha was never honoured- as an Anna Hazare fighting against corruption would testify! And we have had much political tamasha .in the name of Satyagraha, and fast-unto-death as its chief feature. This type of sinister coercion by Potti Sriramulu led to the linguistic balkanisation of Mother India.

    This apart, even in Gandhiji’s times, the roots of Satyagraha were not understood, even by the educated. People generally attributed its origins to Thoreau, Tolstoy, Ruskin. and such other foreigners. But Gandhiji had clearly stated in his ‘Hind Swaraj’ (1909):
    ” In India the nation at large has generally used passive resistance in all departments of life. We cease to cooperate with our rulers when they displease us ”

    And before Gandhiji entered the political arena in India, “Passive Resistance” was advocated by Sri Aurobindo during the agitation against Bengal Partition of 1905. It created such a force that the British could not relish continuing in Calcutta and changed the capital to Delhi! Unfortunately, Gandhiji did not openly acknowledge the role of Sri Aurobindo or his debt to Sri Aurobindo.

    But even prior to the arrival of Gandhiji, there had been Satyagrahas ( passive resistance, civil disobedience, non-cooperation) in India against British rulers. Sri Dharampal, an ardent Gandhian, spent many years doing research in the British Museum and Libraries of England, poring over ORIGINAL RECORDS maintained and left by the British rulers in India [ something which most university educated Indians writing on history do not do]. He found out that there had been decisive instances of non-cooperation in many parts of India- Benares, Patna, Sarun, Moorshedabad and Bhagalpur against British authorities in 1810-11. ( mainly against tax on houses and shops). And much earlier to that, there had been some trouble in our very own ‘Madraspatnam”. The British governor ‘s council recorded a note in Novermber 1680 how “painters and other”‘ gathered in St.Thoma after sending out letters to many, forbidding the ‘goods and provisions’ coming to…Chenapatnam alias Madraspatnam”.
    As a rule, the people were peaceful and nonviolent, inflicting suffering on themselves; it is the authorities that unleashed violence on people engaging the police and other forces. These protests were generally not successful but brave bt peaceful Indians had made their point. The British had no common covenant with Indians to rule India! No wonder they did not understand or honour the moral implications of the bond between the rulers and the ruled.

    Sri Dharampal has recounted these struggles of Indians before the Gandhi era in great detail in volume II of his Collected Writings, titled “Civil Disobedience in Indian Tradition [ published by Other India Press, Mapusa, Goa]. His introduction is detailed. The volume carries a valuable foreword by Jayaprakash Narayan.

    Seen in this light, our present desi rulers ( of whatever hue) are no different from the British rulers. Both rely on and respond only to brute force. Moral considerations carry no weight.

    .

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