Gandhi on Truth and Civil Disobedience

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948)

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948)

Below please find a web question based on the reading, “Truth and Civil Disobedience,” by Mohandas Gandhi, which you can find on pp. 365-370 in The Shaping of the Modern World. This was written by your classmate, Max Barlow.

Do you think two key concepts embraced by Gandhi, satyagraha (“insistence on truth”) and ahimsa (“nonviolence”), are effective tools to create political and social change? Why or why not?

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  1. Mukteshwar Abeeluck

     /  December 2, 2012

    The two key concepts, Satyagraha and Ahimsa, by Gandhi are effective tools to change political and social change because it promotes positive behavior with a positive outcome. Mohandas Gandhi believed that using violence was better than being cowardly but at the same time it was a dishonor to embrace negativity. In short, he wrote about this using justification of the end and its means. He felt that using injustice only embeds injustice in the results. Satyagraha was also a means of purification of the antagonist. He believed that a person should have stronger moral power than physical power. This would prove effective in social change as well as political change. The government’s reaction to violence is always with violence, a mechanism of self-defense. Fighting the government with morality leads them to respond peacefully, as battering citizens and resorting to violence is completely unjustified response. During that time period, this could have went wrong in so many ways, as it always manages to do so. But over time, the level of morality that swept across the world has increased which would spark controversy, making this method effective as opposed to violence.

  2. Aroosa Altaf

     /  December 5, 2012

    As his famous saying goes, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” I would say that Gandhi’s ideology of non-violence was also a sort of challenge for the Europeans, due to the fact, they were resisting and tolerating the brutality, and also because Europeans were Christians and there’s no violence in Christianity. The non-violence philosophy is from Christianity so Gandhi basically used their ideology to sort of reflect it to the Europeans. Instead of fighting back and using violence as way to deal with the conflict as that would have been an on-going process, Gandhi used a different methodology, of non-violence totally different from his belief of violence. He says, “but by using similar means we would have got what they got” (Shaping, p. 370). The significance of Salt March is important to mention here because even though the Indians were going through the violence of the Europeans, the Europeans are the ones who were humiliated. I think the important aspect of Gandhi’s ideology was that things should be dealt with different methodology from the ones they are in conflict with. I don’t think that non-violence is necessarily an effective tool to bring political/social change as Gandhi used it for a purpose of having a different methodology to deal with the conflict.

  3. Maria Sultana

     /  December 6, 2012

    I believe the two concepts of satyagraha (“insistence on truth”), and ahimsa (“nonviolence”) are in fact a great tool to create political and social change. Both of these concepts relate to peace in which others might look at in a positive way. Politicians can use this as a great strategy to try to stop riots and chaotic uprisings. If the society understands Gandhi’s belief of a pure soul, and a peaceful way of solving conflicts, they might get convinced. He wants to show everyone that freedom doesn’t always have to come with wars and violence, it can be found in a non violent way.

  4. Wing Yan Chu

     /  December 13, 2012

    Yes,because it help inspired people to resist British rules. It also made the British look bad because they are attacking innocent protestor. This also gets other religions to help to support this movement. So Gandhi was able to do successfully protest because British were just slaughtering people, while the Indian still resist.

  5. Max Barlow

     /  December 14, 2012

    These are effective tools to create political and social change because it influences people to have a genuine outlook on life, based on Gandhi’s beliefs. Satyagraha is translated to, insistence on truth. According to Gandhi, truth is soul or spirit, so this is known as soul-force or truth-force. In other words, if you don’t know the truth to something, you cannot use violence to replace your ignorance. Passive resistance is obtaining something without violence, but with meaningful protests and noncooperation with the government. Although, violence is forbidden in these beliefs, it can be used based on the situation if it’s too extreme. Some people thought this was a sign of weakness, but Gandhi believed nonviolence is always superior to violence because forgiveness is manlier than punishment. He wanted everyone to know that his people were the victims and what he was doing wasn’t wrong.

  6. Elizabeth Adler

     /  December 16, 2012

    I believe insistence of truth and nonviolence are effective at creating change if there is a large enough movement behind the leader. Gandhi himself created great change using these too philosophies. However, in order to be effective, you have to have a large amount of people behind the movement. Take for example the protests of the Vietnam war; Some of those protests did become violent but for the most part the civilians (not the government) but the protesters, were walking the streets, in protest of the violence overseas and they wound up causing a great political change with their movement.

  7. Jonathan Qin

     /  December 16, 2012

    I believe that satyagraha and ahimsa are indeed effective tools for political and social changes. The concepts themselves are represented as a positive view of “peace and harmony”. Gandhi was able to make an impact with his involvement with the British using a nonviolent approach. With the impact that Gandhi made on people, shows the support towards him in his support for a violent free change.

  8. mohamed Sleem

     /  December 18, 2012

    I think what Ghandi’s idea of satyagraha (“insistence on truth”), and ahimsa (“nonviolence”) was progressive, but only worked because of the political climate surrounding his campaign. The world came our of a war in which they helped their occupier win, and now they wanted to be set free. The English no longer wanted to fight anymore, so after boycotts, mass rally, and protests their demands were met. Looking at the context and politics atmosphere, Imperialism was a practice frowned upon, and the threat of Communism taking advantage of these situations certainly had an impact on the events that lead to India becoming a solitary nation. While I do think the insistence of truth can help promote social change, I do not believe that nonviolence is as progressive as it once was. I think that regardless of a nations or its peoples political belief, a more powerful country could promote distaste for those people/country. An example of this could be Iran, and how it is portrayed. I found this video somewhat comical, as well as really informing in regards hate to other countries and how it is largely a social construct.–behind-the-veil—minarets-of-menace?xrs=share_copy

  9. Uzma Ahmed

     /  December 19, 2012

    Mohandas K. Gandhi was one of the most charming and remarkable leaders of his time. Two concepts that Gandhi followed were ahimsa (tolerance and nonviolence) and satyagraha (truth and firmness). I do agree that satyagraha and ahimsa are effective tools in creating political and social change. I think patience and nonviolence are important because if a person is violent people would be scared of that person. If you support nonviolence it makes your followers feel comfortable and willing to support you. I think being truthful is also a very important characteristic because being truthful also makes your followers willing to trust and believe you. Since Gandhi followed these two concepts I think it was the main reason why people admired, praised and respected him.

  10. Eta Oyarijivbie

     /  December 19, 2012

    Satyagraha theory is effective because it influenced Nelson Mandela’s struggle in South Africa under apartheid, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s campaigns during the civil rights movement in the United States, and many other social justice and similar movements. Gandhi envisioned his theory becoming a tool for ridding the world of injustice without violence. The fact that other movements were influenced by this theory highlights the successful qualities that it possesses.

  11. Davin M. Alexander

     /  December 19, 2012

    I believe Gandhi’s belief in the satyagraha (“insistence on truth”) and ahimsa (“nonviolence”), are effective tools to create political and social change. But then again it depends on the time and place. I believe using this way of thinking is good for the public eye because it shows that not all battles need to be fought with guns and bombs, that people can cause change with civil disobedience. But what Gandhi didn’t accept was the history of mankind. Throughout history, there has been war in the human race. Some battles can’t be solved with reasoning. Some people are just so irrational that believe fighting is the only effective way to get change. But fighting only leaves blood and a nasty taste in the mouths of the loser. This makes people seek revenge and the cycle never ends.

  12. They are effective because it made British look like the villain for attacking innocent protestors. While lives were lost, it shows us how strong the people were for supporting Gandhi protesting. Satyagraha and ahimsa also supported religions in India as well, so they were getting outside support instead of just Indian protestors. Gandhi didn’t use any nonviolence and was able to get a successful political and social change. Many countries used violence in the past, and it usually looks bad for both sides in the end, even if they were able to get what they want.


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