Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gandhi

Gandhi was killed sixty years ago today (Jan 30, 1948). In pugnacious times as these, it is instructive to go back to some of his principles (even if some of them were deemed utterly pacifist) – many of them are laid out in his book (now online) 'An autobiography or The story of my experiments with truth' here.

An excerpt (takes place in a time of rampant apartheid in South Africa) that probably led him to change his entire life is copied below.

On the seventh or eighth day after my arrival, I left Durban. A first class seat was booked for me. It was usual there to pay five shillings extra, if one needed a bedding. Abdulla Sheth insisted that I should book one bedding but, out of obstinacy and pride and with a view to saving five shillings, I declined. Abdulla Sheth warned me. 'Look, now,' said he, 'this is a different country from India. Thank God, we have enough and to spare. Please do not stint yourself in anything that you may need.'

I thanked him and asked him not to be anxious.

The train reached Maritzburg, the capital of Natal, at about 9 p.m. Beddings used to be provided at this station. A railway servant came and asked me if I wanted one. 'No,' said I, 'I have one with me.' He went away. But a passenger came next, and looked me up and down. He saw that I was a 'coloured' man. This disturbed him. Out he went and came in again with one or two officials. They all kept quiet, when another official came to me and said, 'Come along, you must go to the van compartment.'

'But I have a first class ticket,' said I.

'That doesn't matter,' rejoined the other. 'I tell you, you must go to the van compartment.'

'I tell you, I was permitted to travel in this compartment at Durban, and I insist on going on in it.'

'No, you won't,' said the official. 'You must leave this compartment, or else I shall have to call a police constable to push you out.'

'Yes, you may. I refuse to get out voluntarily.'

The constable came. He took me by the hand and pushed me out. My luggage was also taken out. I refused to go to the other compartment and the train steamed away. I went and sat in the waiting room, keeping my hand-bag with me, and leaving the other luggage where it was. The railway authorities had taken charge of it.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope you will look at a video describing art for peace and incorporating quotes from Gandhi.

http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=N14ODK7qGRA

Sunil said...

Thank you,
I did check out your video and it was quite nice. I especially liked the last quote -

"In a gentle way, you can shake the world." - Gandhi.

Thank you for introducing us to your works.