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Satyagraha Gandhi's philosophy

  1. Apr 12, 2003 #1
    First off, I don't know much about Gandhi's philosophy, so I'm open to corrections.

    However, there is something that occurs to me, in my limited knowledge of the philosophy of satyagraha. That is that, while most people often relate it to passive resistance, it could easily be used to justify outright brutality. "Satyagraha" basically means doing what is right, in spite of the opposition. It has a lot to do with courage, but - IMO - is not as passive as people often percieved Gandhi to be.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 12, 2003 #2
    I don't know if you knew this or not, Satyagraha means "truth force." If it's force then it can noway considered passive. It's just another sort of force. I guess it's somehow related to "doing without doing."

    I think it has much to do with the fact that you can't rule a land with no one left in it. The British could kill and ruin but then they would be the conquerers of a wasteland. They wanted opposition of the sort they'd encountered in other enslaved nations but they didn't get it. They couldn't kill a few to scare others for (almost) everyone had the bravery to withstand death with calm. For they had the "truth" force. What they did was the truth for them, the ultimate truth.

    British logic couldn't go on against what it wasn't designed to deal with. They'd always thought of opposing pairs, of the conqueror and the conquered, the winner and the loser, the powerful and the weak, the oppressor and the objector. By the virtue of Satyagraha, they had one side of the pair, the conqueror winner powerful oppressor, but they couldn't stimulate the other part. Consequently, they failed.
  4. Apr 12, 2003 #3
    So there's a conquerer, and then a what? From what I understood, Satyagraha made it so that there wasn't such a distinction? Is that it? Can you refer me some good books that would explain Satyagraha's philosophy better?
  5. Apr 13, 2003 #4


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    I think Ghandi's idea of the perfect strategy in a movement is:

    1. First they ignore you.

    A. Attract attention to the cause.

    2. Then they laugh at you.

    B. Lure the opposition into confrontation.

    3. Then they want to fight you.

    C. Capitalise on the confrontation and weaken the enemy, often in terms of media.

    4. Then you win.
  6. Apr 13, 2003 #5
    1. For MajinVegeta:

    I don't know any books on that subject. For my previous post I first looked up "Satyagraha" in Britannica.com online glossary and then thought how could I match the story with my thoughts.

    2. For FZ+:

    Gandhi had no access to mass media unlike GWB and TB who affect a whole world by poking a stick at their hive of liars. He wasn't a liar like most of leaders. He would never fool people into believing they must go free. He let them decide by themselves and for themselves. By definition, he wasn't even a leader. He was a harmonizer. He gave them the right frequency to vibrate with.

    He didn't need to weaken the enemy, that wasn't his way. Instead he taught his people to strengthen themselves by calm, patience and silent resistence. He didn't need to smash the enemy to get rid of it. Instead he treated the enemy in humane manner, so his inhuman enemy (the British imperial beast) was confused.

    Gandhi's medium was the common motivation. No one wanted the British in India. They'd had enough of British damnation so they decided to throw them out and Gandhi harmonized their efforts to achieve success.

    He really was Mahatma, "the great self."
  7. Apr 13, 2003 #6
    This isn't quite true imo. It was precisely Ghandi's British educated lawyer's knowledge of the British culture and access to the media that helped him achieve his goals. The spirituality he developed around the issue helped him achieve this goal, but was developed around this somewhat unique knowledge he possessed. Morality and ethics are all good and fine, but they don't necessarilly stop large corporations and governments from devistating populations and even committing genocide in the interest of making a profit.

    In the case of the Indians, they were considered less than human by the vast majority of the people who oppressed them. However, when the white world was confronted with the mass media reports of these "sub-humans" committing these acts of undeniable bravery and will power in the name of freedom and ethics the sharade of the white man's burden was shattered. Converting and civilizing heathens is all good and well, but profits come first.

    As Ghandi was well aware, genocide was not a profitable avenue for the British to pursue. The inevitable choice was to withdraw and do business on a more level playing field with the Indians or face the public.

    South Africa presents another similar case study imo, and it is no mistake that the men credited with finally achieving this goal in south africa also where highly educated and promoted civil disobediance as the means of achieving this goal. If anything, the south africaner government wanted to promote radical violence as a means of publically justifying what they did. However, they just couldn't totally stamp out the more pacifistic efforts like those of Nelson and Tutu.
  8. Apr 13, 2003 #7
    1. For wuliheron:
    I didn't mean he was uneducated or couldn't learn what the British learnt. I've read his biography and know he lived and educated in Britain for many years (graduated in law from University College, London).

    I meant he couldn't advertise his opinion or impress Indian people using mass media because he couldn't find any means of mass (tele)communication to the people of India at that time other than spreading his word by mouth (and perhaps newspapers).


    I liked this photo of him very much:

    The Man and His Wheel


    And this a nice website with much info on Gandhi:
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2003
  9. Apr 13, 2003 #8


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    Actually, I got that rather indirectly. I say a biography of Martin Luther King, which stated that he modelled his civil rights movement on that of Ghandi, and so took on x points. The key was that without a confrontation of some form, a movement never gains sufficient credibility to succeed. So while outwardly Ghandi advocated peace, confronting the adversery was a key factor. The key is not to smash the enemy, but restrained demonstration making the enemy smash itself on you.

    (Also, the confrontation was not aimed at the fellows, but more outwardly. Nothing made better propoganda than a peaceful demonstrater facing up to violence and hatred. Ghandi knew how to read people's hearts and minds.)
  10. Apr 13, 2003 #9
    1. For FZ+:

    Considering you're from the UK, my way of describing Britain could be hurting but you reacted admirably. Thank you!

    2. For Mentat:

    Where are you? Aren't you going to say something on your own thread?
  11. Apr 13, 2003 #10
    Yeah, I thought that was what you meant, just wanted to clarify the situation. Ghandi could have just used a rational explanation of what he intended to do, but obviously he sincerely had come to believe in his more native philosophy. Perhaps that as well contributed his success.
  12. Apr 13, 2003 #11
    Please forgive me, but I only get one hour of internet access per day. I had to leave very soon after posting the first post in this thread.

    I thank everyone for all of the responses. I'm really going to have to check out a book that deals solely with Gandhi's philosophy, and see if I can understand it better.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2003
  13. Apr 13, 2003 #12
    I hope you don't mind if I try to answer this question, as I know it wasn't directed at me. However, I think that what Manuel was saying was that there were those who considered themselves to be "winners" - because they "conquered" the enemy's land - but there would be no "losers", because the people would resist to the death, and one does is not a "loser" if one is dead. IOW, the supposed "conqueror" would have nothing but a wasteland, after it finished "conquering", because of the resistance-'till-death attitude of the people.
  14. Apr 14, 2003 #13
    1. For Mentat:

    Thank you. You described it the way I couldn't think of :smile:. Hope you get more online hours, something like 24 (or 42?).

    2. For wuliheron:

    I read your post once again and got the point, I guess. You're right (like always).

    And why's everyone writing "Gandhi" like "Ghandi?"

    I got his full name, "Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi." I didn't know that.
  15. Apr 14, 2003 #14
    Thanks for your correction on the spelling. I too was entirely unaware of that.

    You want me to get 24 hours a day? Well, at least I know I'm appreciated .
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