By Johan Galtung
Hindu University, FL USA
Gandhi was born 2 October 1869, was killed 30 January 1948 by a Pune brahmin, Godse. I was a 17 years old boy in Norway who cried when hearing the news. Something unheard of had happened.
But I did not know why I cried, and wanted to know more. Who was Gandhi? So I became a Gandhi scholar as assistant and co-author to the late Arne Næss in his seminal work of extracting from Gandhi’s works and words his Gandhi’s Political Ethics as a norm-system.[i]
The image of the India I love is the image of Gandhi. I know perfectly well that there are other Indias. And Ashis Nandy sensitized me to why the court proceedings against Godse were kept secret: because his arguments were that Gandhi stood in the way of the modern India the government wanted, with industrialization, booming cities, growth, trade, a strong army; the whole package.
Very different from Gandhi’s self-sufficient sarvodaya villages, linked by “oceanic circles”, focused on spiritual rather than material growth.
Very similar to the Buddhist image of the small sangha community. And in line with Gandhi’s idea that he may actually have been a Buddhist; without any vertical ranking of occupations.
Gandhi’s link to Buddhism and rejection of caste may have been on top of Godse’s motivation, adding to modernity. Nehru’s India was also a modern India, with a socialist LSE-Harold Laski, Soviet touch.
Nehru and Gandhi shared anti-colonialism but differed in their images of independent India. Modernity, and even more so, Soviet top-down socialism, were very remote from Gandhi’s bottom-up world.
Gandhi was instrumentalized by Congress to get rid of Britons preaching against caste. India became independent, after a disastrous partition mainly caused by Lord Mountbatten; free to enter modernity, and to keep caste. The Congress Party got the cake and ate it too.
So, I see two Indias, Gandhi and modernity, and knowing there are more.
Two Indian civilizations, with much clash and little dialogue.
And some dwarfs rejecting India’s greatest son. Some time ago there were books on and by Gandhi at New Delhi airport; today we find books on business administration.
A non-dialogue of two civilizations within one country.
This essay opens for that missing dialogue,Read More »