Friday, October 2, 2009

The forgotten hero

Technically, I should have mentioned it yesterday, but I am participating in the NaBloWriMo blogging challenge. Participants agree to write one blog post per day (on our own blogs) during the month of October.

What's so great, you may ask. I have been blogging every day since I started the blog in July last year. And if I did not miss a single day even when there was nobody reading my blog, which should I miss a day now?

No reason to miss a day, but perhaps this is the time to get some structure into my blog, so I don't have a week of rants, followed by a week of kids, and another of drabbles. Right now, I am too tired to think of the structure that I am going to get in, but there will be one by the weekend - I promise.

Meanwhile, here is my post for the day-

One hundred and forty years after he was born, two years after the United Nations declared that his birthday would be celebrated as International Day of Non-violence, how many people in his country of birth even remember Mahatma Gandhi?

My nearly six year old knows that America was discovered by Amerigo Vespucci, and Australia by Captain James Cooke. He knows that John Dunlop was a veterinary doctor, and he has heard of James Stevenson. But while he can identify photographs of Gandhi, he has no idea who he was or what he stood for.

Practically every Indian pays token obeisance to the Father of the Nation- his picture even adorns the largest denomination currency notes - but few people know, or care to know what the man actually stood for.

Gandhi stood for equality. Gandhi stood for humanity. Gandhi stood for truth and justice.

Gandhi did not use force to press his demands, he forced people to listen to his demands by appealing to their good sense and humanity.

Albert Einstein said of him - "Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth". Perhaps, it is because we cannot comprehend what the man stood for, that we choose to ignore him ideals completely.

He was relevant in his time. He is equally relevant today. And he will continue to be relavant till his ideals are adopted universally, when the necessity of relevance itself will be lost.

The time to imbibe his humanity and his compassion is now. The world cannot wait.

Last year's post on Gandhi - here


dipali said...

The time to imbibe his humanity and his compassion is now. The world cannot wait.

So true, all so true.

Did you read about the Mont Blanc Gandhi pen?
It seems so dissonant with the ideas of the Mahatma.

Anonymous said...

So true! Strange to think that he is more popular and revered outside India than inside it...

Nelson Mandela reminds me of Gandhi a lot with his principles of forgiveness and non-violence too.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ dipali - yes, I did. One more in the absurd chain of things around him. Like my father in law says, the most absurd thing is how people use the term "number of Gandhis" when discussing bribe money.

@ Fiona - Yes, Nelson Mandela comes closer to Gandhi than anyone else I can think of in the international arena.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Good morning, Rayna. When you have time, please stop by my blog at where I have passed on The Heart of the Dragon Award to you for sharing your world and therefore expanding my own.


Watery Tart said...

I have always ADORED Gandhi--the peace thing mostly, and somehow have known what he stood for for a very long time, probably because I went to college in Eugene where hippies still exist (or did in the 80s anyway). But the broader world could definitely use his humanity in this day and age. I think we are so mobile and so spread out, that we use anonymity to justify greed. If we could remember we are all part of one, maybe we would not be so tempted.

{and huge congratulations on your award!)

Cruella Collett said...

Happy birthday, Mahatma! It surprises me that you say that most Indians don't know what he stood for, as I believe Gandhi's ideas have had such a huge impact, even far outside the borders of India. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - the biggest mistake the Nobel Peace Prize committee ever did was to not make Gandhi a laureate. His case was also one of the times they seriously considered awarding the prize post-mortem.
I agree that Gandhi continues to be relevant. Is it naïve of me to hope that one day Gandhi's teachings as you present them will cease to be relevant, because they have been universally adopted? (Naturally, I don't actually mean they will be irrelevant - even after something is accepted as "law" it is useful to remember the origin)

Congratulations on the award!

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Patricia - thank you so much. Had I got the award from anyone I would have been really touched, but you get it from someone I so admire, is really wonderful. Thank you so so so very much.

@ Tami - Tragically, Gandhi, in India is someone people choose to revere in the abstract. People ignore what he stood for, and pay lip service to him. And yet, the world so needs him. I am glad he and what he stands for is much better known outside India.

@ Mari - I totally agree. To deny a man like Gandhi the Nobel Peace Prize, solely because his cause was not the politically correct one is quite ridiculous. But at least, the Committee had the decency to not award the Prize on the year he was assassinated because nobody else deserved it.

And Patricia, I am still blushing!

Elspeth Antonelli said...

A great man with a timeless philosophy. What a wonderful post!


Galen Kindley--Author said...

How can your son know about these other folks—some not that renowned—and not the equivalent of George Washington. How does that happen. Very odd. As to blog structure. Think twice about that; it kinda ties your hands. I don’t mind coming over and finding what I find. As a reader, structure isn’t a big thing to me.

Best Regards, Galen

Imagineering Fiction Blog

GutsyWriter said...

First congrats on your blog award from Patricia. I am in awe of the knowledge of your son. Is that thanks to you, or his school or both? History was never one of my strong subjects in school and so I received a nice up=to-date summary from you. I cannot blog everyday, like you. I think it's wonderful to do, as it truly improves my writing skills, with an audience in mind. Great post. Thanks.

Patricia Stoltey said...

One of the things I like about your blog is the variety of topics -- I realize some people like structure, however, so you could have two or three days of scheduled themes and make the rest random. That should keep everyone coming back (although I tend to think we'll all keep coming back anyway).

It seems unimaginable that Gandhi and his history would be forgotten anywhere, but I think it's the history that's close to us that we ignore. Exotic happenings and people on the other side of the world have all the appeal, especially to the young. It would do all of us a lot of good to go back and study our histories and our heroes again.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Elspeth - thanks

@ Galen - when we were kids, we had these school books with stories about Great Leaders (like George Washinton's cherry story). Which I thought were perfect, because even if the stories were not really true, they taught the kids something, and exposed them to names they could relate to. I wish we could go back to those days.

@ Sonya - all of that is courtesy the school. Personally, I find remembering names of people rather limiting, and would not inflict it on a Primary school kid. Left to myself, I would rather my kids learn something of substance (like what Gandhi stood for), but I don't write the curriculum.

@ Patricia - the proximity factor may well be the reason. That and the fact that Gandhi was not exactly the most telegenic person there is. And it is a pity how we forget real heros, isn't it?

About bringing structure into my blog - Patricia and Galen, I hear you both loud and clear. I guess it would be rather restricting to have something like that in place. Whether I want to or not, I would be forced to blog about something, and by the time I get to something else, it may cease to be topical even for me. Guess, I will stick to what I have.

In which case, the NaBloWriMo is pure fun!


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