Sunday, June 04, 2006

Mahatma Gandhi

March 27, 2006

"As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world … as in being able to remake ourselves." ~Mahatma Gandhi

Who was Mahatma Gandhi? Mahatma Ghandi (1869-1948) was the most pivotal leader in India's struggle for independence from the British Empire. He pioneered the strategy of resisting injustice through mass civil disobedience, and inspired civil rights movements across the world.

A student of Hindu philosophy, Gandhi lived simply. He made his own clothes and lived on a simple vegetarian diet. He fasted for self-purification and as a means for protest. Gandhi's life and teachings inspired American Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and South African Steve Biko, both of whom died -- like Ghandi -- for their non-violent convictions.

Gandhi has drawn serious criticism from historians for his view that non-violent resistance could transform Hitler's hatred. In particular, Gandhi made statements suggesting that the Jews would win God's love by willingly going to their deaths as martyrs.

Although Gandhi was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times, he never received it. However, the Nobel Committee was deeply divided along nationalistic lines, and publicly declared its regret. In 1948, the year Gandhi was assassinated, the Prize was not awarded to anyone; the committee declared, "there was no suitable living candidate." In 1989 when the Dalai Lama was awarded the Prize, the chairman of the committee said that this was "in part a tribute to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi."


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