Gandhiji : A Political Saint or Saintly Politician.
Different historical approaches viewed Gandhiji in a different way. Imperial historians like Judith Brown described Gandhiji as a political opportunist. Marxist historians consider Gandhi‘s “non-violence” as a tool to transfer power peacefully to the bourgeois class. The subaltern historians had their own view regarding Gandhiji.
So, there is no consensus among historians about Gandhiji. There is a famous quote about Gandhiji as a political saint or saintly politician. Here, I try to justify both.
First, Gandhiji as a political saint. Who is a saint? Saint is a person who has a particular code of conduct. Gandhiji’s code of conduct was based on ahimsa, satyagraha and truth. Gandhiji had never compromised in his political life with his code of conduct. So, in that sense, Gandhiji was a political saint. Here we can cite the incidence of Chauri- Chaura of 1922. When the people of Chauri Chaura resorted to violence, Gandhiji had called off the non-cooperation movement of 1920 though he was severely criticised by his fellowmen.
Now, Gandhiji as a saintly politician. Gandhiji had written a book, ” Hind Swaraj “. Here, he explained the concept of liberty in the context of swaraj. According to him, liberty or swaraj means freedom from desires or freedom from the influence of Western civilisation or freedom from inner fear or freedom from attachment to material life. Once a person acquires this liberty, he/she can easily get independence. Gandhiji had given the slogan of ” Swaraj in one year ” while launching the non-cooperation movement in 1920. When we read about Gandhiji, we observe that he had strictly followed the saintly life in every aspect.
It is said that politics is the sphere of Chanakya and Machiavelli, who were diplomats and statesmen. Saints are not for politics. But Gandhi had disapproved of this notion.