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Non-violence is the greatest virtue, cowardice, the greatest vice - Gandhi life quotes and deeds

Indian Embassy commemorated Mahatma Gandhi’s 140th birthday, World Non-Violence Day
Posted in: Reports
Written By: Zaid al-Alaya’a
Article Date: Oct 28, 2008 - 6:31:07 AM

Mahatama Gandhi was a man who used the power of non-violence to promote change at all levels; he was a man who discovered the law of love. His philosophy was built around two cardinal principles; truth and nonviolence.

Gandhi believed in relative truth, that is to say truth in word and deed, and absolute truth - the so-called Ultimate Reality. This ultimate truth is God (as God is also Truth) and morality, and moral laws and codes form its basis. Stephen Murphy, author of Why Gandhi is Relevant in Modern India: A Western Gandhian’s Personal Discovery said “The human race certainly could not have progressed as far as it has, even if universal justice remains far off the horizon. From both viewpoints, nonviolence or love is regarded as the highest law of humankind.”

Because Gandhi struggled to achieve his goals without the use of violence, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution, mooted by India, to declare October 2nd, Gandhi’s birthday, as Global Non-Violence Day.

The Indian Embassy in Sana’a commemorated Gandhi’s 140th birthday last week in a party attended by many academics from Sana’a University as well as the University’s Vice-Rector, Dr. Mohammed al-Sobari, and Yemen’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Mothna.

Indian Ambassador to Yemen, R.M. Aggarwal said it was an honor for all Indians that Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday was proclaimed World Non-Violence Day. “Gandhi had a many-sided personality. He was a saint and revolutionary, politician and social reformer, economist and man of religion, teacher and satyagrahi; devotee alike of faith and reason. He was a Hindu but also a champion of inter-religious discourse, a nationalist and internationalist, a man of action and dreamer of dreams. He was a great reconciler of opposites and he was that without strain or artificiality. He loved greatly and accepted unreservedly that truth can reside in opposites. No one has yet attempted a complete analysis of his complex and magnificent personality,” said Aggarwal.
After giving his speech, the Ambassador quoted a few sayings by Gandhi to show his conviction for non-violence and truth:

"I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any. I refuse to live in other people’s houses as an interloper, a beggar or a slave. – M.K. Gandhi, 1921.

"Non-violence and cowardice are contradictory terms. Non-violence is the greatest virtue, cowardice, the greatest vice. Non-violence springs from love, cowardice from hate. Non-violence always suffers, cowardice would always inflict suffering. Perfect non-violence is the highest bravery.

Non-violent conduct is never demoralizing, cowardice always is." – M.K. Gandhi, 1929. “Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man." – M.K. Gandhi, 1935.

The Indian Ambassador went on to ask how Gandhi’s teachings are relevant today. The real issue, he claims is whether we have the courage and strength of mind to follow in his footsteps, whether we are prepared to live our lives by what he preached and most importantly, practiced. The simple truth is that instead of diminishing in relevance, Mahatma Gandhi has actually become all the more pertinent in the 21st century.

"The world is today passing through an extremely critical and controversial period afflicted by terrorism. Mahatma Gandhi was unique in this modern world to advocate non-violent methods for solving, social, economic, political and religious problems. The manner of resistance to violence by counter violence is obviously wrong. A wrong cannot be righted by another wrong," said Aggarwal

During the function, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affair, Ali Mothna hailed the Yemeni-Indian relationship, and said efforts are underway to expand the scope of this relationship. “I am really honored to take part in this function and Mahatma Gandhi was an inspirational figure not just for Indians but for us all," said Mothna. Mothna said Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence is what the world of today needs, and it has inspired many people around th

Chairman of the Department of English in the Faculty of Arts at Sana'a University, Professor Damodur Thakur spoke about Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy, and how he was able to teach people the law of love. "Mahatma Gandhi was a total personality," said Thakur who added that Mahatma Gandhi learned from all streams of knowledge, and his main interest was in teaching mankind to believe that goodness is in their nature. He quoted Mahatma Gandhi "hate the sin but love the sinner." Professor Thakur said the methods of Mahatma Gandhi are most needed today because of the spread of wars and conflicts in many areas in the world.

One of Mahatma Gandhi most famous sayings, one which is remembered by all is that of the “Seven Deadly Sins” of “wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, business without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice and politics without principle."

Mahatma Gandhi was born October 2nd, 1869, making October 2nd, 2008 his 140th birthday. During his life, Mahatma Gandhi stood for two principles, non-violence and truth. Mahatma Gandhi’s full name was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, and after studying in U.K., he began practicing as a barrister in South Africa, where he lived from 1893 to 1915. Mahatma Gandhi always stood for the rights of the oppressed and fought the forces of discrimination and racism prevalent in South Africa at that time. It is said his stay in South Africa turned Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi into Mahatma Gandhi. After returning to India in 1915, he fought against the ruling British by resorting to the principles of non-violence and truth in his struggle for the country’s freedom. This eventually led to India independence on the 15th of August, 1947. Without a doubt, Mahatma Gandhi has been described as the strongest symbol of non-violence in the 20th century, and his legacy has been carried into the 21st century and has spread all over the world. He is known as Father of the Nation in India.

The world will always remember him as the one who taught the power of non-violence, and this day will help us reiterate our commitment to do the same. We would like to quote from the Gandhi Foundation website, which states ‘Gandhi not only played a major role in India achieving its independence, but taught a philosophy which has universal applicability. The core of that philosophy is the search for truth through non-violence (ahinsa). Gandhi taught respect for animals as well as humans, a non-exploitative relationship with the environment, the elimination of poverty, the limitation of personal wealth and possessions, and non-violence applied at all levels from the interpersonal to relationships between states.’

In 1914 Gandhi left South Africa. He had gone there as a junior counsel of a commercial firm for £105 a year; he had stayed on to command, and then voluntarily to give up the practice where he made £5000 a year.

As a young lawyer in Mumbai he had a nervous break-down while cross-examining a witness in a petty civil suit. In South Africa, he founded a new political organization with the sure touch of a seasoned politician. The hostility of European politicians and officials, and the helplessness of the Indian merchants and laborers truly tested his mettle.

No glittering rewards awaited him; the perils of his actions ranged from professional pinpricks to lynching. Nevertheless, it was a piece of good fortune that he began his professional and political career in South Africa. Dwarfed as he had felt by the great lawyers and leader of India, it is unlikely that he would have developed much initiative in his homeland. When he founded the Natal Indian Congress at the age of twenty-five, he was writing on a tabula rasa: he could try out ideas which in an established political organization would have been ridiculed.

On 15 June 2007 the UN resolution, under the title ‘culture of peace’, received co-sponsorship from 142 countries and was passed with unanimity in the United Nation General Assembly making October 2nd the birthday of the ‘Father of India’, the International Day of Non-Violence. The resolution by the General Assembly asks all members of the UN system to commemorate 2 October in “an appropriate manner and disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness.”

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