Today is 2 October - Gandhi Jayanti - the birthdate of Mahatma Gandhi - the man the world remembers for bringing down a powerful empire through non-violence. The man the world needs most in these warring times.
The man we Indians fondly call "Bapu" - or father.
Here's why I admire Gandhi Ji, and this is not just because I have watched the recent movie "Lage Raho Munna Bhai" that has made Gandhigiri (Gandhihood) hot again.
6 reasons why I think Gandhi Ji was really cool:
1. He was fearless: "No one can escape death. Then why be afraid of it," he said in his speech on All India Radio on January 15, 1948. "In fact death is a friend who brings deliverance from suffering," he continued before he broke down and cried.
2. He taught people that they could agree to disagree: For example, in his prayer meetings, he would have scriptures of various religious read aloud. It would be asked if anyone disagreed. A few did. They were asked if they were willing to keep quiet while the reading was done. They agreed. The readings continued.
(P-181, Gandhi - His Life and Message for the World by Louis Fischer)
3. He sought no political office or power: Gandhi Ji held no government post in Independent India, although he was the one man who the entire nation listened to and followed. He became more than any politician ever did - the father of a nation - remembered by millions even today not just in India but around the world.
4. He won the respect even of those adversely affected by his freedom campaigns: Gandhi Ji's movement in India to wear homespun clothes and boycott foreign goods meant loss of jobs for textile mill workers in Britain. When he met them on his visit to the country, one of the British workers said: "I am one of the unemployed, but if I was in India I would say the same thing that Mr Gandhi is saying."
5. He had a sense of humour: Gandhi Ji's simple and minimal khadi dress was mocked at by many. Winston Churchill had called Gandhi Ji a "seditious fakir, striding half naked". After his meeting with the King of England, a reporter asked Gandhi Ji whether he had enough clothes on for the meeting. "The King," he quipped, "had enough on for both of us."
6. His favourite passage in the Bible was the Sermon on the Mount: So is mine!
Crossposted at UAE Community, Caferati