M K Gandhi and “Hind Swaraj”
This post is the join of my diary entries of two consecutive days, the 6th and 7th of May, 2003.
6th May, 2003
Read the introductions by Gandhi because they were short, skimmed over the preface and started off the first chapter. In to the reader . . . :
. . . . and therefore, when anybody finds any inconsistency between any two writings of mine, if he has still faith in my sanity, he would do well to choose the latter of the two on the same subject.
Gandhi on newspaper:
One of the objects of a newspaper is to understand popular feeling and to give expression to it; another is to arouse among people certain desirable sentiments; and the third is fearlessly to expose popular defects.
All three purposes are open to interpretations and criticisms. At the age of nineteen, I am not quite wise enough to to present a critique of Gandhi’s works. But the same conflict between dharmashaastra and arthashaastra arises in my mind. Gandhi did identify economic imperialism as the dread of the future; something we realize only now, that too with reservation or even worse, support! I wonder why Gandhi does not identify different people with the three gunas satah, rajah and tamah and justify the course of history along them, as Bankimchandra Chatterjee had done so extraordinarily well in his novel, aanandamath.
7th May, 2003
In an e-mail to my father, rewrote yesterday’s diary entry. I often have these intellectual e-dialogues with him, and more often than not find myself agreeing to his statements and questions; often he is too religious for me in the sense that his thoughts about dharma, in my humble opinion, have elements of unjustified faith.
That man is educated whose mind is a perfect logic machine. This perhaps matches the criterion of a vidwaan; but education is not knowledge. The mind being the perfect logic machine, asks questions and seeks answers. It finds inconsistencies in the answers to his question “Why?” every time beyond a certain a certain amount of pondering. That is where we know that intelligence cannot move any further and logic has reached its saturation.
M K Gandhi and Hind Swaraj:
Finished the book. How can he talk of travelling back in time to rid the society of the vices of modernity, as numerous as they may be? He says, “evil has wings . . . ” and also that dharma is difficult to implement. Same will be the case without railways, doctors, lawyers. Same shall remain the difficulty of implementing dharma even without weapons. Sin and vice may spread at a slower rate, but so will goodness. The relative influence of dharma and adharma shall be exactly what it is right now. What will happen, however, is that interactions over a distance will become impossible. Forget about what we call cognition — true knowledge is never attained through seminars and conglomerations — but the basic human and engineering sciences need interaction to spread. Are engineering sciences unwanted? Certainly not. But it is, after all, engineering and automation that spoils individual labour skills. Another perspective yells, “but it is the human mind that produces the machine that replaces skilled labour”. I think what Gandhi thinks is that once such a machine is built, it kills the skill of every future generation of human labour by forcing a discontinuity of tradition. The minds that build the machine are clever and intelligent without doubt. That is precisely why they are dangerous because very few among those minds are philanthropic. Of what use is such creativity of one mind which destroys so many talents?
Tens of thousands of thoughts hover in my mind. I cannot put all of them to words. Moreover, giving shape to one thought is a process that, in itself, gives rise to several new strings of thoughts, questions and perspectives. Cerebration is undoubtedly an infinite process.
© Ritwik Banerjee
M K Gandhi and “Hind Swaraj” by
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india philosophy perspective swaraj religion hinduism life gandhi nationalism