Sunday, February 19, 2006

Gandhi – A Miserable Failure


Some of the things Mahatma Gandhi (MK Gandhi) did are quite complicated to many people. They seem to be contradictory or conflicting in nature. According to me, Gandhi is a miserable failure. He set out to achieve one of the biggest tasks in the history of mankind and failed miserably. According to me, it was the biggest challenge any human has ever undertaken – he actually believed that he could convince people (humans) to live amicably, respecting each other’s differences and tolerating diversity, forever. In some respects, his goal was far greater than any other prophets who came before in time. Mohammed united a bunch of war-mongering, women-grabbing tribes under a single banner called Islam. He taught them to love, respect and treat each other equally; and to ensure that they keep doing this after he is gone he laid out many rules. He was a bit of authoritarian in his style- he wanted no debates on certain rules; may be, he saw some flaws in previous systems (read, religions) and hence he want to make a foolproof system. He realized that as long as people are alike, they will love each other and would not make war, nor kill each other, nor insult each other, and therefore wanted to make sure all people are turned (or converted) to be alike. This, he thought, would solve all problems. His algorithm went this way-

Rule 1. People love other people only if they are of same kind

Rule 2. Make all people alike.

Rule 3. If some resist, use all means necessary to make them alike.

Rule 4. If someone questions any of the above, he is not alike (apply Rule 2 & 3).

This he thought would ensure that there is only one system in the world and hence would solve all the problems. He wasn’t that magnanimous when it comes to people of other kind. He just did not want to deal with the issue of diversity. He wanted to make it simple. For his algorithm to work, he knew clearly that Rule 2 has to be achieved in totality, no matter what. He realized that it could be trouble if there exists another strong and big group who are not alike. This would upset the whole algorithm because Rule 3 may not be applied with success all the time. So, he took strong care to mention in strong words different aspects of Rule 3 and felt that that was good enough to make system work. Unfortunately, other systems also developed similar kind of rules, became big groups of different kind and posed a challenge to this algorithm. Rest, as they say, is history!

Lets take another prophet- Jesus Christ. He was not as clever. He did not devise an elaborate algorithm. He didn’t want to set rules. He just wanted to love, be loved, and teach everyone else to love each other. I guess he was quite a romantic guy. I don’t think he ever wanted to create a system (read, religion). He was just a happy-go-lucky, lets-be-merry kind of guy but was deeply troubled when he realized that there was lot of hatred and animosity amongst people. He saw how certain kind of people treated other kind of people badly. He was against this discrimination. In some way, he believed in the modern day kind of constitutions that like to, or at least pretend to, treat every one equal irrespective of sex, religion, race, language, etc. When he saw too many problems around him, he came up with a simple and elegant solution. He thought – ‘Let love prevail!’ He went about preaching the same. He was hoping that everyone would love each other and would not care about their differences and hence would live happily ever after. But for some reason, people did not care much for his message after he was gone. But there were some who realized that it was in their interest if people were alike – it was much easier to rule them, much easier to influence them, etc. Therefore they devised a system built upon his message and enforced it onto others so that they all learn to love. In my opinion, though his message was clear, and he went about practicing it, he had not quite understood the inherent diversity in the people, and didn’t address it properly– other than the message of love. But he had lot of success to his credit. In few hundred years, his message got translated into a system with rules called Christianity. He had few things going easy for him though- he was focusing on a small geographical area that was not as diverse as the modern India and there were not many big systems (religions) that could pose challenges.

One could talk about other prophets, but the story runs similar.

Gandhi had a huge and daunting task for himself. He had to face much more diverse set of people compared to any of the prophets above. His method was different - he did not want to eliminate those diversities. He inherently believed that people are always different. He didn’t want to change others. His message was clear- change yourself to learn to love and respect the other although he is quite different from you. He was hoping that different groups who have strong systems and algorithms would modify some of their steps/rules to be accommodating to others. He wanted people to co-exist peacefully. In fact, he had the biggest, most diverse and most complicated experiment grounds to work on compared to any of the prophets above. He hoped that the only way to go about is to create some principles which when practiced by different people would achieve the above loftier goal. Instead of introducing new systems, he worked with the existing systems and algorithms, and hoped to bring out similarities in each of them. This was a complex problem of gigantic proportions. Many people, who were used to their systems, felt theirs was superior from others and hence would not budge to see his message. All in all, he went on conducting his experiments throughout his life, laid out guiding principles, practiced them and preached them. However, his message was soon lost on different groups who wanted to be the way they were- and didn’t want a half-naked fakir teaching them how to be tolerant of others. They thought- ‘If someone has to exist with us, let them change, we are fine the way we were’. Soon his system crumbled, and the world was as before- different warring groups constantly fighting as ever. He set out to achieve highest of the goals, and failed, miserably.

Once we realize what he was striving for, I am hoping that most of his actions could be easily explained. When he started Non-cooperation movement, he knew that he was asking a bunch of young doctors to perform a crucial surgery. He was hoping they would be disciplined enough to actually pull this off, but when he entered the operation theater, he saw bunch of unruly youngsters bickering about and throwing scissors into the air. He had to call it off that day so that they can all come back to this surgery later. He knew that if he went ahead with it there was a danger that patient may actually die. He called off the Non-cooperation movement because he saw that India would be broken into pieces if it became independent right away. The people, administrators, the future rulers were just not ready yet. Ruling India was a far complicated problem than anyone imagined.

All the while, during the Independence movement, the biggest challenge for him was not the Independence itself. Actually it was ranking #17 in his list (I am just making up this list to drive my point). He had 16 other things of higher priority. First was to ensure that India remains one. If it breaks up, his goal (see above – to achieve unity amongst diverse people) is not realized. He wanted different religions to live together. He wanted different castes to treat each other with respect. A great deal of time was spent to bring untouchables, lower castes into the mainstream. He wanted women to be treated properly. He wanted us to practice good hygiene, good sanitary conditions. He wanted us to depend less on other kind of people because that created the difference in social structure, and hence asked us to clean our toilets, make our own clothes, etc.

Many a times, he called off some of his movements because half way through the operation, he started to realize that the operation (cutting of the tumor) might be successful, but the patient may eventually die. Therefore, he called it off, much to the dismay, disappointment, disillusionment that led into resentment amongst those young doctors. It created many disgruntled doctors- Bhagat Singh, Chandrasekhar Azad, Subhash Chandra Bose, etc.

His concern was not ‘when’ but ‘how’ would India get its independence? What would happen right after achieving complete freedom? Would we fight amongst ourselves? Would Hindus fight the Muslims? What kind of bloodshed would it be? He roughly calculated on a piece of paper that it would be more than 100 Million in deaths (I am making this up to drive my point). Would the untouchable still remain untouchable? Would women be freer? Would our youngsters be unruly mob demanding things or would they discipline themselves to work towards better administration? Would every king in every corner make a country of his own or would they join India?


When Bhagat Singh was convicted of a murder Gandhi had to deal with a complicated problem. Should he pardon Singh’s means and methods? By condoning Singh’s acts is he not setting a wrong example to the other youth? Is it the kind of India he envisions? When British leave, would there be law and order, or would it be chaos? Would we be assassinating others, or would we be working with the system?

The answers are easy to come – if you go see his ultimate goal above.

When India got its independence, his goal was not realized, because many of his top 16 priorities were not achieved. He was sad for various failures. India was partitioned – this meant that two religions would not wish to live together – his ultimate goal not achieved. Its leaders were chanting venomous slogans against other groups, they were not treating its citizen equal and they were bickering and fighting. He knew he failed and hence he was disappointed. Moreover, they were not listening to him any more- neither the leaders nor the people. He was no longer a Mahatma to them. He died, knowing that his message was not heard, that he failed in the grandest experiment ever designed in the history of mankind!

40 comments:

  1. Hats off...
    That piece was awesome. I am a strong believer in the principles of the Mahatma and saw a link to this page on a Orkut community dedicated for the admirers of Gandhi, where someone posted this link and said Mahatma was a failure.
    It is sad that we couldn't achieve what he dreamt of. The children of India are the biggest shame of the 'Father of the nation'.
    But you missed a few points, it is not just the Mahatma who failed, even Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed failed. See what is happening in the KarmaBhoomi (their physical & geographical workshop) of these ambassadors of peace. The place where Jesus was born(Jerusalem) is the most likely reason for the next big war. Buddha's 'karmabhoomi's Bihar in India and Nepal are among the last places anybody would want to be (No matter what religion you are).
    Mohammed would kill himself if he saw what people are doing in his name today.
    If Gandhi was in Gujarat now, he'd be arrested for his ideas and words.

    Bapu, you failed miserably...

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  2. I dont know about Gandhiji but what you have written about Jesus and Mohammed shows that you do not understand them. Their teaching are behind your comprehension.

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  3. May what said here is true, but still he was just a bare man who wanted to experiment his whole life till his last breath.

    After Independence he went to now so called POC areas to just see to that something can be done to acheive the piece instead of celebration.

    He himself didn't want to create a new community inspite he teached us prosperity.

    As Krishna Said in Bhagvathgitha (donot mind) instead of imparing the new ideas follow it and people follow you.

    I see Gandhi as a good researcher of Life.

    P.S: I am not defending anybody just putting my perspection here.

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  4. True, He was a true researcher of life. He tried what he believe in. Result should never be a concern. One eye on result leave only one eye on path.
    Its only we who are interpretting according to our knowledge and biasings. Surely its not exactly what they people tried. But its the time to dig some thing good out of any thing.

    Good Analysis....

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  5. Jesus did say that he had not come to wipe out the Law i.e. he preached both love and the obedience to Law as well. His teachings were changed by Paul greatly by a dramatic reduction in the Law.

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  6. The analysis is incomplete, and infact incorrect. The final conclusion that a sane reader can make out is

    bapu, we failed you, miserably

    - Raunak Maheshwari

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    Replies
    1. correctly said raunak,,the blogger failed to accept his own responsibilty but is speaking about others deeds
      -revanth

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  7. amazing... but the point is how are we contributing to his experiment? are we taking care that his experiment fails or are we going to work towards making it successful???

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  8. This may not be perfect writing, there may be failures in understanding the real concepts, but I felt this to be one of the best explanations to Gandhi and religions in its essence, in just few words. And the discussions here give the hope that there is still something good to look forward to, specially when we understand why we failed and with the ambition that we don't want to fail.

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  9. Sujai, I know this post is 6 months old. I just got time to read it. From this post, unlike other commenters, I think that you are criticizing the society for not living up to the ideals of Gandhi than Gandhi himself. Am I right?

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  10. Krish:
    I am not criticizing anyone in this blog (for a change). I just wanted to highlight Gandhi as a person. Its so hard to achieve what he achieved being a man or a real person.

    Those who have achieved great things, like the prophets and gods, are in the distant past where the situations and scenarios might have been quite different.

    To bring harmony in populations with deep-rooted and well organized religious systems is a great feat- and Gandhi achieved it for a while.

    I am not sure if I recommend that we should live up to his ideals. But definitely we should highlights his achievements and educated our peoples. The younger generation grows up discarding everything Gandhi stands for and it has become fashion to rebuke and insult him. I don't think he can be reduced to a mere insult- he is much more than that.

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  11. Gaurav:
    I am not sure if we should continue his experiments. His experiments were his. The results of such experiments are out there for the world to see and learn. The problem I see is that we do not talk about him as a real person, either he is a god or he is a villain. He is so big in a person that we don't know how to read him.

    Many people see contradictions in him. I don't. I see him as a person who experimented, learnt and applied- very effectively- more effectively than any person we know.

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  12. Reena Verma:
    You don't about Gandhiji. That's good. The way I wrote about Gandhiji, I wrote about the other two individuals. If you knew about Gandhiji, you would have realized that the tone of article is similar to all the three individuals.

    However, if you think any of them is a God, my writings wouldn't apply to you.

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  13. He tried. That's the point. He tried. My point is, no matter if he failed or not, at least he tried. I magine what India would be without him!!

    Personally, I can't.

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  14. I read somewhere and agree to it that some credit to whatever success he got should be given to the British.

    Were it any other regime, like Hitler or taliban, he would be shot dead on day 1, no trial, no questions asked.

    The British were decent enough not to kill him.

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  15. He was inspired by Bhagvad Gita. Also, he was a man of action whereas we all are mostly people of words. ;)

    Cheers,
    -Amit

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  16. Wow, Cant help myself commenting an all of your posts!

    I see a lot of folks here are against something you said, or are dejected that you named gandhi a 'failure'.

    I would suspect it is because of your selection of the title.(I'm not against it though. I like your sense of titling. Its spot on. Just like the 'I apologise'.. that one must have got the pro-reservation coming with glee in droves after the first 7 or 8 articles that you had written :p)

    Back on topic, here is my analogy to all the dejected ones: Sujai actually paid a tribute to Gandhi. He showed that Gandhi had the vision to think of an ideal this magnanimous and the courage to follow it. This is more than I can say about majority of the leaders today. The title only reflects the result of Gandhi's 'experiment'. The title should not be conjuring up images of Gandhi walking around with an 'L' on this forehead.

    To site an analogy, consider a scientist who envisioned a method to cross the speed of light. He tried out various experiments, built up a lot of theories and generally did research on stuff that had never been done. All this was done with one end in mind. That end failed, however we still have a _lot_ of work done in terms of the theories and experiment. This scientist would definitely be considered a great visionary. He was a failure only in the sense that he could not cross the speed of light.

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  17. Nipun Mehta, a modern day Gandhian experiment.

    http://nipun.charityfocus.org/blog/
    http://www.charityfocus.org/blog/

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  18. Here is what Aurobindo had to say about the idea of one true religion espoused by many:

    The aggressive and quite illogical idea of a single religion for all mankind, a religion universal by the very force of its narrowness, one set of dogmas, one cult, one system of ceremonies, one ecclesiastical ordinance, one array of prohibitions and injunctions which all minds must accept on peril of persecution by men and spiritual rejection or eternal punishment by God, that grotesque creation of human unreason has been the parent of so much intolerance, cruelty and obscurantism and aggressive fanaticism.

    You can very well appreciate which religions or prophets would fit the bill. But then Aurobindo was no politician!

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  19. Nice article. But you reveal shocking ignorance about jesus and christianity as evident from your comments.

    "He didn’t want to set rules. He just wanted to love, be loved, and teach everyone else to love each other. I guess he was quite a romantic guy." and

    " He was just a happy-go-lucky, lets-be-merry kind of guy"

    Such potrayals of Jesus and Christianity are what have been the cause of much misunderstandings about the christian community. The message of Christianity is not "lets be merry". It is a very difficult path of sacrifice. You seem to take the wrong meaning of "love" as similar to romance. Love means "sacrifice". You can love your nation, your parents.. but it should come with sacrifice as Jesus showed with his example. I doubt whether u have seen Christianity at any other place than movies.

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  20. This work is ridiculous you need to give Gandhi credit for his efforts. He is an extremely persevering and courageous figure and you cannot seem to realize that. His attempt at settling conflicts with peace was unheard of at his time. Look at our world today its full of war, violence, and hate. Gandhi is one figure who advocates love. Sure India was not fully liberated but his efforts are truly amazing. Who are you to say otherwise?

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  21. Another relevant post about Gandhi -

    http://www.krishworld.com/politics/krish/society/oct-2nd-recap-why-gandhi-should-be-remembered/

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  22. Even though a lucid reading, your analysis seems to be a prime example of how a reductionist thought should be...removing the cogs wherever it pinches and making it easy to catalyze and go well with the junta to comprehend.

    But still ur writing reflects sound
    judgmental opinion.

    To clear some of the daunting myths that surround Gandhism, I would strongly suggest you to read this article on Non-Violence...or
    my remarks in my blog post.

    Would sincerely like to have your views on the same...

    +Thanks.

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  23. Another perspective on Gandhi from none other than - Barack Obama.

    WASHINGTON: Barack Obama, Democratic front-runner for the US presidential nomination, sees Mahatma Gandhi as an inspiration and has a portrait of the apostle of peace in his office to remind him that ordinary people can do extraordinary things.

    "In my life, I have always looked to Mahatma Gandhi as an inspiration, because he embodies the kind of transformational change that can be made when ordinary people come together to do extraordinary things," he wrote in a yet to be published article in a newspaper.

    "That is why his portrait hangs in my Senate office; to remind me that real results will not just come from Washington, they will come from the people," he said in the article, excerpts of which were provided in a write-up on Friday.

    That is why, he said, "I am proud to have the longstanding support of so many Indian Americans in all aspects of my campaign for party nomination for the post of the President, as well as the endorsements of leading elected Indian American lawmakers."

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  24. Gandhiji is not a failure. His purpose of lif was to achieve freedom for India . To achieve that he did certain things and we got Independence. Once Independence was achieved he hardly lived for 6 months. This is exactly in tune with th Bhagvad Gita.
    "Yadah yadaho dharmasya Galnir Bhavatu Bharatha. Abhutaanam adharmasya tadatmanam shrijhamayam"

    It means I incarnate from time to time to uphold the Dharma.

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  25. Gandhi might have been a failure. He might have been wrong.
    But, I think, he was wrong for all the right reasons. He was a failure with the 'right' goals.

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  26. Mahatma Indeed!!!

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  27. This is the best blog i have read till date. Great work. Keep it up sujai.

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  28. iwill no comment on muhammed and jesus.....the post is not bout thm....concerning gandhi....this articles assumes the fact tht gandhi was given the sole responsibility of achieving India's independence.....There were enuff capable ppl around probably better and intelligent than gandhi around at the time.....Ambedkar,SC Bose just to name a few....wud even consider Sardar Patel....n r u nuts u calling Bhagat Singh,Azad Unruly doctors in the operation theatre .....gandhi was a freak,an egomaniac- who supported untochability....n if u r rite ..he just did not believe tht Indians were gud enuff at tht time....Which they were...daresay they were capable

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  29. Cannot AGREE with you more.

    Gandhi is the epitome of Failure. He was not responsible for India's independence nor did he benefit anything for the Lower Hindu castes.

    Infact, labeling them as Dalits secluded the lower castes even more.

    More than Gandhi I appreciate people like Dr. Bhimrao Amdedkar to be true revolutionary who brought about a lot of changes.

    Unfortunately for Indians, people who have been failures are appreciated the most.


    ps: Wanna know another Modern Indian God who is a miserable failure - SACHIN TENDULKAR.


    Cheers.

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  30. Apologize about my mistake at my earlier post...

    He labeled them as "Harijans" and Dalit was the term used earlier and coined by Hindus.

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  31. Sujai,
    I have gone through all your posts on all other topics.I hold high respect for your opinions on the socio-economic problems.I started to agree with most of your explanations and opinions on other topics until now. But after reading the present topic, I wondered how a person with such broad minded personality can give such lame comparisions and explanations on religions.When you have some time please do answer my questions.
    1) Jesus and Mohammed are prophets.Their ideaoligies (directly or indirectly)are related to religions. Is Gandhi a prophet? was he promoting any religion ?.I dont see any basis to compare them. please don't give some answer just for the reason to answer. Think before you answer.
    2)You mentioned about the so called ideology failures about Jesus(christianity) and Mohammed(Islam). You did not mention anything about Hinduism. Correct me if I am wrong, you might be Hindu :)Is this not a discrimination towards other religion ?I hope you will not say that discrimination is only related to Caste.This reflects that sometimes your opinion contradicts with your own principles( I am refering to your topics on reservation)
    3)Have you ever read the whole bible or Quran ?
    I guess not because you mentioned Jesus as a romantic guy and so on..It shows your level of understanding on religions.Please dont write something, if you dont completely understand it.
    Picking few verses from wikipedia or some google search might give you some text to add to your topic but not true understanding.

    I fully understand that you are expressing your personal opinion on your blog.You can also say that you dont need to answer someone.But please remember that some of your topics are very informative and motivative. And lot of people do vist the blog. So wrong information and opinion can have wrong impacts on readers mind.

    My request to you is please re-go through this topic and ask truely yourself is that your explanation/comparison on statements related to religion does truely make any sense.
    Thanks

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  32. From all what you said,
    I only think that Gandhi did not fail at all because his principles are not at all flawed. Actually he experimented very well.
    I think we people failed him not his principles. If Gandhi failed, I think he only failed to make people believe in his principles. This may be because Gandhi could never associate himself with the poorest lot by making himself appear like them. He was actually a very learned man while most of our Indians even today are not.
    Many people only loved this great man because of his huge popularity and his apparent outlook on self rule. But Gandhi always preferred Truth and Self reliance to Self rule. This did not reach the people.

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  33. You need to remember, before independence, India was not one nation. It has lots of kingdoms, jamindars and local rulers. Freedom movement led by Gandhi united us. With out Gandhi India would have been divided into several countries. With out Gandhi India would have been fighting each other like African countries.

    Since we are still united, I believe Gandhi has succeeded his goal.

    Sujai, you are really expert in wrong interpretation, changing facts.

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  34. I loved it..!!
    Although I would disagree on a lot of counts.. I read this book called Mahatma vs Gandhi.. That book shows a very rigid and rule-bound Gandhi who was quite intolerant of mistakes and shortcomings..
    That aspect of his personality dsnt mesh with the "adjust-with-all" Gandhi that ur portrayin..
    Bt guud effort.. and sensational heading!

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  36. I think you make valid points. But as said many times in the comments some inofrmation is false.

    What people do need to realize though is your view on Gandhi. The word failure has people thinking your view is more negative than positive. Failure is a strong way to describe such a wonderfully courageous man. No one begins to compare to Gandhi and his great accomplishments.
    I really do like your strong and truthful opinions. I think you just worded some things terribly.

    Failure is never trying in the first place, and thats certainly not what Gandhi did. If anything he just achieved epicly and ended differently then expected. But his impact was more than it all, because we wouldnt have any one to compare such great accomplishments too and great "failures" too.

    selfless, righteous, and brave, thats what Gandhi was. Not a failure.

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  37. Hello Sujai,

    You wrote about Muhammed, may peace and blessings be upon him

    "Rule 3. If some resist, use all means necessary to make them alike."

    Let me share with you a verse from the Quran and then you can judge for yourself if he deserved this critism.

    "Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things." - Quran 2:256

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  38. My! My! What a dreadful know all you are! And I found your expounding on Jesus Christ to be frightfully offensive, not only to me, but to my many betters too. I was interested in your article but stopped reading when I saw that, I daresay I shall go back to read all you have written when I have told you some things. Firstly being so very opinionated does not give you the right to tarnish things beyond your comprehension. I read somewhere else in your blog that you were an atheist, I suggest you keep you opinions to yourself or if you want to elaborate on them, not to be so frightfully ignorant of other points of view. Don't be a horse wearing a blinder, first try to have a basic knowledge of what you are opposing before you decide to disparage it. His first concept was Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and then came the love everyone principle. But that was only the fundamentals. He went so much further and spoke of things in those prehistoric times that you don't grasp even now, with all the wealth of knowledge available to you. He was severe and kind, He was divine and noble yet humble, He was compassionate yet condemning and by these paradoxes, he taught people to behave in the same way. He laid the concept of gentlemanliness. He sought to address the oppression of women and appeared first to Mary Magdalene after His death, thereby stressing on the importance of women. Leaving aside his theological teachings for you wouldn't be able to understand it when you have this intense prejudice and arrogance and I'd be wasting my breath, metaphorically speaking, he was a radical in every way. He refused to be a monarch, thereby setting the basics of modern day republicanism. He was compassionate and spoke to non Jews, thereby opposing racism. And His so called merry making, as you put it, tells people to live, which is exactly what they should do. In a way, He opposed puritanism too which leads to racism and all the other ignorance and prejudice that follows. And for Him to have inspired that sort of loyalty and worship from His fellow men teaching us to be assuring and confident ourselves too. You see I have not touched any of your sentimental nerves as I know too well you won't respond. Just something to ponder, and this is all I can say, people can do much better than me. You could learn a splendid thing from Christ which is humility. You sorely lack it.

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