For Satyagraha, for Champaran.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
A search for Mahatma Gandhi’s quotes will show you the above result on google. The honorable and controversial American President Donald John Trump used this quote somewhere, and when you scrounge it out- There are many you tube videos that compare Donald’s victory to the so proclaimed Gandhian quote.
Does this quote Inspire you? Yes
Is it an accurate Gandhian statement? NO.
There has been no evidence that the statement was said by Gandhiji. Even the thought that Gandhiji would talk about ‘fights’ would seem a bit odd to the person who has spent some portion of his life to understanding his ways.
Meanwhile, we continue our journey. We were with an agriculturist named Rajkumar Shukla, chasing Gandhi wherever he went. Shukla was perseverant and brave. He would insist Gandhiji see Champaran. When Gandhi reached Calcutta, Rajkumar Shukla had already convinced him. He had also made arrangements to take their savior with him.
Gandhi was unknown to the facts when he reached Champaran. He demanded talks with the planters’ association and was told to go back. They called him an outsider who had no right for an inquiry.
Imagine a European in India, sending an Indian back calling him an outsider.
A notice was issued for Gandhi to leave Champaran, but he disobeyed. This action ensued a mass reaction from the village folks, loads of them came pouring towards Gandhi, they followed him everywhere he went.
The police officials though were relieved as Gandhi always received their notices and responded with care. Like a witted leader, he made the officials realize that he had nothing against them and simultaneously helped the people realize their right of civil disobedience. The officials were satisfied, and so were the people. With time, the path towards easy living was instilled into the brains of people.
Due to his strict adherence to laws, belief in ahimsa and straight-talking nature, he soon turned the tables on the Commissioner. The government had nothing against him because he had never broken any laws. Soon enough, he received the legal authority of inquiry and had arranged the money through the Biharis living outside Champaran.
Here was another trick involved. With his superbly sharp thinking, Gandhi kept Congress and the press away. Involving any of the tainted organizations was to invite trouble for the peasants. The situation needed patience and control, till the right time.
The greater good
Did I write tainted? Some clarification needs to be given- Well, none of the organizations was actually TAINTED. But sometimes, the ‘greater good’ needs to be thought of and the opposition perspective needs to be respected. Just for a short time… so that ends and means coalesce and form an exquisite amalgam. So that the true goal remains the good for people and not the false pride of an organization. This is the thought procedure of a true person who believes in ‘seva’.
I understand today why congress supported Gandhi in those moments of turmoil.
The statements of the peasants were taken in front of a CID officer. Instead of opposing him, the leaders let him stay and took the recordings. Slowly, the fear of the CID was ousted from the farmers’ minds. The statements of the farmers were carefully examined, and only the accurate statements were taken into account.
To make a lasting impact on the governments as Indians who did not just “Breed like rabbits”, sanitation had to be improved, but the strikingly mundane habits of Indian villages, combined with the prolonged repressions they had been subjected to made it an absolute impossibility. As Gandhi writes in his autobiography-
“I told my wife to ask them why they did not wash their clothes. She spoke to them. One of the women took her into her hut and said: ‘Look now, there is no box or cupboard here containing other clothes. The sari I am wearing is the only one I have. How am I to wash it? Tell Mahatmaji to get me another sari, and I shall then promise to bathe and put on clean clothes every day.’” -An excerpt from My experiments with truth- Gandhi
The Finishing Touch
Then there was clamor as a tremendous focus was placed on the basics of the villages including schools, medical facilities, and sanitation.The Indian leaders managed to collect thousands of statements to prove their right stance. The final conclusion came as a committee was formed and the cruel system called ‘tinkathia’ was abolished.
Gandhi’s Champaran went into the record books.
There have been people who have criticized the Mahatma’s leadership. He may have been wrong in certain situations. A true leader, however, instead of criticizing the leaders, must realize the meanings of their works and learn from their approaches. Even if he may not agree to all of them.
With a hope that we all will be participating like Gandhiji to make India beautiful, and leave alone the criticism part to the people who have a lot of free time, I call it a day.
Till the next article…
Bon voyage—Happy Journey—Stay helpful— Stay Happy