A learner, leader and ladder
Prof. M.S. Rao
There are many leaders who are learners; there are some leaders who walked their talk and became true leaders; and there are a few leaders who became ladders for others. However, there are the rarest breed of leaders who are a blend of learning, leading and laying ladders for others. Mahatma Gandhi was such rarest leader who learned continuously, led by example and served as a ladder for others throughout his life. Here is the profile of this legend on the eve of his birth anniversary:
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2nd 1869 in Porbandar in the present Indian State of Gujarat. He is known as Mahatma Gandhi and Indians call him ‘Father of the Nation’. He played a crucial role in India’s freedom struggle through his principles of truth and non-violence.
Mahatma Gandhi revealed that stories of Shravana and king Harishchandra left an indelible impression on his mind. During his childhood Gandhi identified himself with those characters and evolved as an honest person. He was an average student academically.
Mahatma Gandhi studied law in London. After returning to India he tried to establish himself as a lawyer in Bombay but failed to establish. Subsequently he went to South Africa in 1893 and lived there for two decades where he forged the unity among Indians and fought against anti-Indian and discriminatory practices. He successfully tried his principles of truth and non-violence, and transformed from an inexperienced barrister into an accomplished political leader in South Africa. He returned to India in 1915, joined the Indian National Congress and dedicated the rest of his life for India’s freedom movement. Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic on January 30th 1948.
Mahatma Gandhi provided the ladder for several leaders Jawaharlal Nehru, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Sardar Vallabh bhai Patel and Khan Abdul Gaffer Khan to name a few to avoid the leadership vacuum. Most of the charismatic leaders make a major mistake of tooting their own horns thus not grooming others as leaders. But Mahatma Gandhi was the rarest charismatic leader who was a continuous learner, leader and laid a ladder for several leaders to grow as leaders.
Mahatma Gandhi’s Influence Beyond Borders
Globally there are many leaders who were influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, namely Martin Luther King Jr, Khan Adbul Ghaffar Khan, James Lawson, Lech Wa³êsa, Steve Biko, Benigno Aquino Jr, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Dalai Lama, Barack Obama and Aung San Suu Kyi. Martin Luther King Jr went to the extent of saying, “Christ gave us the goals and Mahatma Gandhi the tactics.”
Mahatma Gandhi did not receive the Nobel Peace Prize, although he was nominated five times. But his followers namely Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. Hence, it is obvious that Mahatma Gandhi is above Nobel Peace Prize.
Mahatma Gandhi was against the partition of India. He always strove for maintaining unity among various religions. He is revered for his practical approach. He walked his talk throughout his life. He is a transformational leader, soft leader and above all, a servant leader. It was the great poet, Rabindranath Tagore who accorded the title, ‘Mahatma’ to him, which means ‘Great Soul’ in English. However, Mahatma Gandhi never valued such titles as he considered himself a servant for people.
Mahatma Gandhi and Non-Violence
“I shall not fear anyone on Earth.
I shall fear only God.
I shall not bear ill will toward anyone.
I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.
I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.” Mahatma Gandhi.
The person who puts up with attack is stronger than the person who attacks. The person who has stamina to bear pain is stronger than the person who inflicts pain. The person who pioneers non-violence is stronger than the person who practices violence; as Mahatma Gandhi rightly remarked, “Nonviolence is a weapon of the strong.” Hence, it is desirable to preach and practice non-violence than violence. Although man is violent by nature he must transform himself with the growing civilization to stand out from animals. Additionally, we must develop compassion toward others.
Mahatma Gandhi’s Humanity and World Peace
Gandhi’s principles were not only confined to India’s freedom struggle but also relevant to the world. Martin Luther King Jr. once remarked, “If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought, acted and inspired by the vision of humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony.”
Currently the world is encountering several challenges including intolerance, impatience and terrorism. Hence, it is essential to follow the ideas and ideals of Mahatma Gandhi especially truth and non-violence to achieve international peace and prosperity.
On the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, let us take a pledge to respect and love all cultures, castes, creeds and communities to promote international peace and universal brotherhood.