Satyagraha: Disobeying With Great Love

–by Michael Nagler and Mahatma Gandhi (Sep 12, 2013)

Gandhi-Salt-SatyagrahaWhile the method that Gandhi worked out was not new —he was the first to insist it was ‘as old as the hills’— it fell to him to develop it systematically and apply it on a broad scale to social problems. As he later wrote,

“That nonviolence which only an individual can use is not of much use in terms of society. A human is a social being. Her accomplishments to be of use must be such as any person with sufficient diligence can attain.”

It is a strange comment on human nature — or rather, human culture — that although peace is our deepest longing and using peace to influence others is ‘as old as the hills,’ the idea that returning love for hatred can make one’s adversary change his or her
mind, not to mention that this can be done on a vast scale to redress ‘man’s inhumanity
to man,’ was so unfamiliar in 1906 that there was not even a word for this kind of power.  So when Gandhi began organizing the disenfranchised Indians of the part of the Planet we call South Africa to resist further encroachments on their rights and dignity by the european colonials, many compared it to the suffrage movements underway in the part of the Planet we call England and applied the phrase from that movement, “passive resistance,” to Gandhi’s experiment; but as he had to point out often, there is nothing passive about his method and it was not confined to resistance! A contest was arranged and eventually a word for the ‘new’ method was coined in September 11th of 1906: Satyagraha.

Here are some quotes directly from Mahatma Gandhi:

“Satyagraha means ‘holding to the truth in every situation’. This is ahimsa, which is more than just the absence of violence; it is intense love.”

“Hate dissolves in the presence of love.”

“The force of love is the same as the force of the soul or truth”.

“This is in essence the principle of nonviolent noncooperation. It follows therefore that it must have its root in love. Its object should not be to punish the opponent or to inflict injury upon him. Even while noncooperating with him, we must make him feel that in us he has a friend and we should try to reach his heart by rendering him humanitarian service wherever possible”. 

“The world rests upon the bedrock of ‘satya’ or ‘truth’. ‘Asatya’ meaning ‘untruth’ also means ‘non-existent’, and ‘satya’ or ‘truth’ also means ‘that which is’. If untruth does not so much as exist,  its victory is out of the question. And truth being that which is can never be destroyed. This is the doctrine of Satyagraha in a nutshell.”

“What Satyagraha does in such cases is not to suppress reason but to free it from inertia and to establish its sovereignty over prejudice, hatred, and other baser passions. In other words, if one may paradoxically put it, it does not enslave, it compels reason to be free.”

“It is therefore meet that he should not do that which he knows to be wrong, and suffer the consequence whatever it may be, this is the key to the use of soul-force.”

“Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?”

“A woman’s intuition has often proved truer than man’s arrogant assumption of superior knowledge”. 

“I have mentally become a woman in order to steal into her heart.”

“Things of fundamental importance to the people are not secured by reason alone but have to be purchased with their suffering…If you want something really important to be done you must not merely satisfy the reason, you must move the heart also.”

“The simplest things have the knack sometimes of appearing to us the hardest. If our hearts were open, we should have no difficulty. Nonviolence is a matter of the heart. It doesn’t come to us through any intellectual feat.”

“The fact is that Satyagraha was not designed to seize any particular objective or to crush the opponent, but to set in motion forces which would ultimately lead to a new equation; in such a strategy it is perfectly possible to lose all the battles and still win the war.”

“One of the lessons that a nation yearning for freedom needs to learn is to shed several fears of losing title, wealth, position, fear of imprisonment, of bodily injury and lastly death.”

“The force of arms is powerless when matched against the force of love or the soul.” 

“What is gained through fear is retained only while the fear lasts.”

“Fearlessness is a sign and symbol of self-purification.”

“Nonviolence in its dynamic condition means conscious suffering. It does not mean meek submission of the will of the evil-doer, but it means putting of one’s whole soul against the will of the tyrant. Working under this law of our being, it is possible for a single individual to defy the whole might of an unjust empire to save her honour, her religion, her soul, and lay the foundation for that empire’s fall or its regeneration.”

“Satyagraha is an all-sided sword, it can be used anyhow; it blesses her who uses it and him against whom it is used. Without drawing a drop of blood, it produces far-reaching results.”

“If man will only realize that it is unmanly to obey laws or rules that are unjust, no man’s tyranny will enslave him… So long as the superstition that men should obey unjust laws exists, so long will their slavery exist.”

“A satyagrahi will say she will not obey a law that is against her conscience, even though she might be blown to pieces at the mouth of a cannon.” 

“I must obey, even at the cost of my life, the Law of Love.”

–Michael Nagler excerpt from Hope or Terror? Gandhi and the Other 9/11 and quotes by Mahatma Gandhi from several sources: Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule, Indian Opinion, Nonviolent Resistance, Gandhi The Man, The Story of My Experiments With Truth, among other sources.

About Pancho

To live in radical joyous shared servanthood to unify humanity.
This entry was posted in ahimsa, anarchism, anarchy, Awakin Oakland, education, fearlessness, meditation, natural philosophy, noncooperation, nonviolence, Peace Army, satyagraha, science, Shanti Sena, soulforce, WednesdaysOnFridays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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