Mahatma Gandhi and nonviolence: a powerful connection (2023)

International Day of Non Violence

International Day of Nonviolence is celebrated on October 2, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of nonviolence. The world remembers Mahatma Gandhi not only for his passionate adherence to humanism, but also as a model for the practice of nonviolence. Mahatma Gandhi, who helped lead India to independence, was the inspiration for nonviolent movements for civil rights and social change around the world. On the International Day of Nonviolence established by the United Nations in 2007, we remember the impact of an Indian activist born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, but known worldwide as Mahatma Gandhi. The International Day of Nonviolence honors how Mahatma Gandhi's work and legacy influenced nonviolent protests around the world.

(Video) Mohandas Gandhi, the Power of Nonviolence

Throughout his life, Mahatma Gandhi remained committed to his belief in nonviolence, even under oppressive conditions. It is not a public holiday in other countries, but is celebrated in a variety of ways around the world, often to draw attention to global issues. Its date and purpose correspond to those of Gandhi Jayanti's National Day of India. The two basic principles or ideals that guided the life of Mahatma Gandhi were truth and non-violence. For him, the truth was God, and to know that truth as God was the ultimate goal of life. He explained the thesis that truth can only be realized through nonviolence: "Truth is the end and nonviolence is the means." Mahatma Gandhi gave his own definition and explanation of nonviolence, which went beyond the conventional understanding of the concept. For Mahatma Gandhi, nonviolence was not a negative term in the sense of not harming or killing, but a positive one, that is, love in the sense of selfless service to other human beings that encompassed all of creation. The gist of his arguments is that one really should practice nonviolence and organize all activities of life around it, and this would bring about unprecedented and revolutionary changes in human life. A central tenet of nonviolence theory is that the power of rulers depends on the consent of the population, and therefore nonviolence seeks to undermine that power by withdrawing popular consent and cooperation.

Nonviolence is the personal practice of not harming others under any circumstances. It may arise from the belief that harming people, animals, and/or the environment is unnecessary to achieve a result, and may refer to a general philosophy of nonviolence. This world has seen its share of bloody wars that have claimed countless lives and filled countless others with suffering. No matter which country you travel to, there are stories of how someone's greed or lust for power resulted in the death of innocent people and the destruction of beautiful cities. Wars waged for a good cause, such as the Civil War in the United States of America which led to the abolition of slavery, are also responsible for large numbers of deaths. Fortunately, however, there are people in this world who have made the changes they thought necessary without violence or brute force, and these people are celebrated on the International Day of Nonviolence. The principle of nonviolence, also known as nonviolent resistance, rejects the use of physical force to achieve social or political change. This form of social struggle, often referred to as "everyday politics," has been embraced by mass populations around the world in campaigns for social justice. Nonviolence is a weapon of the strong and we must keep nonviolence as our goal and take great strides towards it. Nonviolent action is a technique that allows people who reject passivity and submission and see fighting as essential to conduct their conflict without violence. Nonviolent action is not an attempt to avoid or ignore conflict. It is a response to the problem of how to act effectively in politics, especially how to effectively exercise power.

(Video) Nonviolence and Peace Movements: Crash Course World History 228

The theory behind Mahatma Gandhi's actions, which included encouraging mass civil disobedience to British law as in the historic 1930 Salt March, was that "only means lead to just ends". He believed that the Indians should not use violence or hate in their struggle to free themselves from colonialism. Mahatma Gandhi used nonviolent civil disobedience to ultimately overthrow the British, who were ruling India at the time. Despite being arrested multiple times, nothing convinced him to abandon his peaceful approach, which ultimately led to India finally gaining the independence he had wanted for years. Mahatma Gandhi was heavily influenced by many Western thinkers and writers in formulating theories of him and nonviolent struggle. These people include civil rights activists Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, Beatles star John Lennon, humanitarian activist and "King of Calypso" Harry Belafonte and, of course, anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela. The life stories of each of these people are fascinating and inspiring. This day may be the perfect time to study their biographies and learn lessons about their virtues such as bravery, compassion, and perseverance.

Mahatma Gandhi took the religious principle of ahimsa (do no harm) and turned it into a nonviolent tool for mass action. In doing so, he fought not only against colonial rule, but also against social ills such as racial discrimination and untouchability. Mahatma Gandhi used "Satyagraha" which means "power of truth". In this doctrine, the goal of any nonviolent conflict was to convert the opponent; to win his mind and heart and convince him of his point of view. Mahatma Gandhi was right that Satyagraha was not a weapon of the weak - 'Satyagraha is a weapon of the strong; she does not allow violence under any circumstances and always insists on the truth."

(Video) Gandhi's Philosophy of Nonviolence - Theory and Practice

Even as the country celebrated its hard-won independence on August 15, 1947, the then-father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, fasted in Bengal to end violence between Hindus and Muslims. He was on a hunger strike in Kolkata, a far cry from the harsh independence celebrations in Delhi. Mahatma Gandhi had said: "For me, peace between Hindus and Muslims is more important than the proclamation of independence." The leaders embraced nonviolence as a political tool instead of the fundamental creed that it was for him. In short, for Mahatma Gandhi, nonviolence is the law of our being, the constant law of love that holds humanity together and makes collective life possible and meaningful. It is also the force that acts throughout history, facilitating human evolution to fulfill its destiny. It is the power of the soul and the greatest power available to mankind, Mahatma Gandhi argued, adding that it "is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction that man's ingenuity has created" and therefore operates under the impossible law of violence that a single individual can defy all forces.

Today, violence has become one of the most common causes of human suffering. The pursuit of material gain has led to increasing conflicts between individuals, groups and nations and to new forms of violence. Sophisticated and deadly chemical and nuclear weapons have opened up opportunities to inflict maximum destruction and damage. In fact, modern ways of life are to blame for the violent tendencies that have taken deep root in man. There is less patience, perseverance, true courage, devotion and no sense of values. The man is lost today; and wandering souls can easily be led astray by anything. Violence today has reached such proportions that it has almost acquired a kind of legitimacy. It is feared that the rise in violence will eventually wipe out humanity as a whole!

(Video) Non-violence and relevance of Gandhi's ideas in modern times: Hanuman Dass speaks with Arun Gandhi

The world desperately needs nonviolence as a way of life to spread the gospel of love, brotherhood and peace. Man must wake up and realize that the world of violence in which he lives can explode in his face at any moment. Before time is up, man must recognize the folly of indulging in violence and abandon it. Only the path of nonviolence can truly rid humanity of all evils and bring harmony to the world. Only nonviolence can restore sanity around us. Today, when the world is on the verge of a nuclear holocaust, nonviolence is extremely relevant as a means of resolving differences between civilized people. Pandit Nehru, one of Mahatma Gandhi's greatest disciples, admitted that he was convinced of the futility of post-war violence and the division of the country on the eve of independence. The human anguish and suffering that the world experienced after the partition of India seems meaningless today. The communal passions that ignited in the hearts of the people have not yet been resolved. They continue to rear their ugly heads and cause countesses to die without even solving the problems. Violence, therefore, cannot produce a positive result. It never did, the sooner humanity realizes this the better for its own preservation.

One of the best ways to appreciate the life and achievements of Mahatma Gandhi, as well as other world leaders who won their battles without violence, is to read her biography, to find out what motivated her to act the way she did. , which helped them stay strong even when they saw terrible things happening around them. However, the independence of that country was not the only issue that Mahatma Gandhi considered important; He was also very interested in building good relationships between people of different religions and ethnicities, expanding women's rights, and reducing poverty. Although he was assassinated in 1948, he was never forgotten and is called the "father of the country."

(Video) Gandhi and India's Independence | History - Andrew Marr's History of the World

Nonviolence as a doctrine has been preached by all the sages since time immemorial. Saints and sages from all over the world preached the gospel of love and understanding. All differences between people can be resolved through love without resorting to violent means. Non-violence is a power that can be exercised by everyone equally: boys, girls and children or adults, as long as they have a living faith in the God of love and therefore an equal love for all people. If non-violence is to be accepted as a law of life, it must pervade the whole being and not apply to isolated actions.

“Non-violence is a powerful and just weapon. In fact, it is a unique weapon in history that cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it." - Martin Luther King Jr.

(Video) Why did Gandhi consider a Non-violence Method? | Gandhi Philosophy of Non-Violence | Class 10 SST

(The author is a regular contributor to this magazine and can be contacted at


Why was nonviolence important to Gandhi? ›

He believed that Indians must not use violence or hatred in their fight for freedom from colonialism.

How was Gandhi's nonviolent movement successful? ›

His non-violent resistance helped end British rule in India and has influenced modern civil disobedience movements across the globe. Widely referred to as Mahatma, meaning great soul or saint in Sanskrit, Gandhi helped India reach independence through a philosophy of non-violent non-cooperation.

What does Gandhi say about truth and nonviolence? ›

Gandhi says that truth and non-violence are the two sides of the same coin and considers ahimsa as the means; and truth as an end. He was a great supporter of peace and believed that the truth and non-violence are the only means through which peace can be gained and problems solved.

Why was nonviolence so important? ›

“Nonviolence is a powerful, active way of working for human liberation that firmly and clearly resists and refuses to cooperate with evil and injustice, while attempting to show goodwill toward all and taking suffering on itself rather than inflicting suffering or violence on others.”

Why was nonviolence so important to the movement? ›

Philosophy of nonviolence

In contrast, the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement chose the tactic of nonviolence as a tool to dismantle institutionalized racial segregation, discrimination, and inequality. Indeed, they followed Martin Luther King Jr.'s guiding principles of nonviolence and passive resistance.

How did Gandhi implement nonviolence? ›

In India, the freedom struggle, spearheaded by Mahatma Gandhi, opposed colonialism and its human rights violation through the unique concept of Ahimsa or non-violence. This was implemented through Satyagraha --holding on to the truth by non-violent resistance to evil, by refusing to submit to the wrong.

What is the value of nonviolence? ›

Nonviolence instils a sense of morality, equality and respect for the rights of all human beings; it fosters appreciation of all cultures and religions, as well as ecological concern and awareness. It is an expression of universal love that promotes unity among people and a sense of being part of a whole.

What is the principle of non-violence according to Gandhiji? ›

Gandhi understood nonviolence from its Sanskrit root "Ahimsa". Ahimsa is just translated to mean nonviolence in English, but it implies more than just avoidance of physical violence. Ahimsa implies total nonviolence, no physical violence, and no passive violence. Gandhi translates Ahimsa as love.

Why was Mahatma Gandhi called the symbol of peace and non-violence? ›

Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi is recognised as a symbol of Truth and Non Violence. The term 'Non-violence' is almost synonymous with the name of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji also adopted notions of non violence as a philosophy and an ideal way of life. In his own words, "Ahimsa is the highest duty.

How many main types of non-violence says Gandhiji? ›

The nine types of generic nonviolence described below are: non-resistance, active reconciliation, moral resistance, selective nonviolence, passive resistance, peaceful resistance, nonviolent direct action, satyagraha, and nonviolent revolution.

How did nonviolence change the world? ›

Throughout history, acts of nonviolent resistance have helped to force a reassessment of society's moral parameters. The movements for women's and civil rights and against slavery, colonialism and racial discrimination all used various forms of nonviolent resistance.

Why was nonviolence effective in India? ›

While confrontation, intimidation, or coercion might force opponents to reckon with protesters, only nonviolence had the potential to convert opponents. The more confrontational the tactic—when the threat of provoking violence was at hand—the more crucial it was for nonviolent protest to maintain discipline.

Is nonviolence more powerful than violence? ›

Recent research suggests that nonviolent civil resistance is far more successful in creating broad-based change than violent campaigns are, a somewhat surprising finding with a story behind it.

How did nonviolence help India gain independence? ›

Mohandas Gandhi, known as Mahatma Gandhi, joined the fight in 1914 and led the country to independence, using his method of nonviolent protest known as satyagraha. He encouraged Indians to stop buying British goods, avoid paying taxes to the British government, and take part in peaceful protests and marches.

What is the true meaning of nonviolence? ›

non·​vi·​o·​lence ˌnän-ˈvī-ə-lən(t)s. : abstention from violence as a matter of principle. also : the principle of such abstention. : the quality or state of being nonviolent : avoidance of violence.

What are the three elements of Gandhi's non violence? ›

The three elements of Gandhi's philosophy of action - Truth, Nonviolence and Self-suffering – enable us to pinpoint his contribution to nonviolent action considered as a political technique.

What is the symbol of non violence? ›

The symbol

One of the three original bronze sculptures is displayed at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, the Knotted Gun has become a worldwide symbol of the non-violence movement.

Was nonviolence successful in the civil rights movement? ›

The success of the movement for African American civil rights across the South in the 1960s has largely been credited to activists who adopted the strategy of nonviolent protest.

Why were Gandhi's tactics so effective? ›

Gandhi's system of Satyagraha was based on nonviolence, non co-operation, truth and honesty. Gandhi used non violence in India's freedom struggle as main weapon and India became independent from British rule.

Why was the tactic of nonviolence so successful in achieving change? ›

Both sit-ins and freedom rides were nonviolent ways of protest, they both were successful because it showed white people that weren't involved how brutal black people were being treated in they started to have sympathy for them.

Why Gandhi's tactics were successful? ›

Because Gandhi doesn't like violence and he was always for the law. Civil disobedience has to be a non-violent act to have success. How does this letter help explain why Gandhi's tactics were successful? He was a thoughtful person and He was making level headed decisions.

How did Gandhi fight for human rights? ›

While leading nationwide campaigns to ease poverty, expand women's rights, build religious and ethnic harmony and eliminate the injustices of the caste system, Gandhi supremely applied the principles of nonviolent civil disobedience, playing a key role in freeing India from foreign domination.

What was the greatest influence on Gandhi? ›

In his autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi names four figures who influenced his life and philosophy–Leo Tolstoy, John Ruskin, Henry David Thoreau, and Rajchandra Ravjibhai Mehta.

What was the Gandhi's main message? ›

Gandhiji was a strong proponent of non-violence; he preached and practised non-violence against the British colonial power to get freedom for India.

Why is Gandhi so important in history? ›

Today, Gandhi is remembered for being one of the most influential figures in all of world history and in the Indian Independence Movement. He pioneered non-violent civil disobedience and inspired many other prominent historical figures including Martin Luther King Jr.

Why is Gandhi so inspiring? ›

The main reason why people are inspired by Gandhiji is his philosophy of non-violence. He used non-violence to free India from British. His manner of dressing shows us his unwillingness to use foreign products. He always told the people to do their work on their own without depending on others.

How effective was Gandhi as a leader? ›

Gandhi's leadership role was extremely complex. Knowing that violence only begets violence, he began practicing passive resistance, Satyagraha. Mahatma Gandhi was a leader that brought one of the world's most powerful nations to its knees... by using peace, love and integrity as his method for change.


1. Why did Gandhi consider a Non-violence Method? | Gandhi Philosophy of Non-Violence | Class 10 SST
(BYJU'S - Class 9 & 10)
2. Mahatma Gandhi For Kids
(Bedtime History)
3. MLK: Nonviolence is the Most Powerful Weapon
(The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change)
4. Mahatma Gandhi and Non Violence
(SF Education)
5. Nonviolence or Nonexistence: Choice of the 21st Century | Arun Gandhi | TEDxAthens
(TEDx Talks)
6. The 20th Annual Mahatma Gandhi Lecture on Nonviolence
(McMaster Humanities)
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