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Monday, October 2, 2006

Happy Birthday Bapu

Today is the birthday of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the political and religious leader of the Indian independence movement in the 1940s. He should need no introduction for most, but I'll just say he became famous for his advocacy of nonviolence, civil disobedience, and simplicity in living. He's considered the father of modern India. Much of his philosophy would go on to inspire others such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. In my recent considerations on violence in this blog, I mentioned Gandhi and it was in writing that post that I learned his birthday.

Although Gandhi is well known for his philosophy of nonviolence, what is less appreciated is the element of his philosophy that emphasizes truth (Satya). Gandhi said that "Truth is God". This often got him into disagreements with some on his own side who (as people often do) sometimes put their 'team's banner' ahead of truth.

Gandhi was reluctantly given the title of Mahatma, which means "great soul". Many who followed him referred to him with the affectionate term Bapu which means "Father". While we all have our own opinions on the specifics of the various elements within Gandhi's beliefs, it is not unreasonable or undeserved, I think, to consider Mohandas Gandhi a hero of humanity and consider his words and actions with careful thought.

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