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Social activist Anna Hazare rests near microphones of news channels during a "fast unto death" campaign in New Delhi April 8, 2011. The veteran Indian social activist, whose hunger strike against corruption is drawing growing support, rejected on Friday an offer of talks saying the government was ignoring the wishes of the people. Thousands of Indians held demonstrations across the country for another day on Friday in support of Hazare, who is demanding a tough anti-corruption law. In the background are the portraits of Mahatma Gandhi and other freedom fighters of India. -REUTERS
by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam

(April 08, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) Gandhi is identified with the path of Sathyagraha in relation to Independence and Self Governance.

What is Sathyagraha? To me, Sathya = Truth and Graha = Home. There are other meanings given by others and they would all be ‘right’ as per their own investments in this path.

Farzana Versey for example states in the article ‘Fighting Corruption: The Pitfalls of Populism’, published in Sri Lanka Guardian “Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha was battling against British might, not against corruption that involves people right down to the lowest level, including some who may participate in the ‘movement”

To my mind, Gandhi as an individual, renounced pleasures and benefits of his work. This might have happened because the system was not returning his legitimate expectations and hence he might have found that it would be easier to not expect but accept the benefits that happened naturally. That was his discipline. Fasting was just one form through which Gandhi communicated this discipline to fellow Indians. No amount of fasting towards benefits would lead to independence. Independence was being sought not just from the custodians of benefits – but from the very benefits themselves. Even credit at the individual level - that one is fasting – distracts from the path of Independence. Gandhi’s Sathyagraha was seen by many to be against the British. To me, it was against the individual’s own desires for the benefits over which the British had custody at that time. Now many Indians have taken the place of those British. Hence the current accusations including in regards to allocation of media (2G) license and the ‘protest fasting by the Hon Anna Hazare.

The Indian Political leadership was not immune to the benefits in the custody of British until they started following Gandhi. Today’s political leadership would naturally clean itself of this attachment if it genuinely followed Gandhi. Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King are said to have been influenced by Gandhi’s Sathyagraha. Not so an Indian Politician. They may exist but it is not apparent to the outside world.

Gandhi was special not only because of his discipline but also because of his respect for the Law. When he did act in breach of the law, he did so for higher Dharma (Righteousness) and was transparent about it. That contribution to higher Dharma was to respect Truth about Indian life. Most ordinary Indians did not know British law and hence regulated themselves as per their laws of Faith. When the power of Laws of Faith due to practice is greater than the power of official laws (often due to lack of practice), the path of Dharma would be closer to the Cultural laws than to the official laws of the nation. To my mind, this was a key reason for the birth of JVP and LTTE in Sri Lanka’s South and North respectively. Western democracy applied as is would not solve the problem.

During Gandhi’s time, British laws and Indian Social laws did not reconcile easily and hence there was more and more conflict between practitioners of Indian Cultural laws and the practitioners of British Cultural Laws. This problem still prevails in countries such as Australia and will continue to prevail until the side with higher status consciously overrides culture with common law, or the side with lesser power meekly accepts the judgment of the custodians of power – as happens often here in Australia and as is expected by the likes of our Politician Pauline Hanson, who seems to want One Nation through assimilation. That to me is not different to Indians under British rule.
To the educated like Gandhi – the strongest challenge would have been the renunciation of ego pleasures and benefits. Gandhi was clever in terms of the British laws themselves. It is my understanding that he appreciated them very much. But most of them were theory in terms of ordinary Indians. Likewise, Australian laws (including Racial Discrimination Act 1975) are largely theory to Indigenous Australians actively practicing their Natural Laws and migrants their cultural laws. The few who actually practiced it – did so largely for the benefits rather than towards development of common faith.

Gandhi’s first steps seem to have been towards feeling part of the poorer Indians so he would be wholesome as an Indian. Hence the renunciation of even intellectual/ego pleasures in addition to other pleasures common to all. To my mind, the renunciation of ego pleasures would have been the most difficult one for Gandhi. Those who take pride even in religious or cultural affairs are not practicing the basics of Sathyagraha.

Once we renounce benefits and pleasures of our work but continue to work – we are free of the external influences over us. Hence we work for our inner-selves. The satisfaction is felt inside as soon as we do the work. That is how we realize that we make our own karma. We are the cause and we are the effect. That is the Truth as per Divine system. Now I better appreciate Lord Krishna’s message to work without expecting benefits. Work produces results/benefits. They are ours to the extent of our genuineness. This genuineness is developed by attributing credit to all those who helped us develop the opportunities to work. Regular practice of this discipline, helps us to not expect but accept what happens.

Benefits of our work will happen at our truly earned levels provided we submit it to the most Natural system rather than the most glamorous or cleverest systems. Gandhi for example invested in British Law not just for grades but for the knowledge and wisdom itself. Through that Gandhi’s work was of global value. Through his faith in Lord Krishna, Gandhi invested in the Universal system of Natural Justice. Hence the returns of Gandhi’s work were at that level. That is the Power of Truth. To me true renunciation of intellectual benefits is meditation. Through this meditation we see only within – the Truth within – the Truth in our Home/Heart. That to me is true Sathyagraha.

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