Gandhi’s continued relevance…

Technology with human focus is not enough; perhaps it is not even ethically right. One could even say that it is this ‘human’ focus that has ravaged the world. Humans focus on themselves; that’s exactly the problem; more mobile phone towers would mean less sparrows! Gandhi’s continued relevance in the changed paradigm is that despite not having been even remotely capable of divining the changes that could take place in quick succession, he could generate tools which are perpetually applicable. What is more, the tools are incredibly simple. You will appreciate that even in software solutions simplicity takes the cake; simpler the solution, greater its value. The rule of ‘KISS’, as they say.

What’s the tool Gandhi employs? It’s the tool of non- attachment, of non-possession. In other words, of ‘Aparigraha’. Once you are detached from the greed for possessions, you automatically tend to be generous; the value of ‘Udaarataa’. You don’t mind giving away what you are not attached to.

But the surprising fact is that when he takes a fundamentally simple (you may say ‘elementary’) position, he also attains a profoundly ‘elemental’ position. How do I say that? Here it is- when you are ‘naturally’ unattached and generous, (i.e. when you are not taking the position of non- attachment and generosity as that of a political strategy or for any short term personal gain) everything seems to fall in place ‘naturally’.

How? Non-attachment translates itself into discreetly limited use of natural resources; that takes care of your environmental concerns. It, surprisingly again addresses the issue of economic disparity as well ! If you are non- attached, where’s the question of accumulation of wealth and consequently, weapons?

Why or how does a simple tool become potent to address issues of perennial import? That’s because it is primarily and essentially truthful. (Remember, it is not a strategy, but a ‘natural’ position.) Gandhi goes on to further postulate that once you take a ‘truthful’ position, it will also turn out to be one which does not violate the laws of nature. To put it differently, a truthful position will always necessarily be a ‘ non-violent’ position. Which was why Gandhi always used to assert that truth and non-violence are complementary. It is this complementarity which he termed ‘God’.

Gandhi opens up infinitely generative possibilities of a highly spiritual (non-materialistic) world view within the realm of religion(s) and out of it. Another reason why Gandhi is dear to the post- modernists as well.

Now the final question which lingers on forever. Aren’t these ideas unattainable and impractical, beautiful as they seem to be? The answer to this question can be two fold. Yes, they are indeed dauntingly unachievable; but that doesn’t detract from their worth. An ideal never becomes unworthy because it is hard to realise. The other answer is even more important in terms of ‘practicality’; you have no choice but to employ this tool of truth and non-violence if you need to survive! Be it from the angle of ecology or that of economics.

Classics continue to be read because they address issues of elemental importance. Gandhi is a classic. Of modern times.

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Documenting Compassion : A Multi-faith Narrative

Compassion

This is an ongoing project to capture moments of love and compassion in our everyday lives.
Participants are encouraged to share their memories of when they experienced acts of compassion.

 

 

 

Have you come across compassion in the face of cruelty? In other words, have you received compassion overcoming the barriers of apathy and callousness? More importantly, have you been able to genuinely feel and display compassion to someone despite strong feelings of hurt against her/ him? Could you narrate a real life incident?

Do you think that compassion in this instance was inspired by a ‘religious’ feeling or duty? How does religion help engender compassion? Does religion at all help engender it? Can ‘irreligious’ people be compassionate at all?

 

The Gandhi Date Line

The Gandhi Date Line

 

 

Exhibition: Influence of Gandhiji on the Indian Independence Struggle

Intel Corporation, founded in 1968, is an American multinational corporation headquartered in Santa Clara, California. Intel is one of the world’s largest and highest valued semiconductor chip makers, based on revenue.

Intel promotes diversity at the workplace through various employee groups and celebrates various events on campus. The Indian Independence day celebrations at the Intel headquarters is a crowd favorite and draws over 200 people. This year one of the focus areas was the “Influence of Gandhiji on the Indian Independence Struggle”. The Gandhi Research Foundation(GRF) together with Gandhi Initiative at Silicon Valley were the resource people for the event. GRF helped this endeavor by providing invaluable exhibits on historic events and milestones in the Independence struggle. The audience were excited to see the extremely rare pictures on display like Gandhiji with Tagore, various stills from the Salt Satyagraha, Quit India Movement etc. People were also thrilled to know that GRF- the biggest center for Gandhian studies was involved in this effort.

Location : Intel Headquarters, Santa Clara, CA, USA

Date: Aug 15 ,2014

Special Thanks to:

GRF  Intel

Some pictures from the event are below:

Inaugural Session of the Gandhi Initiative

The Gandhi initiative was formally inaugurated on Saturday May 10, 2014 by Dr.Michael Nagler(Professor Emeritus at UC Berkley, the founder of Metta center for Non-violence) by lighting the traditional lamp of Kerala. He also held an interactive session.

We visited the tranquil and transformative ashram and the memorial of Eknath Easwaran at the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation.

I followed it up with a visit to Dr.Myron Lunine, Gandhian scholar and Professor Emeritus at SFSU on Sunday who provided encouragement and invaluable inputs for this initiative. Dr.Lunine at present is teaching a course on Gandhian studies at SFSU.

I should also report that I had met Dr.Dennis Dalton, Professor Emeritus at Columbia University.

I look forward to organizing more activities, talks and other programs soon. Thank you all for your support !

 

Dr.Michael Nagler inaugurates the Gandhi Initiative by lighting a traditional Kerala lamp.

Dr.Michael Nagler inaugurates the Gandhi Initiative by lighting a traditional Kerala lamp.