Monday, March 05, 2007

The Lost and Found Essays- III

Vikram S Desai


Paper # 4

8th December 2004.

Gandhi and Dr. King on Non-Violence

Gandhi in the chapter, 'Critique of modern civilization' and Martin in 'A letter from Birmingham jail' explain their views on non-violence. Gandhi thoroughly puts his ideas forth while answering the reader's question. He brings about the concept of ‘soul-force’ and explains how soul-force or the force of love and truth is important and without which the world would have not existed. Martin also in his letter to the Alabama clergymen, talks about non-violence. He attempts to make them realize about the significance of non-violence. He in fact uses the term 'direct action' to describe the resistance which is displayed with non-violence or passive resistance. Thus trying to reiterate how powerful a force non-violence can be. After thoroughly reading their ideas, it is easy to conclude that both Gandhi and Dr. King are indeed strong advocates of nonviolent passive resistance.

According to me, any action that is supported by confidence, strong determination and truth is powerful. These are the main factors on which the success of the action in terms of its acceptance lies and its effectiveness can be gauged. The different aspects surrounding such actions differ depending upon the causes and the ultimate goal to be achieved. For example, groups of people choose to demonstrate peacefully in front of certain institutions to show their opinions. Their whole aim is to demonstrate their unity and declare that they firmly believe in their actions. Any person would agree that such actions go a long way in sending across their message. Some people may also choose to make their point by resorting to destruction of life and property. However such actions would be looked upon with utter disgust and their message would not be received appropriately. We see such examples in our daily lives of how non-violent actions make a lot of difference.

Gandhi called this term ‘soul-force’. While explaining this idea, he clearly talks about two forces that can be backed by petition. The first is the force of arms, which according to him has far reaching evil results. He states the second kind of force as the one in which the people choose that they don’t want to be governed. In other words it is the force which is shown by actions that show the oppressor about the grit and determination that the oppressed possess. According to him the force implied in this may be described as love-force, soul-force, or, passive resistance. Gandhi claims that the force of arms is powerless when matched against the force of love or the soul. Such advocacy of non-violence can be found in Dr. King’s writings too. In ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’, Dr.King writes about his beliefs about non-violence. He believes that any non-violent struggle can have a deeper impact on society and on the oppressor. He states that the whole purpose of ‘direct action’ is to foster negotiations. His lines, “Non-violent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.” clearly show that he strongly believes in the strong potential of any non-violent struggle and its positive consequences.

It is thus evident that both Gandhi and Dr. King believe in the sheer power of non-violence and the results that it can help achieve. Gandhi in the chapter, ‘Critique of Modern Civilization’ gives a detailed description of his thoughts on passive resistance. He actually does a wonderful job of replying to questions that would be asked by a normal person. In this process he ends up educating a reader about not only the basic concept of passive resistance but also about its various complex aspects and the traits that an ideal passive resister must possess. He defines passive resistance as ‘method of securing rights by personal suffering’. While defining passive resistance he makes it clear that the aim of a passive resister is not to break laws but to suffer and not submit to the laws. He explains that a person uses soul-force when he or she decides not to obey an unjust law and accepts the penalty for its breach. He clarifies that the power of passive resistance is immense even though not many accounts of its success can be found in books of history. In the lines, “History, as we know it is a record of the wars of the world” he tries to point out that accounts of violence between kings and nations are recorded accurately. He further says that although this is the case, history cannot be entirely about wars, because that would have definitely killed ever human being on the earth and the fact that the world still lives is the most unimpeachable evidence of the success of soul-force. Gandhi’s thoughts like these make one think deeply about non-violence and its strengths. He also wants to make the reader aware that passive resistance shouldn’t be only considered as the force of the weak. He says, “Those alone can follow the path of passive resistance who are free from fear, whether as to their possessions, false honour, their relatives, the government bodily injuries or death”, thus clarifying that it should not be considered to be just a force of the weak, and that it can be used as an important tool of ‘fight against injustice’ by any section of the society. Gandhi’s inspiring words and the underlying urge in his words to embrace non-violent passive resistance makes one realize the true potential of soul-force.

While Gandhi in ‘Critique of Modern Civilization’ introduces the concept of soul-force and goes a long way in explaining all the various aspects about soul-force and non-violence, Dr. King in ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’, uses his thoughts and belief in non-violence to explain his stand on various issues concerning the freedom and fight for equal rights for African Americans in America. This letter is Dr. Kings reaction. He urges his fellow men to realize the fact that the non-violent demonstrations are a direct result of the city’s white power structure and should not be misunderstood. His lines, “ In any non-violent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of all the facts to determine whether injustice exists; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action”, shows that Dr. King aims to project his non-violent struggle as meaningful and organized, one whose sole aim is to establish justice. He uses the term direct-action to mention the final stage in a non-violent struggle. Thus Dr. King, like Gandhi tries to reiterate that such an action can indeed reap far-reaching results. Gandhi and Dr. King can actually be well compared after reading their thoughts on non-violence. In fact, the following passage from Dr. King’s letter on non-violence, in which he is trying to explain the distinction in the two kinds of protests, is strikingly similar to Gandhi’s words when he was defining passive resistance. He says, “In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law…..One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law”. Thus agreeing with Gandhi’s thought that passive resistance is securing rights by personal suffering. Dr. King too, like Gandhi, chooses to classify laws as ‘just’ and ‘unjust’ laws and presses that while an unjust law is no law at all, a law can be called just only if it is a ‘man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God.’

Thus a deep reading of ideas from both these great leaders gives us a clear picture of the power that soul-force or passive resistance possesses. Both definitely think that ‘soul force’ or passive resistance is powerful and it tends to weaken the more conventional power structure it challenges. Gandhi gives various examples, demonstrating how passive resistance can weaken even the strongest kings. His example in which he talks about the villagers who were offended by their prince’s commands is very interesting. The villagers then decided to vacate the village and soon the prince had to withdraw its orders. This simple instance itself makes one’s mind ponder over the various ways in which soul-force can be used as a powerful weapon. Gandhi in fact believed that violence should not be used at any stage of protest, once a passive resister embraces the path of non-violence. A very important event in the history of India’s struggle for freedom was ‘The Non- Cooperation Movement’ launched by Gandhi in 1922. It was a national civil disobedience movement. People in every corner of the country began to withdraw their support from the government. Heaps and heaps of foreign goods were burnt. People decided to stop paying taxes. Every government owned service was basically rejected by the people. Since this movement was accepted nationally by the people, it really seemed as if the British had no other option but to withdraw their rule. Unfortunately the movement was called off by Gandhi. The only reason being that some people got excited and had burnt down a police station, killing some officers. Gandhi declared that violence would not be tolerated and if people could resort to such actions, it basically meant that India was not yet ready to be free and to form its own government. Although this step of his shocked the nation, Gandhi further in his book explains why there is no way brute-force can be used to protest and how resorting to brute-force leaves no moral difference between the oppressor and the oppressed.

Such strong belief in non-violence and the idea of dedication of one’s life to suffering and pain, to make the right kind of impact on the oppressor, highlight the lives of Gandhi and Dr. King. Both urged their followers to accept the path of non-violence and committed their lives to make the world realize about its true strengths.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Another year, another colorless holi. bitch....I miss you.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

To stop a thought

You know how the mind sometimes keeps racing towards a thought that you deem as unhealthy, inappropriate, and anachronistic. You try your best to shrug it off but it bounces between the four walls of your head and lands itself back where you don't want it to be.

You try to take control of your mind, and accelerate and decelerate the pace of its processing speed, only hoping that the thought would somehow escape and in the process fill your mind up with fresh new ones.

Even when the fresh thoughts replace it, they linger for sometime and almost in an instant the previous thought gatecrashes again.

So what do you do to stop a thought?

My mom used to say, close your eyes and look for darkness. A friend once mentioned that he thought about naked women to nullify this.

For the record, I have thought about kids, snow mountains, moonlight, parents, achievements, friends, gadgets, food, stand-up comedy, happiness, laughter, comics, pasta, expeditions, parties, light, roads, dance, hamsters, saxophones, hashish, poems, sexuality, scooters, printers, god,zippo, bluetooth, waterfalls, and darkness........all in an attempt to kick out that one thought.

Nothing works, they are all friends of the thought I hate.

Colbert goes Bollywood

So the third gig on Bollywood in three weeks, Stephen Colbert has certainly found an unusual territory to pick on compared to typical American daily or night show standards. Hilariously, all three of them talk about Amitabh Bachchan and what you see in these three videos is the perfect example of Colbert's comedy.

Now, I have been sharing these videos with a lot of friends in the past few weeks, and have more or less had one of the following reactions, I call them Reactions A, B and C

A.This is the typical American mentality!...It's an insult to Bollywood and India!
B.This only shows that the world is waking up to the magic of Bollywood.
C. This is F***** FUNNY!!!...I laughed my ASS out!

Have you seen these gigs? No? Why don't you do that right now and then scroll to the bottom of the post. Thanks.

So what's your reaction? A, B or C? Or may be you are a D.

Let me say this though, I am Reaction C. I have spent countless hours in the last few weeks arguing with the As and Bs, and I don't want to write about it here.


I will intelligently point out why I am C, if and only if you give me an intelligent explanation about why you are A or B. And I will do this not because I want to impose my thoughts on you, but only because I just haven't had a single logical and thoughtful reasoning about why this is an insult to India or even an instance to be joyful about for that matter.


O' Hello!....Yeah I am talking to you'll !!

Ok listen up......YOU, You, YoU and you....

.........Commenting is back on my blog now.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

More Astrology......

This time from a forwarded e-mail and more concentrated on the naughty things in life....not complaining till I hear nice things about myself. ;-)

Check out the Capricorn bonus!

GEMINI:. Does Twosomes
Nice. Love is one of a kind. Great listeners Very Good in bed. Lover
not a fighter, but will still knock you the #### out. Trustworthy.
Always happy. Loud. Talkative. Outgoing VERY FORGIVING. Loves to make out. Has
a beautiful smile. Generous. Strong. ULTRA SEXY. THE MOST IRRESISTIBLE.

CAPRICORN:. The passionate Lover
Love to bust. Nice. Sassy. Intelligent. Sexy. Predict future.
Irresistible, awesome kisser. Loves being in long relationships. Great
talker. Always gets what he or she wants. BY FAR the BEST in BED. Very sexy.
Coolest. Loves to own Gemini's in bed sports. Extremely fun. Loves to joke.
Loves to be your first. So you'll never forget.

Cough Cough....LOL ;-)

Weather Gods Smile........Finally!

All my friends and relatives, who got bored listening to my bragging about how I was living in brutal weather conditions, won't hear from me again on this issue!

This morning I walked out of my apartment complex doors, with the same armor of 3 layers of clothing, a down jacket, gloves, woolen socks and a hood. Ready to walk into a gust of icy air hitting hard on my face, I was pleasantly surprised that I was instead welcomed by a warm cozy whiff of air.

Checked out the weather on Yahoo! Weather and by recent standards it was warm as hell! 6 degrees Celsius to be exact. I know it doesn't sound warm. For me its time to enjoy the summer!
Pops! is the sound of the day....the sound of chilled flowing beer.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Chinese Astrology: The DOG

Ran into my Chinese prediction for the year :)

The most likeable sign of the Chinese cycle, people born under this sign are honest, intelligent and straightforward. Driven by a deep sense of loyalty and a passion for justice and fair play, they make great friends.

If you have a forthright dog for a friend, you must know that when you are in trouble, all you have to do is dial D-O-G. For no matter how much they complain or feign indifference, they cannot ignore a real call for help!

Are you a dog personality? Read your forecast for 2007

2007 is a peaceful and persevering year for the sensible and prudent dogs. It is filled with plum opportunities. Decisions and actions are executed by you with a strong and calm mind. Success is yours for the taking. Those in the writing/publishing field receive felicitation and encouragement for recent achievements. Expenditures are high. Saving schemes will be
important mid-year. Love life blossoms in November-December as someone you meet in your travels turns out to be a dream come true. Health remains good throughout.

Famous people: Charles Bronson, Pierre Cardin, Sir Winston Churchill, Elvis Presley
Lucky days: Tuesday, Thursday
Lucky numbers: 7, 5