On Respecting Mahatma Gandhi

on respecting mahatma gandhi
Image Via Documentary Tube

Today is the birthday of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who is also known in India as “the father of the nation.” Ever since I watched the film Gandhi at a young age, I have always looked up to him as a role model. In particular, his practice of non-violence and speaking the truth resonated with me to such an extent that I tried to emulate them. And believe me, as an angry and violent child, that was no mean feat.

Anyway, the hero worship continued until last year, when I learned that my idol, this man who was revered all over the world as Gandhi, was responsible for perpetuating honor killing, victim blaming, and slut shaming. Click To Tweet

I know, I KNOW. It sounds unbelievable, right? How could this simple and peace-loving Mahatma (which literally means great soul) be someone who practiced and helped spread misogyny? But this Guardian article, among others, all talk about his sexist ways and patriarchal mindset. Yes, I did go through a lot of articles because I really didn’t want to believe these words; maybe if I found one that proved his innocence, I could go back to life as usual.

Unfortunately, there was no such article, and I was left with the burning question: should I respect Gandhi or not?

There was no easy answer. I had looked up to him for so long that it felt wrong to feel anything else but respect. But being a feminist, how could I ignore the fact that he “held India back when it came to women’s rights”?

When I had expressed my views on #MeToo and separating the art from the artist, I had made it clear that it cannot be done. I still hold that opinion and think that it applies to all professions, including that of a freedom fighter. So now that I know about the other side of the Mahatma, I no longer consider him my role model. However, that does not mean that I do not respect him for all that he did for my country, because I do.

I am able to appreciate the gray side of people because I have learned that black and white thinking is impractical in the real world. Why, apart from Gandhi, there are many famous, celebrated people whose vices and dark sides are public knowledge. A few names that come to mind are Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, and Bill Clinton.

The bottom line is: people come in shades of gray (you hear that, Borderlines?) and the bad they do doesn’t cancel out the good.

And on that note, Happy Gandhi Jayanti everybody :)

What are your views on MK Gandhi? Did The Guardian piece have an impact on them? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “On Respecting Mahatma Gandhi”

  1. It’s hard to see our heroes as people with flaws but that’s exactly who they are. That’s why it’s best not to know about their personal lives. And if they’re alive, never meet them.

    1. I had a bad experience with a personal hero recently. She turned out to be the exact opposite of what she is on social media. Unempathetic, cold, and haughty…and definitely not a supporter of other women like she says she is. She was so nasty that I couldn’t even blame it on a bad day. Anyway, I couldn’t agree more, V. It’s probably best to not get personal with our heroes, dead or alive.

  2. This was a shocker of a post. Can’t believe THE Mahatma Gandhi did such things. Goes to show that we should never know too much of our heroes’ personal lives, at the very least something distasteful is bound to be found, if not earth-shatteringly horrific.

    1. Yeah, it shook me too. But lately, I learned that nobody should be put on a pedestal. We are all humans…no matter how great someone is, they are bound to make some mistakes and poor choices. Just like the rest of us.

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