The practice of Satyagraha championed by various social and political entities to achieve different goals, finds its origin in Champaran. Anand Kumar writes
To say that a new era had started in the Indian politics with the advent of Satyagraha from Champaran will not be an exaggeration. In fact, Gandhi had started the use of Satyagraha in reference to India at Champaran. Before the advent of Satyagraha, the Indian public had only two ways to fight the menace of injustice. It was either to resort to violent means for its abolition or to keep silent, ignore it and get away from that place. But Gandhi came out with a way of helping his co-workers as well as the farmers who had fallen prey to the unjust means of the British and were dissatisfied with them, by awakening their moral force wherein there was a difference between the unjust and the injustice was mandatory.
One should hate the sin but not the sinner because the person who sins also falls into a strange type of temptation and keeps on sinking in it. Therefore we should devise a means where the sin and the sinner both are taken care of. Gandhi also made it mandatory to have a critical analysis or view towards the unjust. Injustice breeds where there are cowards. Based on this theory, Gandhi developed a feeling of self-acceptance to overcome the ills of cowardice and stupidity. To summarize, if Gandhi had taken 6 weeks to confront the attrocities committed on the indigo farmers by the British and their Indian supporters, subsequently he has also spent 18 months to understand the pain of the grief-stricken and illiterate villagers and addressed the issues related to untouchability, and the declining life-style of the village women as well as the indifferences amongst the farmers.
Struggle was called the procedure by which revolutionaries sought the origin of the downfall. The revolution of France is a glaring example wherein we see that people not only broke open the jails but they also beheaded the emperor, burnt down the palace, thus giving way to any inconsistency and selfish motives. If we look back at the century-old history of Champaran we find that Gandhi had performed a historical duty to define the entire struggle and placing them on three strong pillars. They were truth, self-pity to defend the truth and third to establish the truth on a solid foundation by constructing warp wefts.
Insistence for truth and the necessity for its creation had become the pre-requisites for the formation of a rightful and justified society
like a river flowing out of it.
Gandhi’s Satyagraha coupled with its integrity had impacted and inspired various leaders right from Martin Luther King to Nelson Mandela, right from Czech intellectual Harbin to Tibet’s leader Dalai Lama as well as Aung San Suu Kyi the Premier
Back here, we see the politics of Satyagraha taking roots during the struggle for independence as the lone answer. It is to be noted that all the Satyagraha campaigns held after the death of Gandhi had a spirit of impatience and restlessness which was vengeful in nature as compared to the Satyagraha during the lifetime of Gandhi which was full of integrity. Why has this happened?
It seems that after the death of Gandhi there was a rift between the followers of Satyagraha into two factions. One faction under the leadership of Vinoba has done many constructive works, thus making it synonymous with Gandhi’s Satyagraha by including agriculture and service of the dalits as well as saving the cows from being slaughtered. The basis of this was farming and handloom. This faction became more forceful and effective after the socialist movement generator Loknayak Jai Prakash Narayan dedicated his life for the Sarvodaya Movement in 1954. This faction was further divided into two more factions in 1974. One opposed emergency and called in for freedom by resorting to Satyagraha while the other kept silent considering emergency a procedure to enforce discipline.
It would have been better had both these factions, on completion of 100 years of Satyagraha, shared the same platform in conversation with each other as was 100 years ago. Otherwise there will not be any worthwhile dialogue to bring back the people who have already embarked on the road leading to non-violence from Kashmir to Kanker and to Imphal.
Without certifying the relevance of Satyagraha in the present scenario, the new wave of resistance which gave birth to social awareness, started at Champaran, will remain restricted to museums and seminars. If we talk about a Satyagraha in continuity with that of Gandhi, it would be the which took place soon after the independence in 1948 to end the aristocracy in Nepal. People resorted to Satyagraha, which started in Delhi by an follower of Gandhi, Ram Manohar Lohia. Similar remarkable experiment could be earlier, seen in the Civil Disobedience Movement during Gandhi’s time.
It is interesting to note that Ram Manohar Lohia was jailed many times later as compared to the time when he was fighting for the independence. It was a big challenge for the socialists and had become mandatory to know how many times a person was jailed fighting the cause for Satyagraha, though this order weakened after 1977. Parliamentarianism had separated the socialists from the strategies of Satyagraha. The present day socialists are busy with the challenges of elections and hardly have pondered on the politics and ethics of Gandhi, Lohia and Jai Prakash. However, during this period there was immense expansion of Satyagraha against power establishments. We have a successful history of Satyagraha starting right from the Chipko Movement in 1971-72 to protect and save the forests from the cruelty of the paper mill owners as well as to restore the water resources of the hills and the rivers. It was not without reason that the followers of Gandhi by practicing the Gandhian method have resorted to the constructive resistance method of Satyagraha for the safety of the forests, water and land. The resuscitation of ponds and water harvesting in water scarce regions by Anupam Mishra, water management as well as revival of rivers by the ‘Waterman of India’ Rajendra Singh, environmental activist Vandana Shiva who worked to promote bio-diversity in agriculture to increase productivity, nutrition and farmer’s income and Land Reforms under the leadership of PV Rajagopal, are all living examples of mass movements.
By expressing creative resistance, women also plunged into Satyagraha for saving themselves from the clutches of violence from within and outside the family. Because of the culmination of anger and compassion a change in the legal structure and Cultural Revolution took place at the same time.
Satyagraha has been of good use to the last person in social strata - starting from Baba Saheb Ambedkar’s Mahar Satyagraha to the resistance shown against the actions of the sturdy and bold bluster clan of Pune. But it is a matter of concern that right from Tirupatinath to Pashupatinath there has been no scope of Satyagraha in the wide red strip.
Champaran saw the eradication of injustice related to these three powers. Different types of strategies were prepared for encountering and eradication of injustice related to these powers at Champaran. In the same way a strategy was prepared for the security of human rights from the activists of state power by the Indian Human Rights Commission (IHRC) based on the coordination of public consciousness and legal rights. Inspired by its constructive non-cooperative methods many small and big organizations have associated themselves to Satyagraha.
Satyagraha of Champaran teaches us the lesson that for the existence of a just society, there should be coordination between anger and compassion of the unjust. At the same time, we should make efforts to eradicate the untrue and unreal and side by side should be strong and capable enough to stand for the truth. This science of resistance had brought about a new social change in the society and for this one doesn’t need to be a Gandhian or to follow his ideology.
Human civilsation’s new method of reforms, started from the Champaran, has been accepted far and wide from Asia to America. Even though the Nobel Peace Prize Committee did not have the courage to bestow Gandhi with the Nobel Peace Prize owing to dominion of the British Empire, still after the death of Gandhi in 1948, all those people and organizations who have been awarded and recognized for their efforts in eradication of violence and establishment of peace have all attributed their success to the philosophical importance, political utility and sociological uniqueness of Satyagraha.
For a common Indian, the enlightenment and energy received from the Satyagraha of Champaran, will go a long way in strengthening the roots of Swaraj and the resolution to build a democratic country which is of great historical importance.
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