The Power of Sadagraha


March 4, 2004

Brutally shot 3 times, point blank range, “Eh Ram!” were the last words to leave Mahatma Gandhi’s lips as he was assassinated on January 30th, 1948. “Eh Ram!” in Indian meant “Oh Ram!” a god in the Hindu religion, he promised to say this when he died and kept true to his word. Hundreds, upon thousands of people came to his funeral; Gandhi was the radiance, the father, and the truth of India. (Lavanam) Mahatma Gandhi destined from his childhood to be a humanitarian, lead the fight against Britain’s tyrannical rule in India with nonviolence, often sacrificing his own health and well-being in the process but never compromising his values of peace, and justice.

Gandhi fought against the odds and the oppression bravely by defying Britain with non-violent action. At the time England ruled over India with an iron fist, but not just economically. It used its military power and utterly controlled India’s by all means. Mahatma Gandhi however, chose to fight against this by means of non-violence. On March 12th, 1930 a march to the closest sea to collect sea salt had begun, this march was other wise known as the Salt March. The government had imposed a tax on salt so the poor could not afford it and the law forbid individuals to collect salt from the sea. Gandhi saw this atrocity and with his 78 members walked for 24 days to Dandi, the closest sea, and picked up a handful of salt thus defying the law. Over 100,000 people had joined Gandhi on his march and that many were arrested but not before being brutally beaten, still not a soul fought back. (Chandri) Gandhi’s leadership and steadfast determination to free India are traits needed to be a hero. Even when facing impossible odds, Gandhi eventually broke through the brick wall of England but even after that, not all the problems of India were solved.


The internal struggle of India constantly frustrated Gandhi till the point where he had to put his own life in danger to stop the chaos and constant rioting that encircled him. Gandhi saw many tribulations and to chastise himself he would fast. Fasting is the act of abstaining from food, used most often for religious purposes. However Gandhi’s reason for fasting was due to his concern for the people and the sins they had committed. On the 31st of August, Gandhi started a fast till death or until all sanity was restored in Calcutta. At the time, rioting and general violence between Hindus and Muslims were occurring because of the different ideology and religions they had however Gandhi’s voice had come through and almost instantly Calcutta was transformed. Within days, all was quieted and people were beseeching Gandhi to quit his fast and this city also signed a pact to never riot again. (Gandhi’s life in 5000 words) Gandhi’s voice had such an impact over the thousands of people, but he always suffered immensely whenever he fasted but by fasting he gained enlightenment and helped unite his people.

Most of Mahatma Gandhi’s life was in the service to others before himself. Gandhi had always been a non-materialistic man, and you could tell by the way he dressed, which was usually in a white, homespun, loin cloth. But he also “gave” away his life little by little, teaching others by speech, forging bonds between fighting workers and companies, uniting the people of his country and his time in jail for doing the right. Gandhi lost considerable time in jail, constantly being imprisoned for doing good deeds. One of his notable jailing was when he was resisting the Black Act which required all Indians to register and carry identification at all times. After a compromise with General Smuts, the general who enforced all laws, all Indians were to register voluntarily, nevertheless General Smuts


went back on his word and Gandhi told all Indians to burn the identification in a bonfire and as a result was jailed. However the General soon folded under Gandhi’s non-violent power and the Black Act was revoked. Mahatma Gandhi’s true concern for his people and doing whatever it took for a just cause, even if it was his life was in danger, were truly heroic traits.