Up Brief biography Satyagraha Salt March






Satyagraha is a term at the centre of Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence. Gandhi himself explained the term as follows:

I coined the word Satyagraha in South Africa in order to give a name to the power with which the Indians there fought for a full 8 years (1906 - 1914). I spoke of Satyagraha in order to force a wedge between this power and the movement which was referred to in Great Britain and South Africa as passive resistance.

Satyagraha is as far away from passive resistance as the North Pole is from the South Pole. Passive resistance is the weapon of the weak and, therefore, the application of physical pressure or violence are not ruled out in the efforts to reach its aims. In contrast, Satyagraha is the weapon of the strongest. The use of force of any kind is ruled out. (...) This law of love is nothing other than the love of truth. Without truth there is no love. (...)

Satyagraha is also referred to as the power of the soul, because the certainty of an inherent soul is necessary, if the Satyagraha is to believe that death does not mean the end but the summit of the fight. (...) And in the knowledge that the soul outlives the body, does he not wait impatiently to experience the victory of truth within his present body. (...) And despite this, it has been said that the Satyagraha - as we understand it - could only be practiced by a chosen minority. In my experience, the opposite is true. When its basic principles are understood - hold on to the truth and stand up for it through one's own suffering - then everyone can practice Satyagraha. (...)

At a political level, however, battle in the name of the people is primarily aimed at taking action against unjust laws. When petitions and all other attempts at persuading a legislator to recognize the injustice of a law have failed, then the only means left open to those protesters, not prepared to obey the law, is to force the legislator to abolish the law. This is done by breaking the law and bringing punishment and suffering upon oneself. Therefore, Satyagraha still appears to the public as civil disobedience or civil resistance. "Civil" should be taken as non-criminal action.

[Taken from: Günther Gugel, Wir werden nicht weichen. Erfahrungen mit Gewaltfreiheit. Eine praxisorientierte Einführung, Verein für Friedenspädagogik e.V., Tübingen 1996, 34f.]

[An example of the implementation of this philosophy of non-violence is the Salt Satyagraha in 1930. You will find more information on this on the page entitled Salt March]

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