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Introductory Reflective Essay (424)

Unlocking The Source of Gandhi’s Power (1,009)

This essay describes how religious principles are being used in Gandhi’s Satyagraha theory.

Keywords (5-10): Gandhi, Satyagraha, oppressed, religion, suffering, significance, Bhagavad Gita,
Bible, freedom, peaceful.

This was a very educational and brief class that trained me to be a better writer. I have had much
enjoyment from this study process and made a lot of improvements in my English. My biggest challenge
originates from the reason that English is my second language. The intensive pace this class was
organized by made me take extra effort and time to compose each assignment by transforming my ideas
into appropriate English text with advanced words and complex sentences. This has been the only class
that has helped me stimulate more of my thinking by creating analytical and stylish papers. Writing
Purposes and Research class gave me a great opportunity to learn how to “read between the lines”;
understand how to interpret religious doctrines and how to analyze and develop my own ideas and then
express them all on paper. The guidelines that were set by the instructor helped me with successful
adaption of a rhetorical style to my writing. With this type of style essay should be compose in the way
that will create an atmosphere of interest from the reader, and for this reason thoughts should be
organized better and more to the point of the thesis. In the future, I plan to use all the skills that I acquired
to make very strong arguments and convince my readers that the ideas that I want to introduce to them are
accurate and true.

I enjoyed this class; it made me grow as a writer and as a communicator of ideas. The evidence that
has confirmed my improvement is the use of more complex sentence structure moving from the first
drafts to the final essay. Another way to show my progress is to create more complex arguments. This
class taught me how to develop a strong, thoughtful and convincing argument and certainly how to
demonstrate supporting evidence by analyzing other texts. Deep revisions of essays helped to develop
basic strategies for editing and proofreading.

The paper shown below is perfect example that demonstrates how requirements for rhetorical
strategies can be fulfilled. This paper was carefully selected based on the teacher's comments to make
improvements. The most interesting statements in the essay are indicated in bold; this way the main
attention is drawn to the culmination of my personal opinion statements that supporting conclusion of the
main argument in the two last paragraphs of the essay. My work is a good evidence of the phenomenal
improvements that I made for such short period of time, that I thought it would be hardly possible.

Unlocking The Source of Gandhi’s Power

Mahatma Gandhi was the recognized pioneer of a nonviolent movement called Satyagraha or
truth-force. He was the organizer of campaigns against the British Empire, first in South Africa and then
in India. Supported by many oppressed people, Gandhi’s Satyagraha theory met a lot of critical
discussions around the world and in his own country as well. Gandhi’s longest friend Rabindranath
Tagore, in his Letter to Gandhi, expresses his respect for Gandhi as a leader of the freedom movement in
India. But as we observe from the statement below, Tagore sees a negative side of the Passive Resistance.
The author explains that a nonviolent movement can be used against truth too. It can draw people who are
not morally ready for the nonviolent movement, and such events can lead to violence as result. Tagore in
his “Letter to Gandhi and Accompanying Poems” says, "Passive Resistance is a force which is not
necessarily moral in itself; it can be used against truth as well as for it. The danger inherent in all force
grows stronger when it is likely to gain success, for then it becomes temptation" (466). With such
contradictions, one can think that Gandhi’s Satyagraha has an ethical neglect and can lead to a chaos.
With a look at the development of nonviolent action theory and practice, it will be possible to understand
true significance of nonviolent movement.

Gandhi was aware of the fact that freedom is hard to get effortlessly, that actions should be taken
and sacrifices must be made, “In each case conceived by me there is an element of suffering whether
mental or physical. Without such suffering it is not possible to attain freedom” (Gandhi, “The Law of
Suffering” 453). Throughout history it is hard to find a model where an oppressed nation or a big
group of people were granted freedom without any effort. Motivated by the desire for human rights
and freedom, the oppressed have two ways to obtain it: violent or nonviolent. The price for freedom
is costly; in both situations some lives of oppressed people will be lost, but with the nonviolent
approach lives of the opposition will be untouched. Gandhi challenged British superiority and in
resisting injustice, he had no hatred in his heart and was in fact ready to help his opponents when
they were in need for help. Gandhi believed in the power of love and truth. “One of the axioms of
religion is, there is no religion other than truth. Another is, religion is love. And as there can be only one
religion, it follows that truth is love and love is truth” (Gandhi, “Meaning of Satyagraha” 448). He felt
that truth could communicate directly to the heart of an oppressor. He assumed that persistent resistance
will bring both sides to a nonviolent dialog “between rulers and ruled” (Gandhi, “Meaning of Satyagraha”
448).

Two books shaped Gandhi's political philosophy: the Bhagavad Gita and the Bible. In the verses
of The “Sermon on the Mount”, Gandhi sees his first ideas of nonviolent action, “Ye have heard that it
hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist no evil: but
whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 461). In Gandhi’s
work, “The Law of Suffering”, he replicates the same idea in his own words: “The way to do better is to
avoid, if we can, violence from our side and thus quicken the rate of progress and to introduce greater
purity in the methods of suffering” (Gandhi, “The Law of Suffering” 452). According to the Bhagavad
Gita, renunciation shows the way to action. A leader, constantly concerned about the outcome of his
work and obsessed by his obstacles and opponents, often does not see his goal clearly. Out of
frustration, he can turn to aggression and violence. On the other hand, the leader who renounces
himself from results and focuses on definite actions does not surrender to any challenging obstacles.
With his vision to serve others, the leader sees clearly through every obstacle. When Gandhi had
desire for guidance, he turned to the Bhagavad Gita for the answers. According to the Gita, renunciation
leads to skillful action, “The all-pervading Lord does not create action or the means of action for the
people nor the union of action with its fruits. Rather, nature works this out” (“The Yoga of Renunciation”
463).

The Bible and the Bhagavad Gita taught Gandhi the art of living in freedom. By adapting the
essential religious doctrines to his own ideas, Gandhi originated such remarkable phenomenon as
Satyagraha. The history of mankind does not have a close example that can be matched up to Mahatma
Gandhi who pioneered the nonviolent movement, mobilized millions, and raised the conscience of the
oppressors. Gandhi's philosophy and actions have influenced all people who fight for human rights. As
result of his theory of Passive Resistance, Satyagraha triumphed over the British Empire in India and
became an inspiration for the American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., Africa’s Nelson
Mandela and other leaders of freedom and peace around the world. “My religion,” Gandhi says, “has no
geographical limits” (Gandhi, “The Doctrine of the Sword I” 456).

Even if mistakes have been made during the nonviolent actions, the history of the Satyagraha
movement proved that this is the only peaceful way to achieve precious freedom. With a great admiration
for the petite man with enormous power, I would like to conclude my thought with words of Jawaharlal
Nehru in his “All-India Radio Speech following the Assassination of Gandhi”: “We have to behave like
strong and determined people, determined to face all the perils that surround us, determined to carry out
the mandate that our great teacher and our great leader has given us, remembering always that if, as I
believe, his spirit looks upon us and sees us, nothing would displease his soul so much as to see that we
have indulged in any small behavior or any violence“ (467).

Works Cited

Dilks, Stephen, Regina Hansen, and Matthew Parfitt. Cultural Conversations: The Presence of the Past. Eds.
New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001. 447-456. 461-471.
Gandhi, Mahatma. "The Doctrine of the Sword I." Cultural Conversations: The Presence of the Past. Eds. Stephen
Dilks, Regina Hansen, Matthew Parfitt. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001. 453-456.
Gandhi, Mahatma. "The Law of Suffering." Cultural Conversations: The Presence of the Past. Eds. Stephen Dilks,
Regina Hansen, Matthew Parfitt. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001. 451-453.
Gandhi, Mahatma. "Meaning of Satyagraha." Cultural Conversations: The Presence of the Past. Eds. Stephen Dilks,
Regina Hansen, Matthew Parfitt. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001. 447-449.
Matthew. "Sermon on the Mount." Cultural Conversations: The Presence of the Past. Eds. Stephen Dilks, Regina
Hansen, Matthew Parfitt. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001. 461.
Nehru, Jawaharlal. "All-India Radio Speech following the Assassination of Gandhi." Cultural Conversations: The
Presence of the Past. Eds. Stephen Dilks, Regina Hansen, Matthew Parfitt. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s,
2001. 467-469.
Tagore, Rabindranath. "Letter to Gandhi and Accompanying Poems." Cultural Conversations: The Presence of the
Past. Eds. Stephen Dilks, Regina Hansen, Matthew Parfitt. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001. 466-467.
"Yoga of Renunication.” Bhagavad Gita. Cultural Conversations: The Presence of the Past. Eds. Stephen Dilks,
Regina Hansen, Matthew Parfitt. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001. 461-464.