Rahul Sankrityayan and Mahatma Gandhi

Rahul Sankrityayan on Mahatma Gandhi

Marxist author and former Buddhist Rahul Sankrityayan (1893 – 1963) wrote about Mahatma Gandhi in his book:-

“After the War there was no great man in the world except Gandhi who would have given this great message of peace. He did not have the originality of Buddha. If it is torn out of context, Gandhi’s truth and non-violence appears to be merely an individual’s idiosyncracy. But Gandhi preach- ed universal love and pacifism. I would even go the extent of saying that Gandhi had to suffer more than Buddha in this respect Buddha fearlessly faced the challenge of the murderous highwayman Angulimala But Gandhi threw himself deliberately into the cauldron and staked his life many times to save the life of others, of many people. In South Africa he did so in Boer War. He repeated his experiment in Calcutta, Delhi and other places to reestablish communal harmony. Who does not know all this? He is a great soul There is no doubt about it.

Though Gandhi believes in God and a philosophy with a static view of society, yet he is not inactive in his own way. He also, like Buddha, lived for the greatest good of the greatest number {Bahujan-hitay). It is a pity that he did not adopt Buddhism as his faith. But for a long time a new kind of Gandhi is emerging. He is not satisfied with only political freedom. He wants to give it an economic content too. The real social revolution will come only then. Like Buddha, Gandhi is realizing that power concentrated in the hands of a few upper classes or castes is the real danger or curse. So he is castigating the arbitrary and unjust rule of the native princes in clear words. He also talks of socialism, but he lays greater stress on truth and non-violence. No real socialist can be an enemy of truth, nor does any socialist desire violence for its own sake. In reality, a socialist or communist, advocates violence only in self-defence and that too as a last resort when all other peaceful means of resistance have failed or are restricted and when violence is let loose.

In future, there will be a greater struggle launched against the monopoly capitalists and their unlawful abetters in uncontrolled upper classes. I am confident that the strength of non-violence is much greater than class-atrocities. Gandhi will demolish outmoded landlordism, without shedding a drop of blood. We have very little time. We wish him long life, but there is a limit to his life-span too. He gave us political freedom. Let him lead us to economic equality. History and humanity will always remember him if he succeeds in this task he will then be greater than Buddha.”

The above quote comes from Sankrityayan’s book “Atiit Se Vartamaan”.

While Sankrityayan holds Buddha to be greater, he also highlights the reasons why Gandhi can be greater and how he remains the greatest at this time.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *