Asia Society presents; 37
The Asian source live the present. This is a series of interviews with experts on Asian affairs designed to strengthen our understanding of Asian people and ideas. Your most on this transcribed series is the noted author on the ward winning broadcaster league rail. Here now is Mrs. Graham. A little over 100 years ago 1869 to be exact. A great man was bawn a man who gave impetus if not to the movement of nonviolence. That is the civil disobedience as a means of resisting laws which one felt were unjust. Mahatma Gandhi of course was his name often referred to as the Mahatma and Mahatma is a Sanskrit word meaning great. Many of us think that you can only fight fire with fire. But Gandhi believed that evil could be fought with weapons other than evil. Whether his
methods will persist whether violence is taking over nonviolence not only here but even in his own country of birth India questions we'd like to examine on this program. And we're fortunate that our guest is someone who knew Gandhi on and off quite well between the years of 1920 and 1948 when Gandhi was many of you may recall. CHAKRABARTI doctor now living in this country is professor of philosophy and literature at the Newport campus of the State University of New York. Professor Emeritus of Boston University with an advisor to the Indian delegation at the United Nations has put together some fine books and I suppose there are not many people today who were as close to Gandhi as Dr..
This is a privilege I'm sure that you still treasure but in the passage of time between 48 and now has your view of Gandhi changed. No in a very strange sense I seem to discover his relevance mode into the new age that is unfolding. Many of the things which you said that time seem to have been slightly premature. The world conditions so making it a model rather than try to funds other than those which might exterminate large areas of mankind. This is the modern situation. And when he spoke about it he was applying it naturally to specific and local situations. Now we see his relevance and regard to situations in many parts of the world. So I see a kind of. Girling significance
and meaningfulness in the matters that you pursued. But I think the truth of what he said was self-evident. And I think it will not change as truth. However people don't always like to live by truth and prefer to try some other method which they think brings them more quickly to their goal wouldn't you say that nonviolence is falling into disrepute in our time. Violence is everywhere and use is the quickest means of getting what people want. Of course we have our own situations to say to have a perspective. There is those who advocate large scale loans or nuclear are so local bars seem to feel deep down in their mind that we have reached a point of no return. In regard to the forces which are too destructive to be used in the human population and even though that is quite evidently a renewed kind of resurgence of violence we
see it in all of our So the kind of defines not peacefully demonstrated but a kind of rejection of this which is showing itself. GUYON So excessive and some legitimate demonstrations against violence all over the world but the demonstrations with violence make the impact and the demonstrations held in a peaceful or spiritual manner. Somehow it passed by in the news. How true that is I was in Australia three years ago never Thark this kind of resistance should have been such a strong sit in Auckland in New Zealand and we didn't bid Seesmic movement without anybody are denying it of course that out of the local Sammis situations are exploited by professional experts but beyond
the reach of these movements of people I think the genuine feeling. They even bragged and assured him. It doesn't cost too much. I think it's always been ironic it's not only tragic but ironically tragic that Gandhi who lived by peace died by the sword more or less not his own but let's say the bullet of an assassin. It doesn't seem to make sense that a man who advocated peace should have died with violence from another person. As if there is a kind of paradox built in. Yeah. Those are the highest good will have been the victims. There are of course that doesn't prove anything it proves that. And who is the instrument of these message can be destroyed as an instrument.
But the truth game too good lies beyond guns and we felt that if I mad this very night as as a nation I was in Delhi and that very night for Manly ends it wasn't a question anymore so I assisted in having achieved it dastardly success is a question of the relevance to the bullets which killed a man of 79. He could have spared the sin strangled him for Harley wanted to do but. Almost with one heart that the British people. So this is a paradox. There is something in me which transcends something which cannot be reached by weapons or hatred and even the physical.
A man can be destroyed for having given something. Yes the idea is not destroyed but the physical man is still. One would think that the physical destruction of the man would arouse a sense of guilt which would make people behave in a more civilized manner. It only seems to do that for a few weeks as it did here when President Kennedy was assassinated assassinated. Well when any leader is killed people say all I guess is violence and all of us in this should never have happened. But it it doesn't last long. So I wonder how do you know ideas that the person lives once he's gone. This of course is true. Einstein is to say man is the most unteachable of animals. He knows the lesson he forgets to budget is expressed in that context and from the time of Jesus
up to two thousand years have gone by. But the ideas that he has stood for others who followed him stood for just as just as luminous as ever before. I wouldn't come to any conclusion not knowing the whole nature of life. I see the built in what absurdity is something which is nothing compared to you but I did this same time I see the trust of a great idea. And when his dying has come nothing really to back. So here is the strange contradiction in history. And of course Gandhi had a tremendous influence upon the way people resist injustice now and I suppose Martin Luther King was probably one of his best disciples. Still again he died a violent death and after his death the violence didn't decrease but increased. Do you think that people who preach nonviolence have within their preachings the seed of
violence not of their own making but as you point out paradoxically that's what takes place. I think sometimes it happens that way. I think there is a firm and men are stirred to the depths and sometimes things come out which have been long since so oppressed and we have a witness of the opposite kind of thing not because truth has been disproved and even proved to be persistent force or because it is a challenge. And sometimes this challenge is met by kind of these surgeons. But I'm one of those who believe that. In our time in registering a steady progress in this mad people I think in the highest military and statesman like areas of government all the administrators are beginning to feel very deeply that they
have to get out of this cycle. It's not that they're following Gandhi Christianity is but it's been something that I just did my civilization and this for me is a faith that can block out each other cities in the Middle East India and Pakistan while they are fighting inches of saw some kind of manufactured product or some bases of civilization may go up in smoke. Maybe apparently both sides or all sides don't know that and they've gone so far that they don't jump off the cliff together. But if we go back to Gandhi's teachings and you're mentioning Christianity.
Reminds us that although Gandhi was a Hindu by his religion he preached Christianity and Islam along with Hindu is in my mind all religions were really part of his philosophy lancing the deepest core it's a very difficult thing to define because in one way we have to see where it is so not just a replica of something else at the same time it seems a silver thread uniting all mankind otherwise we wouldn't be a human race. So sage isn't saying the highest level have had similar visions. We find that Gandhi got it from you know in the very word which he used nonviolence as a hymn which means complete freedom from violence and they begin that you're by advocating their opting out from all the others in order to
reach anyway. This of course is needless to say the message of Christianity. I see in Judaism the prophetic flame the burning bush that Moses nothing to do if he had another kind of fire and he was transformed by that. Moses came without any proof that he had to go guard when asked by him said that's all you got from him. But he came back to his people or transfer took them out of captivity they all followed him they knew their leader. Well it seems mystical so pragmatic to think of a certain kind of bar being and under certain civilizations are given periods of time. So Gandhi got this as you rightly say from Christianity
Judaism Islam and he gave it a new emphases. He brought it in the context of nations. He was in Africa when he started this experiment and really and truly Africa is to see the end. In racism and the rest of it many of our So that led you to an untamed and discriminated in these times. What Brown agitated as you called it use against the congregated militaries did what he preached again and it became a name which meant so much for the Smarts for the British for all of us and it grew somehow while opposing what he thought was evil in a system not individuals. You're seeing them but you say them from their own evil. As a doctor does in curing a patient but he had this tremendous
ability to impress people in high places whereas he did nothing to make a grand impression and I think that's what was remarkable about him. What was he like personally and physically I know we've seen photographs of and we've heard about him but since you knew him and saw him How would you describe him. This is something that has intrigued us. He was not with Deckard or photogenic person he looked like any elderly man in an Indian village but there was a kind of candor. There's a kind in infinite kindness and trust in a guy so within a few minutes he gained a high visibility as if he was in a fist build brick by brick. They see only experiments with truth. So it was all even his mistakes he made many mistakes according to his own standards he made human learned blunders
and he confers them. No dictator could survive self Explorer as he made of himself. But then the people began to realize that it was not his prestige that mattered but there will be the lead and so many succeeded so he says due to the truth and I'm a very feeble experiment if it is it is due to my weakness never claiming credit for truth. He thought of themselves really as an instrument. And yes his ego. Didn't seem to have any need of being fit that that was something just unimaginable to him I gather. And more and more so. And I think as his great friend they notice that like truly great when he was growing up you couldn't see. You started with advantages you had many handicaps.
He had a very extensive formal religion. You said you created in England as well as in India. Of course he had a law degree. He was a person who was very accomplished. You did have the feeling that he had what is known as the common touch. When you talk to people who had no education but you seem to impress them greatly. How did he manage to get along with them. Because some leaders are criticized for being too above the crowd. I gather he was not one of the crowd ever. How did he do that. Would be many explanations. You go to great advantage by having the freedom of it. This is something which everyone understood what he was doing was more for the freedom for India. I remember how I replied to somebody who said now we have a free land for the Hindus he says that were created. I would
jump into the Bay of Bengal if I had created a land which is only for the Hindus there are Christians there are Jewish people. This is their land. He was heartbroken and I thought of the partition was indeed so you know he was not. And this kind of concept of freedom somehow got understood that you were seeking it even for his country. Of course freedom had to be one for a country which was occupied. But he immediately said if you want freedom from the freedom given to the guy asked me if you can't have it don't deny it. So he says when you have a concept of freedom used in our lives implications then I go with you at this in a way is a very high doctrine. But this implications in terms of the cast that on that opium trade there sort of
became a question of gaining freedom. This got through some grass to the. But you return to that point of the partition of India into Pakistan and India. I'm not sure about this at this point. He knew about that before he died did he not. He did don't you know prevented you to I suppose if they took is unconditional or something because then he would have to challenge his own people. The newly created Pakistan couldn't he foresee the problems he was going on and you did then he said and there are literacy to the last viceroy and Governor-General Lord Mountbatten have warred this pitfall. And if Indians do it they were doing and they did by a country which has been undivided from as far back in time as we know.
Certainly having 3 million cement stampeding from one side to the other. So he foresaw it at the same time he said we were negotiating a compromise. Pakistan and India one first thing first. First they were on the floor and. Then this is just he didn't think it would go that way. Which is a how can I know what a stand this is where he was caught by his own soldiers. He has to trust yet to explore his own people to his own ideas. If they still didn't believe there was no means known by which you could impose truth upon reading. A final question Is he currently not that it matters because he will be timeless and his reputation I should think but temporarily. Is he regarded less with less respect
in India. Does the younger generation of India think of him as too slow or the person that in today's world just wouldn't be fast enough for them. Kind of practical What do you gain the kind not of the fact that Gandhi's name and millions of people in different parts of the country so this is an assett this either to gain freedom for India or largely in gaining freedom. As to the technique of the mandate I think there are many questions. I think among the very simple people on this issue that he acted so good he wanted us to be free to eat more literacy and the rest I think the sophisticated intellectual in India as anywhere else
is not. And as you pointed out in the beginning fashions come and go in a man's reputation but that does not detract from his essential and intrinsic worth. I thank you very much for being here to tell us about a man whose philosophy we should not forget. With the passage of time and I guess discussing my Hondas Cate Gandhi who was you know was born in 1969 and died 1948 I would guess it has been me a chocolate VIKKY professor at the present time is professor of Asian philosophy and they treat your posts and you post capice of the State University of New York thank you and goodbye. That concludes tonight's edition of the Asia Society presents with league rail. This series comes to you through the cooperation of the Asia Society. If you would like to comment on tonight's program or would like further information about the society and how you can participate in its many interesting activities please write to Mrs. Graham
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- Asia Society presents is a series of programs from WNYC and The Asia Society. Through interviews with experts on Asian affairs, the series attempts to strengthen listeners understanding of Asian people and ideas. Episodes focus on specific countries and political, cultural, and historical topics.
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