CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, who recently passed away due to Cancer being the IMMEDIATE CAUSE and the resentment of many, he had accumulated over a long period, being the latent cause, dwelt on the motives of the most revered and the pious and excoriated them by laying open a point of view quite alien to Indian minds. In an essay title THE REAL MAHATMA GANDHI, he brings to focus the Mahatma’s views on how to handle Hitler with SATYAGRAHA and the letter the Mahatma wrote to Hitler:
And it is not disputable that Gandhi himself regarded his own versions of ahimsa and satyagraha as universally applicable. By 1939, he was announcing that, if adopted by “a single Jew standing up and refusing to bow to Hitler’s decrees,” such methods might suffice to “melt Hitler’s heart.” This may read like mere foolishness, but a personal letter to the Führer in the same year began with the words My friend and went on, ingratiatingly, to ask: “Will you listen to the appeal of one who has deliberately shunned the method of war not without considerable success?” Apart from its conceit, this would appear to be suggesting that Hitler, too, might hope to get more of what he wanted by adopting a more herbivorous approach.
PASSIVE RESISTANCE is a tool which was employed by Jesus against the Roman Empire and the Jewish Spiritual Authorities like Annas and Caiaphas.
By the way, the name ANNA seems to be associated with movements which were challenged or overthrown, for example ANNAS, the Chief Priest of the Jewish religion was responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus and thereby brought the belief of Resurrection of Jesus into the spiritual plate of the religious minded and thus brought CHRISTIANITY to fruition. There was this C.N ANNADURAI, endearingly called ANNA, from the state of MADRAS, who challenged the Congress party in the then Madras state, and till date the Congress party has been piggy backing on the Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu (part of erstwhile Madras State) for electoral gains in Tamil Nadu. Finally we have our ANNA HAZARE, who is creating quite a furore in the political firmament strutting and issuing diktats to the PARLIAMENT and setting the agenda for the MPs in India. So we should shed all the Shakespearen query of WHAT IS IN A NAME? and realize that there are certain names which crop up from time to time and disturb the quiet of the community.
Beside the choice of words used by Christopher Hitchens, it is the skepticism he entertained in the UNIVERSAL BELIEF SYSTEMS of LEADERS which he poignantly presented,which won him his following. For example, the Mahatma fought against a NATION OF SHOPKEEPERS, whereas the Jews were pitted against a MILITARY IDEALOGUE. The weapons used by each was different. HITLER, besides showing that the Treaty of Versailles was preposterously biased against Germany was able to present the Jews of Germany to be the rats he pulled out and presented as the root cause of all evil in Germany. So when the Mahatma’s prescription did not tally with his epistle to Hitler, Hitchens portrays the Mahatma as an inconsistent groveling appeaser.
But to my mind Hitchens missed the point. The greatness of the INDIAN MIND is that HOLD ON TO YOUR PHILOSOPHY, BUT WHEN YOU MEET A MAD MAN SLOW HIM DOWN FIRST AND THEN INDOCTRINATE HIM. The attempt by the Mahatma was merely to start an INTROSPECTION in the MILITARY IDEALOGUE. It worked with the British, primarily because the British were in India for the CREAM and the Mahatma gradually reduced the cream by telling the Indians, what they like to do most- BE IDLE. It worked, it became UNVIABLE for the British to sustain their shop activities in India. The Mahatma upset their apple cart and prescribed PASSIVE RESISTANCE as a PANACEA for all oppression.
But the icing on the cake is the expression HERBIVOROUS APPROACH for PASSIVE RESISTANCE! I am reminded of a quotation from Dr. Samuel Johnson:
If a madman were to come into this room with a stick in his hand, no doubt we should pity the state of his mind; but our primary consideration would be to take care of ourselves. We should knock him down first, and pity him afterwards.
Like the prescription of Johnson, the Mahatma was merely applying the principle of self protection first, as he couldn’t have been sure if the INA with Netaji would have been on the winning side. It could have been a subtle hint to Hitler that in the event of Hitler winning, the Mahatma would not use ANY OTHER FORCE!!
A herbivorous approach? May be…………we gotta arrive at our own conclusions.