Sunday, November 05, 2006

Majboori Ka Naam Mahatma Gandhi

"Godlike movie! Must see."

"Watch it yaar. Its five times better than the previous one."

These were some of the half-a-dozen approving comments that I heard about the "Lage Raho Munna Bhai" movie that compelled the movie-wary person like me to finally watch it. After watching it, to say the least, I was not impressed. Mostly this happens when the expectations are built at a level that the movie can't deliver to. But in this case, there was an additional reason. The very theme of the movie is something I am not impressed with. It is quite likely that this may be one of the best way the theme of Gandhism may be presented (in the form of Gandhigiri)in a movie that can appeal to the masses. But a wrong start can only get you so far.

My first impressions about Gandhism were formed in some of my early school days when this concept was presented in a glorified way by the textbooks. Yes, it did sound rosy till I started my own experiments with truth. The first result I got from it was a startling fact that shook my belief in Gandhism right down to its foundations. It was a simple yet powerful truth: Truth is relative.

The very basic principle of Satyagraha in Gandhism was rejected by this result. Gandhism propounds that in a fight for truth, Satyagraha will fetch you your ends. But it never delves into the possibility that what is truth for you may not be for the other party and vice-versa. Without going into the correctness of our struggle for independence, if the Britishers also felt that they are rightfully occupying India and resorted to Satyagraha, it would have led to a dangerous, yet seemingly harmless deadlock. For those who can't comprehend any neutral situation where there can be two truths, a very common example is with regards to custody rights of children in case of mutual divorce. In most such cases, it is nearly impossible to rightfully point out whose truth is stronger, let alone absolute. Imagine how things would turn out if both husband and wife resorted to Satyagraha as a means of salvation to their ultimate truth.

The second result I got was that Satyagraha has very limited application: Satyagraha is applicable only when there is no other truth. This result is different from the first in a sense that the first dealt with truths of conflicting nature, while this one has to do with all the truths in the life of the person asking for the truth (the Satyagrahi). Satyagraha will only work if there is just one truth in the life of the Satyagrahi. We have all heard the phrase "Majboori ka naam Mahatma Gandhi" but I wonder if anyone today has tried to appreciate the wisdom enshrined in these five words. The second result I got is, in fact, an appreciation of this wisdom. India's struggle for freedom was successful by the application of Satyagraha. This was possible because Indians were deprived of any meaningful existence by the Britishers and they had nothing to lose. Satyagraha would not have been applicable if the masses had careers to pursue and lives to make.

Imagine the situation in the life of a lover who pursues Satyagraha to get his beloved. He sits in front of her house till her father agrees to the match. The first day, he gets a lot of raised eyebrows and a couple of warnings. In comes the next day and the case of harassment and stalking is lodged with the police. In a few hours, they come over, warn the lover, and when he refuses to budge, force him out of the colony. The lover, strongly pursuing Satyagraha, returns as soon as possible to his ground zero to continue his struggle. The police, this time, take him into a preventive detention for a day and after a strong warning of stricter actions, leave him back to his house. As expected by the hardcore Satyagrahi, he returns to his post; and as expected by the police, he is arrested again and presented before a district magistrate. The magistrate notes the details of the case and leaves the lover with a last warning, violating which he would be required to keep out of the city's municipal limits. The story can be constructed further, but it is clear that the guy will end up losing his job, his (good) name in the locality and what not. It may so happen that the bride's father gives in to the to the lover's undying love for his daughter after five years, but the lover would have definitely lost everything in the meanwhile. This is the essence of the popular Hindi phrase that has not got its rightful glory.

It is a common and accepted practice that nations glorify their history, but if ours is really about truth, shouldn't we publish it with disclaimers?


Anonymous said...

majboori ka nam mahatma gandhi nahi balki......
"majboori ka nam mohd. ali jinnah" :)

Alok said...

Hi Dost. my few ideas match with U(Ur title is not one of them). 1st is not just blindly following whatever is said but exprementing with it. I support ur view that 'truth is relative'.

But In my presonal openion U have got very wrong idea of 'truth' and 'satyagrah'.
Truth never means stupidity. It requirs head.
In my presonal practical exprience i have solved many of problems of my friends including of the type u have mentioned.

Truth requirs wsdom and a lot of practice.(I am considerably younger to u. i don't say i have a lot of it) It requirs genius.