Discussions about Gandhi
In English: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=862
In Russian: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=ru_c&key=799
In Good Faith: Gandhi and the varna question
It is easy to cherry-pick from his writings to paint him a racist and anti-Dalit.
But Gandhi’s views evolved, reflected his ethical project
Written by K.P. Shankaran | February 25, 2019
Updated: Sunday, June 21, 2020
The truth is that Gandhi was an ordinary mortal, with failings and weaknesses, extraordinary only in his determination to lead and profess an ethical life. (Source: File)
Gandhi, to this day, remains an enigma. While millions across the world revere him as a saint, there are countless others only too willing to condemn him as a racist and casteist. The truth is that Gandhi was an ordinary mortal, with failings and weaknesses, extraordinary only in his determination to lead and profess an ethical life.
In recent times, there has arisen a tendency among the crypto-bourgeoisie, led by the Booker Prize-winning Arundhathi Roy, to portray the great pacifist-anarchist thinker Gandhi as a racist and a proponent of the varnashrama system. J H Stone’s article, ‘M K Gandhi: Some Experiments With Truth’, which appeared in the Journal of South African Studies in 1990, heralded the crypto bourgeoisie’s desire to present itself on the side of the suffering masses by presenting Gandhi as racist and an anti-Dalit.
To begin with, one must admit that the seeming contradictions in his own writings spanning over 60 years have contributed in no small measure to making Gandhi the mystery that he is. Within his voluminous works, the Gandhi worshipper and the Gandhi baiter will both find enough evidence to cherry-pick a defence for either stand. The problem is that the average reader who neither has the time nor inclination to sift through Gandhi’s sayings in its entirety, begins to believe the half-truths. For instance, the crypto bourgeoisie would refer to Gandhi’s letter of 1908 in South Africa to drive home the point that he was an out-and-out racist. It is true that in the early part of his life in South Africa, Gandhi did display racist tendencies. But what these writers will not disclose is that such sentiments find no echo in any of his writings after 1909. These apparent contradictions were not the product of a confused mind, as some would have us believe. Gandhi’s ideas were constantly evolving. He was only too willing to embrace new ideas and give up old ones when confronted with evidence in support of the former.
More complex, however, is Gandhi’s propagation of the varnashrama system. In his personal life, he never practised varna dharma and his ashrams were totally free of varna dharma. His political utopia, Swaraj, was also devoid of religion and caste. At the same, time he constantly used the expression varnashrama dharma in his writings and took pains to defend it. Nevertheless, the varnashrama dharma he defended was not a hierarchical one as propagated by the Bhagavad Gita or the Manusmriti. Gandhi constructed a non-hierarchical varna system and tried to sell it to the Hindus, albeit unsuccessfully. This non-hierarchical varnasystem was based on the principle “Let us not want to be what everyone else cannot be”, which he had adopted from the Bhagavad Gita. According to him, this principle was the epitome of Anashakti yoga. He believed that one should not aspire for a profession but do what one was ordained to do according to a tradition into which one was born.
These seeming contradictions between what he practised and what he purportedly preached make it difficult to defend Gandhi from the onslaughts of the crypto bourgeoisie. Why did Gandhi say what he did, when he did not practice it within his own ashram?
Gandhi believed in using the vocabulary of his lineage to make himself intelligible to the masses. He rejected the vocabulary of the European Enlightenment as being alien to the people. There was also another reason why he chose his parental Vaishnava vocabulary to deal with the varnashrama system. He was extremely conscious of the ills that plagued the Hindu vocabulary and according to him, only an internal reformation could remove these ills. In a letter to his missionary friend C F Andrews, he had argued that Vaishnava vocabulary was saturated with violence/adharma and his mission was to take away that venom. So, while it was easy for him to establish that untouchability had no “scriptural” sanction, with the Gita and other “scriptures” seemingly supporting varnashrama, Gandhi’s task in this regard was more onerous.
Therefore, Gandhi tried to interpret the varnashrama system from a non-hierarchical point of view, without rejecting it in the manner he had rejected untouchability. He also argued that while the shastras ordained one to eke out a living only by doing one’s own hereditary profession, there was nothing in the shastras that prohibited one from doing any other job, provided it was done without any remuneration. For instance, a non-brahman could function as a priest as long as he did not take any dakshina and brahmans could perform the functions of a sudra in the same way. But by 1933, Gandhi was ready to accept that it was not birth alone that determined a person’s varna. He urged people to listen to these words of Yudhishthira in the ‘Vanaparva’ of the Mahabharata: “Truth, charity, forgiveness, good conduct, gentleness, austerity and mercy, where these are seen, O King of the Serpents, there is a Brahmin. If these marks exist in a Shudra and are not in a Dvija, the Shudra is not a Shudra, nor the Brahmin a Brahmin.” Gandhi then goes on to say “These and numerous other verses from the Shastras unmistakably show that mere birth counts for nothing. A person must show corresponding works and character to establish his claim by birth.”
It is true that Gandhi never rejected the varnashrama dharma. Social reformers like Narayana Guru had rejected the idea of varnashrama dharma while working within the advaitic paradigm. Gandhi, on the other hand, changed it to a Dalit-friendly concept. This is all that any great, intellectually sophisticated social reformer could aspire to do from within his chosen vocabulary. We have to stop seeing Gandhi from the alien vocabulary of the European Enlightenment, which he had himself rejected and try to understand him through his own chosen vaishnava vocabulary.
Dr. Leo Semashko commentary about:
In Good Faith: Gandhi and the varna question
by K.P. Shankaran, June 21, 2020
The author defends the true Gandhian position as anti-racist, non-hierarchical and friendly to the Dalits (untouchables). This, indeed, is proved by all the texts of Gandhi after 2010. Particularly convincing is his book “My Religion”, especially its chapter 36, “Varna and Caste” (begun in 1927), in which he categorically distinguishes between varna (varnashrama system) and caste (castism), refuting all charges of identifying and recognizing the caste (http://gandhisevagramashram.org/my-religion/chapter-36-varna-and-caste.php). Gandhi NEVER recognized castes, always denied them and considered the degeneration of millennial varnas in castes to be the greatest tragedy and deepest fall of India to date. The opponents and falsifiers of Gandhi NEVER quote this Gandhi’s chapter, which completely refutes all their falsifications and false accusations of Gandhi of caste. only ignorant and simple-minded people can take them for the truth.
"Varna is not a thing that is superimposed on Hindus, but men who were trustees for their welfare discovered the law for them. It is not a human invention, but an immutable law of nature—the statement of tendency that is ever present and at work like Newton's law of gravitation...Varna has nothing to do with caste. Down with the monster of caste that masquerades in the guise of varna. It is this [caste] travesty of varna that has degraded Hinduism and India. Our failure to follow the law of varna is largely responsible both for our economic and spiritual ruin. It is one cause of unemployment and impoverishment, and it is responsible for untouchability and defections from our faith...All varnas are equal, for the community depends no less on one than on another...the law of varna ... has universal application... That is how I look at the law of varna. The world may ignore it today but it will have to accept it in the time to come."
There is no more convincing evidence of the Gandhian denial of caste and the absolute, world recognition of Varna. Ignoring it means clearly striving to pervert the teachings of Gandhi, turn him into a racist and caste monster. This issue is analyzed in detail in the GHA book “Gandhica” (2019:https://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=848).
Unfortunately, the author does not emphasize the Gandhian categorical difference between the caste system and the varnas system, which leaves a loophole for the false identification of Gandhi.
Dr. Leo Semashko,
GHA Founder and Honorary President, Russia,
The ISA RC51 Sociocybernetics Honourary Lifetime Member,
Phone home: 7-812-597-6571
The Profanation of Gandhi and Gandhism in Monism and Marxism
New critical notes by L. Semashko
Instead of the preface - the recommendation.
If we recognize that the salvation of humankind is possible only in non-violence, the unprecedented spiritual and practical experience of which Mahatma Gandhi left, in order to overcome the obscurity, misunderstanding, perversion and profanation of his non-violence, we, the GHA strongly RECOMMEND to read his books, at least two main ones: “My Life” and “My Faith”, about 700 pages in total, are freely available on the Internet and look at the wonderful film “Gandhi” on YouTube, which was filmed in 1982 by Richard Attenborough. It is the winner of 8 awards Oscar.
In English: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUa6S-n2Bck&t=624s
In Russian: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOvffMsS7X0
Details of the discussion are in Russian here: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=ru_c&key=799
Пирс или Пифагор или их интеграция в Гандике?
Я восхищаюсь вашей упорной работой с логикой отношений Пирса 150-летней давности, которая сегодня представляет интерес может быть только для 5-7 профессионалов. Но несомненно, что она имеет огромное философское значение для развития человеческого познания, его законов и отношений. Еще будучи студентом и аспирантом по истории античной философии, когда я активно изучал логику, особенно философскую (формальную и диалектическую по тем временам) и математическую, я также интересовался логикой Пирса в трех ее измерениях у него. С другой стороны, я столкнулся с учением Пифагора и Пуанкаре о гармонии – целостным мега-отношением, как «единственной объективной реальностью». Пифагор определил его тетрадную меру: «Четверица – бог и царь всего сущего». Последующий мой более чем 50 летний научный опыт убедил меня в правоте Пифагора-Пуанкаре, а не Пирса. Но его логика отношений чрезвычайно важна и хорошо вписывается в тетрадную онтологию четырех сфер и сферонов, детально, но сжато изложенной в ГСГ Гандике в первой главе на 30 страницах (https://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=ru_c&key=788). Тетрарная онтология – четырехмерное мега-мышление, исключающее редукционизм 1-2-3 мерного традиционного микро/мезо-мышления. По-моему, только тетрарное мега-мышление освобождается от ограниченностей редукционизма, исключает его аномалии и позволяет понять универсальную реляционную парадигму Пирса, о чем вы хорошо пишите. Вместе с ней становится доступной понимание ненасилия Ганди, похороненного традиционным редукционистским микро-мышлением, а также гениальное завещание Эйнштейна о необходимости «субстанциально нового образа мышления … чтобы выжить», которое также расшифровано в Гандике в более широком контексте, чем чисто логический. Более того, мышление Гандики становится социально значимым в решении глобальных проблем, особенно глобального мира для ООН, что раскрыто в нашей листовке в прикреплении. Если вам интересны эти идеи, которые совмещаются с вашими, но продвигают их дальше на уровень четырехмерной парадигмы Пифагора, мы были бы счастливы получить ваш краткий обзор нашей Гандики, и опубликовать его на нашем сайте, чтобы обсудить его в его контексте.
Pierce or Pythagoras, or their integration in Gandhica?
I admire your hard work with the logic of Pierce’s relatives (not relations!) of 150 years ago, which today is of interest only for 5-7 professionals in the world. But it is undoubtedly that it has great philosophical significance for the development of human knowledge, its laws, ‘relatives’ and their relations. While still a student and a graduate student in the history of ancient philosophy, when I actively studied logic, especially philosophical (formal and dialectical at that time) and mathematical, I was also interested in Pierce's logic in its three dimensions. on the other hand, I came across the teachings of Pythagoras and Poincare about harmony - a holistic mega-relationship, as "the only objective reality." Pythagoras defined its tetradic measure: "The Tetrad is the God and King of all things." (About)
My subsequent of more than 50 years scientific experience convinced me that Pythagoras-Poincare was right and not Pierce’s triads. But his logic of relatives is extremely important and fits well into the tetradic ontology of four spheres and spherons, detailed but concisely presented in the GHA Gandhica in the first chapter on 30 pages (https://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=848). Tetradic ontology is a four-dimensional mega-thinking that excludes the reductionism of 1-2-3-dimensional traditional micro/meso-thinking. In my opinion, only tetra mega-thinking is freed from the limitations of reductionism, excludes its anomalies and allows us to understand Pierce's universal relational paradigm, which you write well about.
Together with it, an understanding of Gandhi’s non-violence buried by traditional reductionist micro-thinking becomes available, as well as Einstein’s brilliant testament of the need for “a substantially new manner of thinking …to survive”, which is also deciphered in Gandhica in a broader context than a purely logical one. Moreover, Gandhica’s thinking becomes socially significant in solving world problems, especially global peace for the UN that is disclosed in our attachment leaflet.
If you are interested in these ideas that are compatible with yours, but advance them further to the level of the four-dimensional Pythagorean paradigm, we would be happy to receive your brief review of our Gandhica and publish it on our website to discuss it in its context.