‘Igniting the Light of Human Goodness for Global Peace’
Event to celebrate the International Day of Non-Violence and Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi
Oct 02, 2023
‘Rediscovering the Vaishnav Jan in ourselves’
Remarks by Ambassador Amit Narang
Sister Maureen Goodman, Program Director for the Brahma Kumaris UK
Our Chief Guest Her Highness Sayyida Basma Al Said,
Her Excellency Asila Al Samsami,
Distinguished Ambassadors of Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Republic of Korea,
Ladies & Gentlemen,
I am privileged to share some thoughts on the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi on the occasion of his birth anniversary, which is also celebrated as the International Day of Non-Violence.
I thank the Rajyoga Center for Self Development Oman for joining hands with the Embassy of India in organizing this event and to all the Indian and Omani colleagues for being with us.
I had the privilege of joining a select group of Indian and Omani friends this morning to pay floral tributes to the father of the Indian nation at the feet of his statue that now adorns the Embassy lawns. As the first and only statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the Sultanate of Oman, this work of art stands as a timeless reminder to all those resident in Oman about the universal message of peace, non-violence, truth and harmony preached and lived by this great human being.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
To say that Mahatma Gandhi was a great leader and an inspiration to millions of people would be but to state the obvious and the well known. His teachings, lessons and philosophies continue to resonate in our hearts. His legacy grows more and more important with time and was never more relevant than today.
His teachings are universal in nature, applicable across time, geographies and cultures. It is no surprise therefore that his ideals inspired the work of revolutionaries the world over, from Nelson Mandela in Africa to Martin Luther King Jr. in the US.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A thoughtful topic has been chosen by the organizers for today’s event – ‘Igniting the light of human goodness for global peace’. It is intellectually stimulating the link this to the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi.
It is true without doubt that peace without is not possible in the absence of peace within. Communal harmony follows the harmony of the heart. Universal brotherhood is achievable only with globalism alive in the deep recesses of the human mind.
How does this link with Mahatma Gandhi, the man who enriched our lexicon with concepts such as non-violence, Satyagraha, non-cooperation and civil disobedience?
Gandhi the person was one, but Gandhi the idea has so many facets. Which of these do we pick? Which of these is most relevant to inculcating human goodness?
Out of all the virtues that Mahatma Gandhi’s life teaches us, I would suggest ‘empathy’.
Gandhi’s story is but an example of how a wider perspective, a universal humanism and empathy are essential to inculcate the spirit of global thinking, peace and harmony.
After all, when Gandhi was fighting the British empire in India, he was fighting against oppression everywhere. When he spoke out in favor of the socially downtrodden in the Indian system, his voice was equally for the suppressed rights of blacks and other communities the world over. When he gave the people of India the tool of non-violent struggle, it is a method he was teaching everyone in the world.
When we talk of global peace and the threats to it, we are not just talking of war. Peace is equally if not more threatened today by a lack of human empathy, a deficiency of cultural acceptance, and a shortage of mutual understanding.
In a world which is becoming smaller by the day owing to technological advances, our capability to be empathetic to those who do not look like or think like us, is getting weaker.
We tend to shift our problems, which are becoming frighteningly global, to be solved by others; we acquiesce to the world becoming more and more unequal - for wealth to be concentrated in the hands of a few; we refuse to respect differences, seen in the rise of hyper nationalism, cultural jingoism and ethnic xenophobia.
Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals shine a way towards building human goodness, which in turn is essential to build a more just and a more humane world.
We can instill human goodness only when we ignite the flame of human empathy in our hearts.
We can nurture human goodness only when the seeds of cross-cultural understanding take roots in our minds.
We can promote human goodness only when we see our progress in the welfare of others.
This is also what Gandhi believed in.
Mahatma Gandhi’s humanism or human goodness can be deduced from what he described as the seven social sins: (1) politics without principles; (2) wealth without work; (3) commerce without morality; (4) knowledge without character; (5) pleasure without conscience; (6) science without morality; and (7) worship without sacrifice.
Gandhi’s central ideas of truth and non-violence, satya and ahimsa were lived ideas, showcased vividly in own his personal and political life. While his philosophy was deeply rooted in traditional Hindu thought, it was universally applicable to ethical living globally.
Following the principles and ideals of Gandhi ji, everyone should assume individual and collective responsibility for promoting values of coexistence, civilizational dialogue and harnessing cultural diversity to strengthen peace.
For Gandhi, the ultimate ideal of a global human being was rooted in an idea expressed in Gandhi’s favourite hymn: ‘Vaishnava jana to tene kahiye, peer parayi jane re’.
“Call them alone people of God who know the woes of others as their own”. In other words, one who has empathy for others.
If this is not a call for human goodness, then what is?
On this day therefore, let us rekindle the humane globalism of Gandhi in our hearts.
Let us rediscover the ‘Vaishnav Jan’ of Gandhi in ourselves.
Thank you for your patience.