Gandhi

Why Lawyers Fear Love: Mohandas Gandhi’s Significance to the Mindfulness in Law Movement

by Nehal A. Patel

Book jacket art courtesy mkgandhi.org

“As regards lawyers, the position is worse still. Have they overcome their infatuation for law-courts? … Have the lawyers realized that justice should not be costly? … Lawyers have not yet overcome the allurement of fat fees and, in consequence, the cost of justice continues to be counted in terms of gold and guineas … justice cannot be sold.”  M.K. Gandhi (1)

ABSTRACT: Although mindfulness has gained the attention of the legal community, there are only a handful of scholarly law articles on mindfulness. The literature effectively documents the Mindfulness in Law movement, but there has been minimal effort to situate the movement within the broader history of non-Western ideas in the legal academy and profession. Similarly, there has been little recent scholarship offering a critique of the American legal system through the insights of mindfulness. In this article, I attempt to fill these gaps by situating the Mindfulness in Law movement within the history of modern education’s western-dominated worldview. With this approach, I hope to unearth some of the deep challenges facing a mindful revolution in law that are yet to be widely discussed.

In Part I, I introduce the current mindfulness movement in American society. In Part II, I summarize the current Mindfulness in Law movement and the treatment of “Eastern” thought in modern education. I also describe the three levels of change discussed in academic literature: individual, interpersonal, and structural change. In Part III, I discuss how Mohandas Gandhi exemplifies all three levels of change. In Part IV, I offer critical appreciation of the Mindfulness in Law movement by highlighting Gandhi’s insights on structural reform. I conclude that a mindful application of Gandhi’s thought suggests that satyagraha be incorporated into a constitutional framework, thus making legally protected speech out of forms of public-state dialogue that are traditionally “extra-legal” and used disproportionately by marginalized populations.

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The Mahatma, Il Duce and the Crucifix: Gandhi’s Brief Encounter with Mussolini and Its Consequences

by Peter Gonsalves

Gandhi in Fascist Rome, 1931; courtesy alamy.com

After the second Round Table Conference (RTC) in London, (1) Mahatma Gandhi had to embark at the Port of Brindisi in Southern Italy en route to India. He decided to spend a few days in Switzerland as a guest of Romain Rolland, and then stop in Rome on Saturday, December 12, 1931, in order to meet Pope Pius XI. The note in his diary of December 12, states:

Arrived in Rome at 8.30 in the morning. Received letter to the effect that the Pope could not receive me. Three of us stayed with General Moris, the others in a hotel. Went to see the Vatican [Museums] in the afternoon. At 6 o’clock Mussolini. (2)

Barely a year earlier, Gandhi had shot to international fame due to the extensive American press coverage of his Salt Satyagraha. (3) He was on the cover of Time Magazine on two occasions within a span of ten months: first on March 31, 1930 and again as ‘Time’s Man of the Year’ on January 5, 1931. (4) His fame preceded him even in Europe. Whether at Villeneuve, Milan, Rome or Brindisi, people flocked to see ‘St. Gandhi’ in his strange attire. (5)

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Ahimsa: The Way of Nonviolence

by Mohandas K. Gandhi

Sufi Saint Pacifying the Animals; c. 18th century Persian miniature courtesy dharmadeen.com

Editor’s Preface: We have previously posted a compilation of Gandhi’s writings on satyagraha. Through these, and by using quotes from his work at the top of our Home page, collected under Quotes & Sources, we hope to provide focal points for discussion, if not statements of doctrine. Please also see the notes at the end for a comment on the texts, and acknowledgments. JG

Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man. Destruction is not the law of the humans. Man lives freely by his readiness to die, if need be, at the hands of his brother, never by killing him. Every murder or other injury, no matter for what cause, committed or inflicted on another is a crime against humanity. (MM, 49)

The first condition of non-violence is justice all round in every department of life. Perhaps, it is too much to expect of human nature. I do not, however, think so. No one should dogmatize about the capacity of human nature for degradation or exaltation. (MT, V, 344)

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Gandhi and the Virtue of Forgiveness

by Alan Hunter and Andrew Rigby

“Forgiveness” art by Leigh Wells; courtesy greatergood.berkeley.edu

Abstract: Satyagraha and ahimsa are widely acknowledged as central to Gandhi’s life-work.  Our argument in this paper is that forgiveness (ksama in Sanskrit) was another of Gandhi’s core values. The first section of the paper introduces ways in which forgiveness has been understood as a concept and practice within Western traditions. We demonstrate that forgiveness lies close to the heart of Christianity, and show that it is also an issue relevant to contemporary concerns: since the 1990s forgiveness has featured in numerous secular studies, exhibitions, websites, and other media. The second section identifies how the key precepts that informed Gandhi’s vision of the transformatory significance of forgiveness were derived from and grounded in the spiritual and philosophical traditions of South Asia, Hinduism and especially Jainism. Our final section more specifically explores the implications of forgiveness in Gandhi’s thought and practice. Forgiveness is an important component of Gandhi’s dual concerns: the ‘spiritualisation of politics’, and also the ‘politicisation of spirituality’.

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What is Satyagraha?

by Mohandas K. Gandhi

“Soul Force”; courtesy kurdistancommentary.wordpress.com

Editor’s Preface: We have periodically revisited Gandhi’s own definitions of his major concepts. Through compilations of various of his statements, and by using quotes from his work at the top of our Home page, and found under Quotes & Sources, we hope to provide focal points for discussion, if not statements of doctrine. Please also see the note at the end for acknowledgments. JG

My goal is friendship with the world and I can combine the greatest love with the greatest opposition to wrong. (Young India, 10 March 1920; p. 5)

Non-violence is not a resignation from all real fighting against wickedness. On the contrary, the Non-violence of my conception is a more active and more real fighting against wickedness than retaliation, whose very nature is to increase wickedness. I contemplate a mental and therefore a moral opposition to immoralities. I seek entirely to blunt the edge of the tyrant’s sword, not by putting up against it a sharper-edged weapon but by disappointing his expectation that I would be offering physical resistance. The resistance of the soul that I should offer instead would elude him. It would at first dazzle him and at last compel recognition from him, which recognition would not humiliate him but would uplift him. (Young India, 8 October 1925; p. 346)

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Gandhi’s Constructive Programme: The Other Side of Civil Resistance

by Andrew Rigby

Dustjacket art courtesy mkgandhi.org

Gandhi was a special figure in the history of movements for social transformation, and as such has been the subject of countless studies — most recently by activist-scholars and students of civil resistance seeking to identify the key lessons that can be applied to more contemporary nonviolent movements for peace and justice. As such they have tended to focus on the large-scale satyagraha campaigns initiated by Gandhi in the Indian freedom struggle, such as the Salt March of 1930 that inaugurated a mass civil disobedience campaign and the 1942 ‘Quit India’ campaign. Less attention has been paid to exploring the significance and contemporary relevance of the other major dimension of Gandhi’s approach to transformation – constructive action to lay the foundations of new ways of living (what has been called by more recent generations of activists as pre-figurative politics).

Gandhi believed there should be two integral dimensions of any campaign to transform systems of oppression and injustice. There was the front-stage satyagraha, or active nonviolent resistance, but there was also the constructive work to create alternatives to the systems and practices that were in need of change. Indeed, for Gandhi the constructive work was far more important than the active ‘political satyagraha’ in the struggle for emancipation and independence (Swaraj). As he advised his co-workers in 1944, through the constructive programme ‘you can make the villages feel self-reliant, self-sufficient and free so that they can stand up for their own rights. If you make a real success of the constructive programme, you will win Swaraj for India without civil disobedience.’ (1)

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Nonviolence and Media Studies

by Vamsee Juluri

“Peace Dove with Book” courtesy Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, Wayne State University; www.clas.wayne.edu/CPCS/

Abstract: This article proposes a meeting of media studies and the philosophy of nonviolence in order to better critique the tendency, in popular media discourses about war and international conflict, to naturalize violence as an eternal and essential human trait. Nonviolence exposes certain foundational myths about violence in the media; namely, the myths that violence is cultural (as implied in the “clash of civilizations” thesis), historical, or natural. However, this exposure is possible only if nonviolence is retrieved from its present marginalization as a mere technique for political activism or personal behavior and understood more accurately as a coherent, universal, practical worldview that can inform a critical engagement with media discourses of violence. Using Gandhi’s writings on nonviolence, this essay aims to initiate just such an understanding, particularly in connection with existing critical approaches to media violence, such as cultivation research and cultural studies, and concludes by proposing a set of concrete questions for media research based on nonviolence.

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Kasturba Gandhi and Women Satyagrahi in South Africa

by E. S. Reddy

Portraits of Mohandas and Kasturba Gandhi at the time of the South African campaign; courtesy en.wikipedia.org

Editor’s Preface: We have posted several articles on significant figures in the Satyagraha movement, other than Mahatma Gandhi. We have also featured articles on women nonviolence leaders such as Vandana Shiva and Dorothy Day. This article concentrates on the role Gandhi’s wife, Kasturba Gandhi (1869–1944), played in the South African satyagraha campaign. Please also see the note at the end for biographical information about the author, and acknowledgments. JG

Kasturba Gandhi by her “silent suffering” as a prisoner sentenced in 1913 to three months rigorous imprisonment, made a crucial contribution to the success of the nonviolence civil resistance campaign (satyagraha) in South Africa, but this is little known.

In early 1913, when satyagraha in the Transvaal had been suspended, Justice Malcolm Searle of the Cape Supreme Court ruled that marriages performed according to a religion which allowed polygamy – that is, all Muslim and Hindu marriages – would not be recognised in South Africa. If this ruling had prevailed, almost all married Indian women would have been reduced legally to the status of concubines and their children treated as illegitimate. The women and children would have lost the right of inheritance and the right to enter South Africa. The government ignored repeated appeals from the community for legislation to remedy the situation.

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The Legacy of Ham Sok-hon: The Korean Gandhi

by Kim Sung-soo

Portrait of Ham Sok-hon courtesy en.wikipedia.org

Ham Sok-hon (1901-1989) was known as the “Gandhi of Korea.” He sought to affirm the identity of Koreans at a time when Korea had fallen prey to Japanese imperialism. Ham believed that discovering one’s identity, especially as a colonized nation, was extremely important as it also determined one’s destiny. Without knowing who you are, it is very difficult to know what to do.

Ham was a civil rights activist when his country was ruled by dictatorial regimes (in both the North and South). Yet, as a maverick thinker, he tried his best to merge diverse religions and ideologies. Although he passed away nearly three decades ago, his legacy still inspires a considerable number of civil rights activists and liberal thinkers in Korea today.

Ham was born in North Korea and died in South Korea. He grew up on a small island in the Yellow Sea at the beginning of the 20th century. His father was a gentle and quiet herbal doctor, while his uncle was a man of action with vigorous Christian faith and a strong sense of patriotism as Korea began to lose her sovereignty to Japan. From an early age, Ham was influenced a great deal by his uncle in terms of merging Christian faith and a spirit of national independence under Japanese oppression.

The March 1 Independence Movement of 1919 was the turning point in Ham’s life, which changed him from a shy boy of eighteen to a courageous young man. From that point on he became very aware of his identity, as well as the identity of his country as a colonized nation. Later, in the 1930s as a history teacher, he began to write what would be Korean history from the oppressed people’s perspective. Because of his view on Korean history, he was imprisoned and suffered greatly at the hands of the Japanese colonial regime. His books, starting with the controversial Korean History in 1948, and the later Queen of Suffering: A Spiritual History of Korea (Seoul, Korea: Friends World Committee for Consultation, 1985) are still recognized as among the most notable books in Korea.

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Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear War

by M. K. Gandhi

Peace Quilt designed by 9th grader Vidhi Jain, Apeejay School, Pitampura, India; courtesy peacequilt.wordpress.com

Editor’s Preface: We have posted a series of statements by Gandhi that very much address situations and conflicts we currently face, as with his statements on Truth. The “nuclear menace” is much in the news again. These extracts are then being posted in August, the anniversary month of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Please consult the notes at the end for notes, and sources. JG

Has not the atom bomb proved the futility of all violence? (1)

There have been cataclysmic changes in the world. Do I still adhere to my faith in truth and non-violence? Has not the atom bomb exploded that faith? Not only has it not done so, but it has clearly demonstrated to me that truth and non-violence constitute the mightiest force in the world. Before it the atom bomb is of no effect. The two opposing forces are wholly different in kind, the one moral and spiritual, the other physical and material. The one is infinitely superior to the other which by its very nature has an end.

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“When planted in the garden, the mustard seed, smallest of all the seeds, became a large tree, and birds came and made their home there.” Luke 13:19

“For me whatever is in the atoms and molecules is in the universe. I believe in the saying that what is in the microcosm of one’s self is reflected in the macrocosm.” M. Gandhi