Now that Gandhigiri has been proven to be a viable concept, here’s a deeper look at Gandhian principles and how we can apply them to our lives
Steps to GandhigiriGandhi was not born a mahatma. The struggles, apprehensions and even setbacks and failures on his spiritual journey are a strong reminder to all of us that we can aspire to raise ourselves to such a level.
"Be the change you want to see," he said and we can be so, if only we try.
Gandhi's recommended 11 vows for the individual are surely the first step on this journey.
Ahimsa (non violence)
Do not shout back at the next person who abuses you. If faced with an unjust action, state your case calmly without resorting to jibes or personalized statements.
Our words and actions are potent tools that can cause immense agony or create and spread love. When we refuse to allow violence to reside in us, even in thought, our soul shall indeed bloom, unfettered by negativity.
Try telling the truth next time you refuse an invitation, are too busy to call somebody, or need to remain absent from office. The results may surprise you and eventually, life will get simpler and uncomplicated.
Next time you are tempted to slip into the train without a ticket, stop yourself.
Remember that traveling without a valid ticket, not paying taxes, making claims on false bills, are as morally incorrect as picking someone's pocket.
Switch off the television while eating dinner or when you need to sleep. Do not indulge in splurging or binging.
He who revels in Brahman is the Sanskrit etymology of this term and naturally such a person is in full control of his senses. The choice of whether we make our senses our masters or slaves entirely depends on us.
Today, the market is constantly offering new products and gizmos. Do we, however, need any of this? Truly, multiplication of wants is one of the malaises of the times we live in and this principle is more relevant than ever to retain our sanity, if nothing else.
Shareera Shrama (physical labor)
The contribution of physical labor in keeping the ego under check and fostering humility has been emphasized by many masters, over the years. Even if the nature of your job is not oriented in this direction, you could take up an activity that involves physical exertion and is productive; for instance, cultivating a kitchen garden, volunteering at a local charity, cooking up a community meal.
Aswada (control of the palate)
Eat to nourish your body, not to please your tongue. This will pay off rich dividends in making you calmer, fitter, healthier and happier.
Sarvatra Bhaya Varjana (fearlessness)
Be truthful and fearless in expressing your opinion, without worrying if the next pink slip could be yours, or that you will miss the bus if you don't toe the line. Similarly, even in your personal relationships, do not allow fear and insecurity to restrict you from taking the correct action. This will do wonders for your self-esteem and the ultimate victory will be yours.
Sarva Dharma Samanatva (respect for all faiths)
Take a stand on religious conflict without looking the other way, whether or not it is your faith that is being attacked. For this, one needs to also make an attempt to understand other traditions and cultures. Visit all places of worship and experience the positive energy from everywhere. Try reading religious literature from all traditions. This will open up your mind and make you a more devoted practitioner of your own faith and a more evolved, balanced soul.
Swadeshi (use locally made goods)
Buy the handcrafted bag even if it is a few rupees more than the mass-produced one from another country. Buy goods from the local grocer and vegetable shop rather than the mall. Use handmade paper. Buy child-friendly wooden toys rather than toys imported from abroad. In most cases, this would be a better option too.
Sparsha Bhavana (shun untouchability)
Shun biases of any kind – whether it is against another caste, creed, nationality, region, economic background, religion, race or against people with certain preferences (gays, lesbians), ailments (AIDS, leprosy) or professions (bar dancers, sex workers).
This principle really means breaking of all barriers between one living being and another; and with this, we will in effect be taking an important step towards the perception of an interconnected, interdependent world.
Similarly, all his other epithets are equally applicable on the personal level too.
"Hate the sin, love the sinner," said Gandhi, and this forms the core of satyagraha. If we learn not to personalize personal and professional difference of opinion and conflicts but resolve them with this approach, our relationships and approach to life will blossom to a great degree.
Simple things like including everybody's requirement while planning a meal or family function, in deciding the layout of the home or office, and in decision-making is sarvodaya in action.
Stephen Covey in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, points out that principles that govern human effectiveness, happiness and well-being are just as unchanging as the laws of gravity in the physical dimension.
The principles that Gandhi espoused, are surely one of the most comprehensive ones in their scope and significance. What is then stopping us from incorporating them in our lives?
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