It’s only right to begin with one of the most inspirational lives of the last century. Born Mohandas Gandhi, widely known as Mahatma (‘great soul’), and affectionately called Bapu (‘father’) in his native India, this one man’s life has inspired millions of people around the world.
This blog is named after one of his great quotes. When a reporter asked Gandhi what his message was, he replied simply ‘My life is my message.‘ Every ounce of his being exuded his beliefs and preached his message to the world. For Gandhi, there was no distinction between what he believed, what he did, and who he was.
Gandhi was born and raised in India, studied and became a barrister in England, and then lived 20 years in South Africa. Appalled at the widespread discrimination against Indians in South Africa at the time, Gandhi’s social activism was awakened. Both in South Africa and later, after returning to India, Gandhi was highly active in social and political life, proposing the use of Satyagraha (devotion to the truth), a form of non-violent resistance for social change. On his return to India, he became the leader of the Indian National Congress and campaigned for, among other things, poverty alleviation, women’s rights, improved relations between religious groups, an end to the untouchable caste, economic self-reliance, and Indian independence.
‘Be the change you want to see in the world‘ – one of Gandhi’s most famous messages, this epitomises the way he lived his life. Though powerful, he lived a spiritual life of simplicity, abstinence, vegetarianism and inner strength. He had the humility to admit when he had erred and the courage to act on his beliefs. He worshipped truth above all else and believed that nonviolence was a supremely powerful method for bringing about social and political change, aiming to eliminate antagonisms without harming the antagonists. Gandhi proclaimed that nonviolence and peaceful resistance were the true answer because ‘an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.‘
It is clear from Gandhi’s words and work that he believed that, as individuals united, we have the power to make a positive difference in the world. The key message I have taken from his example is the importance of taking action and the power of living your life as an example of your values in action: ‘Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.’