Martin Luther King was a theological student when he first learned of Gandhi’s political action work based on the Yoga concepts of Universal Truth and Non-Violence.
In 1950, King heard Howard University’s President speak of his visit to India and Gandhi’s work saying, “Christ showed us the way and Gandhi in India showed it could work”.
In 1962, King said that Gandhi was “the greatest Christian of the modern world.”
Gandhi changed the world when Colonial India fell and a democratic nation rose, fueling global change, a change that we celebrate every year on this day and hope to enact daily. He introduced the form of protest that shaped Civil Rights and then the anti-war movement and became the accepted protocol of mass protest including recent actions Occupy Wall Street, Climate March and those in response to recent acts of violence by US police in Ferguson and Staten Island as well as recent terror in Paris.
Gandhi introduced the rarified and most challenging vows of the Yogi to the general population and built political action on them. It’s important to understand that this had no precedent and was indeed revolutionary, just as Christ’s beliefs and actions were during his lifetime.
Gandhi insisted that protestors embrace these Yoga vows in thought, word and deed and emphasized that asceticism was the foundation for adherence.
Gandhi insisted that participants uphold truth, Satyagraha, specifically the Universal Truth that all are equal and deserve equal treatment. One who accepted this was termed a Satyagrahi.
1. The satyagrahi should not have any hatred in his heart against the opponent.
2. The issue must be true and substantial.
3. The satyagrahi must be prepared to suffer till the end for his cause.
Before Gandhi, Ahimsa, non-harming or non-violence, had multiple demarcations owing to class, caste, work and religious ritual. Ahimsa was not universal, rather some form of violence was permissible for the soldier, for the butcher, and the fisherman. Gandhi changed that: he said every man and woman must practice Yoga’s concept of Universal compassion. He personally embraced extreme Yoga vows of renunciation while remaining active in the world and as a family man, this too was unheard of.
Here is a summary of Gandhi’s world changing beliefs on Ahimsa. click here for the full chapter.
1. Nonviolence is the law of the human race and is infinitely greater and superior to brute force.
2. In the last resort it does not avail to those who do not possess a living faith in the God of Love.
3. Nonviolence affords the fullest protection to one’s self-respect and sense of honor, but not always to possession of land or movable property, though its habitual practice does prove a better bulwark than the possession of armed men to defend them. Nonviolence, in the very nature of things, is of no assistance in the defense of ill-gotten gains and immoral acts.
4. Individuals or nations who would practice nonviolence must be prepared to sacrifice (nations to the last man) their all except honor. It is, therefore, inconsistent with the possession of other people’s countries, i.e., modern imperialism, which is frankly based on force for its defense.
5. Nonviolence is a power which can be wielded equally by all-children, young men and women or grown-up people, provided they have a living faith in the God of Love
and have therefore equal love for all mankind. When nonviolence is accepted as the law of life it must pervade the whole being and not be applied to isolated acts.
6. It is a profound error to suppose that while the law is good enough for individuals it is not for masses of mankind.
Today, as we honor Martin Luther King, let’s take a perfect moment to read our own heart and ask, is my heart free from hatred?
Know, Dear Friend in Yoga,
Changing my own heart, I change the world.