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Gandhi: An Inspiration for All

Gandhi: An Inspiration for All
by Krystalia Keramida

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It is undeniable that Gandhi is one of the world’s greatest political and spiritual leaders. In India he is honoured as the father of the nation. He inspired his compatriots to fight for peace, freedom and democracy. He upheld the importance of human rights and non-discrimination. This is why he was named ‘Mahatma’, which means great soul.

Gandhi promoted Human Rights, which are part of every human being, independent of origin, religion, age, gender or social status. They are not just a history lesson or words without meaning, but include the essence of every single person all over the world. They allow us to live with safety, dignity, unity, love and of course peace. This latter is another word with deep meaning, because peace is not just a situation, it is the only way to joy, respect for diversity, and democracy.

But his influence has not ended. Gandhi was the light-guide for thousands of people, in order to fight against war, especially using his method of protest – ‘satyagraha’. Acceptance of suffering for the sake of truth and resistance to violence with nonviolence became a powerful movement all over the world and also a way of life. The first condition of nonviolence is justice all round, in every department of life. Justice, respect for diversity, unity and solidarity, love of nature, are the keys for a better world, according to Gandhi.

The question is how someone can achieve the complete development of body, soul and mind. Gandhi answered that it was through education. Only the right and congruous combination of these three elements could lead to an integrated person. The key is the growth of the five senses. Through the conscious exercise of the senses of touch, hearing, vision, smell and taste, a person acquires better contact with others, observes, meditates and feels, looks and discovers the essence of things. Education is important for everyone, regardless of age or lifestyle.

His theory of complete development of body, soul and mind was inspired by Plato, Aristotle and Socrates, three of the most significant Greek philosophers, who changed the history of the world and became founding figures in Western philosophy. Gandhi was always looking for historical figures who have sacrificed their lives for the sake of truth, so these Greek philosophers were a natural choice for him. Gandhi translated Plato’s Apology into Gujarati and titled the story of Socrates as The Story of a Soldier of Truth. In his translation summary, he described Socrates as a “heroic, extraordinary person with a fine moral character.” “We must learn to live and die like Socrates”, these were Gandhi’s words.

Socrates lived in Athens in the fourth century BCE. He altered Western thought, because he devoted his life to the search for Truth, existing in everyone’s soul. This Truth could become the ultimate knowledge and change the way we live. Gandhi called him a great Satyagrahi and emphasized, like Socrates, that we should not spend our time in finding faults with others, because only a pure person can fight evil with courage.

Plato, the student of Socrates and founder of the Academy in Athens, often characterized as the first university in Europe, developed a theory of knowledge that goes deep into the nature of knowledge itself. This is the true knowledge and it is permanent, unlike the knowledge based on appearance which is the untruth. This theory was adopted by Gandhi.

Last but not least, Aristotle, born in Macedonia and a member of Plato’s Academy, considered psychology to be the study of the soul and claimed that everything has a multitude of causes. These thoughts were the basis for Gandhi to say that hard work is necessary to succeed at anything in life and to be a socially active citizen, because nothing could be achieved on one’s own.

These were the inspiring reasons for UNESCO in Serres, a city in the north of Greece, which is a Club of people of different ages but with the same goal to promote culture, education, human rights, environment and innovation, to organize an educational program about Gandhi’s legacy. We want to help students of primary and elementary schools come close to Gandhi’s philosophy and understand the importance and the values of him, especially nowadays in a society that suffers from the economic, political and also moral crisis. As a team, we cooperate with Greek universities and significant institutions about Gandhi worldwide, because we believe that no one could achieve everything alone, but together we can move forward. Besides, as Gandhi claimed “the whole world is like the human body with its various members. Pain in one member is always felt in the whole body.”

Moreover, we think that in the century of knowledge, being racist only proves how low in society you really are. This is why Gandhi and his words inspire us to help children, who are the basis of every society, understand that humane education is the only way to overcome racism, discrimination, war and to broaden your horizons.

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In order to achieve these goals and also make it fun for the students, we prepare different actions, such as music, theatre, painting, and writing. Every time, based on each one of the ten most important moral values of Gandhi, we plan one action. For example, according to the value “Learn to forgive”, we ask the students to play a role game. If someone hurts you, could you forgive him ? If not, why ? And if you hurt him, would you ask him to forgive you then ? Why ? Moreover, these actions aim to connect Gandhi’s values to the moral intelligence of the children. Creativity, self-control, respect, consciousness, justice are the parts of moral intelligence which helps children understand and express their feelings and have self-esteem.

Finally, this educational program is the tool to make clear that philosophy is one, commonly shared value that could change the way you think and live every day. So, despite the current difficult situation in Greece, we must look forward, try to be reborn from the ashes and get inspired by Gandhi and our ancestors in order to build the foundations of a world where peace, democracy and human rights will be the reality for all and not just a dream for a few.

Krystalia Keramida is a lawyer, a member of UNESCO in Serres, Greece, specializing in the field of Human Rights and project manager of the educational program for Gandhi.

The London Pacifism and Nonviolence Discussion Group

 

london pacifismThe London Pacifism and Nonviolence Discussion Group are meeting soon to discuss:

Tuesday 11th November to discuss Nonviolence and schooling

Your thoughts on these topics are welcome, in advance and (especially) on the day.

The group meets on the second Tuesday each month, at 7pm (until around 9pm)
at Housmans Bookshop, 5 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, London N1.
Nearest tube: Kings Cross

Please try to arrive promptly by 7pm.

Everyone with an interest in pacifism and nonviolence is welcome.

Future discussions:

Tuesday 9th December, we will deal with the much overlooked issue of Pacifism and Pleasure.

For more information about the meetings: http://londonpacifismnonviolence.wordpress.com

The Mahatma amongst Friends. Gandhi’s relations with Quakers

gandhi quakers

Quaker History Meeting
The Mahatma amongst Friends. Gandhi’s relations with Quakers

Tuesday 28th October 2014 at 6pm – 7.30pm

at the Library, Friends House, 173 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BJ

Gandhi’s long and varied life can be seen as a series of multifaith encounters, though it was with the Quakers Gandhi had a special relationship. The Friends Meeting House, on Euston Road was the venue of his first public speech when he was in London in 1931, though he had corresponded with the Rowntrees whilst still living in South Africa nearly 30 years before. His relationships with Horace Alexander and Marjorie Sykes are well known, but they only partially touch his encounter with the Quakers.

This talk will try and provide an overview of whole relationship. William Rhind has been Outreach Worker at the Gandhi Foundation since December 2013 and prior to that was on their executive committee for five years. He has degrees in History and Law from the universities of Glasgow and London. It was through his father being born in India that he developed an interest in that country and therefore Gandhi. Having a part Catholic, part Anglican and part Presbyterian heritage he grew up with an interest in ecumenism that led into interfaith matters.

The talk begins at 6pm promptly. Register for a free place at www.quaker.org.uk/quakerhistory
For enquiries contact the Library at: library@quaker.org.uk, 020 7663 1135

quakers

Bengal History Week 2014

Bengal History WeekBangladesh

18th – 26th October 2014

http://www.bricklanecircle.org

Brick Lane Circle’s 4th annual Bengal History Week programme is taking place in London. It is designed to help generate and expand interest in learning Bengal’s history, introduce historians and scholars to new audiences in non-academic settings and increase networking.

The programme will explore a variety of topics on history and can cover politics, economics, literature, conflicts, population movements, migration, important personalities, movements, upheavals, climate change, social developments, etc.

All Welcome

Further details, please contact : bricklanecircle@yahoo.co.uk

Can you help this Kickstarter Project?

Sandhya with her new legs

Sandhya with her new legs

Can you help this Kickstarter Project?
To make a documentary film showing how the BMVSS, an organisation that makes free limbs for amputees, is giving people their lives back – Stepping Forward from Jaipur by Christine Booth

Forty five years ago in Rajasthan, a young Indian Government officer, Devendra Raj Mehta, suffered a near-fatal car crash. Among other injuries, his left leg had been broken in 43 places – and it was only the skill of his surgeons that saved it from being amputated. As he recovered, his gratitude made him think about the many people who aren’t as fortunate – and he vowed to someday help them. Just five years later, he founded the BMVSS, to give artificial limbs free of charge to anyone who needs one, and to help restore dignity and self-esteem to people who would otherwise be forgotten by society. So far, it’s helped to transform the lives of over a million amputees all over the world.

For further information, photographs and donations click on the link below:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1519658987/stepping-forward-from-jaipur

Baron Attenborough of Richmond-upon-Thames CBE 29 August 1923 – 24 August 2014

Richard Attenborough Surur Hoda at Kingsley Hall in 1996

Richard Attenborough and Surur Hoda at Kingsley Hall in 1996

Our Founder President Baron Richard Attenborough was an exceptional man and did so much to help illuminate the peaceful, tolerant and non-violent views of Gandhi throughout the world. John Rowley, who is a Trustee of the Gandhi Foundation and who knew Richard, has written an illuminating and interesting article looking back on his life and especially his involvement with the Gandhi Foundation. You can view the full article which includes little-seen photographs by clicking this link:

Baron Attenborough of Richmond-Upon-Thames CBE 29 August 1923 – 24 August 2014 by John Rowley, Trustee, The Gandhi Foundation

 

I was privileged to have worked with Richard early in 1985 as the lawyer helping to create the Gandhi Trust, now the Gandhi Foundation. Together with Diana Schumacher, Lord David Ennals, Surur Hoda, Cecil Evans and Rex Ambler, we comprised the first trustees under the leadership of Richard himself.

Much has been very warmly written and spoken of his remarkable professional, artistic and steadfast nature and approach to his work, all very true and, if anything, understated in the endeavour to do justice to his vast, diverse and all-important talents.

What I think we were fortunate to have shared back in the aftermath of his epic film “Gandhi” , was in witnessing his innate sense of what is right and what is wrong, what needs to be supported and what opposed. The experience of his parents welcoming into their home two young Jewish girls, Helga and Irene, refugees from Nazi persecution whom he came to regard very much as his sisters, was frequently mentioned as defining the values of his upbringing. He had an ability to understand and, as it were, get under the skin of others, and a genuine uncomplicated belief that good can prevail – rare qualities and gifts in much limited supply.

This ethos was well to the fore in the discussions and thinking that went into the establishment of the charity, its objects and the practical implications of its workings as well as the visionary concept of the exercise. Richard embraced the teachings, commitment and authority of the Mahatma not simply as a worthy subject for a film – a movie, in his words – but as important for everyone to learn, absorb and run their lives for the betterment of all. True and needed for the 1980s, even more true today.

His most fitting memorial is for those now in charge of the charity to press forward with its human and humane standards and activities, bridge-building across differences real and perceived, all in keeping with the warmth, charm and humour that was ever dear Richard.

Martin Polden OBE
Co-Founder of the Environmental Law Foundation and a Patron of the Gandhi Foundation

Sadly, I never had the honour of meeting Richard, so I cannot add any personal reminiscences.
But I was hugely impressed by Gandhi, the film, and also by Oh What a Lovely War. A beautiful spirit has certainly been switched off in one way, yet its influence remains fresh for generations to come. I hope the Gandhi Foundation may play a leading role in spreading his light across the world.

Eirwen Harbottle
Peace Child International and a Patron of the Gandhi Foundation

Plans announced for Gandhi statue to be erected in London’s Parliament Square

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The Foreign Secretary and Chancellor have announced plans for a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, the inspiration for non-violent civil rights movements around the world, to be erected in Parliament Square.

A monument in a location of symbolic value for our democracy is a fitting tribute to this great man, which will inspire us all to uphold his ideals and teachings ahead of important anniversaries of key moments in his extraordinary life. Gandhi has a particular connection to London, having studied here like so many of the talented young Indians we welcome today.

Our ambition is for the monument to be in place early next year. Once installed, the statue will provide a focal point for commemoration next summer of the 100th anniversary of Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa to start the struggle for self-rule, as well as the passing of 70 years since his death in 2018, and the 150th anniversary of his birth in 2019.

The Foreign Secretary and Chancellor made the announcement while visiting Gandhi Smriti, the Gandhi memorial in Delhi, on the second day of their visit to India. The memorial is located on Tees January Marg (30 January Road) at Gandhi’s home and the site of his death on 30 January, 1948.

It is intended that this important monument will be funded by charitable donations and sponsors. The project has the full support of Government, and a special advisory group, led by the UK’s Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, has been set up to support progress. Philip Jackson, a leading British figurative sculptor, renowned for statues of the Queen Mother and Bomber Command, has been approached to take on this prestigious project.

The memorial will stand alongside those to other international leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln.

The Foreign Secretary said:

Gandhi’s view of communal peace and resistance to division, his desire to drive India forward, and his commitment to non-violence left a legacy that is as relevant today as it was during his life.

He remains a towering inspiration and a source of strength. We will honour him with a statue alongside those of other great leaders in Parliament Square.

The Gandhi statue will be the 11th statue to be erected in Parliament Square.

The advisory panel will be chaired by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and amongst others will include: Jo Johnson MP, Head of the Downing Street Policy Unit, Cllr Robert Davis, Deputy-Leader Westminster Council; Sir Edward Lister, Deputy Mayor Policy and Planning GLA, Lord Desai, Lord Bilimoria, Priti Patel MP, the Prime Minister’s Diaspora Champion, and Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery.

source. GOV.UK

 

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