The word ‘satyagraha’ not coined by Gandhi, claims a book
PTI, Thursday March 23 2006 00:00 IST
NEW DELHI: Contrary to popular belief, the word ‘satyagraha’ that became synonymous with Mahatma Gandhi was "not coined by him" but his cousin who helped him decide on a name for his non-violent struggle, a book by a former diplomat claims.
"He (Mahatma Gandhi) offered a prize for an appropriate name for the new non-violent struggle they had decided upon. A cousin, Maganlal Gandhi, suggested ‘sadagraha’ (firmness in good cause).
Gandhi amended it to ‘satyagraha’ (firm adherence to truth)…," the book, ‘Gandhi’s Outstanding Leadership’, authored by former diplomat Pascal Alan Nazareth, claims.
Releasing the book on the Father of the Nation on Tuesday evening, former Prime Minister I K Gujral said Gandhi is more relevant today as he has the capacity to influence our lives.
"World history would have been entirely different today had Gandhi chosen to remain silent after being thrown off on a South African station from a train," he said.
Senior journalist B G Verghese said Gandhi was much ahead of his times and his "vibrant principles" still remain active.
"Schemes like National Rural Employment Guarantee Bill, organic farming, Human Rights Issue are all founded on his principles. Long before the Rural Employment Bill was announced, Gandhiji introduced the concept of ‘khadi’ to give work to everyone, so that no hand remained idle.
He took up the cause of ‘harijans’ and other downtrodden classes, much before human rights became a global issue," Verghese said.
Describing Gandhi as "India’s greatest export to the world", Verghese said testimony to it was that there are "more gandhians abroad than here in India" and foreign universities have teaching courses in ‘Conflict Resolution by Non-Violent Means’ – one of the many policies propounded by the Mahatma.
"The non-violent policy that he followed was certainly not a bed of roses. As a leader of a non-violent movement, he had to fight with himself," said B R Nanda, veteran historian and a biographer of the Mahatma.
Nazareth said he had tried to "deconstruct" the leader in Mahatma Gandhi for all non-gandhians and quoted extensively from works by foreign scholars.
"I have deliberately tried to use foreign scholars’ quotes and stories about Gandhiji. We all know what Indians think about the Father of the Nation. Through my book, I wanted Indians to know what the world thinks about Gandhiji," he said.