Today (2nd October) is the 137th birth anniversary of Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi, one of the greatest leaders of the Indian sub-continent. It is interesting to note how Gandhi used fasting as an effective strategy for his 'Satyagraha' or 'Protest with Truth' campaign in India.
Gandhi considered fasting as an important tool for exerting mental control over the biological activities. He believed that fasting would also put the body through unusual hardship which in turn would cleanse the spirit, by stimulating the courage to withstand all impulses and pain.
Gandhi fasted to death on three occasions:
- To stop all revolutionary activities after the Chauri Chaura Incident of 1922;
- Against the 1934 communal award giving separate electorates to Untouchable Hindus; and
- In 1947, when he wanted to stop the bloodshed between Hindus and Muslims in Bengal and Delhi.
On his birth anniversay, it is perhaps fitting to remember some of his words on non-violence which we have forgotten today:
"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?"
"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind".
... and perhaps the best one:
"There are many causes that I am prepared to die for, but no cause that I am prepared to kill for!".
More information on Gandhi is available here.