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Concept of Non-Violence


Multilevel violence, which may vary from micro to macro, is one of today's key concerns. Violence is often thought of in 'legal terms.' However, legal terminology reduce the phenomena of violence by reducing its complexity and defining it as penal actions. Foucault has rightly mentioned that ‘what appears obvious to us is not at all so obvious’. Applying this idea to the concept of violence, one might argue that, although violence seems to be a simple and self-evident concept, it is highly layered and complex.

Gandhi was certain that truth could be gained only via non-violence, which he described positively as love. Nonviolence is a kind of love. In its positive sense, non-violence means love for others; in its negative sense, it seeks no injury to others, both in words as well as deeds.

In spite of this conceptual problem, one can explain violence through the typology of Johan Galtung. According to Galtung, violence is of three kinds; direct, structural, and cultural.

Gandhi’s Response to Direct Violence

Advaita is the basic concept of Gandhi's nonviolence. As a result, Gandhi sees no distinction between self and other. Following Advaita, his non-violence affirms that there are no others, there is only the self, or versions thereof. As a result, violence directed towards others is really directed against oneself. Direct or personal violence, organized or sporadic, that we observe in contemporary society and politics, emerges when one considers others as absolute ‘other’.  It should be noted that for Gandhi, nonviolence is more than just a personal virtue or individual behaviour. Nonviolence, he said, is a "rule of our being" that must be followed in all social relationships, including family, political, economic, and educational ones.

Gandhi’s Response to Structural Violence

At the structural level, the issue of violence in the contemporary world may be regarded in terms of power concentration, large-scale industrialization, and exploitation of one group by another. Nonviolence and peace researchers refer to this as structural violence. According to Gandhi, these are manifestations of violations of moral ideals that modern society chooses to disregard. In this regard, Gandhi's concept of aparigraha (non-possession) and its institutionalised form of 'trusteeship,' as well as the necessity for self-control, are still relevant today. Gandhi believed that only by reorienting our institutions toward the 'rule of nonviolence' could we solve the contemporary dilemma. He saw centralization of authority, whether political or economic, as violence and called for a decentralised system of government (Panchayati Raj) and economics (Gram Swaraj) to reduce structural violence in society.Imposing one's own will on others does not constitute Gandhi's ideal form of moral leadership; rather, he advocated using the supremacy of reason and love.

Gandhi on individual and state

Gandhi considered the person as the center of power and worth when it came to the question of state and individual, which is a major challenge to contemporary polity. The State and Government, he maintains, derive their existence and authority from the individuals. He reminded the populace that without their assistance, the State and Government could not survive for a single second. Thus, when the State starts to exploit the populace and obstruct their advancement, it is the people's sacred duty to withdraw their support and reform the State by moral force.In response to the contemporary problem of social-political injustice or the economic inequality, Gandhi proposes a nonviolent mode of protest what he termed as Satyagraha.

Gandhi's Retaliation Against Cultural Violence

Gandhi does not consider violence to be limited to its most visible manifestations. He was fully aware that in today's society, violence may take numerous forms and dimensions, such as exploitation or marginalisation. He also realised that such multi-dimensionality of violence has an effect on a certain group or civilization, such as colonial India. According to Allen, "multidimensionality of violence" refers to "psychological, linguistic, sociopolitical, and economic violence perpetrated on a certain population in the society that is not overt but buried in the very structure and function of the society." 

Violence against nature

The environmental catastrophe, sometimes known as aggression against nature, is one of the most urgent modern concerns we face. The current environmental catastrophe is not a problem; it is rather a symptom of a fundamentally erroneous normative perspective of the human-nature relationship. Rather than viewing nature in isolation from human beings, Gandhi said that we should develop a more vital link with the rest of the animate world. Additionally, he stated that people and nature must coexist in peace, rather than humans abusing nature for their own pleasure. He strongly advocates the ‘green thought’ in our day-to-day life as well as an economy and developmental model based on natural order to save ourselves from the catastrophe.


He advocated a minimal state, endowed with just coordinative authority, that advocates for decentralization, with the independent individual as its foundation.

Gandhiji's whole way of life is infused with a spiritual attitude. His political ideas and practices, as well as ideas for economic development, social mobilization, and practical living, are founded on morality and ethics. His mantra was Pursuit of Truth, and nonviolence was a vital part of it.

“I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence... I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honor than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonor. But I believe that nonviolence is infinitely superior to violence, forgiveness is more manly than punishment.” Mahatma Gandhi


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