What do some people criticize Gandhiji’s conception of Ahimsa?

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Ahimsa is considered to be the noblest gift from India to the world. It has won veneration at the hands of a number of philosophers and humanists. But it has certain serious limitations which cannot be ignored.

In the first place a non-violent struggle can be carried on only if it is led by a leader of super human capacities like Mahatma Gandhi. It requires immense spiritual strength, courage and patience which cannot be expected of common human beings.

Secondly it is workable only in a keenly conscientious world. If the opponent does not nave an emotional affinity towards the stragglers, it does not work. Particularly when there is a clash of interests, the conflicting parties have conflicting morality.

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In the case of a mill strike, the mill owner will call the strike immoral while for the mill-workers it would be moral. The use of force against strikers will be made with a sense of righteousness. Hence complete non-violence on the part of workers would never redress their complaints.

From this, we can draw a third conclusion which changes Gandhi’s Ahimsa with a bias towards the tyrant. The serpent and the tiger, it is said, do not give up their misanthropy if man be non-violent. Passiveness may rather embolden the capitalists regarding ruthless exploitation of the poor.

Points to Remember

(1) Ahimsa-a supreme virtue (2) Unlimited use (3) Not a Negative use (4) Not a weapon of weak (5) Aimed at self-purification (6) Useable in politics-South Africa

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Criticism:

May give strength to tyrant men of supreme moral value. In clash of worker and mill owner difficult to work.

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