Essay on Mahatma Gandhi’s views on Swaraj

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By Swaraj, he meant freedom and self-rule which should be practiced at three levels – (i) in case of individual Swaraj, it is self-control or Swaraj of the self. (2) In case of the country, it is the freedom of India from the British clutch, and (3) in case of community level, it is Grain Swaraj or freedom of village.

Individual Swaraj:

Gandhiji championed the cause of individual freedom. In his words “Swaraj really means self-control. Only he is capable of self-control: observes the rules of morality, does not cheat or give up truth, and does his duty to his parents, wife and children, servant’s and neighbors. Such a man is in enjoyment of Swaraj….” A State enjoys Swaraj if it can boast of a large number of such good citizens.

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An individual Swarajist has to observe eleven vows like truth, non-violence, non-stealing, non-possession, celibacy, fearlessness, manual labour, non-indulgence in food, use of Swadeshi, equal respect for all religions and eradicating untouchability. Gandhi considered individual as an end and as such opposed -to subordination.

Swaraj for the nation (India):

Gandhi was a staunch nationalist. He wanted to free India from the clutches of the Britishers. His idea of Swaraj for the nation included the following things:

Opposition to imperialism:

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Gandhiji was against colonial hegemony. By and large, he wanted to obtain freedom from the clutches of the Britishers giving a clarion call ‘Do or die’. When the Quit India Resolution was passed in 1942, Gandhiji observed, “I therefore want freedom, immediately, this very night, before dawn if it can be had”. Thus, he opposed imperialism tooth and nail.

Advocacy of Swadeshi:

Gandhiji told that in body, mind and spirit one should be Swadeshi. He advised to give up foreign goods and adopt country-made goods. In his words: “Swadeshi teaches us that being born in it and having inherited her culture, I am fittest to serve her and she has a prior claim to my service. But my patriotism is not exclusive; it is calculated not to hurt any other nation but to benefit all in the true sense of the word.”

Home-rule:

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Gandhi advocated ‘home-rule. He rejected the idea of ‘prayer and petition1 of the Moderates and emphasized that the need of that hour was self-rule or ‘home-rule’. He observed boldly, “If the English vacated India bag and baggage, it must not be supposed that she would be widowed.” A ‘home-rule’ can better tackle the situation whatever chaotic it may be.

Parliamentary Swaraj:

Out and out, Gandhi was a democrat. He wanted to free India from the clutch of western democracy. It was only because that democracy is full of violence and it resorts to coercive methods to maintain law and order. He wanted a State where an individual will see God within another individual and non-violence will triumph over brutal force.

Means and end relationship:

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For the Swaraj of a nation, Gandhiji put emphasis on the relation of means with end. He emphasized on the relation of means with end. He emphasized on the fact that State is not an end itself. It is one of the means to secure the greatest good for the individuals inside the society. Thus, ‘State should adopt fair means for achieving fair ends.

Gram Swaraj:

Gram Swaraj is the third category of Swaraj which Gandhi envisaged. He really wanted Swaraj of self rule by the people of India who represent the rural mass. Time and again, he observed “India’s soul lives in the village”, He wanted that power structure should begin from the below. This subaltern approach of Gandhi made his Gram Swaraj view very strong. He dreamt of village republics in the free India.

By his idea of spiritualised politics, Gandhi wanted to attain Swaraj. The spirituality with a man will inject new power to ‘soul force’ within him which will lead Jo the attainment of Swaraj. If that follows, as a natural corollary, the Swaraj for State will be attained automatically.

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