Satyagrahaसत्याग्रह Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict Transformation
TRUTH Satyagraha – Holding onto Truth Satya – Hindi for “truth”, one of the five cardinal Hindu virtues Sat - Sanskrit for “is” and “being” In the Hindu tradition, life’s ultimate goal is self-realization, which is identification with God In the Satyagrahaphilosophy, God is absolute Truth God is Truth and Truth is God, they are interchangeable Related to Hindu pluralistic ethos that there are many paths to God, therefore in Satyagraha many paths to Truth Individuals have differing views as to what is Truth Individual man searches for truth in terms of the community of which he a part. (Bondurant, 1988, p. 22)
NON-VIOLENCE Ahimsa – action based on the refusal to do harm A positive state of love, doing good, even to the evil doer One must disassociate with the evil doer even if it offends him May not even harbor uncharitable thoughts Ahimsa is our supreme duty Ahimsa is the greatest of the five cardinal Hindu virtues Ahimsa is the means and truth is the end To get to ultimate Truth, one must test different types of Truth through Ahimsa, non-violence Ahimsa is the standard Truth is measured against There exist limitations on human capacity to achieve non-violence
SELF-SUFFERING Tapasya – willingness of self-sacrifice Essence of non-violence Chosen substitute for violence to others Related to Hinduism’s yogic ideals of self-restraint and self-discipline Requires courage Non-violence of the strong Gandhi referred to the “non-violence of the weak” whenever followers failed to grasp full meaning of Satyagraha Voluntary submission to injury Fully realized when practitioners can use violence, but refrain from doing so and invite suffering upon themselves How Truth is tested
Relationship of Three Elements The truth concept as it functions in Satyagraha is relative Truth Objective standard to judge Truth is fulfillment of human needs of freedom and preservation of human integrity Discovery of Truth is the resolution of conflict that arises out of differing opinions Must be attained through non-violent actions Non-violent action often leads to experiencing violence instigated by the opponent Self-suffering involves refusal to injure the opponent while simultaneously holding to the Truth Implies sacrifice, even to the death Further means by which relative Truth is tested
Ahimsa’s ideals ofpeace and love are a part of most religious doctrine
Questions for Discussion Think of one current international conflict in which this technique may be used successfully. What aspects of Satyagraha make it a successful technique for conflict resolution? Conversely, think of one current international conflict in which this technique may prove challenging and describe why. From the conflict transformation techniques we have learned in class, what are some features that are “missing” from the Satyagraha technique? What features does Satyagraha provide that are missing from the other frameworks? Could Satyagraha be combined with another conflict transformation technique? What challenges and opportunities would arise from such a combination? In the context of the India’s struggle for independence, think of episodes that demonstrate how this technique was used. What were the successes and failures of using this techniques in this context?