A friend asked me today: Are you for or against Gandhi? Its been a while since I've lost the habit of thinking on these lines as I'm out of school and college, and there are no more elocution competitions to commemorate special days. My TV is not tuned to receive Doordarshan either, so it's been ages since I last watched Richard Attenborough's epic.
All my life, I've been told (by history books, elders, television documentaries, newspaper articles) that Gandhi is God. And I used to think that if a man is called the Father of the Nation and his image appears on the nation's currency, he must be big!
My only flash cuts to Gandhi's "negative side" used to be my Indian Air Force pilot-friend, who always abused Gandhi for "screwing up on the Partition". And I've read pieces about Gandhi's controversial experiments with Brahmacharya. Somehow, the growing cynicism in me wants to think there must be more to the man than just truth and non-violence. Again, I believe that all people are made of goodness and evil, and that the two must be weighed to determine, in the greater scheme of things, the person's greatness.
I believe nobody in real life can be a thamizh film hero - embodiment of all good things, without a trace of negativity in them. And that every person is glorified after their death, positive side usually conquering the dark side. Couple this with our national tendency to turn people into "Gods", in the truest sense of the word.
So, as "Is Gandhigiri relevant today" debates happen on NDTV and Sun TV airs Thiruda Thirudi, my response to my friend's question:
I don't know enough about Gandhi to form an opinion of him.
Suddenly my ill-informedness slaps me very hard!
Some interesting links:
MK Gandhi's Autobiography
More on the Mahatma
Much more on the Mahatma
(warning - may be offensive to some):
More on Nathuram Godse
The Gandhi Nobody Knows by Richard Grenier