October 2 marks the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi?s birth, political and spiritual leader as well as founder of modern India. Gandhi is a shrewd, conscious, democratic, and authoritative politician but what makes his everlasting mark on man is his sublime though and unique manners. Gandhi is the messenger of peace and friendship. He comes from the heart of the old and rich culture of a land that is mother of ancient civilizations and in which men of different races, tribes, religions, cultures, ages, and social strata are living together in peace and friendship even today ? men who respect each other?s differences and consider transformations as signs of variety of lifestyles and the basis for the creation of a colorful world.
Gandhi intelligently rediscovered the secret of this peaceful coexistence in the local culture of India and strived to turn it into a global message. Even in leading Indian people?s fight to achieve independence, he did not give up on tolerance and violence avoidance, weapons with which he made the old colonizer the Great Britain kneel in 1947. The significance of this method of civil disobedience becomes clearer when we note that in the 20th century, Western countries that claimed to be leading in culture and civilization, always looking down at oriental societies, had put the world in two devastating and disastrous world wars.
A harbinger of peace and friendship, Gandhi himself became a victim of violence and bias. Seventy years after his death, in the second decade of the 21st century, the world is still witnessing war, terror, and horror. On the one hand, superpowers in political and economic spheres encroach on the rights of weaker, marginal societies and on the other hand, the plague of ignorance and dogmatism in the various forms of fundamentalism and blind violence has infected societies and attracted the youth. With excessive consumption and destruction of natural resources, unleashed capitalism has jeopardized the habitat of living creatures and fatal nuclear weapons are threatening the lives of every creature. Such circumstances seem to call more than ever for a return to great men such as Gandhi and to revive their heritage. What makes Gandhi stand out among all intellectuals on the one hand and politicians on the other hand is his two-dimensional character. Both as an intellectual and as a politician, he successfully put his innovative and peaceful ideas to work. From this angle, a rereading of his ideas and methods could offer real not delusive solutions to us.
In doing so and to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi?s 150th birth anniversary, Etemad daily has dedicated special pages to Gandhi and Indian culture. A major age-old neighbor of Iranian culture and civilization, India has always been a center of attention for educated Iranians and Persian literati and poets, with cultural links and intellectual exchanges of the two rich cultures being one of the most interesting concerns for Iranian scholars. In the pages to come we will see an interview with Indian ambassador to Iran, Saurabh Kumar, about Gandhi and his relation to Indian culture. In the interview, the ambassador elaborates on Gandhi?s thought and practice in the light of the two principles Satya (Truth) and Ahimsa (Nonviolence), calling Gandhi?s message for today?s man to be peace and friendship. Iranian Indologist Houman Babak also explores the role of Gandhi?s Satyagraha doctrine in the defeat of the British colonizers. Shervin Vakili PhD, culture and history scholar, uses a different point of view and investigates the lifetime of Gandhi through a critical approach. Film journalist Bahar Sarlak introduces some of the most prominent feature-length works that are adaptations of Gandhi?s life story.
In another part of these pages, we have shifted our attention to the culture and land of India as the context Gandhi came from, trying to investigate long-time cultural ties between Iran and India. Jabbar Rahmani PhD, social sciences scholar, has explored sustainable cultural relations between the two countries throughout history in an article. Indology has a long history in Iran, from Al-Biruni, reputed Iranian scientist to modern day scholars such as Mohammadreza Jalali Naeini, Darioush Shaygan, and Fathollah Mojtabaei. In a brief article, Ali Varamini retells the story of his time in India, with a vivid account of everyday realities of the Indian society.
Messenger of Peace □
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