Non-violent Resistance - Section First: What Satyagraha Is Summary & Analysis

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Section First: What Satyagraha Is Summary and Analysis

Satyagraha literally means "holding on to Truth" and is soul or spirit. It bars the use of violence because man cannot know the absolute truth and so is not competent to punish. Sometimes the English speak of passive resistance but this concept does not exclude violence. Satyagraha is also more than mere Civil Disobedience because it is only a branch of Satyagraha. Instead, non-cooperation means to withdraw from the State that in the non-cooperator's view is immoral but it excludes fierce disobedience. It is practiced as a last resort. Gandhi then illustrates with an example in interacting with his wife.

The civil resister does not seek to avoid the penalty of law, unlike the lawmakers who break it. They consider it unjust to render obedience. Gandhi finds such a case with the Rowlatt Bills. Gandhi encourages fast, prayer and suspension of work on the 6th of April and there is a vast response. It is purely voluntary but Gandhi is arrested. However, the leaders do not react effectively.

Violence should not be used for good ends because violence is the means used by the oppressor and so it is hypocritical to use it. Further, it involves using a means that by nature corrupts the end even if it is achieved. Means must be appropriate to ends. Gandhi then illustrates with examples, such as with robbery. He next argues that there is some historical evidence of success but that the nature of the human spirit shows that it will be successful. The very existence of peace anywhere demonstrates this.

Further, law cannot bind if it is unjust, even if it is passed by a majority; to believe otherwise is superstition. Yet brute-force cannot be used. In the next section, Gandhi's testimony before the Hunter Committee is printed in extract. In the extracts, Gandhi is accused of political subversion but he defends his method as just, peaceful and voluntary, and denies any association with violence resisters. Gandhi is examined on the doctrines of Satyagraha. The examiners attempt to trip Gandhi up and get him to confess to their accusations.

In the final section, Gandhi argues that Satyagraha is independent of financial or material assistance. It is non-violent, for violence is the opposite of spiritual force. Satyagrahis, or followers of Satyagraha, must realize that there is something superior in many to the brute nature in him. Followers of Satyagraha must adopt poverty, becoming indifferent to whether we can feed or clothe ourselves. Satyagraha is also a form of education.

This section contains 432 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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