G. L. Batra, Writer & formerly Addl. Secretary, Indian Parliament and Chairman, Public Service Commission of the Indian State of Haryana
Photo Source: BigStockPhoto
The observations of some eminent personalities may be quoted to describe the nature of society and law in ancient India.
The noted Pythagorean philosopher, Apollonius Tyanaeus observed, “In India I found a race of mortals living upon the earth, but not adhering to it, inhabiting cities, but not being fixed to them, possessing everything, but possessed by nothing.”
Lord Curzon, Viceroy of British India observed that, “India has left a deeper mark upon the history, philosophy and religions of mankind, than any other terrestrial unity in the universe.”
The famous French writer and pacifist, Romain Rolland remarked, “If there is one place on the face of the earth, where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest day of man’s existence on earth, it is India.”
Will Durant, the renowned philosopher stated that, “India was the motherland of our race and Sanskrit the mother of Europe’s language. India was mother of our philosophy, of much of our mathematics, of the ideals embodied in Christianity – of self-government and democracy in many ways a mother India is the mother of us all.”
The principles and values propounded by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the father of our nation and fondly known as, ‘Bapuji’ continue to inspire every Indian even today. Jurisprudentially, Bapuji’s philosophy symbolizes righteousness, truth, justice, non-violence, equality, human dignity and supremacy of moral law. According to him, these values are fundamental truths, and he propounded them with missionary zeal and fervor, to become ‘an unconscious tool of history’, for the eradication of evils like untouchability, exploitation and discrimination. His beliefs were based on high moral values for the transformation of Indian society, by strictly following the principles of ahimsa or non-violence and truth, the former being the means and the latter being the end.
India remained under British rule for over 200 years. The British came to India primarily as traders, attracted by her fabulous wealth and rich resources, but stayed on as the rulers of this great land. Apart from other factors, the internal rivalries existing between the native kings of that period helped them consolidate their control over India. Bapuji believed that British rule in India had destroyed India’s prosperity, moral values, and political independence. He uncompromisingly opposed British rule in India on the grounds of the moral ideas of non-co-operation and civil disobedience and Satyagraha (non-violent force based on righteousness). He wanted Swaraj (self-rule) and Ram Rajya (an ideal state) for India based on these principles in which everyone got his due by performing his duties in the service of the poor. Such was his ideal of social morality on which the foundations of independent India were to be built.
As is amply evident, this ethical and moral legacy was inherited by our forefathers, national leaders and freedom fighters, who gave ethics and moral values prime importance, and carried out politics on ethical and moral grounds. Our national leaders were men and women who spearheaded the freedom struggle with high standards of integrity and honesty in public life. For them, at that time, politics was rooted in morality, and this is visible from the sacrifices they made to obtain freedom for the country.
The history of our struggle for freedom from British rule is long, cherished and chequered. Our fore-fathers had to struggle hard to attain their freedom. Stalwart freedom fighters belonging to every caste and creed, and from every part of India participated in this movement and struggled very hard to achieve the goal of an independent India. The tragedy known as “Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre” of 13 April, 1919 which was perpetrated by the internationally condemned, merciless tyrant General Dyer, who ordered his soldiers to open fire at helpless and innocent people, was the last nail in the coffin of the British Empire in India.
Our forefathers and freedom fighters faced the brutality and tyranny of draconian laws and actions, suffered most excruciating physical and mental agonies and faced stinking prison cells with courage, conviction and zeal in order to achieve their objective of making India free. Their main guiding principle was that of ahimsa or non-violence and tolerance. It is very difficult for anybody to elaborate in detail the sacrifices, which our leaders and forefathers made, and we as Indians bow to them, and are, and should be indebted to them throughout our lives.
To be continued……………
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