Did Gandhi act out of a code of conduct?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is a fascinating question. I think that so many cases can be made on so many different levels that it simply prompts much in way of thought and analysis.  On the surface, and probably the easiest to grasp given the mythological status that Gandhi has taken, is that he did act out of a set of core beliefs that were spiritual in nature. Gandhi never used religion to divide or to separate, but rather appealed to the spiritual element that emphasized humanity and dignity in treating individuals.  It is through this approach that allowed him to preach nonviolence, though heavily combined with an intense disagreement of unjust laws and control.  Gandhi's use of Satyagraha, the code of conduct that employed the idea of "holding to truth" as part of an active campaign of civil disobedience, was a way in which he was able to reflect the dignity inherent in all people, including the oppressors.  It was in this where Gandhi's set of moral or spiritual beliefs are the most present.  The other side to this coin is that Gandhi acted out of an extremely well- honed in sense of political beliefs.  Gandhi understood that the use of nonviolence and Satyagraha was the only possible weapon that the Indians possessed against the mighty British Empire.  Before anyone else, Gandhi understood that the British controlled everything in terms of commerce, military and naval power, world prestige, and resource allocation.  For Gandhi to have demanded independence for India in such an arena would have been futile because of such an overwhelming advantage.  In carving out the struggle for independence on moral terms, some would argue that Gandhi was brilliant in his grasp of pragmatism, in that he understood that the way to equalize out the playing field between Indians and the British would be to develop a manner of struggle that emphasized the humanity of the Indians and standing in opposition to this would be representative of inhumanity and moral repugnance.  Within this invocation, Gandhi possessed a tough political set of beliefs that sought to gain independence through a pivoting to Indian strength, away from a British source of strength.

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