Identify the symbolic significance when Gandhi was assassinated during a prayer meeting in Dehli.

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

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The symbolism of Gandhi's death during a prayer meeting is quite compelling.  On one hand, Gandhi's entire life was dedicated to nonviolence and abhorring the moral condition that stresses "an eye for an eye leaving the whole world blind."  It is this position- one or moral transcendence and the notion that hatred can be overcome- that ends up killing him.  The idea of a prayer meeting, itself, was symbolic of Gandhi's idea that prayer and spiritual faith can overcome that which divides.  Yet, Godse shoots Gandhi in the belief that sectarian division is more important than universal convergence.  The symbolic notion of a prayer meeting seeking to heal is what brings about Gandhi's death.  I also think that Gandhi's death at a prayer meeting helps to highlight the challenging condition of post- Britain life in India.  For Gandhi, the fight against the British unified all Indians.  Indians from all narratives and all walks of life found some level of common ground in what Gandhi had been preaching, a message that found its roots in the basic idea of spiritual acceptance of nonviolent civil disobedience as the only appropriate tool against British injustice.  In the violence that followed with Partition, it became evident that Gandhi was struggling to bring about the same message when Indian on Indian violence was so high.  The lines between victim and victimizer were blurred as the situation became increasingly complex and difficult for Indians to follow.  Gandhi's answer became prayer, reaffirming its power to Indians, in the midst of total and uncontrolled bloodshed throughout Partition- driven India.  Gandhi's assassination en route to a prayer meeting was symbolic of his only response to the growing complexity that post- British India that had emerged.  His death at this prayer meeting helped to bring about the idea that while Gandhi was a force to help bring about Indian independence, his embodiment of idealism might not have been enough to enable India to keep this vision intact while it struggled to keep its nation intact.  Gandhi's death at a prayer meeting was symbolic of the ends to which Gandhi professed his life and his being, dying doing and representing what he loved.


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