Camera Operators: John DeFazio, Patrick Dolan
Principles of Non-Violence
Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, heeded his grandfather's charge to "plant seeds in the minds of people, in hopes that they will germinate," when he founded the Gandhi Institute in Memphis, TN, in order to spread the seeds of peace.
In a speech at the National Interfaith Dialogue Gathering, held November 12th to 14th of 2004 in Washington, DC, and sponsored by the Interfaith Alliance Foundation, Arun Gandhi tells a wonderful anecdote from his youth about tossing away a short, used pencil on the way home from school one day. When he asked his grandfather later that evening for another pencil, Mahatma Gandhi questioned his grandson about the lost pencil, and then sent Arun out in the dark to look for it. A few hours later, lost pencil in hand, Arun returned to his grandfather, who cautioned him not to throw away resources, "a violence against nature." Mahatma Gandhi explained that affluent societies "overconsume," causing many to live in poverty, which he termed "violence against humanity."
Mahatma Gandhi frequently spoke, according to his grandson, about the "eight sins: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, commerce without morality, worship without sacrifice, politics without principle, rights without responsibility, knowledge without character, and science without humanity." A society and culture free of these sins would be a society without violence, he said.
Arun Gandhi provides in this speech a number of other remembrances about his grandfather, as well as his plans for the Gandhi Institute going forward. Among the most vivid stories he relates is about the six blind men and the elephant. Mahatma Gandhi described six blind men positioned around an elephant and asked to describe it. One felt its leg and said it was like a pole. One felt its trunk and said it was like a snake. One felt its side and said it was like a wall. Arun notes that none of the blind men were absolutely wrong and none of the blind men were absolutely right. Arrogance, Mahatma taught, arises in the belief that one possesses the whole truth. The scriptures of all religions, he believed, reveal some of the truths of this world. "Share each other's experiences," he advised, and if you want to live peacefully, be respectful of all religions.