I think it’s safe to say that everyone remembers what happened 11 years ago today. But 106 years ago today something else happened, something far more important — an idea was born. The visionary was a man by the name of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Gandhi took two Sanskrit words, satya (truth) and agraha (insistence), and put them together to create Satyagraha, insistence on truth — a word he coined to describe one of the most important and often overlooked ideas in human history.
Basic Concepts of Satyagraha: Gandhian Nonviolence:
from the APT Nonviolence Trainer’s Manual.
(Courtesy of http://www.dfong.com/nonviol/basicsat.html)
I. “Sat” — which implies openness, honesty, and fairness: Truth.
A) Each person’s opinions and beliefs represent part of the truth.
B) In order to see more of the truth we must share our truths cooperatively.
C) This implies a desire to communicate and a determination to do so, which in turn requires developing and refining relevant skills of communication.
D) Commitment to seeing as much of the truth as possible means that we can not afford to categorize ourselves or others.
II. “Ahimsa” — refusal to inflict injury on others.
A) Ahimsa is dictated by our commitment to communication and to sharing of our pieces of the truth. Violence shuts off channels of communication.
B) The concept of ahimsa appears in most major religions, which suggests that while it may not be practiced by most people, it is respected as an ideal.
C) Ahimsa is an expression of our concern that our own and other’s humanity be manifested and respected.
D) We must learn to genuinely love our opponents in order to practice ahimsa.
III. “Tapasya” — willingness for self-sacrifice.
A) A satyagrahi (one who practices satyagraha) must be willing to shoulder any sacrifice which is occasioned by the struggle which they have initiated, rather than pushing such sacrifice or suffering onto their opponent, lest the opponent become alienated and access to their portion of the truth become lost.
B) The satyagrahi must always provide a face-saving “way out” for the opponents. The goal is to discover a wider vista of truth and justice, not to achieve victory over the opponent.