Mahatma Gandhi: Vegetarianism is the path to Satyagraha

The world knows Mohandas Gandhi as the leader of the Indian people, a fighter for justice, a great man who liberated India from the British colonialists through peace and non-violence. Without the ideology of justice and non-violence, Gandhi would have been just another revolutionary, a nationalist in a country that struggled to achieve freedom.

He went to him step by step, and one of these steps was vegetarianism, which he followed for convictions and moral views, and not just from established traditions. Vegetarianism has its roots in Indian culture and religion, as part of the doctrine of Ahimsa, which is taught by the Vedas, and which Gandhi later took as the basis of his method. “Ahimsa” in the Vedic traditions means “the absence of hostility towards any kind of living beings in all possible manifestations, which should be the desired aspiration of all seekers.” The laws of Manu, one of the sacred texts of Hinduism, state “Meat cannot be obtained without killing a living being, and because killing is contrary to the principles of Ahimsa, it must be abandoned.”

Explaining vegetarianism in India to his British vegetarian friends, Gandhi said:

Some Indians wanted to break away from ancient traditions and introduce meat-eating into the culture, because they believed that customs did not allow the Indian people to develop and defeat the British. Gandhi’s childhood friend, , believed in the power of eating meat. He told the young Gandhi: Mehtab also claimed that meat-eating would cure Gandhi of his other problems, such as an unreasonable fear of the dark.

It is worth noting that the example of Gandhi’s younger brother (who ate meat) and Mehtab proved to be convincing for him, and for some time. This choice was also influenced by the example of the Kshatriya caste, warriors who always ate meat and it was believed that their diet was the main cause of strength and endurance. After some time eating meat dishes in secret from his parents, Gandhi caught himself enjoying meat dishes. However, this was not the best experience for the young Gandhi, but rather a lesson. He knew that every time he ate meat, he especially his mother, who was horrified by the meat-eating brother Gandhi. The future leader made a choice in favor of giving up meat. Thus, Gandhi made his decision to follow vegetarianism based not on the morals and ideas of vegetarianism per se, but, first of all, on. Gandhi, according to his own words, was not a true vegetarian.

became the driving force that led Gandhi to vegetarianism. He observed with admiration the way of life of his mother, who expressed devotion to God through fasting (fasting). Fasting was the foundation of her religious life. She always held even stricter fasts than required by religions and traditions. Thanks to his mother, Gandhi realized the moral strength, invulnerability and lack of dependence on taste pleasures that could be achieved through vegetarianism and fasting.

Gandhi desired meat because he thought it would provide the strength and stamina to free himself from the British. However, by choosing vegetarianism, he found another source of strength – which led to the collapse of the British colonization. After the first steps towards the triumph of morality, he began to study Christianity, Hinduism and other religions of the world. Soon, he came to the conclusion: . The renunciation of pleasure became his main goal and the origin of the Satyagraha. Vegetarianism was the trigger for this new power, as it represented self-control.

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