Saturday, January 23, 2016

_Nonviolent Soldier of Islam: Badshah Khan, a Man to Match His Mountains_

_Nonviolent Soldier of Islam:  Badshah Khan, a Man to Match His Mountains_ by Eknath Easwaran
Tomales, CA:  Nilgiri Press, 1984/1999
ISBN 1-888314-01-x

(108)  For the poet Khushal Khan, as for all Pathans, autumn rather than spring brings renewal.  Then the sun dips south toward the Arabian sea, the air from the passes cools, wedges of geese float over from the Central Asian plateau, the poplars and willows turn amber - and Pathan blood stirs.

(145)  Gaffar Khan on why he never knew whether his brother's wife had accepted Islam or not:
...not one in a hundred thousand knows the true spirit of Islam.  I think at the back of our quarrels is the failure to recognize that all faiths contain enough inspiration for their adherents.  The Holy Koran says in so many words that God sends messengers for all nations and peoples.  All of them are Ahle Kitab -"Men of the Book" - and the Hindus are no less Ahle Kitab than Jews and Christians.

(146)  During his tour he saw the real significance of Gandhi's insistence on spinning.  Where villagers spun, they had enough to eat;  where they did not, they starved.

(171)  Ghani [Gaffar's son] asked Murtaza how nonviolence could have become the creed of a former outlaw.  The plainspoken reply offers an insight into the dynamics of satyagraha, soul force, which taps the hidden potential of the human spirit.  "I was a little saint for those four years [he was a commander of the Khudai Khidmatgars]," he told Ghani.  "I tried to live up to my dreams instead of my desires.  It was great, it was a miracle.  I refused fortunes for a hope and spared lovely girls because they trusted me and looked up to me."  In his unintended way, Murtaza reveals the infectious power of nonviolence - love in action.  "You cannot help loving those that love you," he told Ghani, "and you cannot hurt those that trust you.  I tried to live up to what the people thought I was."  Thus the grizzled outlaw went to prison again - but this time as a "servant of God" in the cause of his people's freedom.

(186)  Counting from 1910, with the opening of his first school in Utmanzai, Badshah Khan went on serving, reforming, and resisting tyranny for almost eighty years.  I cannot imagine finding anywhere in the world's history a life of more unbroken service in the cause of freedom.

Despite his thirty years in jail [held in both British and Pakistani prisons] - the equivalent of every third day of his life - Badshah Khan never ceased to stand by the principles of love and service with which he began his mission.  As one biographer wrote, "He will not bend."  Through all the suffering and setbacks, he remained a dedicated servant of God, compassionate, forgiving, and resilient - and as dogged as ever.

(194)  [after the Kaira action of 1918, why Gandhi recruited for the British military]  
This was not Gandhi's idea of nonviolence.  True nonviolence did not issue from weakness but from strength.  It was a matter of the powerful voluntarily withholding their power in a conflict, choosing to suffer for the sake of a principle rather than inflict suffering - even though they could.  Gandhi called this the "nonviolence of the strong," as opposed to the "nonviolence of the weak" that he had found in his Kaira peasants.  "My creed of nonviolence is an extremely active force," he insisted.  "It has no room for cowardice or even weakness."

(197)  Satya means truth in Sanskrit, and agraha comes from a Sanskrit root meaning "to hold on to," which Gandhi used as a synonym for "force."  Thus satyagraha carries a double meaning:  it signifies a determined holding on to, a _grappling_ with truth;  while at the same time it implies the forces that arises from that grappling, what Gandhi called"soul-force."  Satyagraha stands for both the means and the ends, the struggle and the force that is generated in that struggle.

As heat is generated by friction, Gandhi contended, power is released from within the depths of the human spirit in its struggle toward truth.  The raw material for this power is passion.  "I have learned through bitter experience," Gandhi explained, "the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power which can move the world."  In this "truth-struggling" nothing is lost or repressed;  energy is conserved and transmuted.  Thus in its transformative aspect nonviolence is not nonviolence at all, but violence transmuted, harnessed, _used_.  We could more properly call it _trans_violence, where the power of passions like anger, hatred, and fear is reshaped into a potent fighting force.

(263)  _My Life and Struggle_ by Abdul Ghaffar Khan
Delhi:  Hind Pocket Books, 1969

_Abdul Ghaffar Khan:  Faith Is a Battle_ by DG Tendulkar
Bombay:  Gandhi Peace Foundation (Popular Prakashan), 1967

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