Let us first consider what really are values. These are, the general norms we set for ourselves to live our routine lives in the family, in society, in office and in the nation. In all these aspects of life, we all need some guidelines, and it is these guidelines that we set for ourselves that are called values. When we thus talk of values, we mean what are the basic standards of behaviour we have set for our lives, for, without a clear cut pathway it would be difficult to tread.
We are presently here to discuss Gandhian values, and their relevance in the 21st Century. At this juncture, I’d like to say that, there are some values of behaviour that can never become irrelevant, no matter what the scenario, and no matter what the Century. Let us find out what are the basic values which we call as Gandhian. What were these values, which were relevant in the beginning of the 20th Century, and have lost their hue in the 21st century. These values were, simplicity, merging with the common man, non-violence and prayer. As far as these values are concerned not even the hardest of criminals will call any of them bad or irrelevant but, the moot point is that, can we follow these values in today’s scenario? However there should not be any problem in following at least some of these values if not all of them. Now, let us take each of these above mentioned values and try to study their utility in the present century.
Simplicity, well, I daresay that, it is not possible to find a single person who is simple in dress, in manners and behaviour. This is not because we cannot remain in the society if we are simple in thought and deep but, it is that we ourselves do not wish to be simple. This attitude is because we are aping the west in all its entirety. It is not that simple people are not seen or that they are not liked or are shunned by society but, the fact is that they do not become centres of attraction, and, today, we prefer to be centres of attraction rather than be our true selves. This means that we are not simple because we do not want to, and not that it is not possible to exist if we are simple. If we have left the beauty of simplicity because we want to, we cannot say that the value is not relevant, but that we do not cherish the value. However friends, if we want to be centres of attraction, where could we find a greater centre than the Gandhi, the 20th century produced. Wouldn’t we all like to be as attractive as him, would we not like to get his name and fame? All this he managed to get inspite of his extreme simplicity. So, how can we say that this value is not necessary now. Even in later times we have had simple people getting name and fame, people like Vinobha Bhave, Mother Teresa and then, Baba Amte. This goes to prove that centres of attraction are made by other qualities which do not get stopped because people are simple. Thus we can hardly underestimate the value of simplicity. It is this, which may be, gives and individual more time to work on things more substantial, and prove his worth. We can not say that simplicity is not of use now, as there are no simple people, here. I would say that, in a crowd of made up beauties, a simple person would be an oasis in the desert of show and show biz., Once a person is simple he has no qualms in mixing with the lowest of the low and this makes him really well known and popular. Just see the simple Mother Teresa what laurels she got throughout the world, how can we then say that the value of simplicity is redundant now. It is this value of being simple in head and heart, that will always have its monumental importance, no matter what the century.
Regarding the value of non-violence, I daresay that, even to-day, if all of us, yes, all of us decide to become non-violent because others are violent. Let us ponder for a moment, are we succeeding in returning violence for violence? The net result is an increase in violence the next thing we must analyse is, are we achieving any worthy ends by being violent? I’m sure all of you will agree that, violence only begets violence and it ends there, bearing no fruit at all. Then it is for us to understand that violence is only an experiment in futility, resulting only in death and disaster. We should try to find out ways and means to stop the existing vilolence instead of, joining the bandwagon of violent people saying that, we have to be so because others are violent, this is no practical approach to the problem of violence. I an sure that, even to day if we all decide to remain non-violent, we will all be happier and we will understand that these values of Gandhiji are not for any one period of away their utility. Such sterling qualities will always be relevant but with a rejoinder that, all of us follow them just as meticulously as we are following the present qualities of degradation.