The 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi starts today and gives us an opportunity to recall the four fundamental principles that Mahatma Gandhi taught: Truth (satya), non-violence (ahimsa), welfare of all (sarvodaya) and peaceful protest (satyagraha). These principles can hold people together and hence form the backbone of dharma, which means “to hold together”.
Satya means oneness in your thoughts, speech and actions. Gandhi believed that “there is no religion higher than truth”. The Yoga-shastras as well as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali propagate truthfulness as one of the main components for living a disciplined life.
Gandhi preached the concept of “experimenting with truth”, a phrase that also formed the subtitle to his autobiography. He taught how to learn through trial and error, often admitting to mistakes and changing one’s behavior accordingly. Non observance of truthfulness is the root cause of any corruption in the society.
Ahimsa teaches us the path of non violence. It should be practiced not only in actions but also in thoughts and speech. Ahimsa also forms the basis of Jainism and Hinduism as a religion.
The third principle is sarvodaya or welfare for all. The basic fundamental teaching of the Vedic science is also based on sarvodaya. It talks about “bahujan hitay-bahujan sukhay” – “the good of the masses, the benefit of the masses”. Gandhi found in it a composite concept of social welfare and economic justice. Any action, which is aimed and seems to be aimed at the welfare of the people will be accepted by all.
Satyagraha is protest based on satya (path of truthfulness) and non violence and includes peaceful demonstrations, prolonged fasts etc. i.e. a non violence-based civil resistance. It is based on the law of persistence. Satyagraha is formed by two Sanskrit words satya (truth) and agraha (holding firmly to or firmness). Gandhi said “Satyagraha is a weapon of the strong; it admits of no violence under any circumstance whatsoever; and it ever insists upon truth”. He said that if you are firm in the truth in the long run you are going to win.
These are basic principles that doctors should also follow as doctors not only need to be scientifically and legally correct, they also should be morally and ethically correct. Non-maleficence (do no harm) and beneficence (do good) are the pillars of medical ethics