I’m not a fan.
Many of the criticisms I have specifically with religion is in regards to Christianity. Mostly because that’s the one what keeps fucking things up right here in my face in America. (Not to say that the others aren’t ridiculous, I just don’t have that much of a familiarity with them.)
This semester I’m taking a World Religions course, and we started with Hinduism.
Hinduism is this strange mix of religions all squashed together. The initial “Hindus” were two tribes, a conquering Aryan one from the North who had a strict class system, and a dark skinned farmer group who lived on the Sindhu rivers and had a strong religious tradition.
Eventually, everyone in the area, and then the subcontinent would be called Hindus by invaders, first the Arabs and lastly the British.
And just like all the other religions, there’s some batshit crazy stuff in here. You got their two major epics, one about a general who loses his taste for killing, disgusted by the butchery around him. God, in the form of his servant, basically manipulates him into going back to war. This is where “dharma” comes from, doing your god-given duty no matter what.
(In the other, a princess is captured by a demon and while she’s busily resisting the “advances” of the demon, her prince is wandering around having adventures. He eventually gets around to finding here and then she has to walk through hot coals to prove that she’s been faithful. SO he takes her home. Only, instead of happily ever after, someone gets snarky about her extended time away and the the prince boots her while she’s pregnant and she has to have her twins alone. And this is where the idea of female purity comes from, and why they used to burn the wife of a dead man with him. Alive.)
Part of studying a religion is studying the various leaders of that religion. (Apparently Gandhi counts.)
Gandhi is a high-caste Indian who considers himself a Brit. He is educated in Britain as a lawyer, and heads off to South Africa to do some lawyerin. Here’s where he feels discrimination for the first time. (He writes several letters protesting his treatment, after all, he says, Indians are way better than the blacks.) This is where he develops the idea for his passive resistance and uses it for Indian civil rights there. It fails. It’s not clear whether he tried to use any of that fancy education in law to go through legal channels, or just decided to ask thousands of his people to be harmed for his brilliant idea.
Then he wanders off, leaving South Africa behind, the apartheid system continues until 1993.
He comes back to India, and starts recruiting Indians for the war, though he personally refuses to serve.
He asks his people to go back to a time when they lived off the land and made their own clothes.
He organizes protests to this effect and leads a grand civil disobedience effort against the British factories.
And then quits, leaving thousands of supporters hanging. He wanders off again.
He does some jail time where he practices his fasting, and then when he gets out, jumps in bed with the Ottoman Turk Mulsims, promising to support their drive to restore the Caliphate, in return for the support of Indian Muslims. Only, the Indian Muslims didn’t get a say, and this was not what they wanted. He opposed Indian Muslims being able to choose their own leaders, and to have their own state. He also failed to understand Muslim theology. (He wasn’t about to compromise his vision with the facts.)
He wanders off again.
He returns about ten years later to organize a mass protest. They march to the sea to make salt themselves. (British law was that salt was only made by them.) The Brits imprison thousands. Gandhi makes a deal with the leader, free my people and we’ll stop the civil disobedience. Nothing was solved, but Gandhi gets himself a seat as the only Indian at the Round Table talks. (I find that very interesting.)
The Brits decide to grant the Dalits (untouchables) their own government. Gandhi, though he says he’s been working to reduce untouchable status, goes on a fast and his people protest. The British change their minds.
Gandhi calls these people “Children of God” and insists that only his way is right for them, even though they have their own political leaders. (Apparently, they aren’t to worry their pretty little heads about self-representation.) He refuses to help them gain the right to pray in temples.
When WWII breaks out, Gandhi hems and haws for a while, but eventually decides that his people will not fight against the Nazis. He calls for massive protests, many of which were very violent. The British put him in prison for a while. In a palace.
His Quit India movement peters out, and when Gandhi gets out of prison, he gets right out there, campaigning against Muslims having their own state. He fails.
Gandhi was much vaunted for his celibate purity. Except he wasn’t either. He made his followers, even married ones, be celibate. He slept naked with young women every night, including those married women who were not allowed the touch of their husbands. He would “test his restraint” by having them strip for him, among other things.
After the War, the British empire was decimated. They were massively in debt to India, and lost their prominence on the world stage. The US was pressuring them to release India, as the idea of the Protectorate smacked of Communism. Bowing to the international pressure, they made a deal with India. In exchange for all debts forgiven, India would be granted independence.
Gandhi is often credited for many accomplishments, most of which are false. His protests had nothing to do with India’s independence, Dalits are still discriminated against, and his attempts at shoving India backwards into a farming society rather than an industrial one have failed.
He was a hypocrite, a liar, and a failure.
Not someone I find inspiring at all.