A weapon that Doesn’t Harm

Satyagraha can be described as a ‘weapon’ developed by Mahatma Gandhi to fight unfair laws introduced by the British for people of India and other places. It is not a weapon like a gun or a knife, but a force used to correct something wrong without causing any harm. India won Independence from British rule using this idea.

Satya means truth in Sanskrit, and agrah means force or power. Satyagraha can be explained as the force of truth, or holding on to truth.

Gandhiji, called the Father of our nation because of the huge part he played in the Independence Struggle, got this idea when he was working in South Africa. The British were ruling that country too, and made laws which were unfair to Asians working there. Gandhiji organized protests against these laws, based on his idea.

When he returned to India and found unfair British laws here, he taught Indians to use satyagraha too. He showed them how to simply refuse to obey unjust laws, and be prepared to face whatever hardship that caused.

Satyagraha is closely linked with ahimsa, meaning non-violence. Gandhiji’s idea was that people should resist unfair British laws without becoming violent or harming the British. The aim was to create greater harmony between the two sides, with no winners or losers.

People who use satyagraha are called satyagrahis.

Satyagraha was first used in India’s Freedom Movement in 1917, when farmers of Champaran in Bihar resisted a British rule that they should grew indigo, used to make a dye, on their land.

Martin Luther King Jr used this idea when he led the struggle for equal rights for black and white people in USA. Nelson Mandela who led his country South Africa to freedom, was deeply influenced by Gandhiji and satyagraha.

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