Though the history of the non-violent movement is a very long one, historians concede that "the most massive and historically effective example of non-violent activism was that of the movement organized by Mahatma Gandhi" (13/850).
India can be justly proud that it was in this country, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, where for the first time in human history a non-violent movement culminated in such resounding success.
The first target for Mahatma Gandhi was to usher in peaceful political change throughout the country. This ambition was fulfilled in 1947. Mahatma Gandhi's second target was to bring about social change on the basis of non-violence. But before he could achieve his second target, he was tragically removed from the scene of action.
Now our greatest need is to fulfill Mahatma Gandhi's mission. After political change we have to bring about social change in our country through Gandhi Andolan, that is, a non-violent movement. If India could be successful on this front, it would undoubtedly find itself in a position to give the lead to the entire world.
There is only one way of exploiting the non-violent method for the reform of a society – and that is, to bring about a change in the thinking of the individual, the basic unit of society.
Someone has rightly observed that all violence is born in the mind and that it can be ended in the mind itself. For instance, during the Second World War, Japan was burning to revenge itself on America. They said that America had devastated their town of Hiroshima, so they would devastate America. Although Japan's air force had been badly hit, its army was still intact, and its officers were bent on vengeance. At that juncture certain intellectuals in Japan pointed out that if America had destroyed their Hiroshima, they had already destroyed America's Pearl Harbour. In this way they were at par. The score was even.
Due to this timely guidance, the Japanese came to rethink their position, and, abandoning the path of confrontation with America, opted instead for the path of adjustment with it; in so doing, they were tremendously successful.
The truth is that intellectual awakening is the only way to produce a non-violent world. This is, without doubt, a long and laborious struggle. But we have no other alternative. I have myself been experimenting for the last 25 years in this field and my experience has been successful to a satisfactory extent.
After giving the matter a great deal of thought, I have come to the conclusion that, in most instances, violence is the result of misguided thinking. The day you succeed in putting an end to such thought, violence will disappear on its own.
Take the case, for example, of communal riots in India. In this matter I have done considerable work among the Muslims, having found that in most of the cases communal riots result from an erroneous way of thinking. I have always taken great pains to make them understand, for example, that when the procession by other communities are being led through the streets, the choice before them is not, as they imagine, either to tolerate the procession or to disrupt and stop it completely, but between tolerance of the procession and communal riots.
A procession is little more than a nuisance of a temporary nature. So one should simply bear with it so that riots resulting in human death and destruction do not ensue.
After December 6, 1992, surprisingly few communal riots have taken place. The credit for this goes to our mission. Had the people's minds not been prepared by our mission, terrible riots involving great numbers of people would have ensued subsequent to December 6.
An individual is always governed by his thinking. That is why, if we have to make a non-violent world for a peaceful society, there is only one way, and that is by using educative methods to convert people's thinking from violence to non-violence, and to enable them to seek the solution to matters of controversy through peaceful means. They must learn to understand the value of tolerance and avoidance as opposed to intolerance and confrontation. It is from such intellectual awareness alone that a non-violent world and a peaceful society can be constructed.