Satyagraha Revisited: A Reexamination Of The Philosophies of
Mohandas K. Gandhi And Martin Luther King Jr. In Light Of New
Discoveries In Science And Physics
"Peace among peoples requires truth as its foundation,
justice as its rule, love as its driving force
and liberty as its atmosphere." (Cardinal Suenen - 1963 address to the United Nations)
The greatest discovery of the 21st Century will not come in the fields of science
or technology or medicine. The greatest discovery of the 21st Century come from a new
and profound understanding of the regenerative and life giving power of love as a
creative force that is perhaps, a thousand times more powerful than atomic energy.
The foundation for the dramatic future change in human behavior that will
accompany this discovery has already been laid by the great teachers of the past such as
Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
Satyagraha is a word from the language of India that was coined by Mohandas K.
Gandhi. Gandhi led the people of India in their struggle to end British domination just
as George Washington and the Founding Fathers led the American struggle against the
British in 1776. The main difference between the American Revolution and the
independence movement of India was tactics. The struggle for freedom in India was
based on Gandhi's philosophy of non violence which he called Satyagraha.
It is also a well known fact that Dr. Martin Luther King studied Gandhi and
applied his teachings during the American Civil Rights Era of the 1960's. Dr. King said
that, "the aftermath of non violence is the creation of the Beloved Community, while the
aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness."
Non Violence And The New Love Ethic
The cornerstone and underlying principle behind the philosophy of Satyagraha is
love. Dr. King also said that somewhere along the way of life someone must have sense
enough and morality enough to break the chains of violence and hate that enslave our
society and this could only be done, he said, by projecting the ethic of love into the center
of our lives as our highest ideal.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines love as, "an intense affectionate
concern for one another", but as you can see from the Biblical quotations listed below the
word love encompassed a broader meaning in ancient times than it does today;
Leviticus 19:18 - "Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord. (34) But the
stranger that dwelleth among you shall be unto you as one born among you and thou
shall love him as thyself."
Proverbs 17:19 - "He that covers transgressions seeks love: but he that repeats a matter
Mark 12:30 - "And thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy
soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. (31)
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none
other commandment greater than these."
Luke 5:25 - "But love ye your enemies, and do good and lend, hoping for nothing again:
and your reward shall be great; and ye shall be the children of the Highest."
Romans 13:10 - "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of
1 John 4:8 - "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
Love is a form of energy. The passage from the First Epistle of John describes
love as the Supreme Energy and the highest power that exists. Love is also the true
essence of our inner nature and the center of our being that causes us to live.
The versions of the New Testament that make up our modern Bible were
originally written in Greek. The Greek language has three words to describe love. The
word eros, from which we get the word, "erotic”, is the closest word in their language to
our modern notion of love and romance. The second Greek word for love was phillia
which is expressed in the modern concept of brotherly love.
Philadelphia is called, "the City of Brotherly Love", but in that the English
language is gradually becoming more feminine as time goes on the concept of phillia -
love will probably become more and more associated with the idea of family love and
The third word for love in the Greek language is agape. Dr. Martin Luther King
Jr. described the concept of agape love in a sermon that he called, “Loving Your
"Now we can see what Jesus meant when he said, "love your enemies". We should be
happy he did not say, "like your enemies". It is almost impossible to like some people.
"Like" is a sentimental and affectionate word. How can we be affectionate toward a
person whose avowed aim is to crush our very being and place innumerable stumbling
blocks in our path? How can we like a person who is threatening our children and
bombing our homes? That is impossible. But Jesus recognized that love was greater than
like. When Jesus bids us to love our enemies, he is speaking neither of eros or phillia; he
is speaking of agape, understanding and creative, redemptive goodwill for all of
humanity. Only by following this way and responding to this type of love are we able to
be the children of our Father who is in heaven." (Strength To Love – page 50)
Where Do We Go From Here?
There is a fascinating glimpse of American history recorded in the fifth chapter of
Dr. King's last book, "Where Do We Go From Here?". The whole chapter evolves
around a dialogue between Dr. King and Stokely Carmichael over the question of
violence and whether or not oppressed people should use violence as a tactic in their
struggle for equality. Dr. King devoted an entire chapter in his last book to the debate so
we can gather that he must have felt that what was being said was of extreme historical
Stokely Carmichael and the work that he did during the Civil Rights Movement
helped make America a better place and rightfully, his contributions should be included
in the record of what happened back then. After he left the Movement Stokely
Carchmichael changed his name to Kwame Ture, declared himself a Pan Africanist,
married a famous singer and eventually moved to Africa. At the time of his very
important dialogue with Dr. King however, Stokely Carchmicheal was the leader of
Stokely Carchmicheal was elected as the National Coordinator for S.N.C.C. in
1965. Now originally, the letters for S.N.C.C. stood for the Student Non Violent
Coordinating Committee but by 1967 what S.N.C.C. actually represented was a youth
movement that had branched off from the mainstream Civil Rights Establishment. The
S.N.C.C. workers had played a major role in organizing the grassroots voter registration
drives that ultimately led to the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Now the S.N.C.C. organizers went into the Pre- Civil Rights South unarmed and
unprotected. In the early stages of the campaign there weren't any television cameras to
sway public opinion like there were in Birmingham and for a long time they were at the
mercy of the very worst elements of the population of the South. That was dangerous
work back then. In the early Sixties the American South was a place where white people
grew up believing they had a right to rule over black people. It took brave men and
women to challenge the traditional system of racial segregation in America.
The American system of racial apartheid that the students faced which was
euphemistically known as "Jim Crow" was legally enforced and sanctioned by all the
power and might of church, state, custom and tradition. By the time the dialogue took
place between Dr. King and Stokely Carmichael many of the students in the youth
movement had rejected non violence as an ideology. The basic argument was that non
violence was a good tactic but it could not be used on a day to day basis.
In order to put this historic discussion in its proper context it must be remembered
that back in 1965 young people the same age as Stokely Carmichael were setting up their
own governments. The world was witnessing the end of the age of European Imperialism
at the same time the Civil Rights struggles were taking place in the American South. All
over the world, in Africa, in Asia, and in Latin America the oppressed masses were
waging wars of liberation against the colonialist oppressors of Europe and winning!
Most of the Freedom Fighters of Africa, Asia, and Latin America were winning
their freedom through armed struggle. Under ordinary circumstances this made it very
difficult to argue that there were not times when violence was acceptable, even good, or
that violence in a just cause was not a good thing.
Dr. King answered the student’s arguments point for point in Chapter Five of,
"Where Do We Go From Here?". He agreed with their contention that many of the
customs and traditions in our society have outlived their usefulness, and that the time had
come to seriously think about completely rebuilding the structure of our society.
Dr. King also agreed with the students when they said that people that have been
oppressed and deprived of opportunity and equal justice should think for themselves and
come up with their own solutions to their own problems but to Dr. King the means to
achieve change was just as important as the end product. He answered the student’s
criticisms of the philosophy of non violence in a brilliant sermon that included a quote
from the writings of a famous African Freedom Fighter named Frantz Fanon;
"And so comrades, let us not pay tribute to Europe by creating states, institutions
and societies which draw their inspiration from her. Humanity is waiting for something
other from us than such an imitation which would be an almost obscene caricature.
If we want to turn Africa into a new Europe and America into a new Europe
then let us leave the destinies of our countries to the Europeans. For they will know how
to do it better than even the most gifted among us. But if we want humanity to advance a
step further, if we want to bring it up to a different level than that which Europe has
shown it, then we must invent and we must make new discoveries.
For Europe, for ourselves, and for humanity comrades, we must turn over a new
leaf; we must work out new concepts and try to set afoot a new man." (The Wretched of
The Path of Peace
While Dr. King agreed with the goals and intentions of the oppressed masses who
were trying to free their countries from oppression and exploitation he rejected violence
as a path to liberation and he answered those who advocated violent revolution by stating
"(Yes) these are brave and challenging words and I am happy that young black
men and women are quoting them. But the problem is that Fanon and those who quote
his words are seeking to, "work out new concepts" and, “set afoot a new man" with a
willingness to imitate the old copies of violence. Is there not a basic contradiction here?
Violence has been the inseparable twin of materialism (i.e., capitalism) and the hallmark
of its grandeur and misery. This is the one thing about modern civilization I do not care
Humanity is waiting for something other than the blind imitation of the past. (But) if we
truly want to advance further, if we truly want to turn over a new leaf and really set afoot
a new man, then we must begin to turn humanity away from the long and desolate night
of violence." (1)
When Dr. King said that the road to the Beloved Community could only be found
through the paths of peace and love he was actually teaching a doctrine as old as
civilization itself. Mohandas Gandhi was a white man from India but he drew on the
traditions of ancient black India in order to create the concept of Satyagraha.
The original inhabitants of ancient India were a black people. The Greek
historian Herodotus considered them to be Ethiopians. It is not a well known fact, but
even today, there are more black people in India than there are in Africa, and in terms of
culture they are in fact, exactly the same. When you study the history culture and
religion of ancient India you are really studying the history, culture and religion of
ancient Africa and vice versa.
Cheikh Anta Diop describes the earliest inhabitants of India on page 104 of, "The
Cultural Unity of Black Africa". The picture he gives describes a highly advanced
civilization. Some of their cities had municipal sewer systems. Writing was highly
developed, as was science and religion.
Ancient India was also advanced in terms of social development. There were no
massive prison systems in their society and during the Golden Eras of their history
murder was rare if not unknown.
The World's First Color Line
Ancient India was also the sight of one of the first great race wars in history. The
history of the conquest of India itself depends on whose story you read.
history = his story
According to the legends of the blacks, a race of white savages swarmed down
out of the north and overran their unwalled villages without pretense or provocation.
According to the legends of the whites, the inhabitants of the land had become wicked
and evil and their God had ordained that the land be conquered and the inhabitants
become servants and slaves:
"The Rig Veda is an ancient book of hymns and sacred songs written by the descendants
of the white invaders who were called Aryans. One of these hymns gives praise to Indra,
the white deity for having killed 50,000 blacks, "piercing the citadel of the enemy and
forcing the blacks to run out in distress, leaving behind all their food and belongings." (J
.A. Rogers - Sex and Race, Volume 1, page 62)
Another text says that, "Indra protected the Aryan worshipper in battle, He
subdued the lawless ones. It is Indra who conquered the land for his white friends." (2)
Out of this fierce struggle came what was to be the world's first color line. It did
not happen overnight, but over the course of time a) caste system based on race was
imposed and enforced by the Aryan conquerors. In India the word for caste (varna),
means "color" and from the moment the Aryans arrived the original dark and black
peoples of India were relegated to the lowest status on the social scale.
According to) George G. M. James the author of, "Stolen Legacy" the first lesson
of the humanities is to make people aware of their contribution to history. The second
lesson teaches us about other people and by doing so we actually end up learning more
about ourselves. In this case in particular, the history of ancient India is, in fact, a mirror
and a direct reflection of modern American history.
Race, Class and Sex in Ancient India
"There seem to have been two crimes which the Aryans feared with preternatural terror:
violence to their beds and to their persons. These are therefore treated elaborately and
condign punishments provided; a man of lower caste who has had connexion with a
Guru's wife shall cut off his organ together with his testicles....and walk toward the south
until he falls down dead. Nor was the Brahmani exempt: "A woman who commits
adultery with a man of lower caste, the king shall cause to be devoured by dogs in a
It is interesting to note that this practice is similar to that once inflicted in the (American)
South upon white women and their Negro paramours or assailants." Martin A. Larsen –
Religions of the Occident page 114,
The Aryans of ancient India and the white Southerners of the Ante Bellum South
shared many other characteristics besides their psychotic obsession with power, sex and
race. In fact, the system of oppression of the black and brown races of ancient India
bears resemblance to the American race experience that can only be described as striking.
For example, both systems were maintained and enforced with extreme violence
and both systems could only survive if they managed to keep the oppressed classes
ignorant. Black slaves in America were absolutely forbidden to learn to how to read. A
slave caught reading was subjected severe punishments that were specifically designed to
discourage other slaves from reading.
The Sudras were on the lowest rung of the class system of India. The Sudras were
so low on the scale they were not a part of any caste. They were the “outcastes” of
ancient India. The sacred laws of the ancient Aryan "religion” forbid the Sudras from
learning just as they did in the American South during slavery. If a Sudra so much as
listened to the recitation of a Vedic Text molten lead was poured into his ears. If he
recited one his tongue was cut out and if he remembered them his body was cut in two.
On the other hand, the highest social class in ancient India were the Brahmans.
The Brahmans believed they had been favored by God and that they were his special
children, therefore the laws that applied to the lower classes did not apply to them. The
sacred laws of ancient India said that a Brahman could lawfully seize the property of a
Sudra and that there was nothing that could be done about it. In America, in the
infamous Dred Scott Decision of 1847 the Supreme Court of the United States declared
that, "the black man has no rights which the white man is bound to respect".
As you can imagine it took a lot of time and energy to maintain these systems and
in both cases, over the course of time the slave master became just as miserable as his
slave. A letter written by a Virginia plantation owner quoted in Lerone Bennett Jr.'s
"Before The Mayflower” vividly describes the absolute fear and terror that prevailed
among the slaveholding classes during one of the frequent periods of slave rebellions in
the pre - Civil War South:
"These insurrections", a Virginian wrote during a period of panic, "have really alarmed
my wife so as to endanger her health and I have not slept without anxiety for three
months. A corn song or a cat in the dining room will banish sleep for a night. There has
been and there still is panic in all this country." (page - 100)
In ancient India race and class dominated every aspect of daily life, but an honest
assessment of the facts would force us to admit that Twenty First century America is just
as obsessed about race and class as the inhabitants of ancient India ever were. In 1992
the American writer Studs Terkel published a book on this subject using that exact title
called, "Race; How Blacks And Whites Feel About The American Obsession."
An honest assessment of the facts would also force us to admit that America has
been obsessed about race and racial matters every since there has been an America. Even
the word America, as Frances Cress Welsing points out in, "The Isis Papers" is an
America = I Am Race
Knowing what we now know today about the human mind and how it works, we
really would not be going out too far on a limb to say this probably was not an accident,
in terms of psychology, and when one considers the similarities that developed over the
course of time it is nothing less than amazing that these same early settlers chose to call
the original native Americans – Indians.
Our Reflection In The Mirror
Ancient India and modern America share another similar, unique characteristic in
that they are also the only two nations on the face of the earth in all of history where
basic changes in the established social and political structure were brought about through
social movements based on the principles of non violence.
The black and brown races of ancient India groaned and toiled under the brutal,
unjust, and ungodly apartheid system based on class and race for over eight hundred
years. The midnight hour however, no matter how dark, does not last forever and in the
sixth century before the Christian era began a mighty movement was set in motion that
would shake the established order to its very foundations and change the course of
The founder of this movement was a black man named Gautama. He was also
called The Buddha.
In, "The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Realty” Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop
put forth the theory that the historic Buddha was probably a member of the Egyptian
priesthood who fled the land sometime around the time of the destruction of Thebes.
This would explain the sudden appearance of a system of advanced science and
philosophy in a land whose institutions of learning had been destroyed for hundreds of
It would also explain the inexplicable emergence of three major religions -
Buddhism in India, Mithraism in Rome and Zorastorism in Persia, all sharing basic tenets
in common suddenly appearing in the last half of sixth century before the Christian Era.
The thing that made the Buddha’s movement unique in history was that it was
based on the principle non violence. Buddha taught his disciples that nonviolence was
the holiest of all principles, but the Buddha was a true social revolutionary in every since
of the word. He preached against and boldly denounced the caste system of India and the
grievous social injustices that were such a natural part of its structure. He said that
position in society should not be based on accident of birth, but rather on moral
The most famous words Dr. King ever spoke envisioned a time when all
American citizens would be judged by the content of their character and not by the color
of their skin.
The New Doctrine
Buddha also taught the oppressed masses of ancient India a new doctrine that was
different from anything they had ever heard before. The Buddha said that the true nature
of things is very different than it appears on the surface and that the information we get
from the five senses is unreliable and incomplete. He also said that in spite of all
appearances to the contrary, the Brahman oppressors were not the true cause of their
"All that we are is a result of our thoughts and therefore, hatred, anger, and resentment must
be replaced by tranquil love."
The word Buddha is actually a title. Buddha was called, "The Enlightened One”
and basically all this means is that a Buddha is someone who is supposedly fully
enlightened as to the nature and meaning of life. Sigmund Freud called Buddha, "the
greatest psychologist of all time" and the reason for his saying that can be plainly seen by
examining the Buddha's teachings. According to the Buddha negative, backward
thinking was the cause of all human troubles and the rich Brahmans of the ruling class
were only a symptom of the problem.
"As a man thinketh in his mind so is he". No man can put his boot on your neck
unless your back is bent. Buddha told the oppressed outcastes of ancient India to
straighten up their backs and straighten out their minds because they too were the
children of God.
Gautama, the Buddha, traveled the highways and byways of India for forty five
years. All of India came to hear him preach. Harlots, robbers and criminals were
converted by his teachings. He preached to the Sudras and they were comforted. He
preached to the Brahmins as well. His words touched their hearts and thousands from
their ranks renounced their wealth and social position in order to become his followers.
Eventually, the teachings of the Buddha would come full circle in India during the
forty year reign of Asoka who converted to Buddhism and established it as the national
Influence On Einstein
Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity was the theoretical framework for most of
the important discoveries of the Twentieth Century connected with atomic energy,
including the atomic bomb. Einstein, like the Buddha before him, believed that the
physical world is made up from a basic energy that expresses itself in the physical
dimension as structure, form, time and space. (E= MC2 )
It is a well known fact of history that Albert Einstein was deeply influenced by
the teachings of Buddha and that in fact, he constantly kept several books containing the
Buddha's teachings on the desk in his office. Einstein's niece, who also was his secretary,
was so impressed by the Buddha's influence on her uncle that she traveled to India to visit
the land of the Great Teacher shortly after her uncle died.
In many ways perhaps, it is the Buddha who actually deserves to be called the true
"Father of the Atomic Age".