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Gandhian Strategy for Conflict Resolution

Conflict is a natural fact of life. Whether we focus on interactions between individuals, groups, organizations, or nations-conflicts are omnipresent. Of the range of emotions that may arise in conflict,

Conflict is a natural fact of life. Whether we focus on interactions between individuals, groups, organizations, or nations-conflicts are omnipresent. Of the range of emotions that may arise in conflict,

Satyagraha, as practiced by Gandhi, was a technique of action designed to set in motion a process to achieve lasting peace.

 It emerged from the realization that violence breeds violence; a war fought to end wars and bring peace brought greater and more devastating wars.

Satyagraha replaced brute force with soul force, also known as love force through self-suffering with the sole objective of drowsing hatred in the opponent and arousing in him the inherent capacity, even if muted, to love the ‘enemy’ anger is perhaps the most prominent and pervasive.

Gandhi’s struggle called Satyagraha was a moral equivalent of war and a deeply spiritual action.

Satyagraha was an important constituent of Gandhi’s program of national self-purification.

When he started campaigning against the racially discriminatory measures in South Africa Gandhi discovered that his countrymen there lacked personal and communal self-respect, courage, and the willingness to organize themselves. In a memorable phrase, he urged them to rebel against themselves.

The concept of ‘rebel’ was something totally new for the people, who up till now were used to taking orders and not doing any critical thinking on their own. In fact, the people did not take any major decisions for themselves. It was like a fresh wind, which had blown into their lives, daring them to come out in the open and breathe fresh air. The same holds true when Gandhi used the weapon of Satyagraha in India. The millions in India were coiled in superstition, poverty, ignorance, and religious beliefs and had no weapon with which to resist the mighty empire. Gandhi provided them with the weapon of non-violence, urged them to resist with non-cooperation, and shook the foundation of the empire on which the sun was never to set. Gandhi struck a chord with people and talked about their concerns in the language they understood. He also believed that in our land of millions of destitute and crippled people, if we take to the practice of seeking justice through murder, there would be a terrifying situation. Our poor people will become victims of our atrocities.

By making a dharma of violence, we shall be reaping the fruit of our own actions. The only weapon available to the people was a spiritual weapon and that was Satyagraha.


The word Satyagraha is Sanskrit in origin. It is a compound word formed of Satya and Agraha. Satya means truth and Agraha means holding fast, adherence, and insistence.

 Thus, Satyagraha means clinging to truth, holding fast to truth, insistence on truth, or firm adherence to truth comes what may.

Satyagraha, according to Gandhi, is not a method limited merely to a conflict situation that subsisted between an alien rule and a subject community.

 The scope of Satyagraha is wider than that. For Gandhi, “The law of satyagraha, the law of love, is an eternal principle.”

A productive resolution of conflict is more likely to be achieved if it is based on nonviolence.

In conflict situations success through nonviolent action can be achieved in three separate ways:

Accommodation, where the opponent does not believe in the changes made but nevertheless believes that it is best to give in on some or all points to gain peace or to cut losses.

Nonviolent coercion, where the opponent wants to continue the struggle but cannot because they have lost the sources of power and means of control; and

Conversion, where the opponent has changed inwardly to the degree that they want to make the desired by the nonviolent activist (or indeed, the nonviolent activist themself has so changed).

 Satyagraha is far more than a set of actions.

It is also an attitude, for example, a boycott may be part of a Satyagraha campaign but if the underlying principles of Satyagraha are not present then a boycott alone cannot accurately be described as Satyagraha.

 It becomes “duragraha”.

Concepts fundamental to Satyagraha

1.Faith in human goodness

The entire rationale of a method of nonviolent conflict resolution which sees the conversion of the opponent as its aim must rest upon the assumption that the opponent is open to reason, that they have a conscience, and that human nature is such that it is bound or at least likely, “to respond to any noble and friendly action”

2. Truth

Gandhi believed in the need for absolutes by which to orient one’s life,Truth for him, however, was more than a beacon to keep one on the correct path – Truth Satya),

Truth is that which you believe to be true at this moment, and that is your God.” In fact, Gandhi came “to the conclusion that, for myself, God is truth. Later he went a step further and said that Truth is God.

3. Nonviolence

Violence arises from ignorance or untruth; truth conversely arises out of nonviolence. Violence and injustice are only committed against others to extent that they are not regarded as fully human. The refusal to use violence indicates respect for both the personality and moral integrity of the opponent.

4.  Self-suffering

The role of self-suffering is to break a deadlock, to “cut through the rationalizeddefenses of the opponent. “Reason has to be strengthened by suffering and suffering opens the eyes of understanding” because an “appeal of the reason is more to the head but penetration of the heart comes from suffering.

Read Also :- What is Conflict?

Conflict Resolution,Conflict Resolution

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