Swarajpeeth, established in 1992, is a non-profit organization engaged in demonstrating the inspirational power of Mahatma Gandhi’s vision, thought, and method. Our objective is to bring Gandhiji’s vision of Swaraj, the highest form of democracy or home rule, to the forefront of today’s struggles against all forms of violence. Spreading Swaraj awareness is the first step in creating culture of nonviolence.
The ideal of Swaraj has inspired Indians for ages. When Mahatma Gandhi reconceived India’s struggle for liberation as a quest for true Swaraj, a quest for Ram Rajya, Khudai Rajya or the Kingdom of God , India rose as never before. He awakened the self-confidence and moral power of his people by envisioning the goal of India’s freedom struggle as no less than the sovereignty of ordinary people over their lives and destinies. When the Mahatma spoke of freedom as Swaraj, Indians of all ages, classes, and faiths made the highest sacrifices on the altar of nonviolence. Nations all over the world were inspired by India ‘s nonviolent struggle for freedom.
Today it is painfully clear that the ideal of Swaraj is not a part of India’s national vision, much less a part of national or global discourse on development, progress and education. However, nonviolence as a strategic method has acquired a considerable recognization world over and Mahatma Gandhi’s essential root text Hind Swaraj has often attracted serious attention but it still remains the least interpreted.
Nonviolence as a method won India its independence but not swaraj. Mahatma Gandhi therefore said “The word Swaraj is a sacred word, a Vedic word, meaning self-rule and self-restraint, and not freedom from all restraint which ‘independence’ often means.” He know that the quest for freedom does not necessarily involve quest for justice for others; and, similarly quest for justice can lead to repression of freedom. Nonviolence per se cannot guarantee symbiosis of justice and freedom. In swaraj – or culture of nonviolence – nonviolence is coextensive with all the departments of life; viz economic, political, cultural and spiritual. Swaraj is a term therefore for a true civilization. Gandhiji defines civilization thus: “Civilization is that mode of conduct which points out to man the path of duty. Performance of duty and observance of morality are convertible terms. To observe morality is to attain mastery over our mind and our passions. So doing, we know ourselves. The Gujarati equivalent for civilization means good conduct”.
We believe that no society, race, nation and culture are devoid of sufficient reservoir of culture of nonviolence. Nonviolence is universal but has different levels of its manifestations. Quest for justice, quest for doing good for others without any vested interest, and quest for freedom are the attributes human being is born with everywhere. These attributes need stimulation, nourishment and development. Swaraj lies in the symbiotically harmonious development of each and the sum total of these attributes.
The goal of Swarajpeeth therefore is to serve and promote culture of nonviolence. Our programs therefore focus on helping to develop capacity for nonviolent intervention in conflict situation; education in understanding various forms of conflicts and violence and of nonviolence; education for swaraj; research and training.