Redemptive suffering is an antidote to evil in the hearts of human beings. MK Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Law was defined by Mahatma Gandhi as the necessity of the nonviolent actor to voluntarily endure suffering.  It rested on Gandhi’s observation that real vows taken on behalf of diminishing the hardship of others is “suffering bravely borne melting even a heart of stone.”  Such is the potency of tapas (or voluntarily taken vows). Satyagraha deliberately takes on the insult that is already inherent in the situation.  Meant to rouse the conscience of human beings,  this kind of “unearned suffering is redemptive” as Martin Luther King puts it.  Gandhi established this outlook  early in his career and clearly formulated its definition in Young India in 1931. In his own words:  “The conviction has been growing upon me, that things of fundamental importance to the people are not secured by reason alone, but have to be purchased with their suffering. … Suffering is infinitely more powerful than the law of the jungle for converting the opponent and opening his ears, which are otherwise shut, to the voice of reason. Nobody has probably drawn up more petitions or espoused more forlorn causes than I, and I have come to this fundamental conclusion that, if you want something really important to be done, you must not merely satisfy the reason, you must move the heart also. The appeal of reason is more to the head, but the penetration of the heart comes from suffering. It opens up the inner understanding in man.  Suffering is the badge of the human race, not the sword.” (Young India, 5-11-1931)


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