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Day 36 – Q 5. Examine the concept of ‘satyagraha’. Was it a successful strategy? Examine.

5. Examine the concept of ‘satyagraha’. Was it a successful strategy? Examine.   

‘सत्याग्रह’ की अवधारणा का परीक्षण करें। क्या यह एक सफल रणनीति थी? जांचकरें।


Satyagraha is a moral weapon based on the superiority of soul-force or love-force over physical force and was evolved by Gandhiji for meeting the aggression and settling conflicts. It became a major tool in the Indian struggle against British imperialism and has since been adopted by protest groups in other countries.


Concept of Satyagraha:

  • According to this philosophy, satyagrahis—practitioners of satyagraha—achieve correct insight into the real nature of an evil situation by observing a nonviolence of the mind, by seeking truth in a spirit of peace and love, and by undergoing a rigorous process of self-scrutiny.
  • In so doing, the satyagrahi encounters truth in the absolute.
  • By refusing to submit to the wrong or to cooperate with it in any way, the satyagrahi asserts that truth.
  • Throughout the confrontation with evil, the satyagrahi must adhere to nonviolence, for to employ violence would be to lose correct insight.
  • Satyagrahis always warn their opponents of their intentions; satyagraha forbids any tactic suggesting the use of secrecy to one’s advantage.
  • Satyagraha includes more than civil disobedience. Its full range of application extends from the details of correct daily living to the construction of alternative political and economic institutions.
  • Satyagraha seeks to conquer through conversion: in the end, there is neither defeat nor victory but rather a new harmony.
  • Concept of Satyagraha draws from the ancient Indian ideal of ahimsa (“noninjury”), In developing ahimsa into a modern concept with broad political consequences, as satyagraha, Gandhi also drew from the writings of Leo Tolstoy and Henry David Thoreau, from the Bible, and also from the Bhagavadgita.

Was it a successful strategy?

Critics of Satyagraha, both in Gandhi’s time and subsequently, have argued that

  • It is unrealistic and incapable of universal success, since it relies upon a high standard of ethical conduct in the opponent.
  • Even demands an unrealistically strong level of commitment from those struggling for social amelioration.
  • Method is slow to yield results and rather than ‘struggle-truce-struggle’ there is need for ‘struggle-victory’ strategy.


  • Satyagraha proved to be a novel method of political action, a technique which revolutionised Indian politics and galvanised millions to action against the British Raj.
  • Its success is clearly visible in various movements like Champaran Satyagraha, Ahmedabad Workers strike, Kheda Satyagraha where efforts of Gandhiji on the lines of Satyagraha yielded results in the form of passage of Acts and compromise between the parties involved.   
  • Martin Luther King used it in his battle against racism.
  • Nelson Mandela used the Satyagraha technique in South Africa to end apartheid.
  • Today legacy of Satyagraha continues in the form of protests employed in India and around the world.


Gandhi believed that change in the polity or society is to be brought about by changing the hearts and minds of men and not by bloody revolutions. Since every individual has a conscience, Gandhi aimed at its awakening, not through violent means, but, by stressing on self-purification and moral influence. He was convinced that through Satyagraha the change of heart can be made possible.

Best answer: P29

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