Satyagraha – What is, definition and concept | 2022

Satyagraha is a term that means a form of non-violent struggle, theorized and applied by the famous activist Mahatma Gandhi. It implies some very marked objectives and principles that must be respected.

Satyagraha is a concept developed by Gandhi referring to the form of resistance and non-violent disobedience. But he doesn’t just stay there, he made a method out of it. Satyagraha goes further because it involves following certain values.

Theoretically everything is developed in his work Nonviolent Resistance (Satyagraha). The interesting thing about this method of resistance is that Gandhi practiced it throughout his life, fighting against the British colonial invasion. And he did it to the last consequences of it, losing his life from a gunshot wound in 1948.

Origin of the term satyagraha

This word, satyagraha, is a neologism coined by Gandhi himself in the early 20th century. Is composed of saty, which in Hindi means truth; and by agraha, translated as strength or persistence. Thus, literally, the neologism created by Gandhi would mean “the force of truth”.

Later, it was used by other leaders to refer to other struggles with the same characteristics, as was the case of Martin Luther King in the United States during the sixties.

Types of nonviolence

The author Giuliano Pontara collects the types of non-violence that the Indian activist distinguished, and they are the following:

  • nonviolence of the weak: Whoever develops it does not do so out of a real conviction that non-violence is the true solution. He does it either because it is tactically the most desirable at the time, or because he does not have the necessary weapons to carry out an armed conflict.
  • coward’s nonviolence: It is practiced by those who, in the name of non-violence, are submissive to power. But not out of conviction that it is the best, but out of fear and cowardice of the reprimands that challenging the prevailing regime may entail.
  • nonviolence of the strong: Known as satyagraha, it represents the true awareness that unarmed struggle is the true form of change. In addition to being morally respectable, and which must be developed throughout life.
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Characteristics of satyagraha

Doctor and author Mario López Martínez establishes a series of characteristics and conditions under which satyagraha has historically developed:

  • refrain from violence: It supposes the abstention of the use of force in any of its modalities. In return, alternative strategies and activities will be developed that have great potential for change.
  • Willingness to sacrifice: Whoever wants to change things through this method of struggle must be willing to make self-sacrifice. The violent means of the rival are accepted and one fights with him through the moral superiority that supposes the fight through peaceful means. The subordination of personal interests to those pursued by the struggle is also accepted.
  • respect for the truth: Although in conflicts everything is usually worth in order to obtain victory, the satyagraha does not conceive of lying and deception in order to manipulate both like-minded and the enemy to achieve victory. For one who fights in this form, the integrity and morality of the truth is above all else.
  • constructive commitment: It is about integrating the adversary, not expelling him. Therefore, the project of this struggle must have an integration and communication plan with those who do not think like us in order to establish a peaceful coexistence.
  • Gradualization of the means: The tactics and means used during the fight must be progressive. The lightest routes must be previously exhausted in order to reduce the possible damage to which it is exposed. In the event that the conflict does not stop, it will move on to more intense tactics and activities. If a demonstration turns the tide, there is no need to use, for example, a hunger strike.
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