Gandhi: A Public Speaker Whose Words Moved Millions

This ubiquitous quote by the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi is a call to the nation in today’s time when we’re surrounded by atrocities every time we turn on the news channel. Mahatma Gandhi’s simple living, high thinking reflected in the simplicity and profoundness of his words. Without raising so much so as a finger, Gandhiji stirred the soul of the nation with his powerful words in a gentle voice, uniting Indians across castes and creeds towards the common vision of a Free India.  


With Ahimsa being one of the guiding principles in his life, Gandhiji led a life with an important message that the pen is mightier than the sword.  

On Mahatma Gandhi’s 151st Birth Anniversary, let us seek solace and inspiration from one of the most inspiring orators and world leaders 

Passion and Conviction 

“A Satyagrahi, whether free or incarcerated, is ever victorious. He is vanquished only when he forsakes truth and nonviolence and turns a deaf ear to the inner voice. If, therefore, there is such a thing as defeat for even a Satyagrahi, he alone is the cause of it.”  

Such was the passion and conviction that resonated in his voice and was amplified through by his 80 marchers who joined him in his 24 days non-violent civil disobedience protest march against the Salt Tax imposed by the British Raj. As a firm believer and practitioner of Ahimsa and Shanthi, Gandhi not just preached these ideals, he walked the talk with his lathi and followers for support. He firmly believed that his words and actions that aligned with his intent had the power to change the world and the rest is history.   

Sense of Purpose 

After listening to this evocative speech, it is easy to believe that Gandhiji had the gift of the gab. Contrary to popular belief, public speaking was a daunting affair for Gandhiji in his student years. As a practitioner of Vegetarianism, he had prepared a speech for a community “Vegetarian Society” to explain the benefits of vegetarianism. Despite practicing his speech several times, when he took stage, he stood there dumbfounded barely able to speak beyond a line and a member completed the speech for him. 

This failure did not deter the Mahatma who was only emboldened to overcome his stage fright. With a bigger goal of a his masses tethered under the British Raj, a pressing sense of urgency compelled him to connect with his masses in a language that touched their hearts, Mutiple tours of villages and prayer meetings later, it is the same demure and humble man who spoke in a manner that sparked the Civil Disobedience Movement across the country which gained momentum with force enough to drive the colonisers away.  

When asked to comment on public speaking, Gandhiji opined My hesitancy in speech, which was once an annoyance is now a pleasure.’  


An Active Listener 

When Gandhiji returned to India from South Africa in 1915, Gokhale had elicited a promise from Gandhi that he would not speak publicly for a year. He told Gandhi to keep his mouth shut and his eyes open This political halt gave Gandhi an opportunity to travel widely throughout India. He travelled from pillar to post get the real picture of the country, and to understand the mind and feeling of the masses. This tour helped him to truly open his ears to the masses’ struggle, which further spurred his determination to free them from injustice.  


A People’s Leader  

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” – Nelson Mandela 

It is very essential to speak in the language which people understand, and no one exemplified this better than the Mahatma himself. Fluent in English, Hindi and Gujarati, Gandhi could simplify the modern problems he fought against by simply translating it in simple words that would touch the masses. In order to ward off untouchability, he referred to the discriminated against as “Harijans” a or which translates to people of God.  These symbolic idioms reflected the religious and cultural beliefs of society which struck a chord and made them feel one with the movement.