Gandhi’s Theory of Swaraj.

In Gandhi’s analysis of the term Swaraj Gandhi was concerned with distinguishing between the full moral meaning of freedom and the narrow negative meaning of individual or national freedom. The root meaning of swaraj is self rule. Swaraj may be rendered as disciplined rule from within “Independence” has no such limitation.

Independence may mean licence to do as you like. Swaraj is positive Independence is negative. The word Swaraj is a sacred word, a vedic word meaning self rule and self restraint and not freedom from all restraints which independence often means. Gandhi’s notion of Swaraj is applicable equally to individuals and nations. Swaraj has both a minimal and a maximal meaning. At the minimum level it is a natural right of self determination againt those who wish to rule over us and restrict our freedom.

At the maximum level, we apply the concept of Swaraj to ourselves to remind ourselves that we can lose our freedom only through our own weakness, that without a freely chosen discipline or code of self restraints, we ourselves may abuse our freedom.

In Gandhi’s words Freedom battles are not fought without paying heavy prices’. The Gandhian notion of Swaraj contained a number of meanings. It was the individual Swaraj rooted in self awareness and self choice and self rule and was widely connected with the notion of self-defence self criticism, self purification self restraint and self realization. It did not mean political independence alone.

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