Nazareth Shares his Insights about Gandhi’s Outstanding Leadership

November 2, 2016

"Gandhi was not just an 'apostle of nonviolence. He was first and foremost an 'apostle of truth.'" That was one of the messages that Pascal Alan Nazareth stressed during his public lecture at the School of Public Policy at CEU on October 24. The occasion for the event, which was co-organized by the CEU Department of History and the Embassy of India in Budapest, was the launch of the Hungarian edition of Nazareth's book, Gandhi's Outstanding Leadership. Nazareth was introduced by Indian Ambassador Chhabra who spoke eloquently about Mahatma Gandhi’s faith in the principles of truth and non-violence which have inspired so many.

Nazareth explained that he wrote his book initially "for my countrymen" as many of them, including deeply dedicated Gandhians, were unaware of Gandhi's great impact on the world and the reverence which many of its leaders have for Gandhi. Nazareth cited specific instances in Gandhi's life to highlight important attributes of this extraordinary man. One such incident was the time in 1893 when Gandhi was thrown off a train in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa because he refused to move to a third-class compartment earmarked for colored passengers. Gandhi responded with great courage and determination by focusing not on his rights, but on his duty to fight racial injustice. This was something he would do throughout his life and urged others to do as well. "Gandhi strongly believed," said Nazareth, "that if one stood up firmly for the truth, the cause he or she stood up for would always succeed."

Nazareth credited Gandhi for having been the one who "put truth and nonviolence together." He said that Gandhi believed that truth was an objective moral reality, and that "truth is God." Nazareth went on to explain, "Truth is what is. The only reality that has always been is God." It was Gandhi's strong belief in truth, according to Nazareth, that allowed him to bring about radical change in India with a minimum amount of bloodshed. Nazareth explained that far fewer people had died during the numerous nonviolent struggles of the second half of the 20th century when the world's political geography had been transformed than during the two world wars in which over 90 million people had been killed.

Another major contribution that Gandhi made, according to Nazareth, was to root his strategy in spirituality. Nazareth commented that the "great tragedy of the world was that there was too much religion and too little spirituality." He added that Gandhi, "raised religion to the level of spirituality" by rooting it in truth rather than in religious practices. He noted that spirituality that was rooted in truth, justice, love, and universal brotherhood, was what the world greatly needed today. Nazareth concluded his remarks by quoting Sri Chinmoy: "World peace will be achieved when the power of love replaces the love of power."

Pascal Alan Nazareth had a long and distinguished career as a diplomat, serving in more than a dozen countries, before retiring in 1994. He was awarded the U Thant Peace Award by the Sri Chinmoy Peace Meditation Group at the United Nations in 2007. Nazareth is currently Managing Trustee of Sarvodaya International Trust, an organization that he co-founded in 1995. The Hungarian edition of Gandhi's Outstanding Leadership was published by The Golden Shore Verlags GmbH and translated by CEU alumna Lívia Szélpál (PhD History 2013).