The list is long, diverse and awe-inspiring. Here’s what the world’s greatest leaders and thinkers of the 20th century had to say about Mahatma Gandhi. Read on.
Indians can take great pride in the fact that some of the most well-known personalities of the 20thand 21st centuries cite the Mahatma as their role model.
1. Barack Obama
In 2009, when Barack Obama was visiting Wakefield High School in the US, a ninth grader asked the would-be President: “If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?” Obama chuckled and answered: “Well, dead or alive, that’s a pretty big list. You know, I think that it might be Gandhi, who is a real hero of mine.”
2. Aung San Suu Kyi
Nobel Peace Prize winner and prominent Burmese freedom fighter Aung San Suu Kyi, while addressing students at Columbia University in New York in 2012, said Gandhi had been one of the major influences in her life and she urged the students to read his works.
3. Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela, great leader of the South African people and another giant of the 20th century anti-colonial struggle, often cited Mahatma Gandhi as one of his greatest teachers: “Gandhi’s ideas have played a vital role in South Africa’s transformation and with the help of Gandhi’s teaching, apartheid has been overcome.”
4. HH Dalai Lama
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, monk and exiled leader of the Tibetan people, has always said he is a follower of Mahatma Gandhi. Both the leaders were representatives of the idea that political change must be secondary to spiritual evolution. “I have the greatest admiration for Mahatma Gandhi. He was a great human being with a deep understanding of human nature. His life has inspired me,”said the Dalai Lama.
5. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Christ gave us the goals and Mahatma Gandhi the tactics,” said Martin Luther King Jr., the beloved civil rights leader in the United States of America, who adopted non-violence as the weapon of choice to help millions of African Americans fight for their rights.
6. Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein and Gandhi were big admirers of each other and exchanged letters frequently. Einstein called Gandhi “a role model for the generations to come” in a letter, writing about him. “I believe that Gandhi’s views were the most enlightened of all the political men in our time,” he said.
7. Steve Jobs
When Steve Jobs started his second innings at Apple in the year 1997, he stood before a giant portrait of Mahatma Gandhi and said these words before a packed audience: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers…because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” It is believed that Mahatma Gandhi inspired these words.
8. Rabindranath Tagore
Although Rabindranath Tagore and Gandhi had some sharp differences, the former was the first notable contemporary to refer to the latter as Mahatma. “Mahatma Gandhi came and stood at the door of India’s destitute millions…who else has so unreservedly accepted the vast masses of the Indian people as his flesh and blood…Truth awakened Truth,” he said.
9. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as the ‘Frontier Gandhi’, was a political and spiritual leader known for his belief in non-violence and the methods of opposition to the British adopted by Mahatma Gandhi. The two remained close friends and worked with each other right up to 1947.
10. George Bernard Shaw
And finally, no one of course could say it better than Nobel-prize-winning Irish playwright and passionate socialist, George Bernard Shaw: “Impressions of Gandhi? You might well ask for someone’s impression of the Himalayas.”