Discipline is the mother of self-control. The only difference between them is that discipline is a set of rules that controls one’s behavior.
Self-control means being conscious and deliberate on the right course of action regardless of the temptations that try to steer you in the wrong direction.
Brief Biography of Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on the 2nd of October 1869 to the family of Karamchand Gandhi. He was born and raised a core Indian.
He was 13 when his family decided to cut costs and perform marriages for him and his sibling at once ( back then child marriage was a common practice). So Gandhi started life and marriage quite early. Their marriage was blessed with five children.
While the single act of getting married could stop just about anybody, Gandhi went forward to pursue his career. He went off to London in 1888 to study law and then to South Africa in 1893 to practice. On getting to South Africa, he discovered that the laws of nations differ because people are unique. What applies in London does not necessarily apply in South Africa. But this didn’t stop Gandhi. He went on to learn the much as he could about the Law in South Africa.
He practiced for a while before bringing his family over in 1897. Kasturba, Gandhi’s wife, assisted him in his work as a lawyer, politician, and activist.
Gandhi Fought for Civil Rights
Gandhi, while in South Africa fought for the civil rights of the Indians living there. This, he did without violence. Upon his return to India in 1915, he took it upon himself to liberate India from the British harsh salt policy. Hence, he led the ‘Salt March’, an Indian revolution against British rule.
This civil disobedience took place from March to April 1930. Gandhi’s style of revolution was legendary because of its no-violence theme. The people under the leadership of Gandhi marched from Sabermanti to the Arabian Sea coast. The march was a protest against the policy that Indians are not allowed to make or sell salt but buy from the British. Salt being a staple is of high value and significance in every home. Indians were made to pay salt taxes and also purchase salt at very exorbitant prices.
Gandhi started out protesting with a dozen people from his religious retreat at Sabermanti near Ahmedabad but before he got to the Arabian Sea coast, a crowd of tens of thousands was following. Although the salt they produced at the sea was destroyed by the police, Gandhi was not deterred. When he sighted a lump of salt among the ruins and picked it up, it encouraged the people to fight. The nonviolent protest, satyagraha, broke out all over India and continued even after he was imprisoned on the 5th of May of the same year.
The protest got international recognition and many nations criticized the British policy. Gandhi was released in 1931. He agreed to call off the protest after meeting with Lord Irwin, the viceroy of India. He pleaded that he be given a negotiating role at a conference in London regarding India’s future. India got her independence in August 1947 but Gandhi died the year after and his achievements were not without a good deal of self-control.
Discipline and Self Control
Gandhi was Hindu to the core. As was the tradition, he was not to eat meat. However, Gandhi defaulted at a time, and after that, he began to train himself to resist the urge to eat meat. Gandhi, in his many years as an activist, encountered many difficulties but with discipline and self-restraint, he may not have overcome them.
In his book, Self Restraint Versus Self Indulgence, he expressed in writing his journey toward self-control and the principles of getting a hold of our desires. Among the issues addressed are self-control, Brahmacharya, birth control, marriage ideal, sex education and so much more. Gandhi was made to marry at such a tender age so he became aware of his sexual desires too early and indulged in them without restraint. Upon cross-examination of the quality of his life, that of his wife, and the need to check the number of children they were to have, he began the quest for self-control.
“Self-restraint should not be a conscious effort to drive away evil thoughts because that process is in itself a kind of indulgence. The best prescription is non-resistance, i.e. ignoring the existence of evil thoughts and a continuous preoccupation with duties that lie in front of one” – M. K. Gandhi.
Gandhi believed that contraceptives were harmful as it takes away any restraint we have on our natural desires. The thought that we can indulge in ‘animalistic’ desires without any thought for the consequences will only lead to chaos. According to him, the only best method for birth control is self-control. In his walk through life, he was able to master self-control over his desires and according to him, had the best experience in his marriage after he quit sexual relations with his wife.
At a time during the revolution, Gandhi, together with his family had to cut down on so many pleasures of life to continue financing the revolution. He couldn’t have cared; he was a practicing lawyer, and he could pay the taxes and also afford salt but he was a selfless man and so he disciplined himself to manage his resources to achieve his set goal.
In his autobiography, Gandhi spoke extensively about discipline in the area of food. He believed that most of the diseases we see today are a result of what enters our mouths. So many delicacies prepared in fast foods and restaurants are prepared with so many spices most of which are chemically synthesized. These foods though delicious are not ideal. He encouraged, and as a matter of fact, lived on the consumption of fruit, vegetables, and nuts. He was a strict vegetarian. He opined that taste was a matter of training. When we as children are exposed to very sweet and spicy foods, we train our tongues to appreciate only sweet and spicy foods. But if as children, we were raised without those sweet and spicy things, our tongues will naturally appreciate natural foods, and foods eaten in their natural state without additives have proven to be very healthy.
In Gandhi’s opinion, if we can control our taste and appetite for food, we can conquer every other human desire. In truth, discipline is a very important virtue for human existence. Complete control over one’s self is the ultimate form of living. With discipline, we can just about achieve anything. You can start the process of discipline today, through meditation, study, prayers, and self-will.