Students will have an understanding of the origins of Satyagraha as measured by 80% accuracy on a quick teacher-made quiz.
Students will be able to illustrate three steps of Satyagraha as well as three methods used to carry out Satyagraha as measured by their ability to do so with 90% accuracy within a small group setting (3-4 students).
When presented with actual historical references (Montgomery Boycott, South African School Boycotts, and Indian Independence, students will be able to determine the steps and methods of Satyagraha.
Students will write an essay including details regarding the same with a thesis related to whether honorable compromise was or was not a result of Satyagraha.
This lesson is intended to help students to learn the steps and methods related to Gandhi’s teachings of Satyagraha-- insistence on truth through love and compassion—and his ideas on conflict resolution and methods of non-cooperation and nonviolence. It is also meant to give students experience in identifying the steps and methods in historical situations: Montgomery Boycott, Indian Independence, and school boycotts in South Africa.
According to Gandhi, the critical principle of democracy is the principle of un-coerced, consensual, or community truth. He believed that in every social conflict, there is potential for harmony within the opposing parties. He developed a mode of action, Satyagraha, that he felt would help people to discover and form their community truth.
Satyagraha-- insistence on truth through love and compassion-- never or rarely included violence because Gandhi believed that man is not capable of knowing the absolute truth and therefore unable to punish others. Everyone rules himself so that they do not infringe on their neighbor. As Gandhi noted, “an eye for an eye makes everyone blind.” The golden rule of conduct is seeing that we will never all think alike. We must hear the other side.
Gandhi developed his ideas related to Satyagraha after studying the works of Thoreau and the core principles of non-violence practiced in Jainism. His initial experiments with Satyagraha took place in South Africa at a time when racial discrimination against colored people was present. He continued to experiment with Satyagraha in India as he became known as the “pilgrim of truth” in relationship to mass poverty and unrest. He led many campaigns that involved non-violent non-cooperation and civil disobedience. In planning a lesson related to Satyagraha, it is helpful to review Gandhi’s many quotes related to the concept.
Thomas Pantham in his article entitled, “Thinking with Mahatma Gandhi; Beyond Liberal Democracy”, provides a simple outline for understanding the steps and methods of Gandhi’s concept of Satyagraha (please see below). A much more comprehensive list is provided in Chapter Four; “The Methods of Nonviolent Action” of Gene Sharp’s book, Waging Nonviolent Struggle.
In the Satyagraha movement, three steps were to be considered when questioning an existing social system or norm:
Reasoning /Mutual Toleration – persuading, converting, or accommodating your opponent to your reasoning and being open to or inviting the efforts of your opponent.
Appealing to the opponent through self suffering (Example – fasting)
Non-cooperation and civil disobedience
“Non cooperation and civil disobedience are different but branches of the same tree.”
The methods of Satyagraha included:
Pledges, Prayers, Fasts
Acts of non-cooperation, such as boycotts and strikes
Constructive programs such as education programs and programs that removed economic and social inequalities especially as they related to the untouchables.
Gandhi believed the ultimate goal of Satyagraha was to achieve honorable compromise. This was described by Anthony Parel as compromise “without disrespect, ridicule of opponent’s position.” It also meant that both sides of a conflict would feel their position had been honored, listened to, and some change had occurred. Gandhi is quoted, “For me the minimum is my maximum” which emphasizes the idea that Satyagraha must bring about change of some kind. In Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti’s book entitled, Gandhi on Peace and Nonviolence, Gandhi is quoted in 1921, “We would have all power in our hands today if we had, in thought, action, and speech, remained peaceful, respectful and humble towards all our opponents”.
Gandhi believed that the ideas of non-violence could be shared with other countries only after India had gained independence. In the book, Gandhi on Peace and Nonviolence, a quote is taken from Gandhi’s writing in the Harijan dated 4-5-1940, “Pauper India has nothing to send to these countries except her non-violence. But as I have said this is not yet a sendable commodity. It will be when India has gained her freedom through non-violence.” India gained independence from the British in 1948 as a result of a campaign that started much earlier. A short synopsis of part of that campaign along with two more recent campaigns using the steps and methods of Satyagraha are provided below. A much more comprehensive look at these campaigns as well as several others is provided in Gene Sharp’s book, Waging Nonviolent Struggle.
Historically, The Indian Independence Campaign-1930-1931, The Montgomery Boycott 1955-1956, and The School Boycotts in South Africa 1984-1987 provide examples of attempts to use the steps and methods of Satyagraha. In India, despite opposition by the British, resolutions in favor of independence and endorsements for a campaign of civil disobedience were passed on December 31, 1929. The Delhi Settlement was signed in March, 1931. It provided some concessions to the Nationalists although the terms favored the British. The Montgomery Boycotts elevated the civil rights movement to a national level and set the stage for nonviolent action to be used on a larger scale. As a result of the boycotts in the Vaal triangle of South Africa, the Minister of Education announced new educational reforms; new bodies for more student representation, the opening of closed schools, limiting of age limits, and the postponement of final exams. All of these proposals were rejected. When it was clear that the boycotts were not producing major change, the National Education Crisis Committee was formed which set the stage for alternative education ideas.
Michigan State Content Standards –7th grade Social Studies
VI.1MS.2 Trace the origins of a public issue.
VI.2MS.1 Engage each other in conversations which attempt to clarify and resolve national and international policy issues
VII.1.MS.2 Engage in activities intended to contribute to solving a national or international problem.
I.4MS.3 Identify the responses of individuals to historic violations of human dignity involving discrimination, persecution, and crimes against humanity.
What do you think of when I say “May the force be with you?”
How did Gandhi come to his teachings regarding Satyagraha?
What are the major concepts of Satyagraha?
How have the concepts of Satyagraha been used in historical situations?
Handouts: “Steps in the Process of Satyagraha” from Gandhi’s Way by Mark Juergensmeyer
Group whiteboards, butcher block paper, or storyboard template
Digital Story, “Satyagraha”
Homework assignment/Essay with parent discussion questions
Students will have already completed a study of Apartheid in South Africa. This lesson will take place after students have had the opportunity to view a teacher made Power Point presentation regarding the life of Gandhi and complete a teacher generated skeletal outline related to the Power Point. The digital story “Satyagraha” will be used in the middle of this lesson. Separate lessons will be devoted to the concepts of Ahimsa, Hind Swaraj, Sardovaya, and Truth and Reconciliation (Forgiveness). A culminating lesson will involve the understanding of all of the above concepts.
Use excerpts taken from the Star Wars movies related to “Soul Force” or the short story entitled “Satyagraha” taken from On the Fringe edited by Donald R. Gallo, as an anticipatory set.
Use an ELMO (or other projection technology) to discuss the origins and experiments by Gandhi related to the concept of Satyagraha that has been covered generally in the study of Apartheid and the Power Point. Students will be given the steps and methods of Satyagraha.
Pass out handout entitled, “Steps in the Process of Satyagraha” from Mark Juergensmeyer’s book entitled Gandhi’s Way.
Students divide into small groups to develop illustrations related to the steps and methods of Satyagraha. These will be shared and posted in the classroom.
Students view the digital story related to Satyagraha as a review.
Students take a “Quick Quiz” to insure they have the basic concepts related to Satyagraha.
Copies of each of the following: Ending Bus Segregation in Montgomery – 1955-1956”, “Indian Independence Campaign – 1930-1931”, “School Boycotts in South Africa 1984-1987”, outlined from articles of the same name contained in Waging Nonviolent Struggle by Gene Sharp, will be given to each small group to read and discuss followed by a Fishbowl discussion of the three handouts and their relationship to the steps and methods of Satyagraha.
A homework assignment of a one page essay related to the above international examples of Satyagraha will be assigned to the students.
Students will be assessed through an objective quiz, class participation, and the individual essay.
Extension Activities/ Enrichment
Students will have the opportunity to share their learning with parents and fill in a survey with their parents regarding instances in their parent’s lifetime where they have seen the concept of Satyagraha practiced.
Gallo, Donald. On the Fringe. New York: Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 2001.
Juergensmeyer, Mark. Gandhi’s Way; A Handbook of Conflict Resolution. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.
Pantham, Thomas. “Thinking with Mahatma Gandhi: Beyond Liberal Democracy.” Political Theory, Volume 11, Number 2, May 1983, pp. 165-188.
Parel, Anthony (ed.) Hind Swaraj and Other Writings. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Sharp, Gene. Waging Nonviolent Struggle. Boston: Porter Sargent Publishers, Inc., 2005.
Smriti, Gandhi & Samiti Darsham, Gandhi on Peace and Nonviolence. New Delhi: