What is Latter-day Satyagraha?
Joseph Smith, jr., the founder of the LDS movement, once said, ‘I calculate to be one of the instruments of setting up the kingdom [foreseen by] Daniel, and I intend to lay a foundation that will revolutionize the whole world. It will not be by sword or gun that this kingdom will roll on: the power of truth is such that all nations will be under the necessity of obeying the Gospel.’
“The Tibetan struggle is the competition between the power of truth and the power of gun. The power of truth will always remain. The power of gun, the power of force in the long run becomes weaker and weaker.” — His Holiness The Dalai Lama of Tibet
Mohandas Gandhi explains the term Satyagraha and the reason for why this term best coined the resistance movement against British rule in India: ‘No one knew what name to give to the movement. I then used the term passive resistance in describing it. I did not quite understand the implications of passive resistance as I called it. I only knew that some new principle had come into being. As the struggle advanced, the phrase passive resistance gave rise to confusion and it appeared shameful to permit this great struggle to be known only by an English name. Again, that foreign phrase could hardly pass as current coin among the community. A small prize was therefore announced in Indian Opinion to be awarded to the reader who invented the best designation for our struggle. We thus received a number of suggestions. The meaning of the struggle had been then fully discussed in Indian Opinion and the competitors for the prize had fairly sufficient material to serve as a basis for their exploration.’
He continues: ‘Shri Maganlal Gandhi was one of the competitors and he suggested the word sadagraha, meaning firmness in a good cause. I liked the word, but it did not fully represent the whole idea I wished it to connote. I therefore corrected it to satyagraha. Truth (satya) implies love, and firmness (agraha) engenders and therefore serves as a synonym for force. I thus began to call the Indian movement Satyagraha, that is to say, the Force which is born of Truth and Love or non-violence, and gave up the use of the phrase passive resistance, in connection with it, so much so that even in English writing we often avoided it and used instead the word satyagraha itself or some other equivalent English phrase.’
In Qualifications for Satyagraha (Young India, 8 August 1929), Gandhi lists seven rules as “essential for every Satyagrahi in India”:
- must have a living faith in God
- must believe in truth and non-violence and have faith in the inherent goodness of human nature which he expects to evoke by suffering in the satyagraha effort
- must be leading a chaste life, and be willing to die or lose all his possessions
- must be a habitual khadi wearer and spinner
- must abstain from alcohol and other intoxicants
- must willingly carry out all the rules of discipline that are issued
- must obey the jail rules unless they are specially devised to hurt his self respect
From Wikipedia.org, we learn that the first known use of the term Latter Day Saint was in 1834, shortly before Joseph Smith’s Church of Christ was informally renamed the Church of the Latter Day Saints to distinguish it from other “Churches of Christ” that were being established at the time. The term derives from Smith’s teaching that adherents of the religion God established were “saints” in the same sense that Paul of Tarsus used the term, meaning that they were followers of Christ. They are termed latter day saints in order to distinguish them from the saints of the early Christian church (former day saints). The church adopted the term officially April 16, 1838 with a revelation delivered through Smith, “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.”
For those familiar with the LDS faith, the differences between being a Satyagrahi and a Latter Day Saint are not many. It could be argued that the only difference is in fact that the Satyagrahi is committed to non-violence and the Latter Day Saint is not. Due to my struggle over the years with the war rhetoric and the military imagery all-too-known and still actively in use in the LDS faith, I would like to use this blog to expound on what should be called a LATTER DAY SATYAGRAHA.
Some people might think: “Oh! But you cannot mix the two!” I argue that it is very much like reading both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Ezra Taft Benson once said, ‘The Book of Mormon verifies and clarifies the Bible. It removes stumbling blocks; it restores many plain and precious things. We testify that when used together, the Bible and the Book of Mormon confound false doctrine, lay down contentions, and establish peace. The Book of Mormon is not on trial – the people of the world, including members of the Church, are on trial as to what they will do with [or rather how they will use] this second witness of Christ.’ (A New Witness for Christ, 1984)