Homage to a martyr

Think Socrates; think Joan of Arc; think Saint Paul; think Vladimir Bogoyavlensky and think Saint Peter. More recently, think Abraham Lincoln; think Martin Luther King Jr; think John F Kennedy and think Benazir Bhutto. And now closer home, think Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Apart from the great lives, these remarkable men and women lived, the one golden thread that runs through the fabric of their lives is the fearlessness and courage with which they pioneered noteworthy principles and revolutionised human life.

These stalwarts have changed the course of history for the human race. Gently, yet, fervently they have transformed the nature of human beings from barbarians to humanitarians and from dictators to benevolent leaders. We are in a better place today than our forefathers, thanks to the immense involvement of such noble men and women.

Besides having contributed to human progress through their altruistic lives, these men and women never quite feared death and were willing to sacrifice their very lives for the cause they lived. Their role in society has been so singularly significant that with their death they have left behind a spectacular legacy for all posterity. Ultimately, paying a price with their lives, these men have immortalized the principles they spearheaded.

These men and women are thus raised to the position of martyrs and we pay our homage to them with reverence. The world remembers them on the day they were mercilessly assassinated and commemorates their death anniversaries in meaningful ways.

In India, we revere Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of Our Nation on his death anniversary by dedicating the day as Martyr’s Day. As Gandhi, who began his non-violent movement for equality when he was thrown out of a railway compartment in South Africa for being Indian and coloured, stood as an epitome of martyrdom with his assassination, this gesture of dedicating his death anniversary as Martyr’s Day is but fitting.

Dying a martyr and the word refers to persons who sacrifice something of great value and especially life itself for a cause - Gandhi, who roused and led a nation to freedom from oppression, is the apostle of peace.

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