Satyagraha

Satyagraha can be understood as the vast inner strength required to perform nonviolent acts. Gandhi coined the word Satyagraha in 1908, meaning “clinging to truth” (Sanskrit) and referring to Gandhi’s organized campaigns in South Africa and India, such as the famous Salt Satyagraha march of 1930. Gandhi never defined nonviolence as passive resistance because he saw nothing passive about what he was doing. He believed that a dedicated adherent to nonviolent resistance who worked to uphold a just cause will inevitably reach the heart of the oppressor by taking authentic action to represent truth. When understood for its strength and courage, Satyagraha—also defined as ‘soul force’—is recognized as a positive and spiritually based form of resistance that starts in the heart of the resister and inevitably produces creative action.

The term is used today to mean both (1) the general principle of ‘clinging to truth’ where it is the equivalent of ‘nonviolence,’ and (2) direct resistance in the form of Obstructive Program (as in the instances cited above). Practitioners are known as satyagrahis.