Gandhi used the Sanskrit word Satyagraha, meaning “clinging to truth,” in reference to his campaigns in South Africa and India, such as the famous Salt Satyagraha march of 1930. Satyagraha can be understood as the vast inner strength or “soul force” required for nonviolent acts. 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 by taking authentic action to represent truth and working to uphold a just cause would inevitably reach the heart of the oppressor. Satyagraha is 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” which is necessary for nonviolence work, and (2) direct resistance in the form of obstructive program and constructive program as in Gandhi’s campaigns in South Africa and India. Practitioners are known as satyagrahis.