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Gandhi

Gandhi described his religion as religion of truth.  Instead of saying that  God is Truth he started saying Truth is God. We are all sparks of the Truth. The sum total of these sparks is indescribable, as yet the unknown Truth i.e., God.

Religious consciousness means observance of moral principles, truthfulness and uprightness. The first phase of Gandhi’s quest for religious truth was marked by an attempt to harmonize the teachings of (1) Gita, (2) of Buddha, and (3) Christ as expressed on the Mount. Sincerity of purpose and love of mankind. Gandhi’s religion was oral religion expressed in the aphorism, “Truth is God”. His whole life was an experiment with and search for religious truth,.  Gandhi read the Holy Quran with much interest. In Hindu dharma, Gandhi found the virtues of broadmindedness and tolerance, which he sought in every religion.

Gandhi never accepted untouchability or belief in the divine origin of the Vedas and other scriptures, which were commonly regarded as the depositories of the essential tenets of the Hindu creed. That’s why Gandhi could not become a great Hindu leader. However, the Bhagwad- Gita became an infallible code for Gandhi. Not for intellectual satisfaction but moral guidance. It taught him that only through love and selfless service of one’s fellow beings, could one realize the Truth.

The terrorists are not fighting the proponents of evil but are promoting their own empire in the name of religion. In fact, the poor and illiterate young people are made to act as mercenary soldiers, who know little about religion. What religious cause do they serve by killing innocent men, women and children.

He could and he did point out faults in rituals, narrow, selfish, motivated and wrong religious perceptions of political and religious leader. He shunned mysticism. He was pragmatic in politics, economics, social relationship and religion. Do thy duty wherever you are.

To just go to a temple, church or a mosque without the knowledge of moral principles and practice of the same, serves no religious purpose. That is merely a ritual and not religion.

The way to God lies through the Love and service of man. This idea is common to all the principal religions of the world. No matter, whether a man is Hindu or a Muslim. Long ago Christ and Muslim suffis held these views.

It is the need of the hour that people understand the true meaning and significance of religion and religious exercises. It entails upon the true religious gurus to educate and show the path to the masses. It cannot be a hidden agenda or a political game plan, played as a gimmick to capture and manipulate votes of the gullible, illiterate and destitute masses. It is a great sin and violation of religious spirit to use religion as a tool to fill the vote bank. It is being done by politicians as a tool to capture power .It is a flagrant disregard to the messages of the Prophets. It creates mistrust for religion, which happens to represent politics in disguise.

Our intention is not to blame a particular group of individuals or a political party. This corrupt practice is in vogue these days. Politicians of all shades in India and outside, exploit the ignorant masses in the name of God. This is an old theory but it has been used differently at different times.. One thing is common in all politicians   that they wish to capture and retain power in the name of God. There is nothing wrong in the name of God  or religion . But it is a great sin to manipulate religion and reduce it the level of a tool. Undoubtedly, those who do so are not religious people.

The best way to go about religion is to abide by the principles of one’s own religion with the help of one’s own Holy Scripture. Have a dispassionate view. It may not serve any purpose to go the populist way. The viewpoint of the majority may not necessarily be correct and sound. Beware of tailor-made approaches of ambitious people for whom no sacrifice of men and material will be too big a price to capture power.

Today the scenario is totally different. One, there is dearth of true gurus. Secondly, the modern gurus are hankering after the power of money which they grab through all means, fair or foul. They hobnob with politicians to gain political clout. Both the parties need each other for mutually beneficial game.

The real gurus, truly religious men, saints and rishis never hankered after power. They saw God in his creation. Hence they saw God face to face and it is this God whom they served all their life. The real ‘jnana’ which they discovered about the omnipotent and omnipresent God was through seeing how His laws were operating. It is these laws and their mystery which they unfolded. They thought it was their duty to do so, not for any power or ambition. Through their tapsya and self- suffering, they experienced the revelation of God which had nothing to do with their personal ambitions. These real rishis never thought of governing the masses. They would educate and keep check on the governors so that they did not violate the tenets of religion and morality.

Religious Perceptions

Open mindedness in religion is opposed to fundamentalism. Loyalty to truth rules out fixed modes of thoughts and actions, rigidity of attitudes and claims of finality. The truth as known to man is relative. Its seeker must be willing to learn from facts and evolve and mould his principles according to changing circumstances and situations.

Gandhi said: I am essentially a man of compromises because I am never sure that I am right. God is Truth, Reality and the Law of Harmony that pervades the whole Universe. Gandhi said: “If love or nonviolence be not the law of our being, the whole of my argument falls to pieces. Love or Ahimsa is (after truth) the most significant term in Gandian philosophy. Positive meaning of love includes affection, sympathy, mercy, generosity, service and self- sacrifice. Nonviolence is not a negative state of harmlessness but is a positive state of love.

Goal of Human Life

The first step lies with the individual moral regeneration. It is Gandhi’s primary concern. A man can become a good citizen or a true satyagrahi only by disciplining his life according to these principles. The greater the spirit of satyagarha in us the better men and better citizens do we become. There is no finality or perfection which man can realize on Earth.

A man of any religion can be called religious  if he abides by the principles of truth and love. A true Hindu/Muslim/Christian /Sikh is a religious person provided he believes in truth . Although man has brute strength in him, yet he is not a brute. The brutes are devoid of divine spirit i.e; ( Arjuna’s strength).The sword of the Khalsa  is meant to kill the brutes who side with the evil.

Terrorism

The terrorists are not fighting the proponents of evil but are promoting their own empire in the name of religion. In fact, the poor and illiterate young people are made to act as mercenary soldiers, who know little about religion. What religious cause do they serve by killing innocent men, women and children.

Human nature, in its essence is one. And every man has the capacity for the highest possible development. The soul is one in all. Its possibilities are, therefore, the same for every one. The ideals that regulate one man’s life are present for acceptance by mankind in general. A person has to reach them by gradual evolution. Every body can become Buddha, if he makes effort and cultivate the same hope and faith. What Buddha practiced is capable of being practiced by all. No one is wicked by nature. If others are wicked, we are no less so. When I see an erring man, I feel that I have also erred. What is possible for one person is possible for all. Buddha claims no supernatural powers.

 Gandhi says he is an ordinary person. He is like all and not an avatar, and everybody can become like him, given the same amount of tapaysa and discipline. Laski says: you must create conditions for the exercise of virtues. You must create awareness in the meanest to exercise moral tenets. Gandhi is aware of the role of circumstances, that’s why he fought against all kinds of slavery- political, economic, religious and social to free man from all these shackles and enable him to experiment with moral values i.e; divinity in him, which is his natural gift, inherent and inborn. But this divinity has to be cultivated and developed to make him more and more spiritual. What are the present religious leaders doing all the world over. They hardly think of man’s regeneration, reorientation, redefinition and spiritual growth. They only tell the people  to blindly believe in what they command to become better religious creatures and qualify to reach and enter the gates of some far off ” Heaven” existing beyond the sky and  the stars ,  said to be God’s abode.

Modern psychologists do endorse Gandhi’s belief that human nature is capable of undergoing immense changes. Gandhi does not say that man is all good, an angel at the very beginning of his life. He only believes in the existence of divine virtues, moral virtues, the divine spark i.e., the soul in each one of us. Some develop it, others  ignore it and march in the reverse gear. Those who go by it, become good, others evil. It all depends on what qualities – i.e., qualities of the soul, or compulsions of the body, you develop . The outcome will be logical and scientific. As you sow, so shall you reap. It is these processes which differentiate human beings and make classes, categories of people (i) good people and (2) bad people. But no one is absolutely virtuous or divine. And no one a complete devil. The virtuous persons too have some weaknesses, however negligible. As the devil too, has some good qualities hidden  deep within.

Vedantic Doctrine of Unitism

Gandhi had faith in the Vedantic doctrine of Unitism, which says all men are parts of one Universal existence. All men are essentially one, members of one family. So an individual who wants to realize his true self must regard the good of all as his own good and dedicate himself to the service of all. But sensual pleasures and personal possessions act as blinds to shut off the lights of reason and in his ignorance and selfishness man losses light of the great truth of unity.

The world is one in its deepest roots and aspirations. The historical purpose of humanity was to develop a world civilization only by (i) exposing the darkness which is entreched in man’s heart; (ii) replacing it by  understanding and tolerance . Life is one indivisible whole. We have kinship with all God’s creation and therefore there are no castes, communities, narrow nationalism, regionalism, sectarianism, racialism or narrow religiosity. Disunity has no place in the spiritual world. The whole geographical India is one country.The whole people make one nation. Let’s unite all races and religious communities together. We believe in one world family, spiritual unity, and unitism. Our history is history of experiments with Truth, through love and service of man. Start from the small-scale and move over to the bigger one. The end of all experiments in the political and social fields was religious. Gandhi introduced religion into politics. It is religion which compelled him not to eschew politics. The inspirations of his life were religious, not in the sense of dogmas or conformity to rituals but religion in the sense of an abiding faith in the absolute values of truth , love and justice and a persistent endeavour to realize them on Earth.

Gandhi described his religion as religion of truth.  Instead of saying that  God is Truth he started saying Truth is God. We are all sparks of the Truth. The sum total of these sparks is indescribable, as yet the unknown Truth i.e., God.

Religious consciousness means observance of moral principles, truthfulness and uprightness. The first phase of Gandhi’s quest for religious truth was marked by an attempt to harmonize the teachings of (1) Gita, (2) of Buddha, and (3) Christ as expressed on the Mount. Sincerity of purpose and love of mankind. Gandhi’s religion was oral religion expressed in the aphorism, “Truth is God”. His whole life was an experiment with and search for religious truth,.  Gandhi read the Holy Quran with much interest. In Hindu dharma, Gandhi found the virtues of broadmindedness and tolerance, which he sought in every religion.

Gandhi never accepted untouchability or belief in the divine origin of the Vedas and other scriptures, which were commonly regarded as the depositories of the essential tenets of the Hindu creed. That’s why Gandhi could not become a great Hindu leader. However, the Bhagwad- Gita became an infallible code for Gandhi. Not for intellectual satisfaction but moral guidance. It taught him that only through love and selfless service of one’s fellow beings, could one realize the Truth.

Gandhi’s religious development took place through his direct spiritual experience which the service of his countrymen and the fight for their rights afforded him. He had profound sympathy for the downtrodden. For him morality is the essence of religion. Experience taught him that consciousness of moral values was something more universal and more definite than the belief in God. If morality is accepted as the essence of religion, it naturally follows that all religions are one, because they have the same basic moral principles. All religions at their best prescribe the same discipline for man’s fulfillment. The Vedas, the Bible, the Quran and the Guru Granth Sahib speak to us about the need for self- discipline.

The importance  of prayers and fasts was recommended by the Hindu sages, the Buddha, Jesus and Mohammad. The idea of the essential unity of all religions was not  new  to Gandhi. It was found in all mystic leaders such as saints of the Bhakti school and Muslim Sufis. It was seen in their teachings and  life. It was the same basic truth in all religions. But the logical consistency with which Gandhi preached and practiced this principle, has hardly any parallel in human history. Equal reverence for all faiths is the focal point in his concept of religion. Gandhi categorically remarked : Common religion of mankind at the intellectual plane is no more than a set of abstract ideas. (2) To take a concrete form it has to cast itself into the moulds of various positive religions. (3) The one true and perfect religion becomes many as it passes through the human medium. (4)  Every individual can look at truth only as reflected in the mirror of some particular faith, usually in that of his own traditional religion. (5) So he should make that religion the means of realizing the common ideals of love and truth and assimilate all that is good in other religions.

Gandhi and Interfaith

God created man in his own image says the Bible. God resides in each human being, says the Gita. Mohammed and Nanak affirm the same truth. Hegel states: Man is the highest physical embodiment or manifestation of God. Man is the march of God on earth.

As Gandhi saw God in his creation, he worked only for the good of all. It is bad for the oppressor to oppress. Gandhi noncooperated with whatever was evil. He must opposed slavery which is inhuman. He  rejected Hegel’s theory of the state. He rejected wars and bloodshed. Even when you are convinced that the other party is wrong, you can only give nonviolent noncooperation. That’s it. He  rejected Bentham’s concept of the greatest good of the greatest number. He wanted to serve all and seek every one’s good. He believes in the principle of spiritual unity. Hence, man should fight for his spiritual freedom and also for the spiritual freedom of others, all others. Faith in God is at the basis of Gandhi’s nonviolent satyagrah.

Gandhi decided to act upon the basis of the strength of human soul. From this belief, springs the faith that there is no man or women too small, weak or helpless to discover the strength of the soul within and make use of it when life is in trouble. He put his faith in God, placed together fragments of truth and welded them into a new courage and hope.

Gandhi wrote: ‘I remember a verse of a Gujrati poem, which I learnt at school as a child. If a man gives you a drink of water and you give him a drink in return, that is nothing; real beauty consists in doing good against evil.

Faith in God

God is the all-pervasive Reality, present in man and also in the Universe; the world is manifestation of this reality. A living and unshakeable faith in God and insistence on the primacy of spirit, was the core of Gandhi’s philosophy. He didn’t have any new ideas about religion. Therefore he couldn’t found a religion, in the absence of new religious ideas. He could and he did point out faults in rituals, narrow, selfish, motivated and wrong religious perceptions of political and religious leader. He shunned mysticism. He was pragmatic in politics, economics, social relationship and religion. Do thy duty wherever you are.

Gandhi said: I can live without air and water, but not without God. And even if he is cut into pieces, God would give him the strength not to deny him. You may pluck my eyes, but that cannot kill me. You may chop off my nose, but that will not kill me. But blast my faith in God, I am dead. Faith in God is indispensable for a satyagrahi.

I do not regard God as a person. Truth for me is God. God’s Laws and God are not different things. He and his laws prevail everywhere and govern everything, which Gandhi shared with the followers of almost all religions, and also with those who professed no religion at all.

Meaning of Religion

His study of several world religions revealed that they all gave the same fundamental importance to Truth and Love. All religions are essentially one. “It is not the Hindu religion, which I certainly prize above all other religions, but the religion which transcends Hinduism, which changes one’s very nature, which binds one to Truth within, and which ever purifies. It is the permanent element in human nature which counts. I pray for my inner development. I pray that everyone else may develop to the fullness of his being in his own religion [no conversion, please] that a Christian may become a better Christian; a Mohammedan a better Mohammedan. God will one day ask us only what we are and what we do, not the name of our religion but  our deeds.

God would make me an instrument of saving the religion I have loved, cherished and practiced. And Gandhi’s religion was Truth, love and not the traditional mystical concepts. He showed no interest in conventional and ritualistic religious pratices.

Principles of Gandhi’s Ethical Religion as the Common Essence of all Faiths:-

-The belief that the law of Truth i.e., the law of Love rules the world.
-The need to live in consonance with this law.
-Basic unity of all religions.
-All religions are true;
-All religions have some error in them; and
-All religions are almost as dear to me as my own ‘Hinduism’.
(Gandhi’s address at the Federation of International Fellowship)

My veneration for other faiths is the same as for my own faith.’
My prayers are: God give everyone the light which he has given me. But give them all the light and truth they need for their highest development. There is one perfect religion, but it becomes many as it passes through the human medium’.

One God, one religion- i.e., universal ethical principles.  One God but many paths to achieve. The second essential element of Gandhi’s religious creed is social virtue, which he calls ‘Love’. It is the key to Truth; and is the highest virtue of life. The way to God lies through the Love and service of man. This idea is common to all the principal religions of the world. No matter, whether a man is Hindu or a Muslim. Long ago Christ and Muslim Sufis held these views.

Tolerance

I do not like the word tolerance. It implies assumption of the inferiority of other faiths to one’s own whereas Ahimsa teaches us respect for all religions with an equal eye. It is our duty to blend into our faith every acceptable feature of other faiths.

To just go to a temple, church or a mosque without the knowledge of moral principles and practice of the same, serves no religious purpose. That is merely a ritual and not religion. Religious tolerance and broad-mindedness are common characteristics, reflected in abundance in the teachings of all mystics of Muslim Sufis, protagonists of Bhakti movement, Kabir and Nanak, besides others.

Serving the Mankind

The only way to serve God is to serve his men. The only way to find God is to see Him in his creation and be one with it. Not only to see Him in his creation, but be one with it. I am part and parcel of the whole and I cannot find Him apart from the rest of humanity.

Man is not merely a physical being. The real being i.e; the central truth is the spirit, which is one and the same in all. One has to identify himself with all permanently and continuously. This service cannot be sought in the seclusion or in solitude, away from the society.

Gandhi’’s religious perception was to promote , serve  and work for the greatest good of all and not as it is in Bentham’s theory of utility. He called it Sarvodaya. Political subjugation is a great hindrance to moral and spiritual regeneration. Moral law is the eternal and immutable law of life which rules the whole universal, and is ingrained in human nature. Moral law is Truth.

Conversion

Gandhi asked: What is the need for conversion? His mission was to convert every Indian and finally the whole world to nonviolence for regulating mutual relations whether political, economic, religious or social. Let us convert everybody to universal religious principles. Everybody, may be a Hindu, Muslim, Christian etc., by birth be converted to love and universal truth. Let everyone become truly religious. Let’s discover commonality, which is universally accepted by all world religions. Don’t quarrel over methods to achieve those goals of the universal religion.

Why not an Imam try to make every Muslim a true Muslim; a Pandit should try to make every Hindu a true Hindu; a Christian father should try to make every Christian a true Christian. All religious problems and disputes would be resolved. At depth, all religions converge. Creating gulf or hatred among the children of the same God is irreligious. To convert an infidel, a non-believer (infact an ignorant man) into a believer is the greatest act of religion, provided you make him conscious of the laws of God. His laws are universal and are not different for different people, not black for the black people, white for the white people and yellow for the yellow people etc

What is the moral or religious justification of converting one man from one religion to another, when there is only one God, one Truth, and one Reality? A man who opts for conversion from one religion to another is ignorant of both; his conscience, consciousness and general awareness of universal moral principles is dormant. So he is bound to remain ignorant as ever before. A truly religious man is committed to one God, one Truth, and he can never go against any man, whatever be his public or private religion. Everyman is his brother, both being children of the same Almighty God. There is no need of converting such a man.

So don’t create fuss and unnecessarily presume that it is your right and duty to convert a person to your individual perception of the laws of God, which you believe, are the only authentic perceptions and all else is a nonsense. You have the right to profess and convert a person to true religious trends. But don’t take undue advantage of the ignorance and poverty of others, or their political weakness. Such a conversion is motivated. A truly religious man will not ask anybody to leave his present religious faith and change to his viewpoint for the sake of some material advantage. This is no service to religion or to God.

Kabir and Nanak gave a universal mystical faith

The difference between  the teachings of Bhakti and those of the Sufis is that although the former  advocated tolerance and love for the followers of all faiths, yet there is no definite idea of the essential unity of all religions. Kabir and Nanak  regarded the essential spirit of Hinduism and Islam and of other religions generally to be one. Their object was not to follow any conventional or denominational religion but to make out of the common essential spirit of Hinduism and Islam a universal mystical faith.

Human Nature

Gandhi had deep understanding of human nature. He did not ask the Hindus or Muslims to give up their respective religions. In fact, he advised the Hindus to broaden and  liberalize it so as to bring it nearer to the universal human religion. To value and assimilate all that is good in other religions is more practical form of religious harmony. Nanak, Kabir and Gandhi assimilated all that was good in other religions.

God, Religion and Man

It is the need of the hour that people understand the true meaning and significance of religion and religious exercises. It entails upon the true religious gurus to educate and show the path to the masses. It cannot be a hidden agenda or a political game plan, played as a gimmick to capture and manipulate votes of the gullible, illiterate and destitute masses. It is a great sin and violation of religious spirit to use religion as a tool to fill the vote bank. It is being done by politicians as a tool to capture power .It is a flagrant disregard to the messages of the Prophets. It creates mistrust for religion, which happens to represent politics in disguise.

Our intention is not to blame a particular group of individuals or a political party. This corrupt practice is in vogue these days. Politicians of all shades in India and outside, exploit the ignorant masses in the name of God. This is an old theory but it has been used differently at different times.. One thing is common in all politicians   that they wish to capture and retain power in the name of God. There is nothing wrong in the name of God  or religion . But it is a great sin to manipulate religion and reduce it the level of a tool. Undoubtedly, those who do so are not religious people.

Existence of God is not due to man. But discovery of God is due to man. God is timeless, omnipresent and omnicient. Hence, a person can have his own image of this Shakti. You can feel it but can never see it with your physical eyes as this Shakti is metaphysical. The best way to go about religion is to abide by the principles of one’s own religion with the help of one’s own Holy Scripture. Have a dispassionate view. It may not serve any purpose to go the populist way. The viewpoint of the majority may not necessarily be correct and sound.

Beware of tailor-made approaches of ambitious people for whom no sacrifice of men and material will be too big a price to capture power. The real gurus, truly religious men, saints and rishis  never hankered after power. They saw God in his creation. Hence they saw God face to face and it is this God whom they served all their life. The real ‘jynana’ which they discovered about the omnipotent and omnipresent God was through seeing how His laws were operating. It is these laws and their mystery which they unfolded. They thought it was their duty to do so, not for any power or ambition. Through their tapsya and self- suffering, they experienced the revelation of God which had nothing to do with their personal ambitions. These real rishis never thought of governing the masses. They would educate and keep check on the governors so that they did not violate the tenets of religion and morality.

Today the scenario is totally different. One, there is dearth of true gurus. Secondly, the modern gurus are hankering after the power of money which they grab through all means, fair or foul. They hobnob with politicians to gain political clout. Both the parties need each other for mutually beneficial game.

God save us from these so-called men of God. The minimum that the people can do is to show disrespect to these hypocrites and men of false God. Let some courageous religious leaders come forward to educate people and create in them awareness   and love for their brethren.

Concepts of GOD

God created man in his own image says the Bible. God resides in each human being, says the Gita. Mohammed and Nanak affirm the same truth. Hegel states: Man is the march of God on earth. As Gandhi saw God in his creation, he worked only for the good of all.

God is the all-pervasive Reality, present in man and also in the Universe; the world is manifestation of this reality. A living and unshakeable faith in God and insistence on the primacy of spirit, was the core of Gandhi’s philosophy.

I do not regard God as a person. Truth for me is God. God’s Laws and God are not different things. He and his laws prevail everywhere and govern everything, which Gandhi shared with the followers of almost all religions, and also with those who professed no religion at all.

Existence of God is not due to man. But discovery of God is due to man. God is timeless, omnipresent and omniscient. Hence, a person can have his own image of this Shakti. You can feel it but can never see it with your physical eyes as this Shakti is metaphysical.

One God, one religion i.e., universal ethical principles, One God but many paths to achieve.

Gandhi on communal harmony

There is a dire need for social regeneration and elimination of all forms of violence. Violence can’t curb violence. If you curb violence through violence, the purpose is self- defeated. Although, Thomas Hobbes will not digest this argument. JS Mill would appeal to reason. Gandhi said where reason and discussion fail, self-suffering is the best approach. Further, voluntary suffering is better than rational understanding in converting the opponent. It goes a long- way to open the inner understanding in man. Our duty is to be true to our own conscience.

All limbs of the human body are important, so should the limbs of the society, irrespective of their functioning. But it is not acceptable. There is no unbridgeable gulf and absolute antagonism between different classes of the society. It is not the normal situation in the society. Marx works from outside to the inner, while Gandhi works from inner to the outer. Marx, Lenin and Mao didn’t accept Gandhi’s weapon of soul- force to defeat the treacherous foe. But external force was not Gandhi’s weapon. Through soul force, Gandhi sought to create both the individual and the collective moral force. Gandhi advocated that in non-violence, to suffer is to win. Further, a man who consume more than he needs is robbing the poor. Gandhi said: the world cannot exist half slave and half free; half naked and half-clothed.
Ref:  (Jesus was the prince of satyagrahis.)

Gandhi firmly believed in the supremacy of the spirit and trust in the nobility of human nature. Both Tolstoy and Gandhi condemned the western civilization and held: This satanic civilization will destroy itself. Western civilization is India’s real enemy, said Gandhi.

Modern civilization is based on force and exploitation. Gandhi stressed on the reform of the individual, with inner self- purification, as the first step. Purity of means, extreme simplicity, bread labor and virtual celibacy are the prerequisite of moral growth of man.

Gandhi said: My reading of Tolstoy’s book cured me of my skepticism and made me a firm believer in ahimsa. Tolstoy was a vigilant seeker after truth. Tagore was a mystic mind, while Gandhi was a prophetic mind, which marched slowly but surely to its goal, fighting and conquering each resisting moment with the weapon of moral action. Now India had to take its moral substance from Gandhi and its ideal from Tagor.

State represents violence in a concentrated and organized form. Whereas Rousseau advocated: Impose moral will by force, which means forcing a man to be free. Gandhi would not accept Rousseau’s viewpoint.

Gandhi held: western socialism was based on the conceptions, which were fundamentally opposed to those of Hinduism. Gandhi said: “I will strain every nerve to prevent a class war.” Our ancestors always said: “This is God’s Earth.” Gandhi’s mysticism and socialistic and religious overtones, although half understood, won him the hearts of millions, both educated and illiterate. Nehru, a refined intellectual, admired Gandhi’s dynamism and perfect artistry in life. Gandhi’s unique personality and enormous influence, he wielded on the masses, made him supreme in the country. Both as a man of charismatic charm and as a man of the masses, Gandhi was incomparable.  Gandhi like Guru Nanak, spoke people’s language. Gandhi made no compromises with the vested interests. His emphasis was less on intellectual approach to a problem and more on character building and purity.

 The 19th century reform movements in India for socio- religious reforms were led by Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj, Dev Samaj, Prathna Samaj, as well as the purely mystical movement of Ramkrishan Parmhansa. Long ago, Buddha, Mahavira, Sikh Gurus, Kabir and Raja Ram Mohan Roy had dropped their castes and communal affiliations.

Gandhi was influenced by the religious texts of classical Indian traditions, and the 19th century western moralists such as Tolstoy, Thoreau, Ruskin, Emerson and Carlyle.

Gandhi was influenced by the socio- economic and political situation in South Africa, and later in India. He identified with the people and desired to be a partner in their joys and sorrows, struggles, failures and victories. “To see the universal and all pervading Spirit of Truth, face to face…….I can’t afford to keep out of any field of life,” said Gandhi.

Non-possession, on which Gita lays emphasis, was advocated in the form of aparigraha by Buddhism and Jainism. Gandhi advocated: elementary necessities of life like air and water should be freely available to all sundry. He considered economic question in terms of moral well- being. It is a question of the spiritual unity of the rich and the poor.

The final aim is economic justice and equal opportunity for all –a society, organized on planned basis for raising mankind to a higher material and cultural level. The cultivation of values of cooperation and selfless service are the prerequisite for a harmonious society. Let prosperity in the society reach down to the last and the least, without ruthless compulsion and violence. It is called sarvodaya.

The best test is the material and moral growth of man, balancing one with the other. Yes!
To live life on Earth and not to bother about heaven. There is nothing beyond and after life. It is here and now.

Capitalist society is a violent society since it is exploitative and profit –oriented. There is no element of service in it. It breads disparity and distinctions. Gandhi held: Economic equality is key to non-violent society, which is impossible to build so long as there remains gulf between the rich and the poor. But inequality cannot be removed through violent means.

Gandhi said: the western civilization is a disease- a nine- day wonder.

About Hinduism, said Gandhi, I am a reformer through and through . He exhorted: (1) put the whole of it to the test of reason and inner moral sense. Reject any part of it that is found wanting. The first test is moral sense, the 2nd is reason. All men have infinite moral worth.

 
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