Beloved Gandhi, India Needs Thee!
I D Soni
Not yet has India assimilated his message, nor the nations. His message ‘I believe, a value for the world. He wanted a return to the simple life. He wanted a brotherly civilisation. The dream in his heart was that of Khadi White, not blood red liberty. It was a moving song we heard a little band of men and women sing in the early hours of morn, “Bring back quick, O Lord! The day when Bharat may turn to charkha again”. And Chakha, as is interpreted, to mean as death not of the machine but, of the tyranny of the machine over man. The machine as a servant of civilization will stay. The machine as a tyrant must go. And can it be denied that the danger of these days is that machines ride mankind? The charkha, he interpreted, as a symbol of simple life.
Buddha, the Blessed One and Mahavir the latest of the mighty prophets of the Jain Dharma proclaimed the doctrine of simple brotherly civilisation. That doctrine in its application to contemporary life, was reaffirmed by Tolstoy. He took it mainly from teachings of Christ. Gandhi has in our days re-uttered the ancient doctrine – of Buddha and Mahavir and Jesus. Neither India nor any other nation has yet assimilated the doctrine. Humanity yet is young! But there groups of men and women in different parts who believe in the doctrine and try to practise it.
Who is Mahatma Gandhi: The race of heroes is not dead. Gandhi made life triumphant. Gandhi showed how to face life in accordance with the teaching of Krishna, Buddha and the Christ: he showed how one might cast out fear and take his stand in the battle field of life. Mahatma Gandhi went forth, again and again, to face death, and in the face of death he sang a noble song of life. “The seekers after”, Gandhi says, “must conquer all fears. And fear has no place in our hearts when we have shaken off attachment for wealth, for family and for the body. All these are not ours but God’s. Nothing whatever in this world is ours. Even we ourselves are His. Why then, should we entertain any fears”?
This sacred day we lay at his feet a few flowers of our heart and we bow down to him with reverent love and we ask of him to pour his benedictions on us. What is the supreme declaration of this, the greatest son of modern India? Are we wrong in saying that Mahatma Gandhi matched his simplicity and spiritual strength with a great Empire, and he faced the difficulties of the task in the spirit of a true here, with the courage of the brave, the courage of Jesus and the Beatitudes? He was a lover of Tolstoy and St. Paul, of the Gita and the “Sermon on the Mount”, which he said, “Competes with the Gita on almost equal footing for the domination of my heart”. Yes – he argued that the Sermon on the Mount” should be taught to Indian students in Indian school. He said, “That renunciation is the highest expression of religion, made a tremendous appeal to me”.
Gandhi was a hero: yet over and over again have I said to myself, the secret of this great one was even this that he forgot his greatness. In his daily life, his activities and aspirations, his daily struggles and strivings, Gandhi forgot his greatness. He went about as a little one. And this day, as I pay him my humble homage, I wish to salute him as a little one.
He was a lover of the little ones. Clothed in humility and filled with love he moved about amongst men as a little one. Mahatma Gandhi taught us the truth that the meaning of life, the meaning of true life is service and sacrifice. May this lesson of the radiant life of Mahatma Gandhi go into the hearts of some of us who listened to him: the purpose of life is dedication to the Eternal. The meaning of life is consecration to the eternal values of life. And may the benedictions of Gandhi Ji’s shine upon us forever and for evermore! Like the Buddha of the long ago, Mahatma Gandhi was a prophet of compassion, an apostle of lokasangraha, a servant of the poor. The message of his life is an urgent need of India and the nations, today. For, today, the human race is facing crisis-perhaps, the greatest crisis in history.
Mahatma Gandhi was a man of truth and compassion, of silence and daring – at once a hero and a saint! He led India: he bled for India. In him was revealed, in a richer measure than in any other man of his generation, the spirit of India.
Religion, to Gandhi, was not creed but right life – a life of sympathy and love, of fellowship with poor. His leadership was deeply rooted in his life. He bore witness to the spiritual values of India’s ancient heritage. His life reflected reverence for God and for all prophets and saints, and love for all creatures – men and birds and beasts. His life reflected the spiritual outlook which, indeed, was ever a mark of India’s Rishis and saints. When Gandhi appeared on the Indian scene, so many of us were living a life of ease and indifference. He came – he in whom the spirit of India revealed itself – Gandhi came: he went from village to village, from cottage to cottage: and in answer to his affectionate call, the people woke from slumber and said: “We are here, Master! To follow thee! He awakened millions in a quiet way. Everything truly great is a quiet thing. Institutions may rise or fall. Kingdoms make noise, crush and crash in noise. But the quiet power of this singular man – a hero of the silent way – continues challenging attention, and moves on from strength to strength. Gandhi served India and clung in faith and reverence to the Lord of Love. Mahatma Gandhi gave the message which is Ancient India’s message to the modern world. The message was a call to New Freedom! And the call came from the depths of dedicated heart: “O children of God! You cannot build a welfare state, until you cultivate the soul”!
Gandhi-Worshipper of Poor: I wonder if ever we asked ourselves the question: what is the meaning of the word “Gandhi”? the word “Gandhi” means one who is “fragrant”, and fragrance – filled is the life of Brother Gandhi. His fragrance lay just in this that he identified himself with the broken ones, with the neglected ones, with the indentured labourers, with the out cast – the “Untouchables”, the Harijans – with the poorest, the lowliest and the lost, with all those whom the world, intoxicated with power, tramples upon every day. Gandhi was a champion of the poor against oppression, injustice and insolence of might and power. I, therefore, salute Gandhi as a servant of the poor, as a brother of the poor, as a devotee of the poor and as a worshiper of the poor. The key-note to his wonderful life – a life of heroic deeds, of heroic achievements, of heroic aspirations, of heroic attainments – the secret of his life is his spirit of ‘Seva’, the spirit of service and sacrifice.
Gandhi ‘s has been a dedicated life – a life dedicated to the service of the poor. This martyred man, adored by millions, gives us the mantra of sacrifice. This prophet of peace had to spend many years within the area of challenge and storm. But his life never failed to bear witness to that new freedom which is fellowship with the poor and oppressed. It is the appropriate time for us to strive to understand the life and teaching of that great soul. He has become one of the shining lights of humanity. And the light of his life, the light of love, shall grow from more and more in the days to come. We heard Gandhi saying, “Brothers are ye all! All the races of the earth are brothers! All the religions of the world are brothers. These hearts are given us to love, not to hate. Brain and science and machinery and civilisation and all our technical equipments are giver us for the service of the poor and needy, the lowly and the lost: for the service of our broken, bewildered humanity”.
Golden Thoughts of Gandhi: Woman is nothing if she is not-self-sacrifice and purity personified. The true source of rights is duty. If we all discharge our duties, rights will not be far to seek. If leaving duties unperformed we run after rights, they will escape us like a will-o-wisp. The more we pursue them, the farther will they fly. The same teaching has been embodied by Krishna in the immortal words, “Action alone is thine. Leave thou the fruit severely alone”. Action is the duty: fruit is the right.” You may read Books, but they cannot carry you far. Real education consists in drawing the best out of yourself. What better Book can there be than the Book of Humanity? Love is the strongest force the world possesses and it is the humblest imaginable. Where love is, there God is also. Purity of life is the highest and truest art. The art producing good music from a cultivated voice can be achieved by many, but the art of producing that music from harmony of pure life is achieved very rarely. Life is greater than all art. I would go even further and declare that the man whose life comes nearest to perfection is the greatest artist; for what is art without the sure foundation and framework of noble life? Our prayer is a heart search. It is a reminder to ourselves that we are helpless without His support. No effort is complete without prayer – without a definite recognition that the best human endeavour is of no effect if it has not God’s blessing behind. Prayer is a call to humanity. It is a call to self-purification, to inward search. Religion which takes no account of practical affairs and does not help to solve them is no religion. The real property that a parent can transmit to all equally is his or her character. What is education without character, and what is character without elementary personal purity. Purity of character and salvation depend on purity of heart. Women are special custodian of all that is pure and religious in life. Conservative by nature, if they are slow to shed superstitious habits, they are also slow to give up all that is pure and noble in life. ‘One is not completely dressed, unless one wears a smile’.
Gandhi -Man of Destiny: Dependence on personalities is undemocratic. And we live in an age of democracy. Yet democracy cannot succeed if it be not well led. The call for these days is for leadership. And the leaders of the people are so few, in the world today – leaders who combine character with clearness of vision, intellect with courage, force with frankness. Gandhi proved himself to be India’s long awaited man of Destiny. In the Tapasya and courage of this hero-saint of Indian nationalism we saw the dream of India’s freedom come true. To dare and to suffer is to conquer. Gandhi’s name will be remembered down through the centuries. In Gandhi’s there was a rare combination of the intellectual, the attractive, and the forceful. And his eyes were illumined with the light of a mystic who, in an age of scientific criticism, dared to believe in God and the Great Builder and Redeemer of the nations. He was really a man of Destiny being a transmitter of Shakti.
India Need Gandhi: Among the great ones, I have read about, I saw the ideal of ‘Gita’ reflected in Gandhi more, perhaps, than in any one else. I may well speak of him as a Bhakta of the Gita. He did not exaggerate, I feel sure, when he referred to the Gita as his “Mother”. Much he owed to the Gita, much more than many seem to be aware of.
In his weekly journal, young India, Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “When disappointment stares me in the face, and all around I see not one ray of light, I go back to the Bhagavad Gita. I find a verse there and I invariably begin to smile in midst of overwhelming tragedies; and my life has been full of external tragedies and if that they have left no visible, no indelible scar on me, I owe it all to the teaching of Bhagavad Gita”. Gandhi, we can call him a man of Light. He led his country-men through darkness to light. I do not regard Gandhi as essentially a politician. To all of us the problem of India is not merely political. There is biology of the nation. This must be studied. No life without creative Shakti! Until this is realised, India may not hope to achieve her real freedom. The new Shakti which India needs will be developed in the measure in which we enter into disinterested fellowship with the poor. Hence, the significance of Gandhi’s message. He is a Bhakta of the Gita, a bhakta of the great Revealers of the human race of Rama and Krishna, of Tusli and Tuka, of Buddha and Jesus. My patriotism, said Gandhi, includes the good of mankind in general. Isolated dependence is not the goal: it is voluntary interdependence. I see nothing impossible about our expressing our readiness for universal interdependence rather than independence”. Where among India’s distinguished patriots is there, today, a true disciple of Gandhi, inspired by his love of rishis and saints; his reverence for the village-folk, his readiness to share the dirty work of untouchables our aching eyes behold the tragedy of the East and the tragedy of the West and we exclaim. ‘Beloved Gandhi! India needed thee! And the world health needs thee!’.