Gandhian Thoughts

Though Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi or ' Mahatma Gandhi ' is known and remembered as the supreme leader of the Indian freedom struggle, his main aim in life was always the attainment of truth . He was always a philosopher and his philosophy was always practical and down-to- earth . He did not believe in empty metaphysical argument or merely building complex structures of idea but always tried to implement his idea in everyday practice.

Gandhi equates salvation
('Moksha', as he calls it) with self-realisation. He equates self-realisation with the realisation of God . And he equates God with truth . Thus , he gives his unique interpretation of Advaita Vedanta.

Gandhi defines God as truth . By ' truth ' he does not mean subjective or relative truth , but the absolute truth , ' the Eternal principle ' , that is God. As he says , " I worship God as truth only .I have not yet found him but I am trying seeking after him and daily the conviction is growing upon me that he alone is real and all else is unreal ".(The story of my experiment with Truth P.4)

Later on, Gandhi went one step further to say ' Truth is God ' . Thus for him truth was the sovereign principle of morality and it was also the absolute truth , the eternal principle . Truth is , therefore , both the definition of the most central moral dimension and the very essence of the Absolute . And by saying ' Truth is God ' , he affirms that God is to be found whenever there is truth-in-action. Therefore Truth or God meant the genuine morality of action here and now .

Since this is so, the end does not justify the means . The means must be equally noble and pure . Thus his religion is not about mythologies , theologies and rituals , but about the moral action of the individual . ' Truth is God ' means that God is essentially to be found in the truthful , moral act performed here and now.

The doctrine of Ahimsa , non-violence was always at the very center of Gandhi's thought and work . He always believed in non-violence and lived by it. There was an obvious relationship between the doctrine of truth and non-violence :Satya and Ahimsa. As Gandhi says , I made the early discovery that if I was to reach God as truth and truth alone I could not do so except

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through a perfect vision of truth can only follow a complete realisation of Ahimsa .To see the universal and all- pervading spirit of truth face to face one must be able to love the meanest of creation as oneself Ahimsa is the farthest limit of humility (My experiment with truth , p.401-2).

For Gandhi , Truth and Ahimsa are so intertwined that it is practically impossible to disentangle and separate them . As he puts it , Ahimsa is the means and Truth is the end . Thus, Ahimsa becomes our supreme duty and Truth becomes God . " Truth exists , it alone exists. It is the only God and there is but one way of realising ".
(Collected works . vol 44, p . 59).

Thus, Ahimsa is the fundamental means by which Truth can be realised , that is , Moksha can be achieved . Ahimsa includes non-violence in thought , feeling and action and also means total humility , love , compassion and service .

The idea of Satyagraha is the logical culmination of the ideals of Truth and non-violence.Gandhi used Satyagraha - passive resistance- as a strategy very successfully during the freedom struggle and in fact , it remains the most important aspect of the Gandhian thought .The novelty of this concept was the re-interpretation of both , the political action and the political aim in religious terms.

Gandhi's political thought is obviously influenced by his religious ideas and therefore truth and non-violence are the important aspects . He also gives equal importance to the means with which to achieve the end. For him , the end does not justify the means .

As a political thinker he was obviously an anarchist. He saw both , property and the state , as statement of violence . He believed that as people realize themselves and as they became natural , they will start regulating themselves . In such a case , there will be no need for any extent, regulatory mechanism and then state will wither away.

The ideal society envisaged by Gandhi would be a class-less and state society , where every village will be a self - sufficient unit . There will be no cities , and no heavy industry and there will be no need for the police and the counts and pressers. Political power will be completely de-centralized and voluntary co-operation will characterize economic , political and social relations.

Thus, in Gandhi , the saint and the politician go in hands , proclaiming the power of truth , non-violence , love and peace.


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