Essays on Gandhi
Prize-winning Essays of the classical contest organised by CITYJAN News weekly, Navi Mumbai on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti on 2nd October, 2002.

Gandhian Religion - A Way of Life

By Ranjana Kumar (open general category)

"The world is my country. All mankind are my brethren And to do good is my religion."

- M. K. Gandhi

Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression are the hallmarks of Gandhian Doctrine. Many years have gone by but the luster of the Gandhian Religion remains undimmed. Invading forces have descended on India but Gandhi's ideals have remained indestructible.
The Gandhian religion is not merely for Hindus, not merely for India, but for the whole world. The Gandhian philosophy is not only essential for the rebirth of the Indian nation but also for the re-education of the human race.
It is becoming clear that at this supremely dangerous moment in human history, the only hope for mankind is Mahatma Gandhi's principle of non-violence. The Gandhian doctrine, the ultimate realization must involve tolerance and understanding, peace and goodwill, and recognition of the immense variety of paths by which the soul can fulfill its ultimate destiny.
The Gandhian religion, which is primarily concerned with spiritual development, is of special significance in our age, which is marked by the obsolescence of the materialistic civilization. In fact, Gandhi laid the foundation of mathematical and scientific knowledge. They measured both time and space. Let us look at some of basic conclusions reached by ancient insights, which have become the fundamentals of the modern Gandhian Philosophy. Gandhiji perceived the principle more clearly and understood its implications even more deeply.
The virtues of self-discipline, self restraint and self-development which are the main-stay of Indian Dharma and Gandhi culture, are as fully relevant today as they were many years ago. Therefore we must go all out to preserve the Gandhian religion. In fact, Gandhi was a great soul who preached the essential unity of all religions and the basic unity of all humanity. In recent times unity ahs been sought to be undermined by forces, internal as well as external out to destabilize us. So it is now time for India to show the world that we are one as a society, are too secure in our spiritual strength and national heritage to be so easily uprooted. This is a gigantic task but we have not shirked it.
In India we are a highly religious society, wholly secular in character. Gandhi was deeply religious person but he was clear in mind that the state should be secular- He stood for the maximum possible distance between religious concerns of individuals and the state's obligations towards its citizens. Gandhi also clearly stated that secularism did not mean opposition to religion. He also said that the state had to honour all religions equally without attaching itself to a particular faith.
Strange as it may seem, there is a religious essence at the core of secularism and even the modern secular West has recognized it. In Europe it ahs permeated all spheres of life, and even the French speak of there being something eternal about religion as the basis of life. It has been universally accepted that secularism is not a denial of religion. On the contrary it means tolerance and respect for all religions- what one can call- the hospitality of faiths.
Gandhi's religious quest for truth had no geographical limits. His political activities were but an avocation to his religious mission. The centre- most point of Gandhi's religious philosophy is the inviolable sacredness of life and the consequent sinfulness of1 bloodshed. "Since we have no power to create, we have no power to destroy", was his belief.
Gandhi taught us, learning in the quest for national integration- is the crying need of the hour. Thus both as an ideology and as a policy, Gandhian religion acquired worldwide acceptance. Along with Mahatma Gandhi, other Indian leaders also contributed to strengthening of the secular spirit of India.

Concluding Remarks:
The three basic factors militating against translation of the ideal of human unity into action are religion, nationalistic politics and economic ideologies. Religions are different roads converging to the same destination. Mahatma Gandhi said, "The need of the moment of not one religion, but mutual respect and tolerance of different religions. We want to reach not the dead level but unity in diversity. The soul of all religions is one, but it is encased in a multitude of forms. The latter will persist to the end of time".
People representing a variety of cultures, languages, and creeds have to be woven into one nation, one people, free of communal or religious divides, free of conflict, devoted to the building up of a climate of confidence and co-operation. This is indeed a big task and we need all the patience and perseverance if we have to accomplish it. We have been able to absorb the shocks of history because of our deeply ingrained spiritual qualities, and we must have faith that the same spiritual will help us overcome the current crises. We are in a much better situation than, say, Britain with its Ireland and Scotland problem, Canada with its Quebec problem, Spain with its Basque problem as well as several Countries in Africa and West Asia where the old creed of fundamentalism now coupled with the new creed of ethnicity is challenging the concept of nationalism.
Can we face the challenge of Gandhi's ideals and ideas? They have not yet been fully utilized. The revolutionary Gandhi, who was far ahead of his times, has not been fully understood by the younger generation. Gandhi's thoughts need to be disseminated amongst our youth. It is the ideas, which have a stupendous role in taking the human society forward; towards the desired goal.