The Enlightened Wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi

The video above by Gandhi sums up the notion that God transcends all reason

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” – Jesus

Yesterday I went into the Gandhi Museum (Mumbai) during a break from my days tasks. Although I am somewhat familiar with Gandhi and have been coming to India for 20 years it struck me for the first time how similar Gandhi’s teachings on truth humility and selfless service to others are to that of Jesus, perhaps because I am beginning to spiritually discover Jesus for myself, and in a way that is not bounded by Christianity. The below quotes from Gandhi speak for themselves:

Gandhi on Prayer:

Prayer has been the saving of my life. Without it I would have been a lunatic long ago. My autobiography will tell you that I have had my fair share of the bitterest public and private experiences. They threw me into temporary despair, but if I was able to get rid of it, it was because of prayer…..Now I may tell you that prayer has not been part of my life in the sense that truth has been. It came out of sheer necessity, as I found myself in a plight when I could not possibly be happy without it. And the more my faith in God increased, the more irresistible became the yearning for prayer. Life seemed to be dull and vacant without it….. God demands nothing less than complete self-surrender as the price for the only real freedom that is worth having. And when a man thus loses himself, he immediately finds himself in the service of all that lives. It becomes his delight and his recreation. He is a new man, never weary of spending himself in the service of God’s creation

Gandhi also wrote 9 peace prayers that could be practiced my multiple faiths http://www.cslcs.org/index.php/our-philosophy/gandhis-prayers

Gandhi on Religion:

Let me explain what I mean by religion. 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 indissolubly to the truth within and which ever purifies. It is the permanent element in human nature which counts no cost too great in order to find full expression and which leaves the soul utterly restless until it has found itself, known its Maker and appreciated the true correspondence between the Maker and itself.

Religions have been interwoven . One sees a special quality in every one of them . But no one religion is higher than another. All are complimentary to one another .Since this is my belief, the speciality of any one religion cannot run counter to another, cannot be at variance with universally For I believe in the fundamental truth of all great religions of the world. I believe that they are all God-given, and I believe that they were necessary for the people to whom these religions were revealed. And I believe that, if only we could all of us read the scriptures of the different faiths from the standpoint of the followers of those faiths we should find that they were at bottom all one and were all helpful to one another.

“Yes I am, I am also a Muslim, a Christian, a Buddhist, and a Jew. When asked if he was a Hindu.”……I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”…….I came to the conclusion long ago … that all religions were true and also that all had some error in them, and whilst I hold by my own, I should hold others as dear as Hinduism. So we can only pray, if we are Hindus, not that a Christian should become a Hindu … But our innermost prayer should be a Hindu should be a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Christian a better Christian.” …….

Gandhi on God:

I believe that we can all become messengers of God, if we cease to fear man and seek only God’s Truth. I do believe I am seeking only God’s Truth and have lost all fear of man.…I have no special revelation of God’s will. My firm belief is that He reveals Himself daily to every human being, but we shut our ears to the ‘still small voice’. We shut our eyes to the Pillar of Fire in front of us. I realize His omnipresence…..Some of my correspondents seem to think that I can work wonders. Let me say as a devotee of truth that I have no such gift. All the power I may have comes from God. But He does not work directly. He works through His numberless agencies…..To me God is Truth and Love; God is ethics and morality; God is fearlessness. God is the source of Light and Life and yet He is above and beyond all these. God is conscience. He is even the atheism of the atheist. For in His boundless love God permits the atheist to live. He is the searcher of hearts. He transcends speech and reason. He knows us and our hearts better than we do ourselves. He does not take us at our word, for He knows that we often do not mean it, some knowingly and others unknowingly…..He is a personal God to those who need His personal presence. He is embodied to those who need His touch. He is the purest essence. He simply is to those who have faith. He is all things to all men. He is in us and yet above and beyond us….

Gandhi’s teaching is said to be influenced by Jesus and his Sermon on the mount (link here). Gandhi was raised a Hindu, he had many Christian and Muslim friends, as well as being heavily influenced by the Jainism principle of ‘Ahimsa’ (doing no harm) from Jainism he developed his own famous principle of Satyagraha (truth force) later on in his life. (link to article on Jainism)

Although Gandhi certainly had his opponents. Indeed the manner in which Gandhi died demonstrates this. Like Jesus Gandhi worked in service to God, devoted to purity, truth, humility and selfless love, his work represented a threat to the order of things. Other similarities are the political conditions surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus and the assassination of Gandhi. Both leaders exalted those in sickness and poverty and embodied a new social, political, economic and spiritual order. While Jesus is believed to have healed the sick and performed miracles to help the poor, Gandhi denied being able to perform any miracles but did so by bringing about change to the challenging political system and British Colonial rule of the day. It is true that Gandhi was brought up in a privilaged environment, enabling him to be a scholar of many subjects, including the Law which he studied in England. Rather than be of detriment to his spirituality as some critics say perhaps the background he was born into was something he was to work to trancend in order to realize his spiritual self.

I cannot accept Jesus as the only son of God. Are we not all children of God and equal before God? In my mind Jesus is a historical figure who’s existence on earth,  selfless love, spiritual gifts and Divine connection to God are never in question. God cannot be there for Christians alone. Jesus in my own thinking represents what Christians may think of as ‘Christ Consciousness’ that is the light of the Divine in a prophet and healer who represents to Christians the teachings and qualities of purity, selfless love and divine service, those similar qualities can be seen in Gandhi and others….Those who do not recognize Jesus are no further away from God from a Christian.

Link to Gandhi website: http://www.gandhi-manibhavan.org/