Lin Yutsang, the Chinese philosopher, said: “The People of India listen to Nehru. Nehru listens to Gandhiji and Gandhiji only listens to God.” Truly soothing and thought-provoking words about our beloved Bapuji.
The unparalleled greatness of the ‘Father of the Indian Nation’ today is acknowledged by the leaders and thinkers of the world. The present King of Bhutan at the convocation ceremony of Calcutta University as the Chief Guest in 2010 said: “We need millions of Mahatmas but History has given us only one.”
The President of America, Mr Barrack Hussain Obama, chose Gandhiji as his most favourite leader when he was asked about it by a group of American students. Albert Einstein, the famous scientist, said, “Generations to come, it may well be, will scarce believe that such a man as this, ever in flesh and blood, walked upon this earth.”
Dr. Francis Neilson, a great scholar in his book ‘The Tragedy of Europe’ says: “Gandhi is unique. There is no record of a man of his position challenging a great empire. A Diogenes in action, a St. Francis in humility, a Socrates in wisdom, he reveals to the world the utter paltriness of the methods of the statesman who relies upon force to gain his end. In this contest, spiritual integrity triumphs over the physical opposition of the forces of the state.”
Born ordinary, Mohandas respected and exercised values in his day to day life seriously and rose to an extraordinary height. He taught the world by his own life that any human being of any status or capacity can rise to great heights simply by walking the steps of values. We all want to become great in life, but very few know the steps and even fewer walk the steps even after knowing them. Gandhiji showed the ladder and its supreme height by his exemplary life – “My life is my Message,” he said. We learn from him that the world does not pay us for what we know but for what we do. A few Gandhian values are:
1. Truth: The foremost weapon of Gandhiji’s life and battle was his perfect Truthfulness, which he used to call SATYAGRAHA which means holding firmly on to truth. For him, Truth was as strong, but not destructive, as a bomb. Truth was also his God. He said: Truth is God and God is Truth.
2. Non-violence: Practice of non-violence in thoughts, words and actions was the strongest tool for Gandhi. By means of this, he not only gained Independence for India, but also grew as a ‘Mahatma’, a great soul, for the world. According to Gandhiji, non-violence meant physical non-violence and mental non-violence. To him, jealousy, hatred, and intolerance are a part of violence. Mr. Milton Mayer on Gandhi’s assassination wrote: “This old man had no possessions; he had no position. His life was worth nothing to him; and his death did not bother him. But the world was shaken because, without any army, a navy, an air force, without a stick or a stone without power or patronage, he pulled down the pillars of an empire and brought freedom to a sub-continent of four-hundred million, unarmed people.”
3. Selflessness: Gandhiji was a great giver and loser, and thereby he happened to be the greatest receiver and winner. Saint Francis said: …” It is in giving that we receive.” Gandhiji was an embodiment of selflessness. He never accumulated any material things for himself or for his family. He worked and lived for the entire Indian and world family.
4. Frugality:- Gandhiji was always against luxury and lavishness. He used only the most basic necessities for survival. He avoided vehicles where it was possible to walk. He said that one of the secrets of his health and stamina was his daily walk. He ate the simplest food and lived in a simple house. He said: “More dishes means more diseases.” On one occasion, while travelling to South Africa by a train, he noticed that all the seats and compartments that were reserved for the Indian passengers were luxurious and not necessary for them. He compelled his fellow Indian passengers to vacate the unnecessary booked seats and compartments in order to let the non-Indian passengers travel comfortably in those compartments though the fare for those seats and compartments was paid by the Indians. What magnanimity and humanity in his frugality!
5. Courage:- For Gandhiji, humanity was the Mother of the law of Land as well as the Mother of all Religions. He said, “The law of Humanity is far above the Law of Land.” He broke every British law that was against humanity though he had no material possessions or power. Mr. Shiv Khera in ‘Freedom is not Free’ writes: “If you take a look at Gandhiji’s life, you realize that he broke every British law. Gandhi was then, the biggest criminal! Anyone who breaks a law, technically speaking, commits a crime.” Gandhi told the British, “You make the law and I’ll break it.” Gandhi said something very important- beyond the law of the land, there is a law of humanity which is way above the law of land.
6. ONENESS WITH ALL: Though Gandhiji was an Indian and worked for India, he considered the entire human race as his family and the entire world as his home. He was a well-wisher and well-doer for all the nations and all people. Here I find Bapuji in line with Karl Marx who said: “The most happy is the one who makes the most people happy.” Gandhiji was against the distinction between foreigners and indigenous. He was a worshipper of humanity which is regarded as the loftiest of all values. In a nutshell, Gandhiji was a global citizen loved, respected and accepted by all nations. Many British men and women were Gandhi’s best friends. Many of them ran to him with their problems and difficulties. An Englishman commented, “Gandhiji, I think you are more pro-British than I am.” Gandhi said, “I will not hurt England or Germany to serve India.”
7. Self-instrospection: Gandhiji always loved to identify and eliminate his faults and weaknesses in order to feed and nurture the flame of his inner spirit. For that purpose, he observed silence every Monday. Bapu spent the silent hours in analyzing his flaws and errors and in devising strategies to refine and rebuild himself following the directions of his inner Lord.
8. Compassion: Gandhiji was the most compassionate man ever known. One morning in England, a small boy offered some woolen clothes to him out of pity as the man was seen without any clothes in the cold weather. Gandhi was happy and said that he could not wear the clothes unless all his family members had clothes to wear. The boy generously offered to give clothes for the whole family of Gandhi, thinking of a small number of members in a usual family. But the boy was shocked when Gandhi said that he needed clothes for all the Indian people who were suffering for lack of proper clothes because they all were his family members. When Jawharlal Nehru proposed to Gandhiji to celebrate India’s independence, Gandhi told him to celebrate the occasion by fasting as many days as he could. For him, sharing the starvation and sufferings of the millions of Indians then in the wake of the independence war was the best way to celebrate the joy of the Freedom.
9. Respect for teachers and elders: Respect for teachers and elders is a well known human value that raises man to a higher plane. Gandhiji nurtured this tree seriously. He was blind at the fault of elders. On one occasion, the visiting Education Inspector, Mr. Giles, dictated five words for the students in the class in order to check their spelling standard. One of the words was ‘kettle’ which Gandhi had misspelt. His teacher tried to prompt him with the point of his boot, but in vain. The teacher wanted him to copy the correct spelling of the word from his neighbour’s slate. But Gandhi had thought that the teacher was there to supervise against copying. The result was all the boys except Gandhi, were found to have spelt every word correctly. Gandhi did not lose even the slightest respect for the teacher though the teacher had shown weakness in his ethics. He was by nature blind at the fault of elders.
10. More actions and few words: Gandhiji believed in actions not in words. So when most of the world leaders tried to teach and serve the mankind through speeches, the Bapu taught and served his global family through his noble deeds and practices.
11. Humour:- Humour was a nourishment for Bapuji’s soul. He said: “If I had no sense of humour, I would long ago have committed suicide.” On one occasion, someone raised a question about his total non-possession as Gandhiji was wearing a piece of loin-cloth around his waist. In reply humourously he said that he was willing to renunciate even that cloth piece if someone wanted him to do that. He added that he had thought it was a need for a human being. No wonder, Sarojini Naidu describes Gandhiji as the Kingliest of all kings. Bapuji has taught us by his life. The great lesson is: when we tread the path of values, listening to our conscience and live for others, the entire world becomes our home and mankind becomes our family. "And then having nothing, yet we have all," as Sir Henry Wotton says in his poem, “The Character of a Happy Life”. Some quotable quotes of Mahatmaji on celebration of the BIG DAY:
1. The whole world is like the human body with its various members. Pain in one member is felt in the whole body.
2. The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
3. For a non-violent person, the whole world is one family. He will thus fear none, nor will others fear him.
4. To call woman the weaker sex is a libel. It is man’s injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength then, indeed, is woman less brute than man. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior.
5. What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.
6. The roots of Violence: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice, Politics without principles. May non-violence triumph!