“Perfection is the exclusive attribute of God and it is indescribable, untranslatable. I do believe that it is possible for every human being to become perfect even as God is perfect. It is necessary for us all to aspire after perfection, but when that blessed state is attained, it becomes indescribable, indefinable.” –MK Gandhi
If we talk about explaining Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy in a few words, then it can be said with certainty that it is based on the principle of Indivisible Whole and Universal Unity. Indivisible Whole or Totality and Universal Unity, both, are complementary to each-other. This is the foremost principle of the basic Indian Dharma. This basic Indian Dharma is also called the Sanatana Dharma. Sanatana means eternal; in other words, ever-existing or in existence, and for the welfare of all. The Vedas are the chief expounders of the basic Indian Dharma, the Sanatana Dharma, and they present the truth of Indivisible Whole or Totality, and prevailing eternal Universal Unity. In relation to this truth, in the First of the Vedas, the Rigveda, there is a mention in the best form, “Ekam Sadvipra Bahudha Vadanti’’, i.e., “There is only one truth and learned ones call it by different names.” Accordingly, in another chief religious-philosophy of Indian origin, which is currently known as Jainism, it also emerges in the form of the principle of Anekantavaada. Not only this, as a universal reality, it appears in some form or the other in all religious philosophies around the world. Nothing, movable-immovable or visible-invisible, is beyond the ambit of the Indivisible Totality. Everything is essentially within its domain. Similarly, every living being, along with the five elements (earth, water, fire, air or wind and ether or space), all other elements, qualities and things (natural, developed, created or crafted) are essential parts of the Universal Unity. Nothing is separate from the periphery of Universal Unity. The two, Indivisible Whole or Totality and Universal Unity, we can firmly reiterate, complement each-other. Brahman – Ishwara is the living image of the Indivisible Totality. He is the Maker of Universal Unity. This is the established allcomprehensive principle of the Sanatana Dharma, dedicated and committed to Oneness. The association of Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas, or the Gandhian philosophy with the Sanatana Dharma could be first of all comprehended from his own ideas published in Harijansewak on August 24, 1940 AD. Having the Sanatana Dharma – the basic Indian Dharma in the centre, Mahatma Gandhi has said, “The Dharma (religion) itself remains, because the existence of the world in a broad sense depends on the Dharma. The ultimate definition of the Dharma maybe said to be obedience to the law of God. God and His law are synonymous terms. Therefore, God signifies an unchanging and living law.” And, “What is God, but the Law. And, to obey God is to perform the Law.” Mahatma Gandhi repeatedly declared Brahman –Ishwara, God, to be the living form of the Indivisible Totality and the Creator of Universal Unity from His Being. He accepted the Supreme Person of Godhead – the basic source of the truth, the culmination and the ultimate goal. In this regard, the statement of the Mahatma expressing his belief in the Advaita is also worth quoting. He says, “I believe in Advaita – I believe in the essential unity of man and, for that matter, all of those lives...” We have just comprehended about the conviction of the Mahatma in the Indivisibility of God and His Law from his own statement, which he made in the context of the supreme and all-timely importance and glory of the Dharma. As we all know, the Mahatma has also accepted, “God’s laws are inscrutable and are the subject of endless search.” Keeping the power of God in the centre, the Mahatma writes, “...God is a living force. Our life is of that Force. That Force resides in, but is not the body. He who denies the existence of that great Force denies to himself the use of that inexhaustible Power and, thus, remains impotent. He is like a rudderless ship which, tossed about here and there, perishes without making any headway.” In respect to Universal Unity, the Mahatma, affirming his firm belief in it, pointed out about the inextricably entwinedness of all spheres of life, i.e., their continuous effect upon oneanother. In Harijan, on December 24, 1938 AD and on March 30, 1947 AD respectively, he clearly mentioned that life being an Indivisible Whole, no line could be drawn between its different compartments (social, political, religious – even economic due to their action and reaction upon one-another), not between ethics and politics, and no division could be made among social, economic, political and purely religious work into watertight compartments. It should also be kept firmly in mind in this context that the spiritual law, which remained as the nucleus of Indian Dharma and philosophy, is absolutely universal. It is not one-sided and confined to a particular field. It influences and directs all spheres of life. For this, Mahatma Gandhi writes, “I do not believe that the spiritual law works on a field of its own. On the contrary, it expresses itself only through the ordinary (and continuous) activities of life. It, thus, affects the economic, the social, and the political fields.” Thus, it is clear from all these brief mentions that Mahatma Gandhi firmly believed in the truth of Indivisible Totality and Universal Unity. He was, thus, devoted to the core philosophy and purpose of the basic Indian Dharma, the Sanatana Dharma; the whole universe is within its scope. On the basis of this dedication and conviction, Mahatma Gandhi developed his ideas; he worked throughout his life keeping the larger welfare of one and all at the centre. Thus, the Gandhian philosophy is inextricably linked with the true Indian Dharma. Indian Dharma proclaims the truth of origin of all from the one and the same source; thus, all are equal. Since the happiness of the individual is necessarily included in the happiness of all, therefore, it wishes for “Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah” (The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad), i.e., happiness for one and all. One-sided individual progress or progress of a particular group, cannot be welfarist. On the other hand, Universal welfare is the real progress, because everything is, eventually, within the ambit of Indivisible Totality. That is why; man has been called for “Sarvabhuuta Hite Ratah” (The Shrimadbhagavad-Gita, 5: 25). It means, “The true act is that which one does with the spirit of the welfare of all (which also includes her/his own welfare).” That is why human-equality is the nucleus of Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas, or the Gandhian thought. It is dedicated to the upliftment of everyone. This should also be comprehended from his views related to Sarvodaya – the rise of all. In this context, quoting the Sanatana Dharma, which is currently known as Hindu Dharma also, Mahatma Gandhi urged one to make the “most strenuous and continuous endeavour directed to the service of humanity.” While taking forward the Indian concept of “Sarvabhuuta Hitaya”, i.e., “man’s effort for the maximum welfare of all”, the Mahatma went to the extent of saying through his Sarvodaya idea that man should even be ready to sacrifice himself for this, i.e., the cause of Sarvodaya. Gandhian philosophy is, thus, chiefly developed from the broad vision of the Indian Dharma. It is an undeniable fact; there is no doubt about it. The dream of Mahatma Gandhi for a pious India – his wish for the purpose, was also chiefly influenced by Indian religious philosophy, and that too eventually reveals the conclusion of the subject at hand. Mahatma Gandhi expected from India of his dreams that every man and woman should feel Hindustan to be her/his own country. In India of his dream everyone’s voice should be important in the building of the country and there should be no artificial discrimination in it. There should be no place for untouchability; women must not be the victims of gender discrimination. There should be an atmosphere of harmony. India’s relations with the whole world must be peace and friendship centred; India would neither give way to its exploitation nor would it exploit anyone in the world. India’s policy should be in the interest of one and all, natives and foreigners. A country stepping forward accordingly would be the Hindustan of his dreams. The religious message of India is not limited in geographical boundaries. Therefore, the India of his dreams is a pious India.
*A Padma Shri and Sardar Patel National Awardee Indologist Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a Former Vice Chancellor of CCS University, Meerut; he is also the Editor-in-Chief of Global Peace International Journal.
— The author is a Former Vice Chancellor of CCS University, Meerut; he is also the Editor-in-Chief of Global Peace International Journal