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Religion

• His interest in religious matters was due to the background


of India
– Religion, was not a matter of individual experience: Gandhi
found God within creation.
• The meaning of the word 'Dharma' is 'religion' in India.
– This is a comprehensive term which embraces all of humanity.
Gandhi referred to "God" as "Truth," which has great
significance.
• His mission was not only to humanize religion, but also to
moralize it.
• Gandhi's interpretation of Hinduism, Islam, and
Christianity made his religion a federation of different
religious faiths.
• India is a country where people are predominantly religious.
• Religion and spirituality are firmly rooted in the minds of the
Indian people.
• Some countries are well known for their political institutions,
others for their economic prosperity while some others for their
social advancement.
• India is well known for her philosophy and religion.
• According to Max Muller the study of religion is incomplete
unless it is studied with reference to India.
• Gandhi's religion was spiritual humanism because he declared
that the service of the poor whom he called "Daridranarayana"
is a true service of God.
– In other words, Gandhi found God amidst his creation; this
creation is confined not only to India, his own land and not
Hinduism alone, the religion to which he belonged.
• It consisted of men belonging to different land and different
religions.
• In India the word 'Dharma' is used to mean 'religion'.
– that the word 'Dharma' in Hinduism has a much wider
connotation that what we ordinarily mean by the word
religion.
• The word 'Dharma' comes from the root 'Dhre' which means to
'sustain'.
– 'Dharma' is thus the greatest sustaining force or the binding
force of the society.
• The goal of 'Dharma' is to create mental and spiritual fellowship
among all men and to regulate its relation with all living entities.
– It thus tries to keep the world in perfect equilibrium.
• It is thus clear that the word 'Dharma' was not used in connection
with any particular religion.
• Gandhi's concept of religion, therefore, brought under its fold people
belonging to different religions
• Gandhi refers to 'God' as 'Truth' and this has very important bearings.
• The word 'Truth' has a much wider connotation that the term
'God'.
• There may be non-believers in God.
• But no one can deny 'truth' for even the atheist must accept the
power of 'Truth'.
• His description about 'God' points out that it is something,
which can be accepted by all men in the way he likes.
• The following statement of Gandhi regarding God would make
it clear.
– "To me God is Truth and Love. God is Ethics and Morality. God
is Fearlessness. God is essence of life and light and yet He is
above and beyond all these. God is conscience. He is even the
atheism of the atheist. For in his boundlessness, God permits the
atheist to live. He is the searcher of hearts. 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 is all things to
all men. He is in us and yet above and beyond us."
• Gandhi's mission was not only to humanise religion but
also to moralise it.
• He would reject any religious doctrine, which was in
conflict with morality.
• According to Gandhi religion and morality are
inseparably bound up with each other.
– To Gandhi, "There is no religion higher than truth and
Righteousness."
• Morality is prized by almost all the great religions of the
world.
• The emphasis on morality, by Gandhi helped his ideas to
acquire a universalistic outlook.
• The Ashram prayers of Gandhi had passages from holy
books like the Gita, the Bible and the Koran.
• This tradition still continues in India in most of the
public meetings and prayers.
• He felt that it is the duty of every cultured man and
woman to read sympathetically the scriptures of the world.
• To respect other religion, a study of their scriptures, is a
sacred duty according to Gandhi.
• To understand the point of view of another faith requires
tolerance, sympathy, broad mindedness, humility and
willingness to recognize Truth wherever it is to be found.
• If we posses these qualities we can appreciate other's faith,
traditions, customs, culture and way of life.
• The prophets and seers of different religions have brought
to mankind the consciousness of the unity underlying the
whole universe and a deep sense of brotherhood of man.
• He was deeply impressed by the ethical and spiritual
outlook of Hinduism.
• Gandhi said, "The chief value of Hinduism lies in holding
the actual belief that all life is one i.e. all life coming from
one universal source, call it Allah, God or Parameshwara."
• Gandhi was also very much impressed by the
teachings of the Gita saying,
– "when one sees Me everywhere and everything in Me, I
am never lost to him and he is never lost to Me."
• But Gandhi at the same time was very radical in his
approach and he did not hesitate in criticizing those
aspects of Hinduism
– For example he was very much against the caste system
that was prevalent in Hinduism.
• To quote Gandhi,
– "My religion is Hinduism ... I can no more describe my
feelings for Hinduism than for my wife ... Even so I
feel about Hinduism with all its fault and limitations ...
I know that the vice that is going on today in all the
Hindu shrines ... My zeal never takes me to the
rejection of any of the essential things in Hinduism.“
• There is one reality i.e. God, which is nothing else
but truth
• If Truth is God, sincere pursuit of Truth is Religion
• Ordinary definition: devotion to some higher
power
• Higher principle being Truth, devotion to Truth
(God) is religion
• Religion is the expression of the permanent nature of man
• The permanent aspect is the aspect of divinity
– The element of essential goodness present in every man
• Religion has the character of purifying and elevating one’s
nature
– True religious spirit has the capacity of changing one’s nature
– Because it is the expression of good elements present in man
• Religion has the power of arousing in man a sense of
spiritual restlessness – a kind of thirst
– Which enables the individual to cultivate and develop a sense to
the right and good, makes him moral
• Religion aspiration is based on a desire and a cognitive
urge to know ‘the beyond’
– It has the feeling that the ultimate ideal is nothing but the
realization of God
• Religion involves a conscious and sincere love and striving
for Truth
• Thus for Gandhi religion elevates the inner life of human
beings.
• It should unfold the inner spirituality in man which is going to
help him in his day to day life.
• The churches, the temples or the mosques are here to help
human Bing in unfolding his inner spiritual life.
• Therefore religion should strive for self control, sacrifice,
harmony, peace and so that we can able to create heave o earth.
• For this we may not create a new religion rather we have to
discover the eternal and universal truths in the existing religion.
• the eternal truth will transform us towards the Divine.
The ways of Religion
• not just a theoretical concept that seeks to satisfy intellectual
curiosity and urges
• It is the ways of life, a practical necessity
• Therefore religion should pervade every aspect of our life
– there is an order moral government of the Universe
• What would be the way of the realization of religious ideal?
– The religious way is also the way of Truth
– The ideal is the realization of God
• One is right on the way if he is following the path of Truth
and Non-violence
• Prayer seems to be very important and value for him
• Prayer, for him, not asking, it is a longing of the soul
• It is the only way of bringing about peace and harmony
and order in our life
• He says,
– “Prayer is the very soul and essence of religion, and therefore,
prayer must be the very core of the life of man, for no man can
live without religion.”
• But why pray at all?
• Does not God, if there be one, know what has happened?
• Nothing happens without His permission.
• Our prayer is a heart search
• It is a reminder to ourselves that we are helpless without
His support
• No effort is complete without prayer. Prayer is a call to
humanity
• It is a call to self-purification to inward search
• It makes us purer and brings us nearer to God
• Religion demands the awakening of the spiritual aspects of
man
• For that it is essential to subdue and to put a check on the
bodily and sensuous aspects
• Gandhi does not believe in flying away from the world
• The renunciation means renouncing of the selfish and
personal for the good of others
• He says that religious man must practice renunciation by
living in the midst of men
• One has cultivate and develop a cold, indifferent and
detached attitude towards worldly gains and losses
• He was the follower of Niskama karma
• He calls Gita his guru and tries to follow karma marga
• Renunciation, therefore, means selfless action for the good
of humanity
• The religious recommendation is that the fruits of one’s
effort are to be left to God
• Morality represents the core –the essence of religion
• Religion causes moral sense to grow and deep
• For him the religious ideal is the realization of Truth or God
• God is essential unity of everything
• If this unity is to be realized, one must go beyond oneself,
– beyond one’s selfish consideration and love others
– This act of self-transcendence is notion but morality
• The path of realization of True self or God, therefore lies through the
love of others and performance of duties towards others as love
demands.
• Such actions which have the quality of being called either good or
bad
• Religion for him a way of life, and as such is the personal concern of
the individual who has to choose his way of life
• If an individual has the freedom to take to the religions way of his
own liking, he must also have a tolerance and a respect for the points
of view that other might have chosen for themselves
• He recommends that the attitude towards different religions must be
of tolerance and respect
• He believes that every religion contains good aspects and noble
teachings
• He also finds that some of the interpretations and commentaries have
degraded religion and destroyed it
Morality
• Morality represents the core – the essence of religion
• According to Gandhi, true religion and true morality
are inseparable bound up with each other.
– Religion is to morality what water is to the seed that is sown
in the soil
– Just as water cause the seed to sprout and grow so religion
causes moral sense to grow and develop
• For Gandhi religious ideal the realization of Truth
• God is the essential unity of everything
• If this unity is to be realize one must go beyond one’s
selfish consideration and love others
• This act of self transcendence is nothing but morality
– God can be discovered by trying to find Him in His creation
– That would be possible only by loving all and serving all
• The question morality can be raised with respect to
such action which have the quality of being called
either good or bad
– Instinctive actions or reflex actions which are more or less
automatic fall beyond the scope of morality
• Only voluntary actions can be called moral
– They are the results of the free decision of the doer, therefore
they can be either good or bad
• Gandhi says that no action which is not
voluntary can be called moral
– so long as we act like a machine, there cannot arise
any kind of morality
– If we can call an action moral, means that it has been
done consciously and as a matter of duty
– For Gandhi moral action include only good actions
– If good consists on doing good to others it would
involve sacrificing one’ personal motive for good of
others
– That means that self-transcendence or Love
constitutes the essence of morality
– Love according to him, is Divine
– It makes performance of duty not only a convenience
but also a duty
– But Love at times tends to be blind
– This may lead to dogmatism and even to barbarism
and fanaticism
– Morality does not consist in loving blindly
– Loving with full of consciousness and knowledge of
love
– Morality according to Gandhi, is nothing but satyagrhaha