Gandhiji attached supreme importance to truth and non-violence. He conquered violence with non-violence and falsehood with truth. His uniform experience convinced him that there was no God other then Truth. “Truth and non-violence,” said Gandhiji, are our great goal. Non-violence is the supreme `dhanna’, there is no discovery of greater import than this. Satyagraha and its of shoots; non-co-operation and civil resistance are nothing but new names for the law of suffering.”
Gandhiji was completely religious and he respected all religions. According to Will Durant, he did not mouth the name of the Founder of Christianity but he acted as if the Sermon on the Mount were his perpetual guide. He applied himself to the great task of building unity between the Hindus and Muslims.
He practiced what he preached. He reused that unless and until poverty was wiped out from India, our freedom would remain meaningless. He said, “When I succeed in ridding the villages of poverty, I have won `Swaraj’.” His ambition was “to wipe every tear from every eye”.
Gandhiji’s dynamic concept of trusteeship is a very vital one. It ensures national welfare through a sound management of the country’s industries and commerce. It is an equitable ideology of a new, peaceful, economic order. Gandhiji said, “The rich should ponder as to what is their duty today. Earn your crores by all means. But understand that your wealth is not yours. It belongs to the people. Take out what your require for your needs and use the remainder for society.”
He warned us to stay away from seven evils. They are polities without principles, wealth without labour, commerce without morality, education without character, joy without conscience without humanity and penance without self-control.
Mahatama Gandhi did not reject machinery as such. He said, “How can I be against all machinery when I know that even this body is a most delicate piece of machinery? The spinning wheel is a machinery, a little tooth-pick is a machinery.” He felt that machinery helps a few to ride on the back of millions and that it should not atrophy the limbs of man. He wanted the factories run by power-driven machinery to be nationalized, self-controlled.
He realized that for a country like India, Basic Education was indispensable. On the Tolstoy Farm in South Africa, started by Gandhiji, youngsters were taught shoe-making. There was also a small class for carpentry. The principle idea according to Gandhiji was “to impart the whole education of the body, mind and soul through the handicraft that is taught to children.”
Gandhiji’s love for the Harijans was very great. The hardships experienced by them tormented him. He tried diligently to ameliorate their’ position in society. He said, “I do not want to be reborn. But if I have to be reborn, I should be born an untouchable So that I’ may share the sorrows, sufferings and affronts leveled at them in order that I may endeavour to free myself and them from that miserable condition.”
He lived a very simple life. He did not attach any importance to dress, wealth or position. His dress repelled Winston Churchill, who called him a “seditious fakir”. While in Delhi, he stayed in the Sweepers’ Colony. How could he lead a luxurious life as long as the masses were living in poverty? Mahatama Gandhiji considered all kinds of work as noble. Puskin’s Unto This Last influenced him greatly. He cleaned even latrines. When a white barber in South Africa refused to cut his hair, he cut it himself Gandhiji was a great philanthropist. He dedicated his life to the welfare of others. He said, “I love all mankind as I love my countrymen because God dwells in the heart of every human being and I aspire to realize the highest in life through the service of humanity.”
Gandhiji hated corruption and the invidious means used by politicians for power and pelf. He spiritualised politics. Arnold Toynbee says, “Gandhiji’s objective was to raise the spiritual level of life in spiritual slum—the slough of politics. Gandhiji waded into the slough, showed how the slough could be purified and remained personally uncontaminated by his immersion in it. This gives the measure, both of Gandhiji’s own, spiritual stature and of the magnitude of his service to mankind at a turning-point in human history.”
Gandhian thought is still relevant. If it is put into practice most of the ills of mankind can be cured.