Spirituality is a matter of the heart. Fearlessness is the first requisite of spirituality. According to Gandhiji, man is elevated by his spirit and man’s spirit can be elevated by mind which is never satisfied. Gandhiji was a Hindu, but his Hinduism had little to do with forms and ceremonials. He rejected everything that was against reason and humanity.
According to Mahatma Gandhi, good works must be performed in the spirit of sacrifice to God. He said, “I know that God is neither in heaven nor down below, but in everyone. Service to man is service to God.” In this sense Gandhiji was a Karma Yogi. A Karma Yogi is one who practises Karma yoga, a form of yoga based on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita; Karma Yogi is a spiritual seeker who practises selfless service to humanity without hoping for merit, fame or glory.
According to Mahatma Gandhi, ‘God is Truth and Love. God is Ethics and Morality. God is fearlessness, God is source of light and yet he is above and beyond all these.’ He believed in a formless and attribute-less God. Everyone who believes in the moral law is spiritual.
Gandhiji had great faith in prayer. He conducted prayer both in the morning and in the evening. In his prayer no symbol was kept. He said, “Prayer has saved my life. Without it I should have been a lunatic long ago. Let everyone try and find that as a result of daily prayer, he adds something new to his life.”
Mahatma Gandhiji was in politics for spiritual reasons. He explained that, “A man who is trying to discover and follow the will of God, cannot possibly leave a single field of life untouched. I found through bitter experience that, if I wanted to do social service, I could not possibly leave politics alone.”
For Gandhiji, soul force or spiritual force was the source of the greatest power. He strove to awaken soul force within himself and his fellowmen. Revolutionary social philosophers had concentrated on changing the society and the spiritual seeker had concentrated on the inner life. Gandhiji’s engaged spirituality helped him bridge the gap between these two extremes and fuse them together. Thus he was a saint and a social revolutionary.
Gandhiji is universally accepted as an exemplary model of ethical and moral life, with a rare blending of personal and public life, the principles and practices, the immediate and the eternal. He considered life to be an integrated whole, growing from ‘truth to truth’ every day in moral and spiritual status. He believed in a single standard of conduct founded on dharma of truth and non-violence.
Gandhiji successfully led nonviolent struggles against racial discrimination, colonial rule, economic and social exploitation and moral degradation.
Gandhiji’s engaged spirituality may be best summed up in his own words written in his Autobiography: “To see the universal and all-pervading Spirit of Truth face to face, one must be able to love the meanest of creation as oneself. And a man who aspires after that cannot afford to keep out of any field of life. God can never be realized by one who is not pure at heart.
To attain perfect purity, one has to rise above the opposing currents of love and hatred, attachment and repulsion. So long as man does not put himself last among his fellow creatures, there is no salvation for him.”
What Gandhiji meant by Truth was in fact the realization of Self. He writes, “What I meant to achieve – what I have been striving and pining to achieve these thirty years – is Self-realization, to see God face to face, to attain Moksha – Salvation.”
- K. Gandhi – “An Autobiography OR The Story of My Experiments with Truth”; Navajivan Publishing House, 1927
- Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan – “Mahatma Gandhi” University of Oxford Paperback, 1957
- Arvind Sharma – “Gandhiji: A Spiritual Biography”; Hachette India, 2012