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Abstract

According to
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948), popularly known as “the Mahatma”, “a
man without religion is life without principles, and life without principles, is
like a ship without a rudder.” His sincere efforts to reach at the Truth of all
religions made him say, “I believe in the fundamental Truth of all great
religions of the world. And believe that if only we could, all of us, read the
scriptures of the different faiths from the standpoints of the followers of
those faiths, we should find that they were at the bottom, all one and were all
helpful to one another.”In this paper the beliefs of Mahatma Gandhi are
discussed. The way he believed and preached that truth is what should be seeked
as it is the sole religion which one should follow.  His ideology that all religions are equal and
how the play an important role in the society as per his viewpoint is also
discussed. The concept of God and tolerance and faith relationship is also
portrayed through this paper.

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Introduction
to M.K. Gandhi and his Beliefs

Mahatma Gandhi famously
referred to as “the father of the nation” or “Bapu” holds an eminent status in
the Modern Indian Political thought. He is known to establish a novel epoch in
the history of Indian politics. His role in the social, economic and political
philosophy of India was exceptional. He was a spiritual and extremely ethical
personality. He incorporated religious-moral approach to politics and believed
in ‘spiritualization of politics’. He believed that God is ubiquitous. Belief
in God offers valor to endure for a righteous cause. He asserted that, “God
cannot be defined”. Everyone senses the existence of God but no one is aware of
it. God is the basis of all life and light. Even a disbeliever has faith in the
almighty by way of humanity. Since God itself is the sense of right and wrong which
every person has, however immoral he or she may be. Mahatma Gandhi also
believed in the certainty of the soul. All living beings are the essence of the
divine creation. Gandhi believes life is one thus it is impossible to diffuse
it into distinguished fragments or units. Religious, economic and political facets
are unified and cannot be divided.

 

What
is Religion?

Religion, in
more general sense can be considered as belief or faith in a specific doctrine
sermonized by a prophet like Christ or Mohammad contained in the scriptures
like the Vedas, the Gita, the Bible or the Granth and the performance of some
rituals or ceremonies or external observance like worship in a Temple, Mosque,
Church or Gurudwara. Gandhi’s religious beliefs were different from this
conventional meaning. He elaborated distinct perceptions of religion, which
some portray as ‘ethical religion’. For Gandhi, religion meant ‘service of the
truth. It did not mean any established religion. It is neither sectarianism nor
ritualism. To him religion is the quest of the reality through love and service
of the whole creation of the God. To Gandhi religion was a human institution
created by human resourcefulness to unravel pragmatic issues as well as
religious affairs.

Truth
is the ultimate reality

Gandhi did not
perceive God as a person. God is present everywhere. He expressed that God is
the only truth. Truth is the ultimate certainty. It is the major onus of every
person to quest after truth. Therefore, service of humankind is the only way to
awareness of reality and God. It educates man to practice good deeds as well as
to avoid dishonorable activities. The good deeds lead us to perceive good,
whereas corrupt actions result in ‘avidya’ or unconsciousness and they rust the
soul. Gandhi stated, “I am at heart a religious man. My religion is based on
truth and non-violence”. He mentioned in one of his articles “The Harijan, “To
try to root out religion from the society is a wild goose chase. And were such
attempt to succeed, it would mean destruction of society itself”.

Gandhi’s
Religious Beliefs

Gandhi expressed
his religious beliefs as being firmly established in the Hinduism and
specifically the Bhagwad Gita “Hinduism as I know it entirely satisfies my
soul, fills my whole being. When doubts haunt me, when disappointment stare me
in the face and when I see no ray of light on the horizon, I turn to Bhagwad
Gita, and find a verse to comfort me and I immediately begin to smile in the
midst  of overwhelming sorrow. My life
has been full of tragedies and if they have not left any visible and indelible
effect on me, I owe it to the teachings of the Bhagwad Gita”.

He alleged that
Hinduism has universal application which supports that all religions hold
veracity and hence, worthy of liberality and admiration. M.K. Gandhi          presumed that all religions are true,
all have some flaws in them, and all are dear to me as my own Hinduism. Gandhi
believed that the fundamental feature of every religion is truth (satya),
non-violence (ahimsa). Gandhi was analytical of various social policies of
Hindu religion. Gandhi was unfavorable of the hypocrisy in organized religion rather
than the ideas on which they were based. In his weekly journal, Young India,
dated May 12, 1929; Gandhi wrote “Let me explain what I mean by religion, it is
not the Hindu religion which I prize above all other religions but the religion
which transcends Hindus, which changes our once very nature, which binds one
indissolubly to the truth within and whichever purifies. It is the permanent
element in Human nature which counts no cast to greet in order to find full
expression and which leaves the soul utterly restless, until it had found
itself known as Maker and appreciated the correspondence between the Maker and
itself”.

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