Gandhian Vision

By Swami Dr Snehananda Jyoti on 13-10-2011

Programming, Deprogramming, and
Reprogramming the World – 15

 Vivekananda built on Ramakrishna
Paramahansa and his concept of harmony of religions and service of humanity. He
taught us that a true Hindu can be a true Christian and vice versa. Gandhi, who
was ostracized by his Hindu community, for crossing the ocean to study in
England, refused to divorce religion, non-violence, truth-force (satyagraha) and purity of intention from
politics and day-to-day practical living. Henry David Thoreau with his essay on
Civil Disobedience was a precursor of Gandhi. Gandhi was profoundly influenced
by Leo Tolstoy, a Christian anarchist, whom Gandhi described as “the greatest
apostle of non-violence the present age has produced”. Christian anarchism was
a movement in political theology that held that Christians ultimately should be
answerable only to the authority of God as embodied in the teachings of Christ,
especially the Sermon on the Mount. Tolstoy rejected all violence and convinced
Gandhi to espouse non-violent resistance to drive out the British from India.
Gandhi deepened the meaning of tolerance in the Indian and world psyche. He
envisioned that the world of the future, our current world, has to be one of
tolerance and compassion for survival. He provided the world with an effective
spiritual as well as practical tool for conflict resolution. Through
non-violence that is ultimate love he taught the world that it is better to
suffer than inflict suffering on others. He gave the confidence that reasonable
persons in the world will gradually change when they become aware of the pain
they cause others. Martin Luther King Jr., in the USA and Nelson Mandela in
South Africa effectively used non-violent agitations to secure civil rights and
freedom.  Gandhi, a non-Christian, was
able to more eloquently teach the message of Christ than most Christians.
Narayana Guru has not yet received the attention and recognition he truly
deserves. He through his heroic, symbolic gestures struck an effective blow to varnashrama (caste hierarchy), the basis
of traditional occupation. He clearly understood the scriptural saying: Janmana
jayate shoodra; Karmana dvija uchyate  
[All are shoodra (low caste) by birth; twice-born (high caste) by
deeds]. Vivekananda, Gandhi, and Narayana Guru are truly representatives of a
spirituality beyond all religions. In this connection it may be of interest to
remember Kabir who advocated simply following sahaja path (simple, natural way to oneness) in God, setting aside
scriptures (Vedas and Quran). The presupposition is that humans having a
yearning for completion through union with God will be naturally guided to this
union by his/her own svabhava (inborn self or essence).

The Hindu and the Christian sages,
seers, and saints also saw some kind of unity of humanity and divinity whether
they saw it as dissolution of the individual being into the Supreme Being or an
Ultimate Eternal Presence of one to the other in terms of Beatific Vision. Here
then all form themselves into the one City of God. The early sages and seers
(both Hindus and Christians) abandoned this world of appearances and went to
the forests and mountain caves and deserts and desolate places as sanyasis (renunciates) and hermits
(dwellers of deserts or secluded retreats) in search of themselves and their
God. They did the best they could at the time. Their sacrifices, their search
and findings, their wisdom and insights throw a floodlight on life and the
world of maya, immensely enrich us,
guide us, and give us courage and strength to do our own search. Looking at
spirituality and holiness as something positive that all are called to, and
viewing life in its here and now as something that needs to be celebrated and
not escaped from, we can and we should, because of the yearning for union
imprinted within us, live in every situation or state of life and search for
the Ultimate even as we are surrounded by appearances, phoniness, and hypocricy.
(To be continued).

About The Author

Swami Dr Snehananda Jyoti

Dr. John K Thekkedam (Swami Snehananda Jyoti) spent most of his life as a clinical psychologist in USA. He began his public life as a Jesuit priest. Quite attracted in distinct philosophies, he left the society and founded 'East West Awakening'.