Today is Gandhi Jayanti, a much revered public holiday in India that I came to appreciate during my many years of living there. Although it is a public holiday I’ve always wondered whether it should be considered a religious holiday instead, going by the sheer nature of the life philosophy that Mahatma Gandhi imparted. I’m not going to bore you with the milestones and political significance of his life, as there are enough books and even a wonderful movie to bring you up to speed on that.
Like the Dalai Lama, there was always a golden nugget of wisdom that came from his speeches, lessons, rallies, letters and books, all of which are timeless and transcend cultural as well as geographical borders. Nevertheless, it is good to know that in spite of all the darkness, there are always guiding lights to serve as moral compasses:
“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.”
“God has no religion.”
“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
“Seven social sins:
politics without principles,
wealth without work,
pleasure without conscience,
knowledge without character,
commerce without morality, s
cience without humanity,
worship without sacrifice.”
“You change your life by changing your heart.”
“Be congruent, be authentic, be your true self.”
Like many other things in my life, my favourite Gandhi sayings have changed over the years, especially since I went from idealist to literary activist. In a perfect world Gandhi and the Dalai Lama are all we need to get our souls, morals, and life in order. But we life in the chaotic imperfections that we do, and spew out moral and social infidelities on a daily basis.
I could go on ad nauseum about each quote, but the fascinating thing about these Gandhi quotes is that they are very much like a good vintage – they need to be tasted, allowed to swirl around in your mind and palate before you begin to dissect the aroma and bouquet, as well as the impact on your life. Like Gandhi, they words seems harmless, delicate and gentle on the surface, but if you embrace them and allow time to leave their mark, they become fundamental pillars of fortitude and direction.