Gandhiji has been rightly called a "Prophet of Peace". I am a fitting tribute to him, because all his activities had been actuated by, and directed towards the achievement of universal peace. The peace he tried to establish had two aspects: one internal and the other, external. He wanted to bring about internal peace in the lives of individuals and external peace in the affairs of societies and nations.
The lives of individuals are very often disturbed by internal conflicts,
just as those of societies and nations are disturbed by external ones.
In fact, these internal discords of individuals are projected outside in
societies and bring about external discords. Hence, if the internal ones
are satisfactorily resolved the external ones also could be easily
Each individual has his own internal conflicts — conflicts among his
ideals and his thoughts, among his feelings and his tastes, among his
thousand and one desires, as well as the numerous demands of his senses.
He experiences clashes among them every day, nay, every hour, which
undermine his peace of mind and throw him in the cauldron of eternal
unrest. The smooth tenor of his life is violently disturbed and it
becomes a prey to- terrible storms and whirlwinds.
How to resolve these conflicts and remove these discords is a very important
problem. Eminent thinkers, both of the East and the West, after long and
deep thinking, have hit upon only one remedy for their successful
elimination viz. the integration of personality. People, nowadays, more
than ever before, are suffering from divided personality. Their lives
have lost old moorings, and have not secured new ones. Hence they are
drifting aimlessly — they know not where. They are assailed by doubts
at every step, which remain unanswered, as they have not developed any
proper philosophy of life which is capable of resolving them. They thus
become nervous wrecks, spend sleepless nights, and allow themselves to
be assailed by imaginary nightmares requiring mental treatment.
Integration of personality is, thus, the only remedy to bring peace to
our disturbed lives. Such integration required the inculcation of proper
philosophy of life. A sound philosophy not only gives a correct view of
life, enabling a person to formulate a proper goal for himself, but also
shows him the correct way towards the goal. Thus it serves both as a
science as well as an art of life, making a person well-versed both in
the theory and practice of proper living. The spread of such a
philosophy will soon bring about integration and automatically result in
the descent of peace.
What was the philosophy of life that Gandhiji practised and preached,
for the achievement of integration and peace? His philosophy had given
him a clear idea about the nature of God, soul, and the world, as well
as their relation with one another. This had enabled him to formulate
and fix the goal of his life, together with the pathway leading to it.
With the help of this philosophy and his Sadhana to reach the
goal, he had succeeded in creating a sound integration in his life,
which enabled him to enjoy undisturbed peace throughout his eventful
life—even during the most critical period*. Gandhiji could thus leave
behind him a well-formulated philosophy of life for the guidance of the
In our "Introduction" we discussed Gandhiji's path to peace internal—peace
in individual life. Let us now turn to an understanding of his path to
peace external, viz, peace in the lives of societies, nations, and
humanity in general. Societies, like individuals, had also their own
conflicts from time immemorial. No period of recorded history throughout the world was entirely free from
such conflicts. The peace of every society was endangered and disturbed
by a variety of conflicts. There were religious and cultural conflicts,
political and economic conflicts; in fact, there were various kinds of
conflicts in all walks of social life. These conflicts were, at times,
of a moderate type. At other times, they assumed a terrible shape, so
terrible that they resulted in bloody revolutions, shaking the very
foundation of the social structure of the nation where they made their
appearance. Such being the case, the imperative need of finding out ways
and means for the proper resolution of such conflicts and introduction
of peace in society has attracted the attention of all the great savants
of all the times and climes.
In the beginning, these conflicts appear to have been resolved on the basis
of superior strength—the strong subduing the weak and surviving by
suppressing and eliminating his adversary. But as societies evolved
culturally, brute strength appears to have given place to moral,
intellectual, and spiritual strength. However, the principle that was
followed by. these enlightened person also was the same, namely,
elimination and substitution. In their respective spheres, these leaders
tried to eliminate the conflicting factors by substituting a fresh one,
which they considered to be all inclusive and capable of removing the
conflict on account of its supposed all-inclusiveness. History tells us
that such attempts not only did not succeed in eliminating the
conflicting factors, but they added one more to the lot.
This unfortunate experience called forth new efforts on the part of
leaders of humanity to find out fresh principles that would bring about
better results and a lasting peace. The principle that was discovered
by our seers, but neglected so far, attracted their attention; and they
seriously tried to make use of it, because, after careful investigation,
they found it to be scientifically correct and sound. This principle is
the principle of harmony, which is nothing but an extension and
application of the principle of integration to society. What is
integration to an individual, that is harmony to society. Integration is
harmony in individual life; while harmony is integration in social life.
Though names are different on account of their different spheres of
application,, they are one and the same.
This harmony is not uniformity; it is not identity; it is not unity
of diversity, but unity in diversity. It is not oneness
without a second, but oneness with the second. It is a fine
combination—a sweet intermingling of various things of the same class,
without the loss of their special identity. It is well known that the
word "harmony" has been imported originally from the province of music.
A fine blending of different notes giving out enchanting music was
called harmony in the beginning. Later on, the term was being applied to
all delightful combinations. People began to speak about the harmony of
colours, harmony of rasas, harmony of sentiments, thoughts, and
relations. Not only that; they have recently realized the great
potential blessing which this principle embodies, and have been trying
to make the best use of it in straightening and improving the relation
between individuals as well as groups of individuals.
Just as the principle of integration of personality plays an important
part in Gandhiji's pathway to peace in the individual,, this principle
of harmony plays a prominent role in his pathway to peace in society.
Gandhiji's philosophy of God-realization helps in the integration of
personality and consequently brings about internal peace. In the same
way, his philosophy of Sarvodaya or Universal Brotherhood is capable of
promoting harmony and peace in society. His Sarvodaya philosophy is
mainly derived from the principle of the Fatherhood of God and the
Brotherhood of man. Hence we may even call it the philosophy of
Universal Brotherhood. Gandhiji believed strongly that "the world is
moving towards Universal Brotherhood, when mankind would be one nation".
Gandhiji advocated "not the good of the few, not even the good of the
many, but the good of all, as we are made in His own image". It is this
broad, universal outlook, which Gandhiji had inherited from his
philosophy of God- realization and Universal Brotherhood, that enabled
him to find out fresh, effective remedies to solve the several problems
in the different spheres of social, national, and international life.
Let us try to have a glimpse at some of the details of his solutions.
Religion, which first made its appearance in the individual and social
life as a messenger of peace and goodwill, later on proved to be, on
account of its distortion, a source of eternal conflict, even of bloody
wars. The great avatdras and prophets, saints and sages, who had
given their message of love and peace through religion, must be looking
with horror at the abominable use to which their benign blessing has
been put by the erring, thoughtless humanity. Religious fanaticism has
led men to hate one another, not to love one another. Love of one's own
religion is now expressed in terms of hatred of others' religions. The
very instrument meant for the spread of love has become an instrument
for the propagation of hatred. Strange indeed are the ways of man!
Gandhiji had all this dire and rich experience to learn from. So he
never attempted to introduce a new religion in place of the existing
great religions of the world. He believed and declared that all these
religions are God-given and necessary for the people for whom they were
revealed. He discovered, after prayerful search and deep study, that
all religions were true and also that all had some error in them. He
found that all worship the same God, that the Spirit is the same, and
that names and forms alone are different. "The soul of religion," he
says, "is one. It is encased in many forms. The final goal of all
religions is the realization of this essential oneness of Spirit." He
asked people to follow their own religion—their own sevadharma—by
understanding its spirit. At the same time, he wanted all to cultivate
broad toleration based on the proper understanding of other faiths.
"True knowledge of religion," says Gandhiji, "will break down the
barriers between faith and faith, and cultivation of tolerance for other
faiths will impart to us an understanding of our own. People of
different faiths will be better by contact with one another, and the
world will be a better place to live than today." Thus, through the
spread of mutual understanding, toleration, and respect, Gandhiji hoped
to create harmony in the sphere of religion.
the matter of culture also, Gandhiji advocated "harmony and not a mere
external unity brought by force". He aimed at a fine synthesis of the
old and new cultures, both of the East and of the West. "Our new culture
should be constructed", he says, "on the foundation of the past,
enriched by the experience of the centuries. It should be a synthesis of
the different civilizations which have influenced India and have
naturalized here." "Wise assimilation and not thoughtless imitation
should be our goal." Both the East and the West, he maintained, should
mutually exchange what is good in them and reject the evil. Still he
wanted all to love other cultures, but live their own. "I want the
cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as
possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any." Thus Gandhiji
allowed other cultures to blow, but not to blow ours away.
Gandhiji's politics was entirely different from the politics of the
current brand. It was based on truth and love, not on deceit and hatred.
He wanted to build political States on the foundation of truth and love.
He considered a State or a nation to be a big family, consisting of a
number of self-governing villages. "In this structure," he says,
"composed of villages, there will be ever-widening, never ascending
circles. Life will not be a pyramid with the apex sustained by the
bottom. But it will be an oceanic circle whose centre would be the
individual, always ready to perish for the village, the village ready to
perish for the circle of villages, till at last the whole becomes one
life composed of individuals, never aggressive in their arrogance, but
ever humble, sharing the majesty of the oceanic circle, of which they
are integral units." At the same time, Gandhiji wanted to extend this
"nation-law" to the whole world and consider it as a family of nations,
as one indivisible, undivided family. The time is ripe for it, he says,
because the wonderful inventions of science have reduced the distance of
space and time and brought humanity closer.
Gandhiji advocated a broad nationalism leading to internationalism. His
conception of Swaraj was never narrow. It was prepared to undergo any
amount of suffering for the benefit of the world. "In the Swaraj based
on non-violence," he says, "no one should suffer for want of food and
clothing. They should be freely available to all, as God's air and water
are. Everyone from the king to the poorest citizen must prosper. Nobody
is anybody's enemy. All can read and write, and their knowledge keeps on
growing from day to day. Sickness and disease are reduced to the
minimum." "I shall work for an India in which the poorest shall feel
that it is their country, in whose making they have an effective voice;
an India in which there will be no high class and low class of people;
an India in which all communities live in perfect harmony. This is the
India of my dreams." Such is the Swaraj which Gandhiji wanted to build
for the welfare of the world.
Gandhiji's economy is based on ancient Indian traditions, which, if
worked out in details, may give to the world a sound plan of peace,
security, and progress. It is built on these four corner-stones: (i)
simplicity, (ii) non-violence, (iii) sanctity of labour, and (iv) human
Simplicity in life is the first principle which Gandhiji advocates.
Modern civilization makes bodily welfare the object of life. It
increases animal appetites and goes to the end of the earth in search of
their satisfaction. Gandhiji totally detests this mad desire. So he
wants to set limits to our indulgence and advises us to lead a life of
plain living and high thinking.
Gandhiji does not consider complexity to be the sign of progress. He
discourages "wreckless pursuit of wealth", which undermines character
and human values. He stresses the need of decentralization and
localization of industries.
second principle of Gandhian economy is non-violence. He wants India to
develop along the bloodless non-violent way that comes from simple and
godly life. Localization of industry, according to him, is sure to bring
about this sort of development, which is at the same time not
incompatible with wider nationalism and with still wider
internationalism in the sphere of thought and culture.
Bread labour is the third principle which underlies Gandhiji's economy.
Labour is the law of Nature. We are expected by Nature to earn our bread
with the sweat of our brow. Our real happiness consists in the proper
use of our hands and feet. "If all laboured for their food and no more,"
writes Gandhiji, "there would be enough food and enough leisure for
all." Machine has its place in life, but it should not be allowed to
kill man. Says Gandhiji with extreme regret> "We are destroying the
matchless living machines, i.e. our own bodies, by leaving them to rust
and trying to substitute lifeless machinery for them." "By using
machines, men go on saving labour, till thousands are without work and
thrown on the streets to die of starvation." Gandhiji detests this "lure
of leisure". Leisure is good and necessary, according to him, up to a
point, beyond which it becomes a veritable curse by turning the vacant
mind into a devil's workshop. Gandhiji advised all to earn by labour and
eat with pleasure.
Gandhiji substituted moral and human values in place of money values. He
made no distinction between economics and ethics. "The value of an
industry should be gauged," he says, "less by the dividend it pays to
the sleeping share-holders than by its effects on the bodies, souls, and
spirits of the people employed in it." The khadi-spirit meant to
Gandhiji "a fellow-feeling with every human being on earth". It
represented, according to him human values, while mill-cloth
represented, metallic values.
Gandhiji advised the capitalists to regard themselves not as owners, but
as trustees of their wealth and use it for the service of society. He
also asked labour to organize themselves, develop their skill and gift
of intelligence, and have confidence in their capacity to secure a fair
deal. At the same time, he wanted the rich to learn and teach
contentment, as happiness was largely a mental condition. The rich
should not try to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor, and the
poor should not envy the rich. They should constitute a great family
living in unity and harmony and working in loving co-operation for
mutual material and moral welfare. This is the ideal which Gandhiji
tried to inculcate throughout his life.
the social sphere, Gandhiji tried to remove caste-prejudices by
explaining the correct significance and value of varnashrama.
"Hinduism startled the world," he says, "by its discovery and
application of the law of varna. When Hindus were seized with
inertia, abuse of varna resulted in innumerable castes." So he
considered the four divisions alone to be fundamental, natural and
essential. However, Gandhiji considered untouchability to be a crime
against humanity—a curse eating into the vitals of Hinduism—a sin of
which the sooner Hinduism purges itself, the better it is for itself.
Thus did Gandhiji want to establish harmony among the social groups of
Gandhiji also tried to introduce harmony in human relations, i.e.
between man and man, man and woman, by giving them a correct idea about
their respective places and duties in social life. The two
misconceptions that have poisoned their harmonious relations are: (i)
the conception of superiority and inferiority, on the one hand, and (ii)
that of equality, on the other. The second conception was, in fact,
introduced and advocated to counteract and remove the evil effects of
the first. In God's universe, there is place for everyone and
everything; there is none high or low. But narrow arrogance tried to
assert its superiority by treating the weak as inferiors and introduced
this poison in the body politic. Soon the conception of equality was
powerfully inculcated to wipe out the dire effects of the former
conception. But, unfortunately, this second principle also lost its
proper significance in course of time. It was misunderstood,
misinterpreted, and misapplied.
Gandhiji tried to correct both these conceptions. He told that there is
both equality and inequality in life. "Equality," he maintains, "is of
souls, not of bodies; of opportunities, not of capacity." Really,
Nature abhors equality. Its beauty and grandeur consists in rich
variety. Therefore Gandhiji wants us "to realize equality in the midst
of this apparent inequality" and to feel kinship with everyone in the
world and try to promote the happiness even of the humblest of human
Gandhiji considered woman as a companion of man, gifted with equal
mental capacities. "Man and woman are equal in status, but not
identical. They are a peerless pair complementary to each other. Both
are entitled to a supreme place in their own sphere of activities. Man
is the bread-winner, woman is the keeper and distributor of bread. Man
is active, woman is passive." "The art of bringing up the infants of
the race is her special and sole prerogative. Without her care, the race
would be extinct." "Woman is an incarnation of Ahimsa—infinite love,
which means infinite capacity for suffering." "If nonviolence is the
law of our being, the future is with women." Therefore Gandhiji advises
women to transfer their love to humanity, consider spiritual union as
the ideal of marriage, occupy a proud position by the side of man as
mother, and teach the art of peace to the warring world.
inculcate the above-mentioned principles among the people and to resist
and eradicate evil tendencies in them, Gandhiji used two effective
means, viz. education and Satyagraha. "If we are to reach real peace in
this world," says Gandhiji, "and if we are to wage real war against war,
we shall have to begin with the education of children. We shall then go
from love to love and peace to peace until at last all the corners of
the world are covered by them." But he says: "Our education must be
revolutionized. The brain must be educated through the hands, and the
brain should awaken the soul." "Useful labour," according to him,
"develops a balanced intellect, which presuppses a harmonious growth of
body, mind and soul. Literary education should follow and not precede
the education of the hand." The religion of truth and Ahimsa should be
imparted along with cultural education, especially through the examples
of teachers' lives.
Gandhiji also wanted us to make full use of art, music, and literature
for giving man a fine heart-culture. "There is an art that kills," he
says, "and an art that gives life. True art must be an expression of the
soul and must help the soul to realize its inner Self." "Life is greater
than all art," he observed; and he considered the man whose life came
nearest to perfection as the greatest artist. Noble life was, according
to him, the foundation of art. He advocated the propagation of such art
for giving proper culture to the hearts of all.
is admitted on all hands that evil exists in this world. It is the real
cause of so much misery here. To Gandhiji, goodness misplaced is evil,
no doubt. Still his soul refused to be satisfied so long as it was a
helpless witness of a single wrong. He also thought that he would never
know God if he did not wrestle with and against evil, even at the cost
of life itself. Hence he found it absolutely necessary to resist and
supplant evil for the spread of peace and goodwill on earth. And the
weapon he devised for this was 'the matchless weapon of Satyagraha'.
Gandhiji called Satyagraha "truth-force, love-force or soul-force". "We
may use this weapon," he says, "in any sphere of life and to get rid of
any grievance. It purifies one who uses it as one against whom it is
used." His Satyagraha presupposes self-discipline, self-control,
self-purification, and a recognized status in the person offering it. It
requires special training. Any Tom, Dick and Harry cannot and should not
use it. "The purer he is and the more he suffers, the quicker the
progress. The purer the suffering, the greater the progress towards
freedom, God, and religion." The spirit of non-violence, which is the
soul of Satyagraha, ought to take the form of purest love, ever fresh—
an ever-gushing spring of life expressing itself in every act. Ill will
cannot stand in its presence. "God is the shield of the nonviolent."
"Non-violence is the summit of bravery—the greatest spiritual force that
mankind has known."
Satyagrahi must never forget," says Gandhiji, "the distinction
between evil and evil doer." He must hate the sin and not the sinner. He
must always try to overcome evil by good, anger by love, untruth by
truth, himsa by Ahimsa. There is no other way of purging the
world of evil. "A Satyagrahi has no power he could call his own. All the
power he may seem to possess is from and of God." "If I could popularize
the use of soul-force," says Gandhiji, "which is but another name of
love-force, in place of brute force, I know I could present you with an
India that could defy the whole world to do its worst." "India is less
in need of steel weapons; it has fought with divine weapons; it can
still do so. . . „ India can win all by soul- force." Such was
Gandhiji's firm faith in the supreme efficacy and value of Satyagraha in
resisting and overcoming evil in life. This, in short, is the nature of
the pathway to peace external chalked out by Gandhiji.