Back | Next
GOD > Ramanama > Addendum
WHO IS THIS RAMA?
Gandhiji reiterated that Rama whose name he prescribed as the infallible remedy for all ills was neither the historical Rama nor the Rama of those who used the name as a charm or black magic. Rama whose name he prescribed as a cure-all was God, by taking whose name devotees attained purity and peace, and he claimed that it was the one infallible remedy for all ailments whether mental, spiritual or physical. It was, of course, possible to cure physical ailments by going to doctors and vaidyas. But Ramanama enabled one to become one's own doctor or vaidya and to find the elixir of healing within oneself. Even when the ailment could not be cured, because physically it was incurable, it enabled one to endure it with equanimity and peace of mind. "A person who has faith in Ramanama would not run from pillar to post and dance attendance at the doors of celebrated doctors and vaidyas in order to prolong existence anyhow. Nor is Ramanama meant to be taken only when the doctors and vaidyas have failed. It is meant to enable one to do without them altogether. For a believer in Ramanama it is the first as well as the last remedy."
THE ALL-HEALING BALM
"The greatest help you can give me is to banish fear from your hearts," Gandhiji told them. And what was the talisman that could do that for them? It was his unfailing mantra of Ramanama. "You may say you do not believe in Him. You do not know that but for His will you could not draw a single breath. Call Him Ishwara, Allah, God, Ahura Mazda. His names are as innumerable as there are men. He is one without a second. He alone is great. There is none greater than He. He is timeless, formless, stainless. Such is my Rama. He alone is my Lord and Master."
He touchingly described to them how as a little boy he used to be usually timid and afraid of even shadows and how his nurse Rambha had taught him the secret of Ramanama as an antidote to fear. "When in fear take Ramanama. He will protect you," she used to tell him. Ever since then Ramanama has been his unfailing refuge and shelter from all kinds of fear.
"He resided in the heart of the pure always. Tulsidas, that prince of devotees, whose name has become a household word among the Hindus from Kashmir to Cape Comorin as Shri Chaitanya's and Shri Ramakrishna Paramahnnsa's in Bengal, has presented the message of that name to us in his immortal Ramayana. If you walk in fear of that name, you need fear no man on earth, be he a prince or a pauper." Why should they be afraid of the cry of 'Allaho Akbar'? The Allah of Islam was the protector of innocence. What had been done in East Bengal had not the sanction of Islam as preached by its Prophet.
Who could dare to dishonour their wives or daughters, if they had faith in God? He, therefore, expected them to cease to be afraid of Mussulmans. If they believed in Ramanama they must not think of leaving East Bengal. They must live where they were born and brought up and die there if necessary, defending their honour as brave men and women. "To run away from danger, instead of facing it, is to deny one's faith in man and God and even one's own self. It were better for one to drown oneself than to live to declare such bankruptcy of faith."
ACCEPT SLAVERY OF ONE GOD
Gandhiji asked them to accept the slavery of the one omnipotent God no matter by what name they addressed Him. Then they would bend the knee to no man or men. It was ignorance to say that he coupled Rama, a mere man, with God. He had repeatedly made it clear that his Rama was the same as God. His Rama was before, is present now and would be for all time. He was Unborn and Uncreated. Therefore let them tolerate and respect the different faiths. He was himself an iconoclast but he had equal regard for the so-called idolaters. Those who worshipped idols also worshipped the same God who was everywhere, even in a clod of earth, even in a nail that was pared off. He had Muslim friends whose names were Rahim, Rahman, Karim. Would he, therefore, join on to the name of God when he addressed them as Rahim, Karim or Rahman?
Questions poured in as did angry letters. Why did he call himself a Muslim? Why did he consider that there was no difference between Rama and Rahim? Why had he gone so far as to say that he had no objection to reciting the Kalma? Why did he not go to the Punjab? Was he not a bad Hindu? Was he not a fifth- columnist? Was not his non-violence making cowards of Hindus? One envelope came to him addressed as Mahomed Gandhi !
Quietly and patiently, Gandhiji reasoned with them. Why should and how could Islam be condemned for the sins of a few? He claimed to be a sanatani Hindu and because the essence of Hinduism, and indeed of all religions, was toleration, he claimed that if he was a good Hindu, he was also a good Muslim and a good Christian. It was against the spirit of religion to claim superiority. Humility was essential to non-violence, Had not the Hindu scriptures said that God had a thousand names? Why may not Rahim be one of them? The Kalma merely praised God and acknowledged Mohamed as His Prophet. He had no hesitation in praising God and acknowledging Mohamed as a Prophet in the same way as he acknowledged Buddha and Zoroaster and Jesus.
MEDICINE FOR THE MASSES
You will be pleased to know that I became a confirmed convert to Nature Cure, when I read Kuhne's New Science of Healing and Just's Return to Nature over forty years ago. I must confess that I have not been able fully to follow the meaning of Return to Nature not because of want of will but because of my ignorance. I am now trying to evolve a system of Nature Cure suited to the millions of India's poor. I try to confine myself to the propagation of such cure as is derivable from the use of earth, water, light, air and the great void. This naturally leads man to know that the sovereign cure of all ills is the recitation from the heart of the name of God whom some millions here know by the name of Rama and the other millions by the name of Allah. Such recitation from the heart carries with it the obligation to recognize and follow the laws which Nature has ordained for man. This train of reasoning leads one to the conclusion that prevention is better than cure. Therefore, one is irresistibly driven to inculcating the laws of hygiene, i.e. of cleanliness of the mind, of the body and of its surroundings.
Gandhiji said that those who had some experience knew the power what the Ramadhun, meaning recital of God's name from the heart, meant. He knew the power what lakhs of soldiers marching in step to the tune of their band meant. The desolation that the military prowess had wrought in the world, be who ran could see. Though the war was said to have ended, the aftermath was worse than actual warfare. Such was the bankruptcy of military power.
Without the slightest hesitation he was there to contend that the power exerted by the Ramadhun recited by millions of mankind with true beat of time, was different in kind from and infinitely superior to the display of military strength. And this recital of God's name from the heart, would produce lasting peace and happiness in the place of the present desolation, they witnessed.
Today alas! there was no Rarnarajya in India; therefore, how could they celebrate Diwali? He alone could celebrate victory who had Rama in his heart for it was God alone who could illumine their souls and such illumination alone was worthwhile. The bhajan emphasized the writer's desire to see God. Crowds went to see manmade illuminations but the light they needed today was the light of love in their hearts. Then alone would they be worthy of receiving congratulations. Today thousands were in the most dire suffering. Could everyone in the audience lay his hand on his heart and say that everyone of these sufferers, whether Hindu, Muslim or Sikh, was as his own brother or sister? That was the test for them.
Rama and Ravana represented the eternal duel going on between the forces of good and evil. The real illumination came from within.
THE DAY BEFORE
[Shri K. G. Mashruwala received on the 2nd instant a post-card written by Gandhiji himself on the 29th January, that is, the day before his death. It refers to a letter written by Shri Mashruwala to one of Gandhiji's assistants to acknowledge receipt of a communication from him. The reply, therefore, by Gandhiji himself has come to him as an agreeable surprise and a precious memento. The following is a free translation of the post-card.—Editor, Harijan.]
"29-1-'48, N. D.
"My Dear Kishorlal,
"I have been devoting today my time after the prayer in writing letters. You did well in sending here the news of the death of Shankaranji's daughter. I have sent him a letter. The report of my going there (i.e., Sevagram) must be regarded still as indefinite. I have suggested that I should stay there from the 3rd to the 12th. If it could be said that I "did" in Delhi, it might not be necessary to be here for keeping my pledge. This depends upon what view my colleagues here take. Perhaps it may be possible to decide tomorrow.
The purpose of my visit is to consider whether it is possible to unite together all the separate institutions of the Constructive Programme and to observe the anniversary day of Jamnalal. I have been gaining strength satisfactorily. Both the kidney and the liver got involved this time. According to my view, it showed weakness of faith in Ramanama.
"Blessings to both of you."
[Notes: Shri Shankaranji is a teacher in the Hindustani Talimi Sangh. Sevagram.
The verb "did" is in reference to the pledge "Do or Die", which he took on reaching Delhi.
The other person referred to in "blessings to both" is Shrimati Gomatibehn Mashruwala.]
As Gandhiji passed through the cordoned lane through the prayer congregation, he took his hands off the shoulders of the two girls to answer the namaskars of the prayer congregation. All of a sudden someone from the crowd roughly elbowed his way into the cordon from the right. Little Manu thinking that he was coming forward to touch his feet, remonstrated saying something about it being already late for the prayer and tried to stop the intruder by holding his hand. He violently jerked her off, causing the Ashram Bhajanavali and Bapu's spittoon and mala, which she was carrying in her hands, to fall down. As she stooped down to pick up the scattered things, he planted himself in front of Bapu at less than point blank range—so close, indeed, that one of the ejected shells was afterwards found caught among the folds of Bapu's clothes. Three shots rang out in quick succession from the seven-chambered automatic pistol, the first shot entering the abdomen on the right side two and a half inches above the umbilicus and three and a half inches to the right of the mid line, the second penetrating the seventh intercostal space one inch to the right of the mid line and the third on the right side of the chest one inch above the nipple and four inches from the mid line. The first and the second shots passed right through and came out at the back. The third remained embedded in the lung. At the first shot the foot that was in motion, when he was hit, came down. He still stood on his legs when the second shot rang out and then collapsed. The last words he uttered were "Rama Rama".
At Amki I could not get goat's milk for Bapu. I tried my best to procure it but failed. So I had to inform Bapu who said to me, "What does it matter? For goat's milk the white juice of the coconut will do as well and fresh coconut oil will serve the purpose of ghee."
Bapu showed me how to prepare them and accordingly I gave them to him. As he usually took eight ounces of goat's milk he took the same quantity of coconut milk too. But he could not digest it and so had an attack of diarrhoea. The frequent motions made him weaker and weaker till in the evening when he was coming back to the hut he felt a reeling sensation and was about to fall. Generally symptoms like yawning, perspiration, coldness of hands and feet, etc. would precede such a reeling sensation in his case. I thought from his yawns that he was about to feel giddy but I was mistaken. Bapu who was walking with my support was already collapsing. I held his head with care and shouted for Nirmalbabu. He came and we both helped Bapuji to bed. Then it struck me that I should call for Dr. Sushilabehn who was in a village nearby. I feared that I would be taken for a fool if Bapuji's illness suddenly took a serious turn and if I did not call for her in time. I wrote a chit and just as 1 was giving it to Nirmalbabu for despatching, Bapu woke up from his trance and called out, "Manudi" (that was Bapu's term of endearment for me), "I do not like your calling Nirmalbabu. As you are still young, however, I can excuse you. But at such a time I expect you to do nothing else but take Ramanama with all your heart. As for myself I was already engrossed in taking His name. 1 would have liked it immensely had you started taking Ramanama instead of shouting for Nirmalbabu. Now don't inform Sushila or call her. The real doctor is Rama. As long as Rama needs service from me, He will keep me alive. When he does not, He will call me back to Himself."
A shiver passed through my body when the words "don't inform Sushila or call her" struck my ears. I snatched the chit from Nirmalbabu and tore it to pieces. Bapu saw this and remarked, "So you had already written to her." I had to admit the fact. Then he said, "Today the Lord has saved us both. On reading the chit Sushila would have left her work and immediately run to us. I would not have liked it at all. That would have made me angry with myself and you. Thank God I was tested today. I am convinced that I shall not die of sickness if Ramanama has penetrated deep down into my heart. This rule is for everybody. One has to suffer for one's mistakes and in that spirit I passed through the pain. One should have Ramanama on one's lips till one's last breath but it should not be repeated parrot-like; it should spring from the heart as was the case with Hanuman. When Sitaji presented a pearl necklace to him he broke the pearls to see if the name of Rama was written in them. We need not care to find out whether the incident actually happened or not. We may not be able to make our bodies as strong as that of Hanuman but we can certainly make our souls as great. One can realize the devotion of Hanuman if one is intent on it. If one cannot reach that height it is enough if one makes a sincere attempt. Has not Mother Gita taught us to make every effort and leave the result in the hands of God? We should try our very best to follow that teaching.
"Now you have understood what my attitude is towards the sickness of anybody, be it you, me or anyone else." And that very day he wrote to an ailing sister: "There is only one panacea in the whole world and that is Ramanama. But His name could only prove effective if the rules pertaining to it are strictly adhered to. But who cares to do so?"
Strangely enough the above incident occurred on the 30th January 1947, exactly a year before his death.
That unshakable faith in Ramanama remained with him till his last breath. I did not then imagine that on the same day a year later I should have the heartrending experience of hearing Rama, Ra.... ma as the last audible words of the great departing soul. Mysterious indeed are the ways of the Lord!
From Bapu – My Mother