To Students

I confess to a deep sense of sorrow that faith is gradually disappearing in the student world. When I suggest to a Hindu boy to have recourse to Ramanama, he stares at me and wonders who Rama may be; when I ask a Mussalman boy to read the Koran and fear God, he confesses his inability to read the Koran and Allah is a mere lip-profession. How can I convince such boys that the first step to a true education is a pure heart? If the education you get turns you away from God, I do not know how it is going to help you and how you are going to help the world. You were right in saying in your address, that I am endeavoring to see God through service of humanity, for I know that God is neither in heaven, nor down below, but in every one, be he a Hindu, Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra, or a Panchama, a Mussalman, a Parsi, a Christian, man or woman.

Young India, 4-8-'27

No man can live without religion. There are some who in the egotism of their reason declare that they have nothing to do with religion. But it is like a man saying that he breathes but that he has no nose. Whether by reason, or by instinct, or by superstition, man acknowledges some sort of relationship with the divine. The rankest agnostic or atheist does acknowledge the need of a moral principle, and associates something good with its observance and something bad with the non-observance. Bradlaugh, whose atheism is well known, always insisted on proclaiming his innermost conviction. He had to suffer a lot for thus speaking the truth, but he delighted in it and said that truth is its own reward. Not that he was quite insensible to the joy resulting from the observance of truth. This joy however is not at all worldly, but springs out of communion with the divine. That is why I have said that even a man who disowns religion cannot and does not live without religion.

Young India, 23-1-‘30

It is the fashion nowadays to dismiss God from life together and insist on the possibility of reaching the highest kind of life without the necessity of a living faith in a living God. I must confess my inability to drive the truth of the law home to those who have no faith in and no need for a Power infinitely higher than themselves. My own experience has led me to the knowledge that fullest life is impossible without an immovable belief in a Living Law in obedience to which that the whole universe moves. A man without that faith is like a drip thrown out of the ocean bound to perish. Every drop in the ocean shares its majesty and has the honour of giving us the ozone of life.

Harijan, 25-4’36

For me morals, ethics, and religion are convertible terms. A moral life without reference to religion is a like house built upon sand. And religion divorced from morality is like ‘sounding brass’ good only for making a noise and breaking heads. Morality includes truth, ahimsa and continence. Every virtue that mankind has ever practiced is referable to and derived from these three fundamental virtues. Nonviolence and continence are again derivable from Truth, which for me is God.

Harijan, 3-10-‘36

If the word ‘soul force’ appears a meaningless terms to our students today, it only shows to what an abject plight we are reduced. For is not most tragic, that things of the spirit, eternal verities should be regarded as utopian by our youth and transitory makeshifts alone appeal to them as practical?

We have an ocular demonstration of the futility of mere numbers before us every day. What stronger proof of the proposition can be needed than that a nation of three hundred million Indians is today being ruled by less than one lakh Englishmen? The very sight of a lion puts to flight a thousand sheep. The reason is plain. The sheep are aware of their weakness, the lion of its strength. And the consciousness of strength in the latter overpowers the numerical strength of the former. By analogy may we not deduce that ‘soul Force’ or ‘spirit force’ may not after all be a mere chimera or figment of imagination but a substantial reality?

I do not wish to disparage the strength of numbers. It has its use but only when it is backed by the latent spirit force. Millions of ants can kill an elephant by together attacking it in a vulnerable place. Their sense of solidarity, consciousness of oneness of spirit in spite of the diversity of bodies, in other words, their spirit force makes the ants irresistible. Even so the moment we develop a sense of mass unity like the ants, we too shall become irresistible and shall free ourselves from our chains.

It is my firm faith that the students of our national schools, a mere handful through they may be, if they are inspired by a real spirit of sacrifice and service and a living faith in their ideals, will stand the country in far greater stead than all the students in Government educational institutions put together.

That quality is more than quantity is sound theory because it is true in practice. Instead I hold that what cannot be proved in practice cannot be sound in theory.

When Galileo declared that the earth was round like a ball and turned in its axis, he was ridiculed as a visionary and a dreamer and was greeted with abuse. But today we know that Galileo was right, and it was his opponents, who believed the earth to be stationary and flat like a dish, that were living in the cloudland of their ignorance.

Modern education tends to turn our eyes away from the spirit. The possibilities of the spirit force or soul force, therefore, do not appeal to us, and our eyes are consequently riveted on the evanescent, transitory, material force. Surely this is the very limit of dull unimaginativeness. But I live in hope and patience. And every student, if only he has got the faculty of patient, dispassionate research, can experimentally prove this for himself:

1. That mere numbers are useless.

2. That all force other than soul force is transitory and vain.

It goes without saying, that if the above propositions are correct, it should be the constant endeavor of every student to arm himself with this matchless weapon of spirit force by dint of self –discipline and self-purification.

Young India, 14-11-‘29

Strength of numbers is the delight of the timid. The valiant of spirit glory in fighting alone. And you are all here to cultivate that valour of the spirit. Be you one or many, this valour of the spirit cannot be achieved without sacrifice, determination, faith and humility.

Young India, 17-6-‘26

Young India-name of a weekly edited by Mahatma Gandhi during 1919-'32

Harijan-literally, man of God; the name Gandhiji gave for an 'untouchable'; name of a weekly edited by Mahatma Gandhi during1933-'48 which still continues