8. Vaishnav (The Devotee of Lord Vishnu)

If Gandhiji was ever asked which religion did he follow, he would say, "Vaishnav!"

A person who doesn't understand its meaning would be astonished. Gandhiji never went to a temple. Neither did he have Krishna's idol in his house nor did he offer food (56 kinds of sweets know as chhappan bhog) to the God. He did not wear the string of tulsi beads and would eat in the company of anybody (without thinking of his caste).

How could he be a Vaishnav?

Gandhiji used to say, "I am a Vaishnav by heart. Saint Narsaiya has defined the qualities of a Vaishnav. I know who can be called a Vaishnav and I am trying to become one."

Call him a Vaishnav who feels other's grieves,
Who helps them through times rough
Yet pride won't make him tough!
Who mingles with everyone?
Yet slanders no one;
One who keeps his heart pure,
God has always blessed his mother!
Call him a Vaishnav...

He has sacrificed all,
With no grudge at all;
A woman is a mother in his eye,
He never tells a lie;
And for others wealth he is not sly!
Call him a Vaishnav...

One who remains free of temptations,
And also has saintly aspirations;
Has engraved on his heart Rama's image,
Is the embodiment of a pilgrimage!
Call him a Vaishnav...

One who is not at all deceitful,
And has won his anger and will;
Narsaiya says, a chance to see such person
Can set all our generations free of sin!
Call him a Vaishnav...

[Mingles = To mix with people;
Slander = False or malicious statement about someone.
Grudge = Ill will; Sly = Cunning, deceitful;
Temptation = Attraction, fascination.
Aspiration = Strong desire;
Engrave = Carve, incise;
Embodiment = Symbol;
Deceit = Cheating.]