The only way to find God is to see Him in His creation and be one with it. This can only
be done by service of all. I am a part and parcel of the whole, and I cannot
find Him apart from the rest of humanity. My countrymen are my nearest
neighbours. They have become so helpless, so resourceless, so inert that I must
concentrate myself on serving them. If I could persuade myself that I should
find Him in a Himalayan cave I would proceed there immediately. But I know that
I cannot find Him apart from humanity.
Harijan, 29-8-'36, p. 226
God having cast my lot in midst of the people of India, I should be untrue to my
Maker if I failed to serve them. If I do not know how to serve them I shall never know how to serve humanity.
Young India, 18-6-'25, p. 211
And as I know that God is found more often in the lowliest of His creatures than in the
high and mighty, I am struggling to reach the status of these. I cannot do so
without their service. Hence my passion for the service of the suppressed
classes. And as I cannot render this service without entering politics, I find myself in them.
Young India, 11-9-'24, p. 298
If I am to identify myself with the grief of the least in India, aye, if I have the
power, the least in the world,, let me identify myself with the sins of the
little ones who are under my care. And so doing in all humility, I hope someday
to see God—Truth—face to face.
Young India, 3-12-'25, p. 422
I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too
much with you, try the following expedient:
Recall the face of the poorest and the most helpless man whom you have seen and ask
yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him.
Will he be able to gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over
his own life and destiny? In other words will it lead to Swaraj or self-rule for
the hungry and also spiritually starved millions of our countrymen?
Then you will find your doubts and yourself melting away.
[From a letter to a friend]
This Was Bapu, by R.K. Prabhu, 1954, p. 48
While he was engaged with Mahatmaji, a young American missionary asked him what religion
he professed and what shape the future religion of India was likely to assume.
His reply was very brief. Pointing to the two sick persons in the room, he said 'To serve
is my religion. I do not worry about the future.'
This Was Bapu, by R.K. Prabhu, 1954, p. 4
Religion is service of the helpless. God manifests Himself to us in the form of the helpless and the stricken.
I have certainly regarded spinning superior to the practice of denominational
religions. But that does not mean that the latter should be given up. I only
mean that a Dharma which has to be observed by the followers of all religions
transcends them, and hence I say that a Brahmana is a better Brahmana, a
Mussalman a better Mussalman, a Vaishnava a better Vaishnava, if he turns the
(spinning) wheel in the spirit of service.
If it was possible for me to turn the wheel in my bed and if I felt that it would help me
in concentrating my mind on God, I would certainly leave the rosary aside and
turn the wheel. If I am strong enough to turn the wheel, and I have to make a
choice between counting beads or turning the wheel, I would certainly decide in
favour of the wheel, making it my rosary, so long as I found poverty and
starvation stalking the land. I do look forward to a time when even repeating
the name of Rama will become a hindrance. When I have realized that Rama
transcends even speech, I shall have no need to repeat the name. The spinning
wheel, the rosary and the Ramanama are the same to me. They sub serve the same
end, they teach me the religion of service. I cannot practise Ahimsa without
practising the religion of service, and I cannot find the truth without
practising the religion of Ahimsa. And there is no religion other than truth.
Young India, 14-8-'24, p. 267
Hand-spinning does not, it is not intended that it should, compete with, in
order to displace, any existing type of industry; it does not aim at withdrawing
a single able-bodied person, who can otherwise find a remunerative occupation
from his work. The sole claim advanced on its behalf is that it alone offers an
immediate, practicable, and permanent solution of that problem of problems that
confronts India, viz., the enforced idleness for nearly six months in the year
of an overwhelming majority of India's population, owing to lack of a suitable
supplementary occupation to agriculture and the chronic starvation of the masses
that results there from.
Young India, 21-10-'26, p. 368
We should be ashamed of resting, or having a square meal, so long as there is one
able-bodied man or woman without work or food.
Young India, 5-2-'25, p. 48
Imagine, therefore, what a calamity it must be to have 300 million unemployed, several
millions becoming degraded every day for want of employment, devoid of
self-respect, devoid of faith in God. I may as well place before the dog over
there the message of God as before those hungry millions who have no lustre in
their eyes and whose only God is their bread. I can take before them a message
of God only by taking the message of sacred work before them. It is good enough
to talk of God whilst we are sitting here after a nice breakfast and looking
forward to a nicer luncheon, but how am I to talk of God to the millions who
have to go without two meals a day ? To them God can only appear as bread and butter.
Young India, 15-10-'31, p. 310
Self-realization I hold to be impossible without service of an identification with the poorest.
Young India, 21-10-'26, p. 364
The human body is meant solely for service, never for indulgence. The secret of happy life
lies in renunciation. Renunciation is life. Indulgence spells death. Therefore,
everyone has a right and should desire to live 125 years while performing
service without an eye on result. Such life must be wholly and solely dedicated to service. Renunciation made for the
sake of such service is an ineffable joy of which none can deprive one, because
that nectar springs from within and sustains life. In this there can be no room
for worry or impatience. Without this joy, long life is impossible and would
not be worth-while even if possible.
Harijan, 24-2-'46, p. 19
This body, therefore, has been given us, only in order that we may serve all creation with it.
And even as a bond slave receives food, clothing and so on from the master whom he
serves, so should we gratefully accept such gifts as may be assigned to us by
the Lord of the universe. What we receive must be called a gift; for as debtors
we are entitled to no consideration for the discharge of our obligations.
Therefore we may not blame the Master, if we fail to get it. Our body is His to
be cherished or cast away according to His will. This is not a matter for
complaint or even pity; on the contrary, it is natural and even a pleasant and
desirable state, if only we realize our proper place in God's scheme. We do '
indeed need strong faith, if we would experience this supreme bliss. "Do not
worry in the least about yourself, leave all worry to God,"—this appears to be
the commandment in all religions.
This need not frighten any one. He who devotes himself to service with a clear conscience
will day by day grasp the necessity for it in greater measure, Łnd will
continually grow richer in faith. The path of service can hardly be trodden by
one, who is not prepared to renounce self-interest, and to recognize the
conditions of his birth. Consciously or unconsciously every one of us does
render some service or other. If we cultivate the habit of doing this service
deliberately, our desire for service will steadily grow stronger, and will make
not only for our own happiness, but that of the world at large.
Young India, 3-12-'25, p. 422
* * *
Again, not only the good, but all of us are bound to place our resources at the
disposal of humanity. And if such is the law, as evidently it is, indulgence
ceases to hold a place in life and gives way to renunciation. The duty of
renunciation differentiates mankind from the beast.
Some object that life thus understood becomes dull and devoid of art, and leaves no
room for the householder. But renunciation here does not mean abandoning the
world and retiring into the forest. The spirit of renunciation should rule all
the activities of life. A householder does not cease to be one if he regards
life as a duty rather than as an indulgence. A merchant, who operates in the
sacrificial spirit, will have crores passing through his hands, but he will
therefore not cheat or speculate, will lead a simple life, will not injure a
living soul and will lose millions rather than harm anybody. Let no one run
away with the idea that this type of merchant exists only in my imagination.
Fortunately for the world, it does exist in the West as well as i the East. It
is true, such merchants may be counted on one's fingers' ends, but the type
ceases to be imaginary, as soon as even one living specimen can be found to
answer to it. No doubt these sacrificers obtain their livelihood by their work.
But livelihood is not their objective, but only a by-product of their vocation.
A life of sacrifice is the pinnacle of art, and is full of true joy.
One who would serve will not waste a thought upon his own comforts, which he leaves to
be attended to or neglected by his Master on high. He will not therefore
encumber himself with everything that comes his way; he will take only what he
strictly needs and leave the rest. He will be calm, free from anger and
unruffled in mind even if he finds himself inconvenienced. His service, like
virtue, is its own reward, and he will rest content with it.
Voluntary service of others demands the best of which one is capable, and must take
precedence over service of self. In fact, the pure devotee consecrates himself
to the service of humanity without any reservation whatever.
From Yeravda Mandir, 1945, p. 54-60
Sacrifices may be of many kinds. One of them may well be bread labour. If all
laboured for their bread and no more, then there would be enough food and enough
leisure for all. Then there would be no cry of over-population, no disease and
no such misery as we see around. Such labour will be the highest form of
sacrifice. Men will no doubt do many other things either through their bodies or
through their minds, but all this will be labour of love for the common good.
There will then be no rich and no poor, none high and none low, no touchable and no untouchable.
This may be unattainable ideal. But we need not, therefore, cease to strive for it. Even
if without fulfilling the whole law of sacrifice, that is, the law of our being,
we performed physical labour enough for our daily bread, we should go a long way towards the ideal.
If we did so, our wants would be minimized, our food would be simple. We should then eat
to live, not live to eat. Let anyone who doubts the accuracy of this proposition
try to sweat for his bread, he will derive the greatest relish from the
production of his labour, improve his health and discover that many things he took were superfluities.
May not men earn their bread by intellectual labour ? No. The needs of the body must be
supplied by the body. 'Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's' perhaps applies- here well.
Mere mental, that is, intellectual labour is for the soul and is its own
satisfaction. It should never demand payment. In the ideal state, doctors,
lawyers and the like will work solely for the benefit of society, not for self.
Obedience to law of bread labour will bring about a silent revolution in the
structure of society. Men's triumph will consist in substituting the struggle
for existence by the struggle for mutual service. The law of the brute will be
replaced by the law of man.
Harijan, 29-6-'35, p. 156
In India there is a particular type of man who delights in having as few needs as
possible. He carries with him only a little flour and a pinch of salt and
chillies tied in his napkin. He has a lota and a string to draw water
from the well. He needs nothing else. He walks on foot covering 10-12 miles a
day. He makes the dough in his napkin, collects a few twigs to make a fire and
bakes his dough on the embers. It is called bati. Its relish does not lie
in itself but in the appetite that honest toil and contentment of mind give.
Such a man has God as his companion and friend and feels richer than any king or
emperor. God is not the friend of those who inwardly covet other's riches.
Everyone can copy this example and enjoy ineffable peace and happiness himself
and radiate it to others. On the other hand, if one hankers after riches, one
has to resort to exploitation, by whatever name it may be called. Even then the
crores cannot become millionaires. True happiness lies in contentment and
companionship with God only.
Harijan, 21-7-'46, p. 232
The true connotation of humility is self-effacement. Self-effacement is moksha.
(salvation). Service without humility is selfishness and egotism.
An Autobiography, 1948, p. 483
When self-satisfaction creeps over a man, he has ceased to grow and therefore has
become unfit for freedom. He who offers a little sacrifice from a lowly and
religious spirit quickly realizes the littleness of it. Once on the path of
sacrifice, we find out the measure of our selfishness and must continually wish
to give more and not be satisfied till there is a complete self-surrender.
Young India, 29-9-'21, p. 306
Not until we have reduced ourselves to nothingness can we conquer the evil in Us. God
demands nothing less than complete self-surrender as the price for the only real
freedom that is worth having. And when a man thus loses himself he immediately
finds himself in the service of ail that lives. It becomes his delight and his
recreation. He is a new man, never weary of spending himself in the service of God's creation.
Young India, 20-12-'28, p. 420