In my opinion there is no such thing as inherited or acquired superiority. I believe
in the rock-bottom doctrine of advaita (non-duality or oneness) and my
interpretation of advaita excludes totally any idea of superiority at any
stage whatsoever. I believe implicitly that all men are born equal. All—whether
born in India or in England or America or in any circumstances whatsoever—have
the same soul as any other. And it is because I believe in this inherent
equality of all men that I fight the doctrine of superiority which many of our
rulers arrogate to themselves. I have fought this doctrine of superiority in
South Africa inch by inch, and it is because of that inherent belief, that I
delight in calling myself a scavenger, a spinner, a weaver, a farmer and a
labourer. And I have fought against the Brahmanas themselves wherever they have
claimed any superiority for themselves either by reason of their birth, or by
reason of their subsequently acquired knowledge. I consider that it is unmanly
for any person to claim superiority over a fellow-being. He who claims
superiority at once forfeits his claim to be called a man. That is my opinion.
The forms are many, but the informing spirit is one. How can there be room for
distinctions of high and low where there is this all-embracing fundamental unity
underlying the outward diversity? For that is a fact meeting you at every step
in daily life. The final goal of all religions is to realize this essential oneness.
I value individual freedom but you must not forget that man is essentially a social
being. He has risen to his present status by learning to adjust his
individualism to the requirements of social progress. Unrestricted individualism
is the law of the beast of the jungle. We have to learn to strike the mean
between individual freedom and social restraint. Willing submission to social
restraint for the sake of the well-being of the whole society, enriches both the
individual and the society of which he is a member.
There is not a single virtue which aims at, or is content with, the welfare of the
individual only. Conversely, there is not a single moral offence which does not,
directly or indirectly, affect many others besides the actual offender. Hence,
whether an individual is good or bad is not merely his own concern, but really
the concern of the whole community, nay, of the whole world.
I believe in the essential unity of man and for that matter of all that lives. Therefore,
I believe that if one man gains spiritually, the whole world gains with him and,
if one man falls, the whole world falls to that extent.