October 2nd is a National Holiday in India. The whole nation comes together to honor and remember the Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi – “Father of the Nation.” As children we very much enjoyed this day, as you witness the nation’s flag being hoisted and in one voice we sing the National Anthem and then, of course, they distribute candies 🙂
As part of history we read about Mahatma Gandhi’s his autobiography – “The story of my experiments with truth”. Even at that time he was more of a political model and a great Leader who lead the nation through the greatest and worst time towards independence with one principal “NON-VIOLENCE.” His passion for TRUTH always made me wonder how he was able to go through all the difficulties in life.
Here are his words – “Truth became my sole objective. It began to grow in magnitude every day, and my definition of it also has been ever widening. A Gujarati didactic stanza likewise gripped my mind and heart. Its Precept-return good for evil-became my guiding principle. It became such a passion with me that I began numerous experiments in it. Here are those (for me) wonderful lines: For a bowl of water give a goodly meal: For a kindly greeting bow thou down with zeal: For a simple penny pay thou back with gold: If thy life be rescued, life do not withhold. Thus the words and actions of the wise regard; Every little service tenfold they reward. But the truly noble know all men as one, And return with gladness good for evil done.” His whole life was ONE BIG Experiment on TRUTH.
In my late twenties he was a role model of simplicity. I remember there was period of time in my life when I literally wanted to follow his footsteps. Along with a friend of mine we started wearing only hand woven cotton clothes. But soon realized more than external change, internal change should happen, which is very difficult.
As I was growing older and started a spiritual practice and began studying the Bhagavad Gita and Vedanta, my understanding of Mahatma Gandhi’s life would become much deeper. The very first quality one needs to develop to start living a Dharmic life is NON-VIOLENCE – ‘Ahimsa.’ Not just in action, but starting from the level of thought. No evil thought to hurt another human will be the first principle to be followed by a spiritual aspirant. And Gandhi led the whole Nation through the Independence struggle with this principle of NON-VIOLENCE. In today’s world we lift a weapon for every silly argument and kill each other.
His great statement, “Be the change, that you want to see” is deeply carved in my heart. The word MAHA means great, and ATMA means Soul. Indeed he was a GREAT SOUL!