MK Gandhi is perhaps the most important proponent of the religion, which he wholeheartedly embraced all his life, Hinduism. It is interesting to see that he wrote extensively on his own religion given the fact that he was mentored by a Jain and read at length about Christianity.
Gandhi always considered Buddhism and Jainism under the umbrella of the larger meaning of Hinduism. But for Christianity and Islam, he showed full respect as he considered them different religions. It is perhaps due to his understanding of religion, India adopted positive sense of Secularism in which the State ought to give equal recognition to all religions.
Now comes the question “Why Know India should write about religions of India?” The answer is simple because we all know that religion is in fact a political issue in India and as we pledged to keep our readers informed about all aspects of elections, it is justified that we write about Hinduism through the pen of MK Gandhi. In due course, we will also try to write about Islam and Christianity.
The structure of the articles to be written in this series will be “Excerpt and Elaboration”. This means we will be taking excerpt from MK Gandhi’s articles and will try to write about his understanding in unbiased and simple manner.
Our first article is about defining the creed of Hinduism.
“If I were asked to define the Hindu creed, I should simply say: Search after Truth through non-violent means. A man may not believe even in God and still call himself a Hindu. Hinduism is a relentless pursuit after Truth and if today it has become moribund, inactive, unresponsive to growth, it is because we are fatigued and as soon as the fatigue is over Hinduism will burst forth upon the world with a brilliance perhaps unknown before. Hinduism is the most tolerant of all religions. Its creed is all embracing.”
– Mahatma Gandhi, Young India 24 April 1924
In this excerpt, Gandhi very precisely defined the creed of Hinduism. For less knowledgeable, according to Wikipedia
A creed (also confession, symbol, or statement of faith) is a statement of the shared beliefs of a religious community in the form of a fixed formula summarizing core tenets.
Gandhi has the following to say about Hinduism:
- Tolerance: Hinduism tells every one to worship God according to his own Faith or Dharma and so it lives at peace with all the religions. Thus, Hinduism is an all embracing religion.
- Means and End: The end for Hinduism is attainment of truth and the means for this end should be non violent. In this way, Hinduism is a progressive religion which aims at development of self because truth is ever changing and a dynamic notion. If Hinduism is not progressing, then it is not because of the religion, it is because of the fatigued people who are practicing it. This also means that anybody, who imposes perceived truth about Hinduism in violent manner, is not actually a Hindu. However, If the same person argues about his perceived truth in non violent manner and give respect to the opinions of others, he is a Hindu.
- Outward Looking: Because Hinduism searches for truth, it automatically becomes an outward looking religion. In this respect, it is akin to science. If practiced correctly by people of different interests it can be path presenter for whole of world.
What this means for a voter?
This means Hinduism is a way of seeking happiness in life as the truth is that the ultimate happiness lies in truth itself. So, when somebody is spreading hatred and spreading false notions based on his own conceptions, he is not a true Hindu and his statements are false propaganda for electoral gains.
To those who say religion is a divisive force, we say they have missed some important chapters of History. At the time of India’s freedom struggle, Gandhi used religion numerous times to mobilize different creeds under the same movement for the common goal i.e. independence.
As history repeats itself, there are social problems like health and education which are trans religious problems. If any candidate can show a path to mobilize all religions under the same movement, he may make a very good candidate to vote.
P.S. The opinions expressed in above article are extensions of MK Gandhi’s notion of Hinduism and we do believe that they are highly relevant in current context of India. We, at Know India, do not propagate any religion in any preferential manner.
About the Writer: Prashant is a graduate from IIT Bombay and a co-founder of Know India. He can be reached on facebook and on mail at firstname.lastname@example.org