|The character and Nation-building Programme as
envisioned by Gandhiji is now being fully explained here. His Constructive
Programmes are most powerful.
The constructive programme is the truthful and non-violent way of winning
Purna Swaraj. Its wholesale fulfillment is complete independence (Constructive
Programme-Its Meaning and Place, Navajivan, 1948, p. 5).
Satyagrah [civil disobedience] is?a full substitute for armed revolt.
Training is necessary as well for Satyagrah as for armed revolt. For Satyagrah
it means the constructive programme (ibid.).
In violence truth is the first and the greatest sufferer; in non-violence
it is ever triumphant (ibid., p. 6) -
Truth is God (From Yeravda Mandir, 1957, p.1).
Devotion to this Truth is sole justification for our existence.
Without Truth it is impossible to observe any principles or rules in life.
There should be Truth in thought, Truth in speech and Truth in action
(ibid., p. 2).
But how is one to realize this Truth? ?By single-minded devotion
(abhyas) and indifference to all other interests in life (vairagya),?
says the Bhagavadgita (ibid., p.3).
In spite of such devotion, however, what may appear as truth to one person
will often appear as untruth to another person. But that need not worry
the seeker?..For the quest of Truth involves tapas-self-suffering,
sometimes even unto death?..In such selfless search for Truth, nobody
can lose his bearings for long. Directly he takes to the wrong path, he
stumbles and is thus redirected to the right path?..There is no place
in it for defeat. It is the talisman by which death itself becomes the
portal to life eternal (ibid., pp. 3-4).
God as Truth has been for me a treasure beyond price; may it be so to
every one of us (ibid., p.4).
II) AHIMSA OR LOVE
Truth alone is, being God himself. And the only means of realizing it
is ahimsa or Love (Mangal Prabhat, Gujarati, 1954, pp. 6-7).
Without ahimsa it is not possible to seek and find Truth (From Yeravda
Mandir, 1957, p.8).
The path of Truth and ahimsa is as narrow as it is straight. To walk on
it is like balancing oneself on the edge of a sword?..The slightest
inattention brings one tumbling to the ground. One can realize Truth and
ahimsa only by ceaseless striving (ibid., p. 5).
Mere non-killing is not enough. One who follows the law of love must not
be angry even with the perpetrator of the greatest imaginable wrong, but
must love him, wish him well and serve him. Although he must thus love
the wrongdoer, he must never submit to his wrong or his injustice, but
must oppose it with all his might, and must patiently and without resentment
suffer all the hardships to which the wrong-doer may subject him in punishment
for his opposition (Ashram Observances in Action, 1959, p.111).
Not to hurt any living thing is no doubt a part of ahimsa. But it is its
least expression. For the principle of ahimsa is hurt by every evil thought,
by hatred, by wishing ill to anybody. It is also violated by our holding
on to what the world needs (From Yeravda Mandir, pp. 7-8).
Ahimsa is the means; Truth is the end. Means to be means must be within
our reach, and so ahimsa is our supreme duty. If we take care of the means,
we are bound to reach the end sooner or later (ibid., p. 9).
III) BRAHMACHARYA OR CHASTITY
The fulfilment of (Truth and) ahimsa is impossible without brahmacharya
(Mangal Prabhat, Gujarati, pp. 6-7).
It is not enough that one should not look upon any woman or man with a
lustful eye; animal passion must be so controlled as to be excluded even
from the mind. If married, one must not have a carnal mind regarding one?s
wife or husband, but must consider him or her as one?s lifelong friend
and establish relationship of perfect purity. A sinful thought, gesture
or word is a direct breach of this principle (Ashram Observances in Action,
It is a grave misuse to fritter away for physical gratification that which
is given to men and women for the full development of their bodily and
mental powers. Such misuse is the root cause of many a disease (From Yeravda
Mandir p. 12).
It may be harmful to suppress the body if the mind is at the same time
allowed to go astray (ibid).
It is one thing to allow the mind to harbour impure thoughts. It is a
different thing altogether if it strays among them in spite of ourselves.
Victory will be ours in the end if we non-co-operate with the mind in
its evil wanderings (ibid., pp. 12-13)
Brahmacharya means control of all the organs of sense. He who attempts
to control only one organ and allows all the others free play is bound
to find his effort futile (ibid., p.13).
Brahmacharya means conduct adapted to the search of Brahma, i.e. Truth.
From this etymological meaning arises the special meaning, viz. Control
of all the senses. We must entirely forget the incomplete definition which
restricts itself to the sexual aspect only (ibid., p. 14).
IV) CONTROL OF THE PALATE
I have found from experience that the observance of celibacy
becomes comparatively easy, if one acquires mastery over the palate (From
Yeravda Mandir, p. 15).
Eating is necessary only for sustaining the body and keeping it a fit
instrument for service. It must not be practised for self-indulgence.
Food must therefore be taken like medicine with restraint. In pursuance
of this principle one must eschew exciting foods such as spices and condiments.
Meat, liquor, tobacco, bhang etc. are excluded from the Ashram. This principle
requires abstinence from feasts or dinners which have pleasure as their
object (Ashram Observances in Action, p.112).
A common kitchen where this principle is observed is very helpful, for
its authorities will not pamper us, but cook only such food as helps to
keep the body a fit instrument for service (From Yeravda Mandir, p. 18).
In an ideal state the sun should be our only cook and we should live only
on a fruitarian diet (Mangal Prabhat, Gujarati, p. 14).
We may steal not only what belongs to others but also what belongs to
ourselves, as is done for instance by a father who eats something secretly,
keeping his children in the dark about it (From Yeravda Mandir, p.19).
It is also theft if one receives anything which one does not really need
(Ashram Observances in Action, pp. 112-13)
One who follows the observance of non-stealing will bring about a progressive
reduction of his own wants. Much of the distressing poverty in this world
has arisen out of breaches of the principle of non-stealing (From Yeravda
Mandir, pp. 20-21).
It is theft mentally to desire acquisition of anything belonging to others,
or to cast a greedy eye on it (ibid., p.21).]
VI) NON-POSSESSION OR POVERTY
Just as one must not receive, so must one not possess anything which one
does not really need. It would be a breach of this principle to possess
unnecessary foodstuffs, clothing or furniture. For instance, one must
not keep a chair if one can do without it. In observing this principle
one is led to a progressive simplification of one?s own life (Ashram
Observances in Action, p. 113).
God never stores for the morrow. He never creates more than what is strictly
needed for the moment (From Yeravda Mandir, p. 23).
If each retained possession only of what he needed, no one would be in
want and all would live in contentment (ibid., pp. 23-24).
Civilization in the real sense of the term consists not in the multiplication
but in the deliberate and voluntary reduction of wants. This alone promotes
real happiness and contentment, and increases the capacity for service
(ibid., p. 24).
Thoughts which turn us away from God or do not turn us towards Him constitute
impediments in our way (ibid., p.25).
A seeker after Truth must give up the fear of parents, caste, government,
robbers etc. and must not be frightened by poverty or death (Ashram Observances
in Action, pp. 114-15).
Fearlessness heads the list of the divine attributes enumerated in the
sixteenth chapter of the Gita?..How can one seek Truth or cherish
love without fearlessness? As Pritam says, ?the path of Hari [the
Lord] is the path of the brave, not of cowards.? Hari here means
Truth, and the brave are those armed with fearlessness, not with the sword,
the rifle and the like. These are taken up only by those who are possessed
by fear (From Yeravda Mandir p. 27).
The seeker after Truth?.should be ready to sacrifice his all in the
quest of Truth, even as Harishchandra did (ibid., p. 28).
We must give up all external fears. But the internal foes we must always
fear. We are rightly afraid of animal passion, anger and the like. External
fears cease of their own accord when once we have conquered these traitors
within the camp.
?..Fear has no place in our heart when we have shaken off attachment
for wealth, for family and the body. ?Enjoy the things of the earth
by renouncing them? is a noble precept (ibid, pp. 28-29).
VIII) REMOVAL OF UNTOUCHABILITY
Untouchability is altogether irreligious (Ashram Observances in Action,
None can be born untouchable, as all are sparks of one and the same Fire
(From Yeravda Mandir, p. 31).
Every Hindu who considers untouchability a sin should atone for it by
fraternizing with ?untouchables?, associating with them in a
spirit of love and service, deeming himself purified by such acts, redressing
their grievances and helping them patiently to overcome ignorance and
other evils due to the slavery of ages (From Yeravda Mandir, p. 32).
Some people in observing untouchability have become a veritable burden
on earth (Mangal Prabhat, Gujarati, p.25).
This observance is not fulfilled merely by making friends with ?untouchables?,
but by loving all life as our own selves. Removal of untouchability means
love for and service of the whole world (From Yeravda Mandir, p. 33).
Removal of untouchability spells the breaking down of barriers between
man and man and between the various orders of Being (ibid., p.33).
Caste has injured Hinduism because its implications of superior and inferior
status and of pollution by contact are contrary to the law of Love (Ashram
Observances in Action, p. 115).
The division of varnas is based upon occupation, and therefore a person
should maintain himself by following the hereditary occupation not inconsistent
with fundamental morals, and should devote all his spare time and energy
to the acquisition and advancement of true knowledge (ibid.).
IX) BREAD LABOUR
Man can be saved from injuring society as well as himself only if he sustains
his physical existence by physical labour. Able-bodied adults must do
all their personal work themselves, and must not be served by others except
for proper reasons. But?..service of children as well as of the disabled,
the old and the sick is a duty incumbent on every person who has the required
strength (Ashram Observances in Action, p. 113)
How can a man who does not do body labour have the right to eat? (From
Yeravda Mandir, p. 35).
Every one must be his own scavenger?..The best thing would be for
everyone to dispose of his own waste. If this is impossible, each family
should see to its own scavenging. I have felt for years, that there must
be something radically wrong where scavenging has been made the concern
of a separate class in society?..We should, from our very childhood,
have the idea impressed upon our minds that we are all scavengers, and
the easiest way of doing so is for every one who has realized this to
commence bread labour as a scavenger (From Yeravda Mandir, p. 37).
If nature?s laws were not broken, old people too would be fit for
labour, and sickness would crease to be a ground for exemption as there
would be no sickness (Mangal Prabhat, Gujarati, p. 28).
EQUALITY OF RELIGIONS (I)
The principal faiths of the world constitute a revelation of Truth; but
as they have all been outlined by imperfect men, they have been affected
by imperfections and alloyed with untruth. One must therefore entertain
the same respect for the religious faiths of others as one accords to
one?s own. Where such tolerance becomes a law of life, conflict between
different faiths becomes impossible, and so does all effort to convert
other people to one?s own faith. One can only pray that the defects
in the various faiths may be overcome and that they may advance, side
by side, towards perfection (Ashram Observances in Action, p. 116).
If we are imperfect ourselves, religion as conceived by us also must be
imperfect?..And if all faiths outlined by men are imperfect, the
question of comparative merit does not arise. All faiths constitute a
revelation of Truth, but all are imperfect and liable to error. Reverence
for other faiths need not blind us to their faults. We must be keenly
alive to the defects of our own faith also, yet not leave it on that account
but try to overcome those defects. Looking at all religions with an equal
eye, we would not only not hesitate but would think it our duty to blend
into our faith every acceptable feature of other faiths (From Yeravda
Mandir, pp. 38-39).
EQUALITY OF RELIGIONS (II)
Tolerance obviously does not disturb the distinction between right and
wrong, or good and evil. The reference here is naturally to the principal
faiths of the world. They are all based on common fundamentals (From Yeravda
Why then should there be many faiths? We know that there are many faiths.
The Soul is one but there are innumerable bodies, which cannot be rolled
into one?..The root of religion is one like the root of a tree, but
it has numerous branches (Mangal Prabhat, Gujarati, p.31).
All obstacles in our path will vanish, if only we observe the golden rule
that we must not be impatient with those whom we may consider to be in
error, but must be prepared, if need be, to suffer in our own person (From
Yeravda Mandir, p. 44).