Probably most people reading this website know a little or a great deal about Mohandas Gandhi. His
Wikipedia page is a mile long. Though I will say a bit about his life, this is a review about a book of his
quotes, not a biography as such. But in reading his thoughts put into words, I learned much about the man, so in that respect, it is biographical.
I have been mentioning in my articles that I will use his ideas as I try to give my readers (and myself) ways to free ourselves from the horrors now accelerating on this planet, from biosphere collapse to global tyranny to weather warfare and mass genocide at the hands of the global elite and participating governments and militaries. We must rise above it all to escape, and I intend to pull out all the stops in sharing ideas for us to resist what is being forced upon us physically, mentally and spiritually.
Gandhi is best known for his teaching of nonviolent resistance, as he fought to free his people of India from unjust British rule. Though his name was Mohandas, he is known as Mahatma, which is a title meaning "great soul," and he certainly was, although, humble as he was, he did not want to be called that. He, like Jesus and Buddha was certainly a model for selflessness and service to others, for courage and compassion, love and forgiveness, and for his morals, integrity, and devotion to both his people and to his God. And like Jesus, he died a martyr's death. If we are to escape the Death Culture that has festered on Planet Earth, we must become the divine and rise above the insanity now taking place. To do that, we must not only search our own souls to do what is right, but follow the examples of spiritual heroes. Gandhi is definitely a spiritual hero and master teacher, as was Jesus and Buddha and many others from times both past and present.
This book was very carefully and sensitively compiled by Homer Jack in 1951. In the Preface by John Haynes Holmes, he supplies us with some biographical tidbits, beginning with the fact that Gandhi "was a voluminous writer on a vast variety of subjects." That, along with letters and articles published in his newspapers, Young India, Navajivan, and Harijan, plus his two-volume autobiography published in 1927 made him a very public person. And add to that, numerous interviews, public addresses, prayer talks and conversations that were also available in print, one may wonder how a single person could have such boundless energy to accomplish so much in their lifetime, and this does not even take into account his tireless activism and religious devotion. In 1944, four years before he was assassinated in 1948, he was imprisoned for the last time making the total number of days he spent in jail throughout his lifetime, 2,338. Never one to waste time, and always maintaining a sense of humor, Gandhi said he enjoyed those days in prison because he was able to catch up on his reading!
Holmes then goes on to praise Homer Jack for having the "courage to plunge" "into this vast Gandhian sea."
" . . . Mr. Jack has performed the stupendous task of reading great masses of Gandhi's writing, and bringing to us the winnowing for our inspection." He then also points out Jack"s skill in putting it all together.
The same is true of the classification of material. This has been done with skill and impeccable good taste. Religion, theology, personal ethics, social ethics (love), service, international affairs, political affairs, the family, education, culture and the professions, Indian problems, Gandhi himself—these are the topics chosen, and all are clarified and illuminated by the cogency of Gandhi's words. Who can doubt the greatness of Gandhi's lucidity and power of his mind, as here revealed in the ever-recurring flashes of his genius?
I also want to point out that each main topic is subdivided into more specific topics.
Next in the book is Homer Jack's Introduction, which does provide some biographical facts, and also insight into Gandhi's mind and spirit. Jack mentions first that Gandhi's ideas were not totally original, being influenced by Leo Tolstoy, Henry David Thoreau, the Sermon on the Mount and Hindu scriptures, all of which interest me also.
Though Gandhi was born in India, he was educated in England, studying law by age nineteen. He returned to India briefly, then spent the next twenty years as an expatriate in South Africa, so he "was an unusual blend of the East and the West." He was known for his eclecticism, studying western and eastern cultures and religions. He did many things the "old-fashioned" way, such as keeping a spinning wheel with him and making his own clothing, not for the sake of being old fashioned, but for "economic fitness for an impoverished rural people with much spare time. He took not too kindly to machines, because he saw their viciousness in the hands of capital—foreign and indigenous—which treated the men who manned them also like machines." I have to say that as I read, I found so very many of Gandhi's philosophical and social beliefs greatly similar to mine.
The rest of the Introduction continues on Gandhi's life and work, both in India and South Africa, fighting against racism, poverty and British rule over the Indian people. There was quite a bit mentioned about the Hindu "Untouchables," which I did not understand, but in doing just a bit of research, learning that these people were in the lowest of the Hindu caste system. That was supposedly abolished, but in reality is apparently not completely gone. Here are a couple articles.
Gandhi denounced caste and untouchability
Under India's caste system, Dalits are considered untouchable. The coronavirus is intensifying that slur
Here is quote from my search.
Because they are considered impure from birth, Untouchables perform jobs that are traditionally considered "unclean" or exceedingly menial, and for very little pay. One million Dalits work as manual scavengers, cleaning latrines and sewers by hand and clearing away dead animals.
And here is an article with a different perspective of Gandhi. Apparently the Dalits did not believe
Gandhi truly supported them and therefore there was much anger toward him from that group of people.
Not So "Mahatma": The Regressive Views of Gandhi on Caste and Gender
In the back of the book there is also an excellent summary of Gandhi's life, decade by decade, and at the beginning of the book is a very helpful glossary of Indian terms. One of the most important terms is satyagraha. Here's a quote from the Introduction.
Gandhi's greatest social invention was satyagraha—group non-violent direct action or soul force. This new weapon he forged in opposing the racist oppression of the Indians in South Africa, and he perfected it in opposing British imperialism in India. He couldn't dissociate satyagraha from his religious orientation, and indeed one grew out of the other.
There is one other point I want to make before moving on to the quotes, and that is his attitude
toward animals, "his denunciation of vivisection and smoking and his firm support of vegetarianism and earth-cures." Well, I most certainly absolutely
agree with that!!
But surprisingly, there were, of course, many quotes I absolutely agreed with, but others I just as strongly disagreed with, and still others that didn't interest me at all. Many of his ideas apply perhaps even more than in his time, because the entire world is in such a mess, due, at least at the physical level, because there is a small number of sinfully rich people who are nothing more than criminals and probably Aliens who believe they can take over the entire global population in complete and total tyranny. And that, along with the equally criminal people in the governments, militaries, media, financial sector, and most corporations and industries, who have chosen to go along with the program because they believe the whole outfit is too big to fail. We shall see. There are some big voices speaking out and millions upon millions of little ones who refuse to succumb. That's why we need to arm ourselves at all levels to refuse to cooperate. Leaders like Gandhi, and many others both living and deceased provide us with fuel for our fire.
But there were other ideas and beliefs of Gandhi that were perhaps dated and some that to many people would seem self-destructive, like his constant fasting and belief that he could almost go without food and that, well, it's almost like he thought food wasn't necessary for life, I guess because he put his spiritual nature above the physical. That is typical of many mystics and those who are determined to reach spiritual perfection in their lifetime, especially, maybe, for those who embrace Eastern religions. I dunno. I might even fall into that category in some respects. I certainly live an austere life. Anyways, I will share some quotes next, and try to include a wide variety. As mentioned above and in several articles, use of this book will be ongoing for a month or two, until I cover everything. For those who are reading this book review, it was published at the end of April, 2023, so articles published around that time will include additional material, for those who wish to pursue them.
The first section is headed Religion, with several subheadings. Gandhi was a truth-seeker, as I am and most of us who are on the path to spiritual awakening and global activism. Though he was Hindu, he believed there was truth in all religions and also error, which I also agree with and he explored numerous other religions in search of truth, also as I do. Therefore I agreed with many of his quotes in the first subheading entitled also "Religion."
“It is not the Hindu religion which I certainly prize above all other religions, but the religion which transcends Hinduism, which changes one’s very nature, which binds one indissolubly to the truth within and which ever purifies.”
“One’s own religions is after all a matter between oneself and one’s Maker.”
And here is one that is especially timely for our day and age when we have so many religious extremist that claim to be followers of Jesus, yet are hateful and even violent, not to mention self-righteous toward anyone who does not perceive "God" exactly as they do.
“Religions are not meant for separating men from one another, they are meant to bind them. It is a misfortune that today they are so distorted that they have become a potent cause of strife and mutual slaughter.”
Incidentally, one thing that I found annoying throughout the book was that Gandhi always referred to people as "men," and I realize that is a product of the time in which he lived, but we have made so much progress now in using appropriate pronouns that it creates an outdated sense to some of his writings.
And under the subheading "Tolerance" is this one:
“Just as preservation of one’s own culture does not mean contempt for that of others, but requires assimilation of the best that there may be in all the other cultures, even so should be the case with religion.”
And this one under the subheading "Christianity," of which I wholeheartedly agree!
“Do not confuse Jesus’ teaching with what passes as modern civilization.”
Strangely enough, there was little in the next section, Theology, that I agreed with. Here's an example under the subheading "Man and Human Nature."
“I refuse to suspect human nature. It will, is bound to respond to any noble and friendly action.”
Really? Bill Gates? Klaus Schwab? Yuval Noah Harari? Oh, yeah, right. They're not human, they're Reptilians.
In the next section entitled Personal Ethics, there were a great many I agreed with. Here's one to ponder under the subheading, "Morality."
“Trivialities possess deadly potentialities.”
There are so many in this section that will fit right in with my articles, so I will save them for that! But here is just one more from the subheading, "Fearlessness."
“Fearlessness is the first requisite of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral.”
Likewise, under the subheading, "Determination." So here's one for starters. Those of us who are activists for Dane should not despair when we cannot get others to join us, but trust that we are small but powerful.
"In satyagraha it is never the numbers that count; it is always the quality, more so when the forces of violence are uppermost."
And ditto for the quotes under the subheading, "Simplicity." Of course this applies to the U.S. probably more than any other country in the world. As I have been saying for years, the problem here is that people are WAY too comfortable to wake up. But that will soon change in the blink of an eye.
“Europeans themselves will have to remodel their outlook, if they are not to perish under the weight of the comforts to which they are becoming slaves.”
Under the subheading "Health" are also many that apply. Anyone who practices holistic healing knows this is true, in fact, our thoughts are more the cause in many cases.
“Illness is the result not only of our actions but also of our thoughts.”
I do not agree with Gandhi's . . . well, fanaticism toward fasting. When one of his activists did something wrong, he would fast for it, like taking on the "sins of the world." In fact there is quite a bit about his beliefs concerning the whole subject of diet that I do not agree with. Yes, of course, we should not stuff our faces until we're ready to explode, and should practice eating enough to sustain our health without indulgence. I seem to have something built in to my system that really will not allow me to overeat, mostly because it is uncomfortable, however, food any more is so lacking in nutrition that I find I have to eat more than before in order to get nourished. Even though Gandhi was apparently healthy, later in life he was nothing but skin and bones. Still, he lived to be 78, and I do believe that once we reach a certain level of spiritual mastery, the physical body becomes sustained by pure energy. So fasting is purely a personal decision. Here is a quote on fasting.
“For me there is nothing so cleansing as a fast. A fast undertaken for fuller self-expression, for attainment of the spirit’s supremacy over the flesh, is a most powerful factor in one’s evolution.”
The next section is Social Ethics, and here is one under the subheading, "Truth."
“Truth is like a vast tree, which yields more and more fruit, the more you nurture it. The deeper the search in the mine for truth, the richer the discovery of the gems buried there, in the shape of openings for an ever greater variety of service.”
In the section entitled Service, here's one under the subheading "Organizational Work" that is actually quite well known. It may possibly have been one that John and Yoko used. It certainly would have applied to their work.
“Every good movement passes through five stage: indifference, ridicule, abuse, repression, and respect.”
I could keep going on and on because this book is filled with treasures to ponder with the mind and soul, then emerge as something other than you were when you began. Since I will be sharing a great many of these in my upcoming articles, I will more than sufficiently do Gandhi and his sayings justice. I will also update this review at the bottom of the page, supplying a link to articles that are related as they are posted.
Below: Studio photograph of Mahatma Gandhi, London, 1931 from the Wikipedia page linked above.
Here are other articles linked to this review:
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