Quest for truth

“The essence of religion is morality,” said Mahatma Gandhi. By morality, he meant ‘truth’, because, as his writings say, “I worship God as truth only.” By truth, he meant truth in thought, word and deed.

His entire life was dedicated to the pursuit of this truth. In the process, he had to face many a moral dilemma, but he was not deterred from his goal. His life was a saga of his various experiments with truth, especially in the spiritual field, which, he believed, not only conferred on him the power to work in the political field, but also to face the struggles of life.

One of the important lessons these spiritual pursuits taught him was humility, which, as he said “gave no room for self-praise”. The more he looked back on his life, the more he was confronted with the truth of his limitations. This was the reason he gave little value to the epithet ‘Mahatma’, saying that this term often pained him deeply, aware as he was of the unpalatable truths of his human frailties. And he did not hesitate to admit these faults, but instead took them head-on, attempted to overcome them, and emerged successful many times.

All his activities, including political ventures, speaking, writing were directed towards ‘self-realisation’, to see God face to face. By God, he meant the truth. His words echo the well-known words of Taittiriya Upanishad, “Speak the truth, be virtuous.” He candidly says he experimented with unravelling the truth behind human thought, action, life’s situations, human values, goals of life in many different ways, but these experiments in no way detracted him from their spiritual value.

He further says he does not claim any degree of perfection from these achievements. Just as a scientist, who, though he conducts his research and experiments with all scientific rigour and seriousness, does not claim any finality with the outcome of his work, but rather says this is the present status of knowledge in the particular field, Gandhi, too, says, “I have gone through deep self-introspection, searched myself through and through and examined and analysed every psychological situation. Yet, I am far from claiming any finality or infallibility about my conclusions.”

But, in the same breath, he says that at the present juncture his conclusions appear to be correct and final, because he has carried out his intense inner search with all sincerity and as long he is convinced that his approach is correct, he has no room to doubt his findings. If, in future, he felt the need to alter his stance, he did not hesitate to do so. Such was his conviction.

All his experiments thus had a firm spiritual base. For Gandhi, truth was uppermost, inviolable. This eternal principle was his God in all his manifold manifestations. He was a seeker who did not waver from this path. And he was prepared to sacrifice his all in this quest.

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