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Gandhian Philosophy: Love and Non-Violence

Updated on December 22, 2014

Mahatma Gandhi

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Ahimsa (Non-Violence) - Love - The Inner Voice

  • The Gandhian philosophy of Ahimsa (Non-Violence)
  • Love is an essential component of the Gandhian philosophy
    of Ahimsa (Non - Violence)
  • Listenning and responding to the Inner Voice is an essential
    component of the Gandhian philosophy of Ahimsa (Non-Violence)

Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth - Mahandas K. Gandhi

Responsiveness To The Inner Voice

Gandhi advocates that the Inner Voice cannot be fully defined in words. However, Gandhi attempts to describe the Inner Voice in order that our understanding of it may be somewhat enhanced. Gandhi explains that Truth is what the Inner Voice reveals. Furthermore, the Inner Voice may be described as one's conscience. Gandhi also describes the Inner Voice as a Truth force or Soul force that has the power to elicit the Divine in us. Gandhi advocates to follow the Inner Voice as opposed to following the dictates of modern civilization. The purpose of listening and responding to the Inner Voice is for positive, progressive reality transformation. Gandhi advocates the taking on of vows as a means of purification in order to awaken the spirit within and thereby hear the Inner Voice more clearly. Gandhi's personal vows were Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truth), Brahmacarya (celibacy), Asvada (control of the palate), Asteya (non-stealing), Aparigraha (non-possession) and Abhaya (fearlessness). Gandhi's approach of responsiveness to the Inner Voice may be described as a kind of spiritual insight, that enhances one's sense of discrimination; to know right from wrong as well as when and if one should take action. Gandhi's most vivid description of the Inner Voice was given in relation to his decision to undertake a fast in 1933 ( as he effectively dealt with a disharmonious situation by means of non-violence):
"For me the Voice of God, of Conscience, of Truth, of the Inner Voice, or 'The Still Small
Voice" mean one and the same thing. I saw no form ... what I did hear was like a Voice
from afar and yet quite near. It was as unmistakable as some human voice and definitely
speaking to me, and irresistible. I was not dreaming at the time I heard the Voice ...
The determination was made accordingly, the date and hour of the fast were fixed".
(Sonnleitner, 68)
What is remarkable in Gandhian non-violence, is the pursuit of the benevolence of humankind as the means toward achievement of Ahimsa. One begins the journey inwardly by the process of inward vision. Spiritual insight is enkindled as one hears the Inner Voice. However, it is through the observance of outward, or wordly activities that one must continue the journey. Responsiveness to the Inner Voice, by means of right action, is the fulfillment of the journey. Every act should be purified in Truth and in harmony with the principles of Ahimsa. Thus the Gandhian pattern of non-violence is two fold. Firstly, an inward purification and secondly an outward purification.

Mahatma Gandhi - Listenning To The Inner Voice

Source

The Essential Gandhi: An Anthology of His Writings on His Life, Work, and Ideas - Mahatma Gandhi, Louis Fischer

Ahimsa (Non-Violence)

It must be stated with great emphasis what the Gandhian conception of Ahimsa (non-violence) encompasses; and how Love and responsiveness to the Inner Voice are essential components of Ahimsa. Responsiveness to the Inner Voice is at the heart of Gandhi's understanding of Ahimsa.
Gandhi conceives of non-violence as an "action based on the refusal to harm deliberately" (Chakrabarti, 36). Gandhi understands non-violence to be "the law of our Being" (Chakrabarti, 36). Gandhi believes that the law of our Being is based on Love, and that the essence of humanity is Truth. Gandhi advocates that materialism be transformed in the vision of spiritual harmony. By such a transformation, the ego would be sublimated, in order to respond to the Inner Voice, and thus enkindle enlightenment.
Gandhi perceives Ahimsa as a science. The science of Ahimsa is described as more flexible than the mechanically repititious physical science. There is no rigid system advocated by Ahimsa, but rather a spontaneous responsiveness to the Inner Voice, while maintaining the necessary components of Love and Freedom.
Gandhi believes that Ahimsa is a real, powerful, and positive force able to lead humanity toward more noble visions of life. Non-violence, from the Gandhian perspective, is a strategy for humanity to think correctly. A person who is not a right thinker cannot enter the realm of right action. Without right thinking, Gandhi believes that one will not be able to depend on oneself to act rightly, even if one wants to act at a given moment (Chakrabarti, 37).
As a seeker of non-violence, Gandhi always makes an inward journey into his own consciousness. Gandhi's life may rightly be described as contemplation in action. This inner journey not only enables one to hear the Inner Voice, but also enables one to identify and analyze the demerits of one's own inward vision. As one becomes conscious of certain demerits, one is able to detect limitations in need of adjustment. Thus, the inner journey is a process of continual purification of the mind. While explaining his own conception of non-violence Gandhi states:
"Truth to me is infinitely dearer than 'mahatmaship', (designation as a great soul)
which is purely a burden. It is my knowledge of my limitaitons and my nothingness which
has so far served me from the oppressiveness of 'mahatmaship'. I am painfully aware
of the fact that my desire to continue life in a body involves in me a constant Himsa
(violence) .. nothing will induce me to try to conceal my imperfections in the practice of
Ahimsa. All I claim for myself is that I am ceaselessly trying to understand the implications

of great ideals like Ahimsa and to practise them in thought, word and deed, and that, not
without a certain measure of success as I think. But I know that I have a long distance
yet to cover in this direction"
(Chakrabarti, 39)


Peace

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Ahimsa (Non-Violence) and Love

Gandhi frequently equates Ahimsa with Love. He argues, in effect, that where Love is not present, then violence is present. Gandhi does not offer a moral theory or rigid definition of a code of ethics. Rather, Gandhi advocates to follow one's intuition (Inner Voice) in deteremining whether an action is violent or non-violent. It is evident that Gandhi takes violence to be a matter of one's feelings and intentions.
However, one major type of action, that of war, evokes an absolutist response in Gandhi. According to Gandhi, participation in war is to be avoided indiscriminately. Gandhi considers warfare to be violent because of the attitudes with which people enter into it:
"Exertion of any physical force so as to injure or abuse (as in warfare) ... injury in the
form of revoking, repudiation, distortion, infringement, or irreverence to a thing, nation,
or quality fitly valued or observed ... intense, turbulent, or furious action, force, or feeling, often destructive ... "
(Backianadan, 107)
Gandhian non-violence emphasizes total harmony of thought, word, and deed. To effect the practise of such a total harmony, one must actively and consciously decide to be in the service of God. How does Gandhi understand this? According to Gandhi, Love and Truth, are images of God. Such an image of God incorporates in it the essence of the Divine elements in humanity. Such an image of Love and Truth places a greater emphasis on the heart than the head. The form of such a Love is pure, simple and serene, resulting in an easy communion with non-violence. Gandhi considers Love to be the Law of our Being:
"If Love or non-violence be not the Law of our Being, the whole of my argument falls
to pieces. Love acts as a force to defend non-violence.
(Backianadan, 238)
Gandhi's own words on the significance of Love as an essential component of Ahimsa, show an interesting dimension in his vision: as he advocates the force of Love as the only practical means of destroying disharmony between one another:
"If I am true to myself and true to humanity I must understand all the faults that human
flesh is heir to. I must understand weaknesses of my opponents, their vices, and yet in
spite of them, not hate but love them. I have not hesitated to call the system of government
under which we are labouring 'satanic', and I withdraw naught of it. But I know I shall not
deal with it, if I begin punishing the evil-doer. My business is to love them and by patient,
gentle handling to convert them."
(Chakrabarti, 57)

Love

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Positive Progressive Reality Transformation With The Power Of Love

Gandhi firmly believes that positive change can be achieved by means of the power of Love. Gandhi delineates that when combating violence, the non-violent participant acts in harmony with their inner Truth (or as guided by the Inner Voice); the violent one acts against Truth, and can be convinced by a demonstartion of the Truth of non-violence. Also, suffering at the hands of oppressors brings their oppression to light and causes a conflict within the hearts of the oppressors. Thus, an evil doer may be transformed not by physical force, but rather by the consciousness of Truth and Love as expressed by the practise of Ahimsa

References

Backianadan, J. Love In The Life And Works Of Gandhi 1991
Sterling Publishers Ltd.
New Delhi, India.

Chakrabarti, Mohit Gandhian Mysticism 1989
Chawla Composers,
New Delhi, India.

Gandhi, Mahatma The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi XLV 1971
Shantilal Navajivan Press,
Ahmedabad, India.

Gandhi, Mahatma The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi L 1972
Shantilal Navajivan Press,
Ahmedabad, India

Khanna, Dr. S. Gandhi and the Good Life 1985
Gandhi Peace Foundation,
Central Electric Press,
New Delhi, India.

Shukla, Chandra Gandhi's View of Life 1956
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan,
Bombay, India

Mahatma Gandhi

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© 2014 Deborah Morrison

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    • deborahmorrison1 profile image
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      Deborah Morrison 2 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

      Yes, Mahatma (Great Soul) Gandhi is the legend of our time and the inspiring effects of his work and presence lives on.

    • deborahmorrison1 profile image
      Author

      Deborah Morrison 2 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

      Gandhi's compassion and wisdom was great, and even greater lives on to this very day.

      Here are some further quotes by Gandhi:

      "The future depends on what we do in the present"

      - Mahatma Gandhi

      "I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means

      getting along with people"

      - Mahatma Gandhi

      "In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long, arduous quest after Truth"

      - Mahatma Gandhi

    • deborahmorrison1 profile image
      Author

      Deborah Morrison 2 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

      You are very kind.

    • m abdullah javed profile image

      muhammad abdullah javed 2 years ago

      I am always here to welcome you Deborah.

    • deborahmorrison1 profile image
      Author

      Deborah Morrison 2 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

      Thanks kindly for thesuggestion to visit India.

    • m abdullah javed profile image

      muhammad abdullah javed 2 years ago

      Yeah thats true. You are always welcome.

    • deborahmorrison1 profile image
      Author

      Deborah Morrison 2 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

      Simple living and high thinking is woven into the fabric of life in India, from what I hear. I have never visited India, and perhaps will do so one day. Simplicity, is one of Gandhi's greatest virtues.

    • m abdullah javed profile image

      muhammad abdullah javed 2 years ago

      Thanks Deborah, so nice of you, responded with some wonderful insights of our father of nation. If convenient and find time please come down to India you can witness the simplicity of this great person.

    • deborahmorrison1 profile image
      Author

      Deborah Morrison 2 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

      Thank you kindly, Oztinato from Australia, for sharing your perspective in relation to Gandhi and religion.

      Here are some more Gandhi quotes to further enhance your ideas -

      "Truth is one, paths are many"

      - Mahatma Gandhi

      "The day the power of love overcomes the love of power,

      the world will know peace"

      - Mahatma Gandhi

      "Action expresses priorities"

      - Mahatma Gandhi

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

      If God did have a religion He would be a Hindu because classical Hinduism loves all religions! :)

    • deborahmorrison1 profile image
      Author

      Deborah Morrison 2 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

      Thank you, m adbdullah javed, from Raichu, Karnataka, India. Mahatma Gandhi was such a Great Soul, and shared his wisdom about Peace, Truth, and Non-Violence - not only through his teachings, but also with the way he lived his life. I am truly inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's vision for humanity, and how to create true peace on earth.

      Here are some of Gandhi's wonderful quotes:

      "An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind"

      - Mahatma Gandhi

      "You must be the change you wish to see in the world"

      - Mahatma Gandhi

      "Where there is love there is life"

      - Mahatma Gandhi

    • m abdullah javed profile image

      muhammad abdullah javed 2 years ago

      Thanks deborah for a wonderful insight into the legend of our time. Here in India Gandhiji has got tremendous respect as you know, your write revived the impecable pearls from his simple yet outstanding life. Thanks again voted up.

    • deborahmorrison1 profile image
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      Deborah Morrison 2 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

      Oztinato, your insightful comment is appreciated. Here are some of Gandhi's quotes that affirm your message:

      "God has no religion"

      Mahatma Gandhi

      "There is no religion higher than Truth"

      Mahatma Gandhi

      "In reality there are as many religions as there are indidviduals"

      Mahatma Gandhi

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

      Gandhi Ji is proof of the beauty and reality of religious tolerance and the universality of God as opposed to those atheists AND theists who think otherwise.