Mahatma Gandhi, A Rare Rationalist

Enlightened worldview

 The world knows that Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Indian nation, the legendary leader of the non-violent struggle for India’s freedom and an apostle of non-violence was a deeply religious thinker and a unique statesman of simplicity the human history has ever seen.                                     He was a committed believer in God and performed religious rituals daily. And he was rare rationalist too!

He was a martyr to the cause of human brotherhood                                                                                                        Follower of Faith

He says:
‘Reason is powerless to know Him. He is beyond the reach or grasp of reason.’
‘If we exist, if our parents and their parents have existed, then it is proper to believe in the Parent of the whole creation.’

This is an irrational approach to the concept of God and is a traditional view of the Faith.                                                                                                                                 Rare Rationalist                                                                                                                          At the same time, Mahatma Gandhi is progressive, rational, humanist and secular.

He says:                                                                                                                                            ‘To me, God is truth and love: God is ethics and morality; He is above and beyond all these. God is conscience. He is even the atheism of the atheist……He simply is to those who have faith. He is all things to all men.’

‘Since faith cannot be proved by extraneous evidence, the safest course is to believe in the supremacy of the moral law, the law of truth and love.’

‘My belief in the Hindu scripture does not require me to accept every word and every verse as divinely inspired.  I decline to be bound by any interpretation, however learned it may be, if it is repugnant to reason or moral sense’

‘But those, who want to deny His(God’s) existence, are at liberty to do so.’

Mahatma Gandhi’s words are simple, unambiguous and self-explanatory.

That means, inter alia, no harmful consequences will follow if they have no faith in God. God does not punish them. God is not a punitive divine power.        

But He is the universal symbol of the highest human values like love, goodwill, justice and humaneness towards all human and other life.

Romain Rolland, the French Nobel laureate defines Mahatma Gandhi’s rational outlook in these words in his  Mahatma Gandhi:

‘His religion must satisfy his reason and correspond to the dictates of his conscience’

Mahatma Gandhi was a liberal, a rationalist in a  rare sense, a noble humanist and not a fundamentalist. His sole concentration was on human welfare and on nothing beyond that. His view of human life is unconcerned with the unknown world of heaven or hell.

Faith in God is inessential for human happiness, spirituality, and culture.

He introduced the world to a new path in the human life-a path of non-violence in human activity and fight against injustice and oppression(satyagraha) in society.                                                                                        We need to follow him now both in word and deed. The world always needs him.

How We Know the World

 

                             Gateways of Knowledge

According to philosophy, there are three ways of knowing things, living or non-living:1) directly through the five senses,2) indirectly through senses aided by the scientific instruments like microscope and telescope, 3) again indirectly through the testing models developed and used in scientific research.

The five sense organs are 1) eye, 2) ear, 3) nose, 4) tongue and 5) skin. The eye sees the colours of the world. The ear hears the sound of the world. The nose smells the flavour of the world. The tongue tastes the sweetness, bitterness, etc. of the world. The skin feels the touch of the world. They are the gateways to the knowledge of the world; they are the windows to the world.

The microscope, telescope and all other scientific accessory instruments enable scientists to perceive the world beyond the normal reach of the senses but ultimately, indirectly through the senses.

We can see the planets and other gigantic heavenly bodies also indirectly with the help of the telescope.We can view the tiny germs through the microscope.

Models created by scientists predict the expected things based on the models and provide us with the knowledge of the remote reality. If they fail to do so, they are rejected.

The mystic too is believed be aware of a glimpse of the world and not the entire truth of it. His intuition or insight may be a ray showing a direction of the road to the truth of the reality. His insightful clue is misty and unreliable.

Bertrand Russell aptly says, ‘ Of the reality or unreality of the mystic’s world I know nothing…..’ ‘What I do wish to maintain– and it is here that the scientific attitude becomes imperative– is that insight, untested and unsupported, is an insufficient guarantee of truth, in spite of the fact that much of the most important truth is first suggested by its means’
Science uses the inductive(scientific) method for attaining the truth of the reality, whereas logic and mathematics apply the deductive method for discovering the truth of the premises or statements.

                                       Illusions

If anything or being is beyond the boundaries of the above means of knowing, that thing or being is unreal and belief in such an unreal thing or a being is a superstition. God, miracle, fairies, rebirth, disembodied soul, heaven, hell, magic, devil, astrology, etc. which are untestable and unknowable are unrealities and superstitious beliefs of the human imagination, a result of human ignorance, fear, and misleading teaching. They are illusions, concepts formed by humans without evidence.