I am back, with my team of 12 participants, from the International Youth Peace Fest 2012 held in Chandigarh, India, to commemorate the 144th birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi - the experimenter, the religious innovator, the humanitarian, the revolutionary, the social reformer, the secularist, the visionary, the institute of non-violence, the man with varied facets… To be honest, I felt awakened and enlightened. I lost sense of time and place, and grew aware of Bapuji's philosophy; my mind despairs of communicating these visions.
Few men in their lifetime aroused stronger emotions or touched the deeper chords of humanity than Gandhi did. Mahatma Gandhi schooled himself in self-discipline, embedded in his life a continual process of growth and tenaciously adhered to ethics and principles that are rarely followed by people in practice. He revered truthfulness and gave the world a new thought on non-violence and sustainable living. His teachings and experiments are more valid today than ever especially when we are trying to find solutions to worldwide violence and runaway consumptive life style which is going to put a very heavy burden on the world's resources.
Non-violence for Mahatma Gandhi was the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. He believed it to be mightier than the mightiest weapon. In his words, “Non-violence is the law of our species as violence is the law of the brute.” Non-violence or ahimsa to him did not merely mean peacefulness or the absence of overt violence, but denoted active love - the pole opposite of violence in its immaculate sense.
A man of earth, he sought to make this earth joyous and peaceful and assured that his action and thought were always in consonance with each other. He understood truth as the truthfulness in word and deed. He said, “To find Truth completely is to realise oneself and one's destiny, that is, to become perfect. I am painfully conscious of my imperfections, and therein lies all the strength I possess, because it is a rare thing for a man to know his own limitations.”
His philosophy of Satyagraha was both a personal and a social struggle to realise this very Truth, which he identified as God, the absolute morality. He sought this Truth, not self-centredly in isolation, but with the people. He said, “I want to find God, and because I want to find God, I have to find God along with other people. I don't believe I can find God alone. If I did, I would be running to the Himalayas to find God in some cave there. But since I believe that nobody can find God alone, I have to work with people. I have to take them with me. Alone I can't come to him.”
Prayer, a daily admission of one's weakness
In spite of despair staring him in the face on the political horizon, Gandhi Ji never lost his peace. He had found people who envy his peace. That peace, he used to say, came from prayer. He was not a man of learning, bit he humbly claimed to be a man of prayer.
Prayer meetings formed an essential and a significant part of Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba's life. All religions and faiths were given equal importance in the daily recitation of prayers in these meetings. The prayers always culminated by proclaiming “Although we call you by different names, you are One, Give us the wisdom to understand this, O Lord.”
Mahatma Gandhi believed that peace comes from prayer. He believed that prayer brought orderliness and peace in our daily acts. He compared prayer to a king of spiritual discipline that formed the very core of man's life. According to him, a real prayer is an absolute shield and protection against the horde of evils that the world is plagued with. He gave praying immense credit for enabling him in maintaining inner peace.
In his words, “Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
The Mahatma considered praying as an impossible act without a living faith in the presence of God in within. He preached that a heartfelt prayer is not a recitation with the lips. It is a yearning from within which expressed itself in every word, every act and every thought of man and that is why he insisted that prayer should be said in one's mother tongue. Only then can it affect the soul best. He considered a sincere prayer for one minute as enough and sufficient to promise God not to sin.
How many Mauritians exercise this today? How many of our youth have understood the importance of prayer? A great concern to reflect on…