Gandhi Research Foundation

Gandhiji Religion and Spirituality

Gandhiji had studied and deeply introspected on various religious philosophies right from his days in England. This was done both at individual as well as comparative levels. His resulting deference was that by whatever name and in whichever faith God is identified, He can ultimately be felt as an abstract silent force so capable that it can, it does run the entire universe. At His insistence, the cosmos exists and functions. That is the simplest and most convincing reason why God is inexplicably identified as a sublime or supreme entity above all, the Founder Chairman of the cosmos.

Gandhiji earnestly and firmly believed in the mysterious yet undeniable existence of this supreme force. His conviction in God was as steadfast and strong as in truth. In fact, this whole universe was nothing but an infinitely expandable manifestation of truth. There is no need whatsoever even to distinguish between truth and untruth except in the tiniest, most miniscule part of the universe, the earth. It is only here that untruth lives, in the minds and hearts of humans. The rest of the universe is just a vast expanse of unbroken, unblemished truth.

In his writing in Young India dated 5th March 1925, Gandhiji has said, “God is that indefinable something which we all feel but which we do not know. To me, God is truth and love, God is ethics and morality. God is fearlessness, God is the source of light and life...”. It is from this unwavering conviction that Gandhiji ultimately formed his short definition of God; that God is truth. Truth is everlasting and it is the ultimate reality, and so is God. God cannot be seen or felt, and so is the case with truth. Yet, both exist in the upper echelons of our awareness. Hence, both co­exist as counter sides of a coin. So, one is another, another is one.

Gandhiji’s continuous comparative studies of religious beliefs related to God led to advancement of this theory to the next level; that is, truth is God. Much as Gandhiji realised that God is truth, he was also convinced that truth is love. Now, love having several meanings in English dictionary, some of them of lesser connotations equating love with physical, sensory and carnal interpretations, the term as such did not conjure with Gandhiji’s idea of universal sublime love. Hence, he let go of this thought.

Reverting to the definition of God is truth, Gandhiji realised that the atheists, who object to the notion of God, never­the­less could not be opposed to truth. Hence, he reversed the definition to Truth is God. Gandhiji justified this change by giving an example. He knew one Mr. Charles Bradlaugh who was a known atheist. Gandhiji reasoned, if he called Mr. Bradlaugh God-fearing he would have strong objection to it. But if he called him truth fearing, he would gladly accept it. Hence, Truth is God replaced God is Truth.

Truthfulness as a lifelong virtue was inculcated in Gandhiji’s life from early childhood. He was deeply influenced by Harishchandra, the mythological torch bearer of truth. Even at that tender age, he got ideologically wedded to truth. The virtue then catalysed his adult truth­based ideology until it expanded and became one with his perception of God. In his autobiography, Experiments of Truth, he has opined, “The legacies [of Harishchandra and Shravan] are very much alive in my mind. It is through them that truth has become a supreme guiding principle in my life. This truth, as I have understood it, is not just truth in its physical embodiment like speech or action, but also in its subtle form, as thought. Such truth is indestructible and immortal. It is the very manifestation of what we know as God. For me, truth is God. I worship the religion of truth. I have started getting fleeting glimpses of this pure and pristine truth on the distant horizons. This universe is nothing but truth, truth is all encompassing. This conviction within me is growing every day. My entire life is nothing but my experiments with truth”.

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