To The Reader
I would like to say to the diligent reader of my writings and to others who are interested in them that I am not at all concerned with appearing to be consistent. In my search after Truth, I have discarded many ideas and learnt many new things. Old as I am in age, I have no feeling that I have ceased to grow inwardly or that my growth will stop at the dissolution of the flesh. What I am concerned with is my readiness to obey the call of Truth, my God, from moment to moment, and, therefore, when anybody finds any inconsistency between any two writings of mine, if he has still faith in my sanity, he would do well to choose the later of the two on the same subject.
M. K. GANDHI
Harijan, 29-4-1933, p. 2
I deem it a privilege to be asked to contribute a Foreword to this slim volume of extracts from Gandhiji's writings and speeches. It is good to hark back to Gandhiji from time to time and get refreshed by what he had to say on human life and conduct as a Pathway to God, rather than as a selfish satiation of one's egoistic urges and sentiments. How far it will attract the young or influence their everyday life is more than I can say. Quite frankly I am little sceptical, but that is no reason why an attempt should not be made. Truth is its own justification and sooner or later, it is bound to tell.
Nevertheless, I would like to put in a plea to my young friends to get acquainted with Gandhiji's thoughts on life as a Pathway to God. I know that many young people are allergic to the mention of God. They have seen too many people who talk of God and yet lead lives that find no relation to what they talk about. Nowhere do they find the gap between profession and practice so great as in the lives and the daily conduct of people who claim to be believers in God and would throw His name at the young on the slightest provocation. The young tend to associate mention of God with hypocrisy, bigotry, superstition and irrationality and it is not easy to attract their attention by talking about God. I do not blame the young for their attitude. We of the older generation are more to blame for taking the name of God and then denying Him in practice by the way we live. But Gandhiji was not like that. He was a man who practised what he preached; and acted as he believed. His faith in God was intense and unequivocal; and it was this that gave him the strength to walk alone if necessary in defence of his convictions and face up to the mightiest enemy who stood against what he thought was the right thing to do. Gandhiji was known for his outstanding courage not only in a physical sense but also in moral and social terms and his courage was the result of his belief that his actions were guided by God because they were consistent with the nature of God and the path He wanted His children to follow.
I know it is possible for a human being to delude himself with the belief that he is carrying out God's purpose when what he is doing is only satisfying his ego. But that is possible only when one has a deluded conception of God. This was not so in the case of Gandhiji. He conceived of God as Absolute Truth, Non-violence and Love. With such a conception, belief in God will not lead one astray and life becomes a real Pathway to God when one lives in search of Truth and surrenders to Non-violence and Love. This was the life that Gandhiji led and that is why his life is and will remain a perpetual source of inspiration to all who seek the highest satisfaction from their lives.
The extracts from Gandhiji's speeches and writings that Shri M. S. Deshpande has collected with such diligence and dedication will help young people in India and elsewhere to find the ballast that will give steadiness to their lives and the purpose which will make it a Pathway to God. I have pleasure in commending this Voice of Gandhiji to the youth of India.
V. K. R. V. RAO
4th August 1971