Selected Letters of Gandhi : Part-1


Chapter-23: Art

I, enjoyed the visit to art galleries in Rome and took great interest in the art, but what would be the value of an opinion expressed after a brief visit lasting only two hours? I am hardly qualified as an art critic. I liked immensely some of the things there. If I could live there for two or three months, I could observe the paintings and statues everyday and make a study of them. I saw the statue of Christ on the cross. It attracted me most. But I did not think that European art was superior to Indian art. Both these arts have developed on different lines. Indian art is entirely based on the imagination. European art is an imitation of nature. It is therefore easier to understand, but turns our attention to the earth; while Indian art when understood tends to direct our thoughts to Heaven. This is only for a person like you. I attach no importance o these views. It may be that my unconscious partiality for India perhaps my ignorance makes me say so. Take me for a parent who narrates stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, as he knows them, to his children who know much less. You will see that I do enjoy art. But I have given up or have had to give up many such pleasures. I drank deep of these pleasures which have been incidental to my quest of the Truth, and am ready to partake of new pleasures of the same type. To a devotee of Truth his activities come in the natural course of things; he is therefore a follower of the third chapter of the Gita without an effort. I believe I was an aspirant of kamayoga even before I read the third chapter, but this is a digression.