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Mahatma Gandhi’s Spiritual Guru

Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred his name couple of times during his Independence Day speech today. For those who wish to know more about Shrimad Rajchandra, Spiritual Guru of Mahatma Gandhi here I have reproduced some of the questions Mahatma Gandhi had asked Shrimad Rajchandra and answers given by him.   

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 It is remarkable that Mahatma Gandhi had grown a close intimacy with Kavi Rajchandraji. Mahatmaji had expressed this experience of his life in very impressive language. He writes,

“Tolstoy, Ruskin and Rajchandbhai  the three great personalities have influenced me much. Tolstoy through his book and correspondence Ruskin by his ” UNTO THIS LAST!” and Rajchandbhai by his close contact.

When I had grown up doubts about Hinduism, it was Rajchandbhai who helped me (to remain firm in my belief). In the month of July 1891, when I returned from England and reached Bombay, that I first met Rajchandbhai. Dr. Pranjivandas introducing him to me, as a Kavi (Poet), said, that inspite of being a poet, he is a partner with us in business. He is very wise, a ‘SHATAVADHANI’ also.

I was simply amazed to hear this and out of curiosity read out to him a big list of words from various languages, which I had written beforehand for my convenience. After hearing me, Rajchandbhai repeated those words exactly in the same order as I read them.

I was satisfied and wondered (at this extraordinary feat of memory). Indeed I had a great regard and impression about his faculty of memory. The wonder is that the Kavi had no knowledge of English and he was only 25 years old at the time. A student only of vernacular (normal) classes, yet he developed his wisdom and knowledge such that commanded respect from all ! My acquaintance with Kavi continued for long, as a ” Gnyani” he was!

QUESTIONS ANSWERED

While Mahatma Gandhi was in South Africa, he came into the contact of the Christian Missionaries and had religious and philosophical discussions with them. As a result he had to face a mental storm which arose in his mind . He at once wrote to Kavi Rajchandra and sought his help to clear the doubtful points, which were troubling his mind. He put no less than 27 questions to the Kavi, which were duly answered.  Four are reproduced below:

  1. SOUL AND ITS FUNCTION

Q.- What is a soul and what are its functions ? Do the Karmas bound it ?

A.-Just as the pot, table etc. are material substances, similarly a soul is a conscious substance. But pots, tables etc. all material substances are transient impermanent. They cannot remain static in their nature through aall the ages : past, present and future. While on the other hand, soul retains all its characteristics, because it is permanent and eternal. ‘ Eternal ‘ is that substance which is not created by the processes of integration and disintegration.

There is nothing to show that soul has been created by any such processes. We may make thousands sorts of combinations and permutation (alteration) of material objects, but it is impossible to create consciousness. It is a thing of common experience that if a particular characteristic is wanting in a substance, it cannot be created in it by undergoing it through innumerable processes of combination and permutation. Thus material objects, like pots, tables, etc. which are devoid of consciousness, can never be made to yield it in whatever way they are changed or processed. All these things will result in producing objects of the same materialistic order. It is thus established that soul which is characterized by the wise as a conscious substance, cannot be created from material objects like earth, water, air, and space, etc. The particular characteristic of soul is consciousness.

Where it is not found, or which is devoid of it, that, of course, is a material substance. Animate and inanimate these two are eternal entities. Besides the above, there are other methods also for the eternity and immortality of soul. If you just ponder deep you yourself can well realize the permanence of soul. There is no harm or objection, rather it carries you to truth, to accept the fact that the feelings of pleasure & pain, the desire of getting free from them, thoughts and inspiration etc. are all experiences due to the existence of soul and that soul is primarily a conscious entity.

Since such conscious feeling, willing and knowing are always present in soul, therefore, it is eternal. For a clear understanding of such philosophical questions, it is advisable for you to first read the Shaddarshana-samuchchaya which is being sent to you.

The soul in its pure conscious state, i. e. in the state of its self-realization, is the creator of its own inherent characteristics of knowledge, perception and samadhii. e. spiritual equanimity. But in the state of its ignorance the soul becomes a creator of emotions like anger, conceit, deceit, greed etc. which are all foreign to it. Not only this much, under the influence of these emotions, soul through its instrumentality also becomes a creator of things like pot, table, etc.

To put it more expressively, though soul is not the creator of the substratums of earth from which pots, etc. are prepared, yet it becomes a creator of processes which give new modifications to it. This latter state and functioning of soul is called ‘Karma’ i.e. action in Jainism, and ‘ Bhranti’ i.e. illusion in the Vedanta. Other systems of Philosophy also refer to this state of soul by similar sort of terms. But solemn and serene thinking reveals the truth that in reality the soul is neither a creator of pot etc., nor of the emotions of anger, conceit etc. In fact, it is a creator of its own conscious characteristics of feelings, willing and knowing.

The Karmas (actions) which are done in ignorance of one’s own self, though in the beginning are merely seeds, yet at the time of maturity they turn into trees laden with heavy fruits. It is thus self-evident that the soul itself has to bear the fruits of its actions just as by giving a touch to fire you first feel its heat and then pain follows, similar is the state of the mundane soul.

It also by coming in contact with earthly objects by its sensuous organs, first gives rise to emotions of greed, anger and deceit etc. and then as its fruits has to suffer the pangs of birth, death and old age. Please ponder well over these problems with a detached mind and if you have any doubts please rewrite to me. It is the detached mind, which gives strength for abstinence and control and ultimately leads the soul to Nirvana.

  1. THE NATURE OF GOD & CREATION OF UNIVERSE.

Q.-What is God ? Is He the creator of the universe ?

A.-I. Just see you and we, are all mundane beings bound with Karmas, i.e. our souls are in bondage of foreign matter and foreign impulses. The natural state of self with its intrinsic glory free from all karmas, aloof from all impurities and bondages is godhood. God is endowed with the fullness of peace, bliss and knowledge. This godhood is the inherent nature of self, but due to ignorance born of the bondage of karmas one is unable to have a vision thereof.

However when one realizes the truth that self is altogether aloof from body and its limitations the dire fruits of actions, and this self is introspected by mind, then by and by one begins to realize its inner glory of omniscience etc. If you just make a minute survey of the value of all things around you, you will find that there is nothing to excel in the glory of your self. Thus we are led to conclude that ‘God ‘ is a synonym of self. For this reason I have a firm conviction that God is self and self is God: God has no abode outside the self.

God is not the creator of the universe. All the elements of nature such as atom, space etc. are eternal and uncreated. They have got their own substratum. They cannot be created from substances other than themselves. Perchance if one says that God has created them, this also does not look sound, because if God is a conscious being or consciousness is taken to be His characteristic, then how can atoms, and space etc. be conceived to have been born from Him ?

It is quite impossible for the insentient to come out of the sentient. If we regard God also to be insentient, then it will become devoid of all its glory of peace, bliss and knowledge. just as it is impossible for material things to come out of God, similarly the conscious beings called Jivas cannot be born out of Him.

If God is taken to be sentient-cum-insentient, then we will have to con. tent ourselves with universe by calling it to be God, because universe consists both of sentients and insentients. Perchance while admitting atoms, space etc. to be realities independent of God, you may assert that God is the giver of fruits of our actions, but this pro, position also will equally fail. On this part it would be advisable to consult ” Shaddarshan.-Samuchchaya ” which has dealt this topic at length.

  1. NATURE OF MOKSA.

Q.-What is Moksa (salvation) ?

A.-Moksa or salivation is the absolute liberation of self from anger, conceit, greed and other nescient propensities, which bind the soul with earthly coils and other limitations. There is a natural urge in life to be free from all bandages and limitations. A close consideration of this urge makes the truth of the above saying of the wisemen to be self evident.

  1. POSSIBILITY OF MOKSA.

Q.-It is possible for an embodied soul to know precisely whether he would attain Moksa or not ?

A.-Just as a man, whose hands have been tightly bound down with a rope, on being slowly and slowly loosened, feels a great relaxation from bondage and begins to perceive as if the rope has ceased to exist or exert any influence, similarly the soul which is bound down with various kinds of nescient emotions, on being slowly and slowly released from them, beings to feel the glory of salvation.

The more and more the streaks of these emotions fade away, the more and more the soul shines in its luster untarnished with ignorance. As soon as there is a complete extinction of these nescient forces, soul even though it may be delineated by body it blooms out in its full splendor with a consciousness of freedom all round. Thus the soul though residing, in this body enjoys the blessings of salvation.

 

Gandhi Shrimad

Read all 27 questions and answers.

Sunil Gandhi