Among contemporary leaders of people, Gandhiji stands alone in his eminence and uniqueness. His is the staggering example of a leader who practised what he professed, and gave out to the people only what he had tested in his own life, whether it be in the fields of politics or economics, religion or personal morality. This makes it extremely difficult to place him under any of the existing categories of political or social greatness. Every great leader has certain definite lines of burning convictions and passionate pursuits and he concentrates on those lines, sometimes even with fanatic zeal, to the exlusion of every other interest; and he leads the people along those particular lines; and there it ends.
Some of the great ideals which he has placed before the people through his impassioned utterances and flaming example will be of great service to the nation in the coming decades. It is necessary for us to focus our attention on those leading ideas of Mahatmaji. It will be extremely difficult for anyone to exhaustively expound the entire gamut of his ideas, educational, religious, social and political, in the course of even a series of lectures, not to speak of one. My purpose, however, this evening is to present before you a picture of the crabber and personality which was Gandhiji, to delineate the quality of that greatness which as a physical presence is no more, but as a spiritual force is immortal, and to discuss briefly the lessons which that greatness holds for the men and women of this age.
It is obvious that the political freedom of India was one of his chief interests. But he passionately worked to increase the moral stature of the Indian people and to better their material conditions; he struggled with a singular passion to wipe away the stain of long-standing social injustice on the body-politic, to give cheer to the oppressed, and redeem the lowly and the lost; he endeavoured to impart to the nation the inspiration of a religion of divine love and human service; he successfully worked out programs intended to instil courage and dignity in the two neglected sections of Indian society, namely, women and the masses.
He readily responded to individual appeals for help, advice, and guidance in the fields of live, ranging from personal and spiritual problems, to dietetics and health, care of the infant and the village cattle, down to the problems of the profitable utilization of human refuse and dead cattle. In all this we can, if we closely study his moods and ways, detect one overriding concern to which all other concerns are subsidiary and convergent; and this is the human concern-- the welfare and happiness of man and his moral and spiritual growth and development.
Relevance of His Message of Love and Service Gandhiji is the example of a leader who is not guided by the passing moods and passions of the populace, but who turns and guides these in the direction of the vision of human excellence that he has experienced for himself. His stress on truth and non-violence is the only beacon light in the world enveloped in the darkness of selfishness and exploitation, hatred and violence. He alone could look calmly and compassionately into the bloodshot eyes of contemporary man. Modern world conditions engendered by science and technology call for the transformation of energies of hatred and violence, competition and strife, forces of cooperation and service love and peace. The moral education of modern man, in step with his intellectual attainments and technical achievements, is the most urgent task facing humanity today.
In India, the urgent task is stilling of communal passions and channeling energies into moral field of collective human welfare. The stress on love and service may sound unrealistic in the present national context of suspicion and hatred in the wake of political partition. In human relations destruction is not a long-term measure.
-- The excerpt is taken from “Dynamic Spirituality for A Globalized World”, a commemorative volume from the works of Swami Ranganathananda