Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was one of the most important spiritual leaders in history, a man who was once eulogized as the spokesman for the conscience of a human. Gandhi was given the title Mahatma—by Tagore—which is similar to the Western term saint, is credited with legitimizing India’s quest for freedom from the British Empire, easing the transfer of power in 1947.
But it wasn’t so much the result of his activism that led to his reputation—he wisely embraced a strategy of non-violent civil disobedience that spiritually and politically removed the yoke of British rule from India. People like Gandhi, those who inspire millions and change nations, are often the epitome of wisdom—they know things that most people don’t, and are willing to go to lengths that others would not dream of.
After getting frustrated with myself and the happenings around me, I planned to take some time off. I was mind-fucked, heartbroken, tired, embezzled, and disturbed. I had no time to look inside me but when I made time to look inside, I saw that I was lost and shattered. I had so many scars.
In college, I read a The Story Of My Experiments With Truths written by Gandhi that helped me. One quote changed my life.
If you want to find yourself, lose your self in the service of others. You’ll find yourself.
I followed his advice and thus started a 4-year long sabbatical. I packed my bags for Sabarmati Ashram. I stayed there for some months to take part in a series of spiritual retreat and learn Gandhian philosophy for self-development.
The ashram in Ahmedabad is well connected with villages, communities and other non-profit organization across the state. I participated in various volunteering activities designed on the philosophy of Gandhi. I served with people from across the globe that helped me to widen my perspective. I not only learned about selfless service but also about non-violence, forgiveness, compassionate communication, kindness, gratitude, and compassion. The best part is that I also find a living legend who—according to me—is Gandhi of today’s time.
Gandhi was an Indian leader with clarity and insight. I don’t know how the world sees him but for me, he has been a messiah. There are many things to be learned from this man.
- Leadership by example: He didn’t simply preach—he lived out what he believed. He lived by five pillars of non-violence—respect, understanding, acceptance, appreciation, and compassion. Although he was as flawed a human as any of us, he did his best to live by those pillars. This is exactly why he was so successful. He approached everyone, no matter their anger, no matter their prejudice against him or his people, with kindness and respect.
- Importance of persistence: You can see the power of persistence in every part of his life, including his diet—he would endure periods of fasting in order to increase in discipline. He applied this principle to larger and larger endeavors, never giving up his task to free India, even in the face of hardship and setbacks. Remember—India wasn’t freed over the course of a day, a month, or a year. It took him several years of carefully non-violent activism to reach his goal, putting aside all worldly comforts while enduring harsh words, imprisonment, and beatings.
- Radical perspective: He believed that anger was a gift. You’d never know it, but perhaps the persistence was fuelled by an intense anger at injustice. Except this wasn’t an unbridled anger that lashed out when provoked. No—this was an anger that focused, that pushed, that helped him remain on the path he set out on, no matter how difficult things became. He knew how to cultivate anger into doing something that would crush injustice and achieve freedom.
- Strength lies in forgiveness: He promoted the fact that forgiveness is more important and useful than punishment. He believed in reform, as a restorative justice format. Indeed, it takes much more strength of character to forgive someone who has wronged you than to punish them for that wrong. This is a concept that is difficult in our contemporary era—we like to think that might makes right, that we must respond with force when someone insults us, lest we become weak. But in reality, the one who hits back is weaker than the one who simply forgives. When we engage in revenge rather than forgiveness, we hurt one another in an endless cycle of emotional and physical violence.
- Understand your value: Despite his austere lifestyle, he saw the value within himself, just as he saw it in others. He humbly recognized his talents and skills, and because of this, he was able to put them to full use. Being humble doesn’t mean that we lessen ourselves—it simply means that we don’t overestimate our own importance in the context of the world around us. Every person has value as a human being, as well as a unique set of skills that make them valuable in a special way. Recognizing this is a big step along the path to kindness.
- Means over ends: Overall, the most important lesson we can take from his life is that the means are more important than the ends. He worked so hard at pioneering nonviolent resistance because he knew that violence begets violence. If we use evil means to accomplish something good, we get only more evil in the end. More than anything, this is the lesson that our modern world needs to internalize. Evil means are never justified—we cannot be split between both good and evil. It’s only through kindness, respect, and forgiveness that good truly wins.
- Minimalism: He lived his entire life as a simple man. He wore few clothes, had a simple diet and lived a simple lifestyle. One can see this from his hermitages in various parts of India.
I have met so many people who have different views on Gandhi and his philosophies. It’s alright because I believe no ones knows everything about him. We all are filled with half knowledge.
A couple of the philosophies of this great man has helped me a lot. The way I deal with people nowadays is completely different—it’s more compassionate. This story of how I changed the heart of a driver who jumped red signal changed millions of heats globally. By living a minimalist life, I and my wife are enjoying life to the fullest. I could also change my mindset and electrify an entire tribal village that I thought we never possible.
For four years, I also had my experiments with truth. Like Gandhi, I also got an opportunity to the look inside, fight for injustice, help the needy and BE THE CHANGE! Obviously, all of this can only be done with the support of like-minded people.
Generations to come, it may well be, will scarce believe that such a man as this one ever in flesh and blood walked upon this planet. Albert Einstien
I was fortunate to meet many living Gandhians in my journey and share enlightening conversations with them. One of them actually told me the reason why Tagore gave Gandhi the tag of Mahatma to this man. I am sure you’ll never know this one until you read that blog post or know Gandhi in and out!