Sunday, April 5, 2015

From ‘Baba Amte. A Vision of New India’ by Hans Staffner S J

When asked whether he had drawn inspiration from any particular school of thought or leader Amte replied: “Yes, from several: Marx, Ruskin, Mao, Kropotkin, Tagore and Gandhi.”

The particular image under which Gandhiji chooses to worship God is Truth. In later years he does no longer say that God is Truth, but rather, that Truth is God. Gandhiji is not so much a theorist as a man of action. He prefers to define God in terms of a practical method of approaching Him rather than in terms of an abstract idea. We experience God by experiencing what is best in us. …..Gandhiji intends to state we can approach God by clinging to the Truth, by being true to what is best in us….being faithful to the voice within, to the voice of conscience, to the voice of God…clinging to the sanatana dharma….the law which is imprinted in man’s heart. Clinging to the sanatana dharma is not necessarily the same as clinging to the written dharma, the traditional law. The sanatana dharma is higher than all traditional or written law.
It is an ancient Indian insight that on account of human weakness errors may creep into the traditional law. From time to time people with deep spiritual insight will discover such errors and condemn them in the light of their insight into the sanatana dharma…..
….Though orthodox Hindus maintain that untouchability is prescribed by the Hindu dharma, and the law of Manu seems to bear them out, the reformers agree with Gandhiji, who following in the footsteps of Yudhishthira declares. “I decline to be bound by any interpretation of dharma, however learned it may be, if it is repugnant to reason and to moral sense,” and he declared untouchability to be an ineffaceable blot which Hinduism carries with it”, and insisted that it be abolished.

In his reply to the Templeton Foundation Baba Amte states: For me there is no better religion than the one that builds inside human beings a sense of dignity and self-esteem. I am glad this definition of religion seems acceptable. I am not religious, traditionally speaking, but I feel religion is that force which builds a stronger and more righteous human being.” 

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