Monday, August 31, 2009

Gandhi, the Light-bearer

Gandhi, the Light-bearer

Stephen Hobhouse

Each of us human beings has had to construct a world of his own out of materials set before him. Within this universe of our consciousness there are certain objects which stir the central fibers of our nature, our heart and our reason; and there comes to us in our better moments a constant longing to know them, to love them, to identify ourselves with them more and more completely, ever seeking to liberate ourselves from the trivial and the impure.

I am one of the many who find this central attraction chiefly in the inexpressible wonder and beauty of personality through the best and loveliest of men and women who cross our path whether in the flesh or in books, as well as in the same wonder and beauty breathed upon us from visible nature; in sky and earth and living things. And from these I am inescapability drawn to a faith in that which we call God.

Unhappily, too, I am equally conscious of dark elements of ugliness and discord which mar the growth of harmonious life. They are present within the hearts of men. Unaided I too often lose faith and am all but helpless before the demonic power of these evil tendencies; and I must turn for aid to a closer fellowship of spirit with some other personality.

I have been born and bred in a community where past and present have united in confronting me with the historic figure of Jesus Christ. The same spirit lives in other human personalities whose memory is preserved as the shining lights of our race’s history. I think of them all as messengers of the eternal Christ. Of these historic light-bearers, one of the greatest of all time is Mohandas K. Gandhi.

The decay of ancient faiths, the tyranny of the machine, the evil use of science by misguided industrialists and militarists have produced in world history an unexampled crisis. It is even conceivable that civilization or orderly, kindly, enlightened human society may perish completely in the universal confusion engendered by the self-seeking of human passions.

Gandhi’s great ideals of Ahimsa and Satyagraha present the only means by which salvation can come to the diseased environment in which we find ourselves.

[From a forthcoming publication of tributes to Gandhi,

compiled by Mahendra Meghani]

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