Collecting prayers and hymns is a part of many spiritual traditions.
On occassion of Gandhi Jayanti we look back at some of the influences on Gandhi and the prayers which made him weave communities.
Tolstoy’s “Letter to a Hindu” was written in 1908 to Taraknath Das and implored Indians to use love as the means to fight the British in India. Gandhi translated it into Gujarati.(1)
If we do not want the English in India we must pay the price. Tolstoy indicates it.
‘Do not resist evil, but also do not yourselves participate in evil–in the violent deeds of the administration of the law courts, the collection of taxes and, what is more important, of the soldiers, and no one in the world will enslave you’, passionately declares the sage of Yasnaya Polyana.
[19th November, 1909] M. K. GANDHI
The Complete Works of Leo Tolstoy O’Connor Books
Reflecting on the above words and the doctrine of “Non-Resistance to Evil” which brings Soul-Force into history, we tried to apply the aspect of non-participation in violent systems.
Health care delivery systems are shaped by insurance, pharma giants, technology companies, regulators. These impact the way providers give service.
In some/many ways we are all enslaved if one has to participate in this delivery system which spreads transnationally. The discussion went to the links of major technology and pharma suppliers to regimes and how real-estate controls medical professionals.
How violent is our system?
In 1940, Gandhi wrote,
“I still hold the view that I cannot conceive politics as divorced from religion. Indeed, religion should pervade every one of our actions. Here religion does not mean sectarianism. It means a belief in ordered moral government of the universe. It is not less real because it is unseen. This religion transcends Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, etc. It does not supersede them. It harmonizes them and gives them reality” (Harijan, February 10, 1940).
The above words left me wondering.
How many of the “children” of the Father of the Indian Nation Gandhi yet believe this?
And if they believe it, how easy is it to follow?
Prayers weave communities.
The above prayer at the North Gate of Lodhi Gardens, Delhi is a poignant reminder of the message of Gandhi, used to be a regular part of his prayer meetings
वैष्णव जन तो तेने कहिये जे पीड पराई जाणे रे,
पर दुखे उपकार करे तोये मन अभिमान न आणे रे॥
One is known as a Vaishnav (one who is a devotee of Vishnu) who
Feels the pain of others
Does good to others, especially to those ones who are in suffering
never allows conceit to enter his mind.
Read a short essay written by a student of Class 5 of Indian community school-Tripoli
on Gandhi-ji. Gave him some of these quotes/prayers as food for thought.
“The test of orderliness in a country is not the number of millionaires it owns, but the absence of starvation among its masses” (Muir Central College Economics Society, Allahabad, December 22, 1916).
We will continue our discussions..and walks.
Notes-Suggested further reading
1. Prashad, Vijay (2012-06-05). Uncle Swami: South Asians in America Today. New Press,
In this work the historian analyzes the limits of liberalism after reading Premchand, Tolstoy and the directions given in Lenin’s “Leo Tolstoy as the Mirror of the Russian Revolution.”
Chapter -6-The Honey Comb comes apart.