When a statue of Mahatma Gandhi was unveiled in London’s Parliament Square one year ago, Prime Minister David Cameron declared that many of Gandhi’s teachings remain relevant today.
“‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others’, ‘Be the change that you want to see in the world’ remain timeless, profound and inspiring words of wisdom,” said Mr Cameron, addressing a small crowd of dignitaries.
Indeed we have become accustomed to reading these oft-quoted universal messages on greeting cards – but why is it that Gandhi’s words still hold strong to people around the world nearly 150 years since he was born?
For many, his life story is an incredible journey of an ordinary man of average intelligence who achieved the extraordinary.
Through his resolute commitment to the Indian independence movement and total identification with his nation, people and their plight, an average man was transformed into an indomitable force.
He took on the mighty British Empire with his powerful non-violence resistance movement and empowered millions to adopt a noble and peaceful approach to fighting oppression.
It was an approach that has inspired other great freedom fighters and ordinary people alike.
But where did Gandhiji draw his strength from?
While the influences were many in the life of this great Mahatma, the effect of Hindu scriptures on his life, in particular the Bhagavad Gita, is undeniable.
He once said, “When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face and when I see not one ray of light on the horizon, I turn to the Bhagavad Gita and find a verse to comfort me and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow.”
Chinmayananda Saraswati – Founder of the Chinmaya Mission.
His life and legacy are testament to the power of a philosophy lived.
Through his subjective experiments with his own life and his perpetual quest for Truth, he was a living example of how an imperfect man internalised and attempted to dynamically live universal teachings transforming himself and the world around him.
Such a message is an ever-inspiring one, one that we can do with being reminded of from time to time; with the optimism that we can ultimately adopt some of those essential values and experience their beauty in our own lives.
Swami Chidatmanandha, a senior acharya of Chinmaya Mission, will be conducting a series of FREE evening talks in English, entitled “Essential Values of Mahatma Gandhi”, from 30 March to 3 April 2016 at Fairfield Halls in Croydon, South London. The talks are part of a series of major events being organised by Chinmaya Mission UK this year to mark the Birth Centenary Celebrations (BCC) of Swami Chinmayananda.