Updated on: Monday, September 27, 2021, 07:40 PM IST

Guiding Light: Mahatma Gandhi — The fragrance of his life


Gandhi, the word means the “fragrant one”. Gandhi’s life was filled with the fragrance of simplicity, sympathy, service, humility, and love. In love and utter simplicity, he mingled with the poor. Like St. Francis, he believed that the greatest blessing of life was to belong to the brotherhood of the poor. Mahatma Gandhi had reverence for the poor, the village folk, the labourers, the toilers, and the tillers of the soil. This prince amongst men loved to call himself a fakir, a poor mendicant.

To a customs official at Marseilles, he said, “I am a poor mendicant. All of my possessions consist of these spinning wheels, some dishes, a can of goat’s milk, six homespun loincloths, a towel, and my reputation which can’t be worth much.” Gandhi loved the English poem, Lead, Kindly Light by John Henry Newman. He himself was a man of light. In his face and in the words he spoke, there shone the light of the Spirit. He led his countrymen through darkness to light.


His map of life comprised five things:

1. Brahmacharya: Chastity; self-control; purity of life. In his ashram, married couples were required to have a brother­ sister-like relationship.

2. Ahimsa: Non-violence; non-injury; causing hurt to no living creature; remaining at peace with all.

3. Satyam: Truthfulness in thought, word, and deed.

4. Ram-naam: Repetition of the divine name; prayer; practising the presence of God.

5. Inner Guidance: Looking within for wisdom.

All these five points form one organic unity. They must not be separated from one another. They are the five fingers of the hand that can save mankind.


To a young student a son of a wealthy man who asked for advice, Mahatma Gandhi said:

1. Speak little.

2. Listen to everyone, but do only that which is right.

3. Take account of each minute and do each piece of work when it should be done.

4. Live like the poor. Never take pride in riches.

5. Keep an account of every penny you spend.

6. Study with concentration.

7. Do regular exercise.

8. Eat sparingly.

9. Maintain a daily diary.

(Dada J.P. Vaswani is a humanitarian, philosopher, educator, acclaimed writer, powerful orator, messiah of ahimsa, and non-sectarian spiritual leader.)

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Published on: Tuesday, September 28, 2021, 07:00 AM IST