Thursday, October 02, 2008

Happy Birthday Gandhi-ji

Today is the 139th anniversary of the birth of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, known in his day as both Mahatma (Great Spirit) and Bapu (Papa). Once, when asked what his message was to the world he replied, "my life is my message."

I once preached a sermon of that title, noting that Gandhi was not always the fearless figure of modern memory. In his young adulthood, as he studied at a London law school, he broke strict Hindu custom by eating meat and drinking alcohol. (In his autobiography he said that he had noticed that all of the British boys of his same age were much bigger and stronger than he was, and he thought meat might be their secret. The alcohol? He said he just wanted to fit in.) He smoked cigarettes. He even flirted with becoming a Christian.

And the first time he got up in a courtroom was a fiasco. He said that he became so terrified, so panic stricken, that he could think of nothing to say and ran, sweating, from the room. His client lost.

Yet at his death Albert Einstein uttered these memorable words: "Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this in flesh and blood did walk upon this earth."

His autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, makes clear that we should not dismiss Gandhi as some sort of superhuman saint. "What can be done I will try to do," he said, and his life--his message--is that much, much can be done by those who are willing to try.
Two sites worth exploring:

In Gassho,

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