Sunday, 1 December 2013

Gandhi’s Perception of “Man”

“Man” is a complex, multi dimensional organism
consisting of different elements of matter, life,
consciousness, and intelligence. The search on man is
being conducted since centuries and is still on, from
the angles of natural and social sciences. It would be
interesting to know Gandhi’s thought on man, and also
on his relationship to other human beings, i.e. the human
society. The reader will find that they are quite similar
to a professional social worker’s perception of the man.
Brutal Ancestry of Man
Gandhi doesn’t discard man’s animal ancestry. In his
own words, “I am prepared to believe that we have
become men by a slow process of evolution from the
brute.” At the same time he adds that it is more natural
for man to be good than to be evil, though apparently
descent might seem easier than assent.
Faith in Human Nature
He further said that man will ever remain imperfect
and it will always be his endeavor to be perfect. There
is definitely the theoretical possibility of his further
development towards the goal of perfection. For this, he
is bestowed with infinite divine powers within him. Man
is not merely a bundle of bones and flesh, but essentially,
he is the “Soul” – a part of the divine power or almighty
God himself. He often used to say that man is not God
but neither he is different from the light of God.
Man and his Environment
Gandhi recognizes the impact of environment on human
personality and behaviour. According to him, despite
the greatest effort for being detached no man can
altogether undo the effects of his environment...... but
man is not merely a creature of circumstances. It is his
privilege to overcome adverse circumstances.
Change in Human Behaviour and Personality
There may be several ways to bring about change in
human behaviour and personality. One of them,
according to Gandhi, is self-restraint. It is a positive
factor in man’s life. The brute by nature knows no self
restraint. Man is man because he is capable of, and
only is so for as he exercises self-restraint, which implies
control of the basic tendencies such as hatred and
selfishness and improving the quality of life with
goodwill and love.
Man’s Ultimate Goal
According to Gandhi, although man was born with brute
strength, but during this birth he was to realise the
God who dwells within him and in everybody. That
indeed is the privilege of man and it distinguishes him
from the brute creation. It should therefore be ultimate
goal of every human being to know the God dwelling in
him, which is synonymous to self realisation. His every
thought and action should be directed towards the
ultimate goal of self-realisation.
Dignity and Equality of Human Beings
The fact that every man has the divine element within
him is the sufficient proof of dignity of man. Hence the
question of discrimination among human beings on the
basis of caste, creed, colour etc. does not arise – all
men are equally related to God and therefore are equal
among themselves.