This week we’re pleased to share an mp3 talk which Easwaran gave in 1983 on Gandhi. Gandhi is a favorite source of YA inspiration, both because of the work he accomplished, and because he was so human.
There are many aspects to Gandhi’s life, but what we find so special about Easwaran’s talks and writings on Gandhi is his focus on Gandhi as a spiritual figure, whose bedrock was his spiritual practice.
In the talk Easwaran describes how he visited Gandhi’s ashram and heard verses from the Bhagavad Gita being read during a prayer meeting. Easwaran also writes about this in his book Gandhi the Man, and this short excerpt from the book gives you a glimpse of his view of Gandhi:
After the walk it was time for Gandhi’s prayer meeting. By this time it was dark, and hurricane lanterns had been lit all around. Gandhi sat straight with his back against a tree, and I managed to get a seat close by, where I could fix my whole heart on him. A Japanese monk opened with a Buddhist chant and then a British lady began one of Gandhi’s favorite hymns, John Henry Newman’s “Lead, Kindly Light.” Gandhi had closed his eyes in deep concentration, as if absorbed in the words.
Then his secretary, Mahadev Desai, began to recite from the Bhagavad Gita, India’s best-known scripture, which is set on a battlefield which Gandhi said represents the human heart. In the verses being recited, a warrior prince named Arjuna, who represents you and me, asks Sri Krishna, the Lord within, how one can recognize a person who is aware of God every moment of his life. And Sri Krishna replies in eighteen magnificent verses unparalleled in the spiritual literature of the world:
They live in wisdom who see themselves in all and all in them, whose love for the Lord of Love has consumed every selfish desire and sense craving tormenting the heart. Not agitated by grief or hankering after pleasure, they live free from lust and fear and anger. Fettered no more by selfish attachments, they are not elated by good fortune nor depressed by bad. Such are the seers.
These verses from the Gita are the key to Gandhi’s life. They describe not a political leader but a man of God, in words that show this is the very height of human expression. They tell us not what to do with our lives but what to be. And they are universal. We see essentially the same portrait in all scriptures, reflected in the lives of spiritual aspirants everywhere.
We hope you enjoy the talk. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!