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February 12, 2008 / lazybug

Truth

Since I don’t have anything better to do, since ideas for blog posts evade me and since I don’t have any interest today in blogging about all the silly things happening around the world, I present to you a small excerpt from the book I am reading currently, Freedom at Midnight by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins. It’s been a rather slow read, but the book is very interesting. It’s full of wonderful anecdotes collected by the duo like the one below. This one talks about Truth, as Gandhi saw it.

The Mahatma had, indeed, been a difficult person for the British to deal with. Truth, to Gandhi, was the ultimate reality. Gandhi’s truth, however, had two faces, the absolute and the relative. Man, as long as he was in the flesh, had only fleeting intimations of absolute truth. He had to deal with relative truth in his daily existence. Gandhi liked to employ a parable to illustrate the difference between his two truths. Put your left hand in a bowl of ice-cold water, then in a bowl of lukewarm water, he would say. The lukewarm water feels hot. Then put the right hand in a bowl of hot water and into the same bowl of lukewarm water. Now the lukewarm water feels cold; yet its temperature is constant. The absolute truth is the water’s constant temperature, he would observe, but the relative truth, perceived by the human hand, varied. As that parable indicated, Gandhi’s relative truth was not a rigid thing. It could vary as his perceptions of the problem changed. That made him flexible but it also, to his British interlocutors, sometimes made him a appear two-faced, cunning Asiatic. Even one of his disciples once exclaimed to him in exasperation: ‘Gandhiji, I don’t understand you. How can you say one thing last week, and something quite different this week?’

‘Ah’, Gandhi replied, ‘because I have learned something since last week.’

What it also proves is that Gandhi was just another human being. What set him apart, though was his relentless effort to seek the truth and change his thought process, if needed. In doing so he made mistakes but that did not stop him. It takes big thinking and small ego to be able to do that, something humans find difficult to do. Isn’t that why he is called a Mahatma?

Indeed, I see the reason why the Britishers were so scared of him.

Further reading on the book: Review by a Pakistani

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6 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. leafless / Feb 12 2008 6:10 pm

    It does not take a holy man to achieve great things. If we are willing to stand up for what’s right, we can accomplish incredible things.

  2. Liju Philip / Feb 13 2008 12:29 am

    “because I have learned something since last week.”

    lovely comment there by the Mahatma.

  3. vinay / Feb 13 2008 4:43 pm

    Interesting one. Good that you have shared it.
    Post more such things than the crap that you spoke about in the first few sentences.

  4. lazybug / Feb 14 2008 7:18 am

    Leafless: “It does not take a holy man to achieve great things.” totally agree with that. Gandhi has proved that beyond doubt.

    Liju and Vinay: Will post more such interesting stuff from the book.

  5. Krishna Aradhi / Feb 15 2008 12:39 pm

    Hmm…relative truth! Interesting concept. Never thought about it.

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