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In this unit you are going to study the philosophy of two eminent personalities of our motherland in the contemporary times:

•Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi whom the whole world acknowledged as the Mahatma

•Rabindranath Tagore who won world recognition (Nobel Prize) for his contributions to literature.

Neither of them is a philosopher in the usual sense of the term. Neither of them constructed any philosophical system. However, they were so deeply involved in a synthetic perspective of viewing things within a synoptic vision that whatever they said, did and wrote was profoundly philosophical. The new perspective that they offered have led us to a fresh and fruitful way of understanding self-realization, interrelationship of humans with one another and with the environment. What is still more important is that the whole world recognizes the relevance of their thought.


1) Gandhi was committed to truth in the sense of being truthful, seeing that truth covers all ethical action. Unethical action is as much a violation of Truth as making a false statement. Since epistemologically Truth seemed more certain than God, Gandhi converted his position from God is truth to Truth is God. Since human beings are fallible creatures, they cannot be sure of knowing Truth as such. He accepted the Jain theory of the multidimensionality of truth (anekantvada), and emphasized the necessity for open-mindedness and soul-searching. In critical situations, he relied on his ‘inner voice,’ which was tuned to the call of Truth through long practice.

2) For Gandhi love is the cardinal virtue, which serves truth. If a person’s actions are motivated by love for all, those actions will be conducive to the highest good. According to Gandhi, ahimsa is not just refraining from injuring others, but positively enhancing their well-being, or rather, loving them. Genuine love is rooted in egolessness, which is the highest personal virtue. It is nishkamakarma, acting without attachment to the fruits of action, which expresses love and self-surrender. Gandhi was extremely modest, unassuming, and owned no property.


1) Tagore is a non-dualist, but not like Sankara. The absolute in its perfection, living away from all that happens in the world, is of no interest to human. It is the picture with all the richness of its colours, shades, and forms that interests us, but not the canvas on which it is painted. The author of the picture is a person, a spiritual reality. Hence, the absolute is a person, a creative person, who acts and creates, and whom we can love and be loved. Limitation of the Unlimited is personality. God is everything, but not everything is equally God. To realize God as the Supreme person is our destiny, our dharma. We fulfill it when we know our true nature, which is oneness with God. We do not really know our oneness with God because of our ignorance (avidya). We can overcome maya and avidya only through a genuine love of God. The vision of God is a direct and immediate intuition. We feel God as we feel light. The joy we feel in our vision of the Supreme is the evidence that the Supreme exists.

Tagore’s own childhood experiences encouraged his lifelong commitment to education. In his view, the traditional schools imprison children who are born with a power to be happy and to make others happy. But in traditional schools they are like flowers pressed between book leaves. Hence, he started a model- school after the ancient hermitage schools of India: santiniketan (the abode of peace).Agarden and a handicraft shop were attached to the school. His ecological concerns were manifested in his tree planting programmes. He also widened his educational commitment by founding a university – Visva Bharati – where he promoted an international culture of unity in diversity.