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  Eleven Vows

Truth and Non-violence

For Gandhiji, Truth is the basis of everything. It is the highest dharma. It is the law of our being.

Truth means ?Satya? is derived form ?Sat?, that is existence. Everything that exists is contained in Truth. Knowledge flows from Truth and knowledge leads to bliss. Knowledge and bliss are thus contained in Truth. God is considered as ?Sat-Chit-ananda,? that is, embodiment of Truth, knowledge and bliss, Gandhi therefore equated Truth with God.

Truth is a matter of experience. It is what the voice within tells us. Speaking truth is not sufficient. One should be truthful in word, thought and deed. Truth is the basis of morality.

We cannot know the Truth fully. But we should stick to what we consider truth. We should assert that truth. But while doing this we should not harm or punish others. They, too, may have some truth. We should rather be ready to suffer ourselves. Our self-suffering would convert the opponent. It would help him discard his untruth. If we have untruth, nobody else would suffer. Mankind would progress on the path of Truth through this process. This is the basis of Satyagraha.

Truth is expressed in the everyday life as the unity of life. All life is one. Violence should not therefore be used.

Gandhiji?s meaning of ?violence? is very wide. It is not just harming, hurting or killing anybody. Violence is anything divisive, anything which disrupts the unity of life. It includes evil thoughts, falsehood, hatred, impatience, greed etc. Non-violence or ahimsa is the absence of all these. It is unifying and synthesizing. It means the supreme, selfless love for every being and everything irrespective of any other consideration. Gandhiji held that such love holds the world together. This causes development and progress. This helps human evolution.

For realising Truth, non-violence is the only means available, because life is one. Interest of different individuals is not basically against each other. Harming somebody is harming ourselves, harming the whole life.

Truth and non-violence are very closely interrelated. Gandhiji likened them to two sides of a flat disc. But Truth is the end and non-violence is the means. Means are in our hands. Gandhiji gave utmost importance to the means, hence to non-violence. All the rest of the vows can be considered as different faces of non-violence.

Truth is God

Gandhiji used to say: ?God is Truth?. Later, he began to say that ?Truth is God.? He arrived at this position after a long search.

For Gandhiji, Truth was the spiritual law in the natural world. It pervades everything. It is the supreme principle. Gandhiji?s idea of Truth largely coincided with that of God. The statement ?God is Truth? presupposes existence of God. But some persons do not believe in God. The term god has different meanings for different people. Atrocities have been committed in the name of God. It is not so with the term ?Truth.? Truth is acceptable to all. Hence Gandhiji preferred to say that ?Truth is God.?

This statement also means that Truth is to be worshipped. It is the highest duty. Gandhiji believed that man couldn?t adhere to Truth mechanically without faith. So, it is better to say that ?Truth is God.? Besides, the idea of God is multi-faceted and truth is only one of His attributes. Therefore, it is proper to say that ?Truth is God.? Gandhiji thus put Truth on the highest pedestal. He could thereby get even the atheists as his colleagues.

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