My Encounter with Mahatma Ghandi

My Encounter with Mahatma Ghandi

Research on Foundations and Perspectives of the Culture of Unity


Mathias Toppo, a young priest from oriental India, teaches philosophy at St. Albert’s College at Ranchi.  On September 2012 he was chosen for the Doctoral degree at the IUS in Foundations and Perspectives for a Culture of Unity with direction in philosophy.  In his research he could not avoid meeting with Mahatma Gandhi.



«It was a reading of his autobiography “Experimenting with the truth” that urged me to know more of his thought.  One of the topics of my doctoral degree is the intercultural and interreligious dialogue: I sensed that his life had much to teach me.  So, I started my research on Mahatma – as he is called, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.   For this reason, during the months dedicated to planning my research, I decided to return to visit some Gandhian places and meet with those who carry on his great work today.  First stage: Varanasi/Benaras, holy city for Hindus along the shore of the Gange River, where I was guest at the Major Seminary ‘Vishwajyoti Gurukul’.  The Institute gives great freedom to styles and rhythms of Indian culture, giving value to the ancient tradition of the Guru-Shishya, the teacher-disciple tradition.  Here I was able to meet with two scholars of the life of Gandhi.  One of them, a lawyer, totally dedicated to the needs of the emarginated, struck me very much: in him, Christian life and the heredity of Mahatma were in full harmony.  Also at the University of Banaras/BHU I was able to dialogue with some professors and with the dean of the philosophy department. 



Second stage: New Delhi.  I went to the Gandhian Institute ‘Central Gandhi Amarak Nidhi/ Memorial Trust, of Rajghat, where can be found some associations started in order to carry on his work.  I was able to access for my research the National Gandhian Library that is part of the National Gandhian Museum, visited daily by thousands of tourists.  Compelling, the visit to two sanctuaries: the Gandhi Samadhi Sthal (where he was assassinated) and the Gandhi Darshan  (the memorial to the father of the nation). 


What could I add?  Where I was able to share the Gandhian lifestyle, I experienced a measure of cohabitation that is fully human.  Yet, in my room with two beds there were neither chairs nor tables; hot water and heating were non- existent, the menu was vegetarian… I think I was able to get close to the extraordinary figure of Gandhi, the strength of his thought and his message, through everything that I saw: true, I did not know him while he was alive, but I found him in the lives of his followers.  I experienced that he is still alive.  His philosophy is alive, His teachings and the principles of his life are still in use today.  Gandhi continues to teach.   


Gandhi himself had experienced encounters and dialogue with people of other faiths, and he was able to show many of them a pathway.  In his incessant search for the truth, he worked so that the Indian and the European cultures could meet along roads of peace; he understood that we are all sons of the same God, even if God is believed in in different ways by peoples and cultures.


I lived very intense days, which led me to discover with new depth the gift I received of my faith; at the heart of Christianity, in fact, God himself carries on a dialogue with the men and women of every time and every culture, and it is He who opens to all the road to universal fraternity in Jesus.  


But where there is unity there is also division – we are aware of this; where there’s peace, there’s also war; where there’s love, hatred exists, egoism, and conflict.  Gandhi, who preached non-violence, died through a gesture of violence.  Yet today, in India there are those who explicitly refuse his teaching, bringing division and contrasts among his followers.


I felt that, in a certain measure we are all co-responsible and therefore we are called to help the culture of unity and fraternity to grow.  My trip to India showed me with more clarity the future of peace for humanity, a future that is awaiting everyone’s contribution». 

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