Gandhi and Theosophy
GANDHI AND THEOSOPHY
MAHATMA GANDHI AND THEOSOPHY
“Theosophy is the brotherhood of man.”
There was a golden current of Theosophical influence that continually sustained the spiritual arc of Gandhi’s life. That current entered his life, explicitly, in November 1889 at the age of twenty in London, England and continued as a vibrant, tempering influence until January 30, 1948—the day of his assassination. The “seminal moment” that occurred in November of 1889 was when Gandhi met two Theosophists who introduced him to the Bhagavad Gita and more significantly, took him to a meeting of the Blavatsky Lodge. There he met H.P. Blavatsky and Annie Besant. As a result of his fortuitous encounter with H.P.B. and other Theosophists, Gandhi studied The Key to Theosophy, as well as intensified his study of the Bhagavad Gita. He later read The Light of Asia, The Old Testament, and the Sermon on the Mount. The Bhagavad Gita’s sublime teaching eventually became his life guide and his book of daily counsel.
Gandhi came to recognize that each religious tradition embodies a distinctive but a profound set of spiritual truths; he declared that “Truth alone is God.” This statement parallels the Theosophical motto taken from the Maharaja of Benares: “There is no religion higher than Truth.” It is not surprising that since Truth alone is God, Gandhi believed in a “para-religion” or fundamentally in “….the religion which transcends Hinduism, which changes one’s very nature, which binds one indissolubly to the truth within and which continually purifies. It is the permanent element in human nature which counts no cost too great in order to find full expression and which leaves the soul utterly restless until it has found itself…” (“Young India”, December 5, 1920, P. 2)
In an interview with the journalist Louis Fischer in June of 1946, Gandhi made this unequivocal declaration:
“Theosophy is the teaching of Madame Blavatsky…Theosophy is the brotherhood of man.” (The Life of Mahatma Gandhi, Louis Fisher, Harper and Row paperback edition, 1983, P. 437)
Gandhi made it clear that H. P. Blavatsky was the true voice of Theosophy and its essential message of brotherhood was what both Hindu and Muslim proponents in colonial India (and modern civilization itself) were sorely lacking.
A Theosophical student