The Integral Humanism of Mahatma
ABSTRACT: Humanism as a theistic, pragmatic theory was first conceived around 2000 BCE in India. It is a this-worldly, human-centered, secular philosophical outlook. Gandhi understands religion as connoting the individual’s integrity and society’s solidarity. Free-will for him is freedom of the "rational self." Morality is not a matter of outward conformity, but of inward fulfillment. His integral humanism is indicated by his enumerated seven social sins: (1) politics without principles; (2) wealth without work; (3) commerce without morality; (4) knowledge without character; (5) pleasure without conscience; (6) science without morality; and (7) worship without sacrifice. The eleven vows recited in his Ášrama prayer began with Truth and Non-Violence as foundational for the integration of moral, social, political and economic values. Non-Violence should be a creed rather than a policy. Gandhi’s Truth meant freedom of self-actualization for societal development. He fulfilled these two principal themes of humanism in the civic function of religion and religious tolerance which aimed at evolving moral individuals in moral societies. "The twenty-first century should bring a synthesis of science and spirituality, socialism with human rights, social-change with nonviolence. And this is Gandhi."
The Origin of Humanism
Humanism as a philosophical and literary movement originated in Italy in the Second half of the 14th Century and diffused all over Europe. As an atheistic theory it was conceived in 17th century by French philosopher but as a theistic-pragmatic theory it was conceived indirectly around 200 B.C. at the time of Vedas and Upanisads in India. The Prayer "Sarvatra Sukhinah Santu Sarve Santu Niramayah;" `Let all be happy here and let all enjoy full health’ of Vedic Sages echoed this Universal welfare. The earthly life constitutes the central concern for the Vedic Aryans. The sacrificial fire-rites which were evolved during Vedic period had social welfare as its motto, the motive was to prepare the land for agriculture for abundance and welfare of human race.
The latter half of the nineteenth century witnessed Hindu Renaissance pioneered by Brahm Samaê of Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Arya Samaê of Dayanand Saraswati, finally blossoming into Vedantic Hinduism of Vivekananda. Vedantic Hinduism, stresess the importance of service to the weak and the needy as its practical aspect. "That society is the greatest where the highest truths become practical. Humanism has undergone significant development assuming variety of forms in the West and in the East. Western Humanism is atheistic in content because Christianity conceives of God as the Creator, unlike Vedantic Humanism which is not atheistic.
Various Interpretations of Humanism
Humanism is not an established school of philosophy, but is a definite philosophical outlook. It emphasized the worth and dignity of man by rejecting other worldliness and...