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Finally, Gandhi believed that Indian independence had to precede any agreements between the competing groups in the country: Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs. In contrast, Jinnah believed in the idea of two Indias, a Muslim India and a Hindu India. Furthermore, Jinnah believed that the Indian National Congress, composed of educated Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs, was the pathway to a free India, because through it they could extract more and more constitutional freedoms from Britain. Jinnah did not believe in direct confrontation, even the nonviolent confrontation espoused by Gandhi.
9. Vivekananda and Gandhi had a different definition of karma yoga than that found in the Bhagavad-Gita. In the Bhagavad-Gita, karma yoga is concerned with duty (dharma) regardless of earthly reward and dharma is linked to class or caste. The concept is that one may reach salvation by working for the pleasure of a supreme being.
In order to understand Gandhi's notion of karma yoga, it is important to understand his attitude towards religion and spirituality, particularly as expressed in Hinduism. He believed that Hinduism was the dharma of India, and he believed that the ritualistic aspects of the religion, not only the spiritual aspects were essential to this dharma, even in ways such as idol worship, a practice with which he did not personally agree. Therefore, one's actions did not have to be selfless in order to be dharma. Furthermore, Gandhi did not believe that actions had to benefit a supreme being, but was much more pragmatic about it: he believed that people were to act for the good of their fellow people. It probably would not be inaccurate to state that he believed it was one's greatest duty to act for the good of others. Vivekananda's beliefs seemed even more dramatic than Gandhi's, for he believed that karma yoga was the search for freedom through good actions. In addition, like Gandhi's, Vivekananda's belief system was not based on belief in a higher power, which was a necessary part of karma yoga in the Bhagavad-Gita.
Questions from Zaehner's Hinduism:
3. The early history of the brahmo-samaj under the leadership of Ram Mohan Roy and under Keshab Chandra Sen encompassed a relatively narrow spectrum of religious belief, but was responsible for a wide range of social reform and provided the foundation for a new way to view Hinduism as something more than a religion. Under Roy, the brahmo-samaj was not exactly a religious organization. First, Roy eschewed many of the traditional trappings of Hinduism, because he did not sanction or permit image-worship. In addition, Roy incorporated elements of Christianity. Furthermore, when he opened the church, its services did not include any type of prayer, nor did the church encourage direct communication with the divine. Sen was an even more radical reformer than Roy. Sen expanded on Roy's rejection of idol worship, and even went so far as to criticize the ritual sacraments that played an important part in the lives of many Hindus. In addition, Sen rejected the notion of caste, and even required members of the "twiceborn" castes to reject this distinction. Sen studied the sacred texts of many other religions, and included matter from them in the religious texts, and also incorporated elements of foreign worship ceremonies. Sen was a feminist, and, under him, the brahmos were responsible for laws abolishing child-marriage, permitting intercaste marriage, and allowing widows to remarry. However, when Sen permitted his daughter to be married via an orthodox Hindu ritual, many brahmos found him to be hypocritical and were not receptive to his explanations. As a result, Keshab split with the brahmo samaj, which continued without him, and formed the Church of the New Dispensation.
4. According to Zaehner, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa taught many things, though he never actually had any writings. Zaehner credits Ramakrishna with teaching the concept that all religions were essentially true, and were just different paths to absolute oneness. Zaehner intimates that Ramakrishna may have taught people how to achieve communication with the divine, but does not actually state that he did so. Zaehner says that Ramakrishna abhorred sexuality because of his devotion to the Holy Mother, but he also believed that women were the arch-enemies of spirituality.
It is difficult to describe Zaehner's view of Ramakrishna's teachings, because Zaehner describes Ramakrishna's life, but does not detail many teachings. In fact, Zaehner acknowledges that Ramakrishna did not introduce any new ideas to Hinduism, nor did he want to; he simply aimed to share some of his experience, which he believed included intimate contact with the divine, with others. What Zaehner does explain is that Ramakrishna was able to take some of the more esoteric aspects of Hinduism and present them in a manner that made them accessible and understandable to the masses.
5. According to Zaehner, "Truth, ahimsa, and brahmacharya, are the three great virtues that presided over Gandhi's life." By this, Zaehner meant that Gandhi was constantly striving to achieve those three great virtues. First, Gandhi made it clear that he did not know Absolute Truth, but that God was Truth. Furthermore, Gandhi defined truth as being true to oneself and one's conscience, though he did not believe that the individual conscience was infallible. Gandhi believed in harmlessness in all things, which was exemplified by his adherence to non-violence. Perhaps the most important element was Gandhi's belief in self-restraint: he believed that sexuality a negative thing (but was not a misogynist) and used fasting as a means of political activity. He believed that self-control was important, because one cannot realize one's inner self without being in control of one's senses. However, one cannot be too-focused on one's self; one also had to give love to all living creatures, though he knew that one could not live without taking life. In fact, there are several instances were Gandhi accepted violence towards other living beings, which he was criticized for during his lifetime. However, Gandhi was pragmatic, in addition to being guided by high ideals, and never made any assertions that he, or any man, could live up to the ideal.
6. Zaehner compares Gandhi to Yudhishthira and lists several similarities between the two men. Before delving into the comparison, it is important to note an essential difference between them: Gandhi was a historical figure and his actions have been meticulously documented, while Yudhishthira was at least partially mythical. Therefore, while Zaehner can compare the two, it is unlikely that Gandhi would be able to meet the standard set by Yudhishthira. However, despite this handicap, it is important to note that Gandhi has achieved an almost mythical status, at least to non-Indians, because he led Indians to freedom. For Gandhi, this transformation was not about physical slavery, but about freeing Indians from greed, anger, hatred, and despair- many of the same enemies that Yudhishthira fought. First, Yudhishthira had a passion for righteousness, which was mirrored by Gandhi's passion for self-restraint and requirement that one love one's fellow humans. Both of them were plagued by doubts, wondering whether the elements of orthodox Hinduism, as practiced, could be reconciled by the spiritual ideals taught by the same religion. Both men were essentially non-violent. Yudhishthira fought against the dharma of his class, and only engaged in violence when he was unable to accomplish the means in any other way. Gandhi's class was non-violent, so he was never forced into personal violence. However, like Yudhishthira's, Gandhi's movement became violent and he felt tremendous personal responsibility for that violence. Both men had a distaste for dharma, as it had been interpreted by mankind. Both men were committed to Hinduism and to the belief that the Brahmans were essential to the practice of Hinduism. In addition, Zaehner believed that both men were: "steadfast, self-restrained, chaste, patient, ever devoted to dharma, high-mettled; he honoured and gave hospitality to guests, relatives, servants, and all who had resort to him; truthful, generous, ascetic, brave, he was at peace with himself, wise, and imperturbable; himself the soul of…[continue]
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