When C. F. Andrews met Gandhi for the first time in January 1915, he wrote to Rabindranath Tagore that he felt Gandhi was ‘a saint of action rather than of contemplation’. Canonisation was thrust on Gandhi in his lifetime not only by his fellow-countrymen but by his admirers outside India, and the word charisma was bandied about freely in an attempt to explain the enigmatic attraction of this complex personality. Gandhi never failed to feel extremely embarrassed by all this. It distressed him that scores, if not hundreds, came to his meetings to have ‘darshan’ of a holy man rather than to take up the causes he believed would bring into existence a new India. As for charisma, it was a concept quite foreign to Gandhi’s own understanding of his role as a national leader. He drew strength from the people, in his own terminology, the masses rather than the classes, as a great banyan tree roots itself time and time again in the soil, drawing nourishment from them. If, to change the metaphor, he was borne up on wings of faith in his own inward life, he was no less firmly rooted in the world of the common man, that of the poor villagers he knew so well and whose way of life he shared.
KeywordsReligious Pluralism Religious Language Spiritual Growth Constructive Work Religious Thinker
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