Though Gandhiji did not believe in the caste system he had firm faith in Varnashrama. He believed in the four varnas, but approved their categorization on the basis of division of work or duties and not on the basis of birth. Untouchability, he says, had no place in it. He further says: “I draw the sharpest distinction between varnashrama and cast. Untouchability I hold to be an unpardonable sin and a great blot upon Hinduism. Cast I hold to be an obstacle to our progress and an arrogant assumption of superiority by one group over another… let us not degrade varnashrama by mixing it up with untouchability or with caste.”
The principle of trusteeship is a unique feature of Gandhian economic philosophy. Gandhiji believed that all property will be held by its respective holders in trust for the community. No one will claim it as his own. He says the rich have no right to possess wealth until and unless they have won the people’s trust. According to him “real socialism has been handed down to us by our ancestors who taught: ‘All land belonged to Gopal, where then is the boundary line? Man is the maker of the line and he can therefore unmake it.” Gopal literally means shepherd; it also means God. In modern language it means the state,i.e., the people. That the land today does not belong to the people is too true. But the fault is not in the teaching. It is in us who have not lived up to it.”
Swadeshi is a commitment to use goods manufactured in one’s own country. The purpose is to contribute towards the country’s industrial and economic development. But while Gandhiji swadeshi, he is not constricted by its word meaning. Hey says, in context of khadi, that it stood for religious belief, and social harmony, and openness of ideas to make the country self-reliant with an attitude of purity, and selfless service. Its wider meaning induded, therefore, the use of one’s language, way of life, values, etc. Gandhiji says: “Swadeshism is not the cult of hatred. It is a doctrine of selfless service that has its roots in the purest Ahimsa, i.e., love. My nationalism is as broad as my Swadeshism. I want India’s rise so that the whole world may benefit.”
Untouchability is considering a person or a group of persons ‘untouchable’ to the extent of regarding them abominable or lesser human beings. Gandhiji considers “untouchability a blot on Hinduism and a sin”. He fought against it throughout his life and made” removal of untouchability one of the main planks” of his constructive programme. He says; “My fight against untouchability is a fight against the impure in humanity”.
Finding the term ‘Passive resistance’ not complete by itself Gandhiji was in search of a term that could convey the complete meaning of the term. Maganlal Gandhi’s suggestion of ‘Sadagraha’ was acceptable to him but he later changed it to ‘Satyagraha’ (Satya-truth; agraha-firmness). Satyagraha means resisting untruth by truthful means. It can be offered at any place, at any time and by any person, even though he may be in a majority of one. Satyagraha has no scope for either frustration or despair. Satyagraha is not launched in a spirit of hostility to a person, persons or organization. “It is characterized by love towards everybody and hatred against none and is always devoid of violence,” says Gandhiji.
Truth is the law by which we should always rule our lives. Gandhiji described truth as “a voice within”, “the right designation of God”, “superior to man’s wisdom’ and along with non-violence, it comprises “perhaps the activist force you have in the world”. For him Truth is God and God is Truth. He says: “My experience teaches me that truth can never be propagated by doing violence”… “A man who forsakes Truth can forsake his country and his nearest and dearest ones.”
Gandhiji believed that all the religions are different paths leading to the same goal. “What does it matter that we take different roads, so long as we reach the same goal?” he says. He was thus tolerant of all religions and accepted their fundamental teachings. The moral principles were the same in all the great religions of the world. What is different is the distinctive symbol of each religion and what is to be discarded is the fetish this symbol is made into and the spirit of regarding one’s religion superior to others.
As opposed to foreign and mill-cloth, khadi is hand-spun, indigenous cloth. To him khadi “is the sun or a village solar system”, conceived “to make our villages starvation-proof”, “to deliver the poor from the bonds of the rich and create a moral and spiritual bond between the closes and the masses”, “a symbol of unity of India”. For Gandhiji, it was the main industry to uplift the village economy.
Good action to produce good results must be supported by means that are pure. According to him all actions produce results but at the same time deeds like seeds take their own time to fructify. Gandhiji was a firm believer in the theory of Karma and that is the reason he is known as a great ‘Karmayogi’. He says: “Every minute of ours is premortgaged, seeing that we are born debtors. We are born because we owe. We come into the world again and again until we have paid out what we have incurred on the score of Karma. Life is duty. “He even goes to the extent to say: “I wish that my name is forgotten and only my work endures.”
Inner Voice is the innate dictate of one’s conscience to decide between the right and the wrong. ”For me,” says Gandhiji, “ the voice of God, of conscience, of Truth, or the Inner Voice or ‘the still small voice’ means one and the same thing.” He adds: “Penances with me are no mechanical acts. They are done in preacher is always guided by this ever-applicable yardstick of the right or the wrong, moral or otherwise, called the inner voice.