Why Gandhi Inspires Me

I might not be your average Gandhian. After all, I live in the West, I don’t wear khadi or even a sari, and I certainly don’t abstain from liquor.

But I do think of myself as a Gandhian, and here’s why:

Because I believe in self-reflection. To me, the greatest quality of the Mahatma was the fact that his whole life was an experiment in self-improvement. He explored almost every facet of his own personality, striving all the time to make himself a better person. Of course, he made mistakes, but he was only human.

Because I believe in non-violence. Gandhi’s ideas of non-violence are usually illustrated with his peaceful resistance against India’s British colonizers. But for Gandhi, non-violence was a far bigger, all-embracing concept. It included violence through words, through action, even through thought. He recognized that the smallest, careless act could hurt someone, somewhere. In its essence, non-violence was, to Gandhi, about living as consciously as one possibly could, aware of one’s actions on the environment and the people and creatures around oneself.

Because I believe in simple living. And although this is not something I practice as well as I would like to right now because I live in a city, caught up in the pressures of making a living, it is an ideal I aspire to. Let’s face it: what do we really need? A shelter over our heads, enough to eat, the love of those we love, and a sense of satisfaction with what we do. Stuff, in the end, is only stuff. You can never have enough of it, and if you have more than you need, why not share it with those who don’t? No one could have said it better than Gandhi: “The Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs but not every man’s greed.”

Because I believe in ethical vegetarianism. This one flows from all of the above. And it is, as all of you know, an important theme in my life and on my blog. What delights me most about Gandhi is that he was an ethical vegetarian. Sure, he was born in a vegetarian family, but that wasn’t why he embraced vegetarianism. In fact, he started eating meat as a very young man on the advice of a friend who told him that the British were stronger and could take over India because they ate meat. Gandhi returned to vegetarianism both because of a promise he gave his mother when he left to study in England, and because he realized that the concept of non-violence had to include every sentient creature. Later he even stopped drinking milk after learning of the cruel practices used to make cows yield more milk. Gandhi, I strongly believe, would have been a vegan had he not been advised by his doctor to drink goat’s milk after a series of health problems and because, in those days, alternatives like soy milk were unheard-of in India.

It’s 139 years to the day since Gandhi was born, more than 60 years since he died. But when I need inspiration in these modern times, I often turn to the little old man. His ideas are only ideals in our torn world, but truth be told, they never cease to fill me with hope.

And that’s why I am a Gandhian.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

14 thoughts on “Why Gandhi Inspires Me

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    October 2, 2008 at 3:38pm

    loved it vaishu…really an inspiring post! I like Gandhi too but i really don’t follow most of his principles :) mainly becoz I am lazy!

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    October 2, 2008 at 5:04pm

    Nice write-up about the great personality!

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    October 2, 2008 at 5:41pm

    I think “self reflection” is the difference between a simple human being and Mahatma. Once we start giving a serious thought about our actions and it’s effect, everything else will fall in place.

    Very nicely written Vaishali.

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    October 2, 2008 at 10:32pm

    Well written!

    I was not a fan of Gandhi. He wreaked havoc on my plans – first in school and then in college. Now that I am older – sooo much older – I long for everything Gandhi, including the national holiday on Oct 2.


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    October 3, 2008 at 3:41am

    This was such a beautiful post. Though I love talking about delicious vegan food, it’s also so important to be conscious about WHY we make this choice in the first place. Thank you for the reminder :)

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    October 3, 2008 at 4:36am

    wow, a very nice inspiring post dear! Well said about Mahatmaji.

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    October 3, 2008 at 4:47am

    Thats a nice piece of info vaishali……

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    October 3, 2008 at 1:26pm

    beautiful post, Vaishali. Wish I could express myself like you do:-)

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    October 3, 2008 at 1:53pm

    That made for a lovely read, Vaishali.

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    October 19, 2012 at 11:18am

    To live happy and prosperous life, one should have less regrets. Why should fellow living things should be tortured in the name of food.

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