Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

Publisher's Note

Something About Late Shri V.R. Gandhi
Contents
Introduction
I - The Sankhya Philosophy
  II - The Yoga Philosophy
  III - The Naya Philosophy
  IV - Mimamsa
  V - The Vedanta Philosophy
  VI - Buddhism
  VII - Jainism
  Sanskrit Terms

Something About Late Shri V.R. Gandhi

 

 

`The Systems of Indian Philosophy' is published here for the first time. It contains lectures which late V. R. Gandhi delivered before American audience of the common people, while he was on his journey to attend the World Congress of Religions held for the first time in the United States of America in 1893 A.D.

 

The manuscript of the work, written in the author's own handwriting, remained unknown for very long. And fortunately it was discovered just in his centenary year. It is really a matter of happy co‑incidence that Dr. K. K. Dixit, who himself is a sincere student of Indian and Western philosophy as well as a proficient scholar of ancient Indian language‑Sanskrit, Prakrit, Pali, etc., has carefully edited the present work. It is an outstanding characteristic of Dr. Dixit that whatever he writes, he writes after mature consideration, without any partiality or exaggeration.

 

Dr. Dixit has written an elaborate introduction to this work. Any sensible Enquirer, who sincerely tries to understand it, will find no difficulty in properly evaluating these lectures. When I think on this line I feel that there remains nothing particular for me to write. But because I hold Gandhi in high esteem and because I have good faith in Shri Mahavira Jaina Vidyalaya, the Institute that publishes the present work, I am inspired to say few words.

 

For the last so many years, I have been hearing one harping note. It is this that the Jaina tradition should engage scholars to produce works on the cultural subjects like Religion, Philosophy, Literature, Art, etc. This note has originated from our special contact with the Western culture. But the Jaina tradition has formed the tendency that whatever the scholars write by themselves or whatever they write at the instance of others should all be published or got published in English. All the cultured Jainas who have got Western education uniformly, it has been noticed, desire that all the material pertaining to all the cultural aspects of the Jaina tradition should be made available in English. The desire is no doubt noble. But it has arisen mainly from the blind imitation of others and mental temperament devoid of deep understanding regarding publications in English language.

 

On the one hand, everywhere is evinced this noble desire for publishing or getting published the works in English, while on the had indifference is noticed towards the reading and study of the published English works which are capable of satisfying the thirst for knowledge, not only of the common people but also of the eminent scholars: if this contradiction is found among the business‑minded Jaina laymen, there is no special cause of our getting disheartened; but if this defect is seen even among Jains ascetics who have pledged to devote themselves to the acquisition of knowledge, then we cannot but say that there is something wrong with the order of Jaina monks.

 

There are four sects of Jaina tradition. We may take consolation in thinking that there is no cause for complaining much against the three sects other than the idol‑worshipping Svetambara one. But it is this idol worshipping Svetambara sect that sent Shri Gandhi to America as a representative of the entire Jaina tradition. And about 75 years before, he successfully fulfilled this mission there. Moreover, he wrote such works in English relating to Jaina tradition as is written by no other Indian ‑ especially Jaina‑scholar even to this day. But alas! Rarely do we find the deserving English‑knowing persons who read and study these works.

 

Gandhi's works pertaining to the three subjects related to Jain tradition have been published before many years; and the standard of these works is so high that no author, as far as I understand, has reached that standard in producing works pertaining to those subjects. Jaina Yoga (mysticism), Jaina Philosophy and Jaina Karma doctrine are the three subjects, which Gandhi presented in English with depth and clarity. If at least some solitary ascetic or monk had studied these works, then he would have made a considerable contribution to the fund of knowledge in possession of the Jainas, would have translated or got translated them into Hindi, Gujarati and other Indian languages and thus would have finally helped us in giving a new mould to the curriculum of the Pathasalas (institutions conduction classes of Religion and Philosophy) conducted by Jaina tradition.

 

Were I to tell my own story, I should say that I heard the name of Shri V. R. Gandhi from no Pannyasa, no scholar and no Acarya except the late Vijayavallabhsuriji, who belonged to idol‑worshipping Svetambara tradition. When they knew not even the name of Shri V. R. Gandhi then what to talk of his works!

 

Today this narrow‑mindedness has almost disappeared. So first I suggest that the faithful translation of all the three works into Hindi, Gujarati and other Indian languages should be published without delay. And they should be included in the curriculum of the classes of Religion and Philosophy, conducted by the Jaina tradition. Only then the mind of the new generation would become broad‑based instead of becoming narrow, as also the student of the neglected Pathasalas will assume some luster resulting from this knowledge.

 

This publication embodying a collection of lectures on six systems of Indian Philosophy is really important not only for the Jaina scholars but also for other Indian and non-Indian scholars. It is important for three reasons: first, they were addressed to the educated common people of America, by a representative of Jaina tradition, who was above all sectarian spirit. Secondly they reveal the author's deep and extensive study of the subject; and their presentation is natural. Thirdly, English language in which they are written is pure and pristine to such extent that even the learned editor has found no scope for any correction.

 

These lectures on the systems of Indian philosophy should be translated into Hindi as early as possible so that the students of different levels can understand them. In short, then only the students can avail of the faithful presentation of the subject, which they need most. Moreover, the study of these lectures will prove fruitful to them for the further study of the voluminous works on the subject.

 

On the auspicious occasion of the birth‑day celebration of Venerable Vijayanandasurishvaraji (Venerable Atmaramji Maharaj), revered Vijayavallabhasuri often praised Gandhi in glowing terms spontaneously coming from his own personal experience.  He used to say that wonderful were the grasping power and politeness of Gandhiji. And it is on that account that he learnt what was essential from Venerable Atmaramaji Maharaj within a short time. And he duly utilized in America the knowledge thus acquired. But from the talks of revered Vijayavallabhasuri about Gandhi, it emerges that he had no knowledge of these six lectures. He talked only about the above‑mentioned three works pertaining to Jaina tradition. Now that we are celebrating the centenaries of Gandhi and Acarya ji, Shri Mahavira Jaina Vidyalaya should carry out all this work remaining incomplete or untouched. This is what is desired.

 

Lastly, it is necessary to note some characteristics of Gandhi. First, he was a good scholar of Sanskrit. This is the reason, why he could properly understand all the systems of Indian philosophy, and this is again the reason why he rightly and fearlessly suggested the Christians of America, to ponder over the question as to, whether the missionaries or priests they sent to India conduct their proselytizing activities adopting any method and means or with proper understanding of Indian culture. Really speaking those missionaries sent to India, says Gandhi, should learn Sanskrit; otherwise they will not properly understand Indian culture and hence they will present the Indian culture in a distorted form. Here we are reminded of Mahatma Gandhi ji's fearless advice to the Christian missionaries about their proselytizing activities. His second characteristics is that he read, with full concentration, the writings of mature Indological scholars of different countries, Germany, etc. And in the preparation of his lectures he fully utilized their writings. This is the reason why his lectures are impartial and faithful. The third thing, which is noteworthy, is his association with Mahatma Gandhiji. On the one hand Mahatma ji started the study of Law and on the other he commenced his experiments on food. As is referred to by Mahatma ji in his autobiography ( Pt. II chapter 3, p.56) Shri V. R. Gandhi joined him in his experiments on food in those days. If Mahatma ji had not referred to this story, we would have remained in complete darkness about the personal relationship between the two Gandhis of Saurashtra. Lastly, I should refer to Shri V.R.Gandhi's courageous spirit as also in his vision of the future. At that time in one of his lectures addressed to the American public he declared: "You know, my brothers and sisters, that we are not an independent nation, we are subjects of her Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria, the 'Defender of the Faith'. But if we were a nation in all that that name implies, with our government and our own rulers, with our laws and institutions controlled by us free and independent, I affirm that we should seek to establish and for ever maintain peaceful relations with all nations of the world. "The prophetic words are as if echoed in the thoughts of Mahatma ji.

 

Sarit Kunj, Ahmedabad9               SUKHLAL           24- 12- 1969            SANGHAVI