Another piece in my icon series is complete. Gandhi's life, words, and wisdom are truly a valuable and needed gift to humanity. Ironically, a stigma is placed on Gandhi in some Christian circles, which deeply grieves me. Gandhi was deeply influenced by Jesus and devoted to embodying His way of being in the world...so much so that he adopted a daily practice of reading the Sermon on the Mount and has written that, "Jesus was the most active resister known perhaps to history. This was non-violence par excellence" (Gandhi on Nonviolence, p. 55). Though Gandhi claimed no one particular religion solely as his, I wonder if in many ways––especially in terms of nonviolent resistance, peacemaking, care for the poor, communal unity and equality, renouncing of empire and worldly power, and the study/embodying of Jesus' words and practice––if Gandhi looked more like a Jesus-follower in the world than many of us modern-day Christians do. At the very least, I see value rather than danger in learning his story and hope that more folks might come to share that perspective as well.
What you see in the illustrated icon:
- Gandhi pictured in the white, homespun cloth that eventually became the only clothing that he wore (and made for himself) as part of a protest to British rule in India in which he encouraged the Indian people to wear no foreign textiles.
- His hands in the namaste position with which he consistently greeted others. Namaste literally translates as "I bow to you." It is also rumored that when Albert Einstein asked Gandhi what exactly his greeting meant, he explained it as follows: “I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the place in you of light, love, truth, peace and wisdom. I honor the place in you where, when you are in that place, and I am in that place, there is only one of us.”
- Waves of salt water in the background that symbolize the water of the Arabian Sea where Gandhi led people in the Salt March of 1930. This was an active, nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly in colonial India and an essential part of the revolution that led to independence for India being granted in 1947.
If you're unfamiliar with Ghandi or just curious to learn more, here are a few good places to do that: