SOURCE: Gandhi, Mohandas K. An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Translated by Mahadev Desai. Boston: Beacon Press, 1957, pp. 503–505.
The time has now come to bring these chapters to a close.
My life from this point onward has been so public that there is hardly anything about it that people do not know. Moreover, since 1921 I have worked in such close association with the Congress leaders that I can hardly describe any episode in my life since then without referring to any relations with them. For though Shraddhanandji, the Deshabandhu, Hakim Saheb and Lalaji are no more with us today, we have the good luck to have a host of other veteran Congress leaders still living and working in our midst. The history of the Congress, since the great changes in it that I have described above, is still in the making. And my principal experiments during the past seven years have all been made through the Congress. A reference to my relations with the leaders would therefore be unavoidable, if I set about describing my experiments further. And this I may not do, at any rate for the present, if only from a sense of propriety. Lastly, my conclusions from my current experiments can hardly as yet be regarded as decisive. It therefore seems to be my plain duty to close this narrative here. In fact my pen instinctively refuses to proceed further.
It is not without a wrench that I have to take leave of the reader. I set a high value on my experiments. I do not know whether I have been able to do justice to them. I can only say that I have spared no pains to give a faithful narrative. To describe truth, as it has appeared to me and in the exact manner in which I have arrived at it, has been my ceaseless effort. The exercise has given me ineffable mental peace, because, it has been my fond hope that it might bring faith in Truth and Ahimsa to waverers.
My uniform experience has convinced me that there is no other God than Truth. And if every page of these chapters does not proclaim to the reader that the only means for the realization of Truth is Ahimsa, I shall deem all my labour in writing these chapters to have been in vain. And, even though my efforts in this behalf may prove fruitless, let the readers know that the vehicle, not the great principle, is at fault. After all, however sincere my strivings after Ahimsa may have been, they have still been imperfect and inadequate. The little fleeting glimpses, therefore, that I have been able to have of Truth can hardly convey an idea of the indescribable luster of Truth, a million times more intense than that of the sun we daily see with our eyes. In fact what I have caught is only the faintest glimmer of that mighty effulgence. But this much I can say with assurance, as a result of all my experiments, that a perfect vision of Truth can only follow a complete realization of Ahimsa.
To see the universal and all-pervading Spirit of Truth face to face one must be able to love the meanest of creation as oneself. And a man who aspires after that cannot afford to keep out of any field of life. That is why my devotion to Truth has drawn me into the field of politics; and I can say without the slightest hesitation, and yet in all humility, that those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means.
Identification with everything that lives is impossible without self-purification; without self-purification the observance of the law of Ahimsa must remain an empty dream; God can never be realized by one who is not pure of heart. Self-purification therefore must mean purification in all the walks of life. And purification being highly infectious, purification of oneself necessarily leads to the purification of ones' surroundings.
But the path of self-purification is hard and steep. To attain to perfect purity one has to become absolutely passion-free in thought, speech and action; to rise above the opposing currents of love and hatred, attachment and repulsion. I know that I have not in me as yet that triple purity, in spite of constant ceaseless striving for it. That is why the world's praise fails to move me, indeed it very often stings me. To conquer the subtle passions seems to me to be harder far than the physical conquest of the world by the force of arms. Ever since my return to India I have had experiences of the dormant passions lying hidden within me. The knowledge of them has made me feel humiliated though not defeated. The experiences and experiments have sustained me and given me great joy. But I know that I have still before me a difficult path to traverse. I must reduce myself to zero. So long as a man does not of his own free will put himself last among his fellow creatures, there is no salvation for him. Ahimsa is the farthest limit of humility.
In bidding farewell to the reader, for the time being at any rate, I ask him to join with me in prayer to the God of Truth that He may grant me the boon of Ahimsa in mind, word and deed.
- Auld Lang Syne closing song of New Year’s Eve. [Music: Leach, 91]
- extreme unction (last rites ) anointing at the hour of death, sacrament of Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church. [Christianity: NCE, 689]
- gold watch token of gratitude often bestowed on retiring employee after years of service. [Am. Pop. Culture: Misc.]
- golden handshake token of gratitude bestowed on retiring employee after years of service. [Br. Pop. Culture: Misc.]
- kiss of death gangsters’ farewell ritual before murdering victim. [Am. Cult.: Misc.]
- Last Hurrah, The portrays epitome of a politician’s goodbye. [Am. Lit.: The Last Hurrah ]
- Last Supper Christ’s final dinner with disciples before crucifixion. [N.T.: Matthew 26:26–29; Mark 14:22–25; Luke 22:14–20]
- MacArthur’s goodbye “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.” [Am. Hist.: Van Doren, 528]
- Michaelmas daisy traditional symbol of farewell. [Flower Symbolism: Jobes, 407]
fare·well / ferˈwel/ • interj. used to express good wishes on parting: farewell, Albert! • n. an act of parting or of marking someone's departure: the dinner had been arranged as a farewell. ∎ parting good wishes: he had come on the pretext of bidding her farewell I bade him a fond farewell.