Volume 36, 1998
Philosophy of Religion
Geeta S. Mehta
The Integral Humanism of Mahatma
Humanism as a theistic, pragmatic theory was first conceived around 2000 BCE in India. It is a this-worldly, human-centered, secular philosophical outlook. Gandhi understands religion as connoting the individual’s integrity and society’s solidarity. Free-will for him is freedom of the "rational self." Morality is not a matter of outward conformity, but of inward fulfillment. His integral humanism is indicated by his enumerated seven social sins: (1) politics without principles; (2) wealth without work; (3) commerce without morality; (4) knowledge without character; (5) pleasure without conscience; (6) science without morality; and (7) worship without sacrifice. The eleven vows recited in his Ášrama prayer began with Truth and Non-Violence as foundational for the integration of moral, social, political and economic values. Non-Violence should be a creed rather than a policy. Gandhi’s Truth meant freedom of self-actualization for societal development. He fulfilled these two principal themes of humanism in the civic function of religion and religious tolerance which aimed at evolving moral individuals in moral societies. "The twenty-first century should bring a synthesis of science and spirituality, socialism with human rights, social-change with nonviolence. And this is Gandhi."