Today's Beautiful Gem: Part I of `Gandhi on
Truth and Beauty' from Young India.
" Ramachandran (R): How is it that many intelligent and eminent men, who love
and admire you, hold that you have rules out of the scheme of national
regeneration all considerations of Art?
Gandhi (G): There are two aspects, the outward and the inward. All true
Art is the expression of the soul. The outward forms have value only
in so far as they are the expression of the inner spirit of man.
R: The great artists themselves have declared that Art is the translation
of the urge and unrest in the soul of the artists into words, colours,
G: Yes, Art of that nature has the greatest possible appeal for me. But
I know that many call themselves artists in whose works there is
absolutely no trace of the soul's upward urge and unrest.
R: But the artists claim to see and to find Truth through outward beauty.
Is it possible to see and find Truth in that way?
G: I would reverse the order. I see and find Beauty through Truth. All
Truths, not merely true ideas, but truthful faces, truthful songs, are
highly beautiful. Whenever men begin to see Beauty in Truth, then Art
R: But cannot Beauty be separated from Truth and Truth from Beauty?
G: I should want to know exactly what is Beauty. If it is waht people
generally understand by what word, then they are wide apart. Is a
woman with fair features necessarily beautiful?
G: Even if she may be of an ugly character?
R: But her face in that case cannot be beautiful.
G: You now admit that mere outward form may not make a thing beautiful.
To a true artist only that face is beautiful which, quite apart from
its exterior, shines with the Truth within the soul. There is then,
as I have said, no Beauty apart from Truth. On the other hand, Truth
may manifest itself in forms which may not be outwardly beautiful at
Note: G. Ramachandran, a student in 1924 when the above dialogue took
place, was the first Vice-Chancellor of the rural university at
Gandhigram, near Madurai in Tamil Nadu.
Om Santih! Peace! - J. K. Mohana Rao