Today's Beautiful Gem: Part II of `Gandhi on
Truth and Beauty' from Young India.
" Ramachandran (R): But, Bapuji, the most beautiful things have often been
created by men whose lives were not beautiful.
Gandhi (G): That only means that Truth and Untruth often coexist; good
and evil are often found together. In an artist also not seldom the
right perception of things and the wrong coexist. Truly beautiful
creations only come when right perception is at work. If these moments
are rare in life they are also rare in Art.
R: Is there Truth, Bapuji, in things that are neither moral nor immoral
in themselves? For instance, is there Truth in a sunset, or a
crescent moon that shines amid the stars at night?
G: Indeed, these beauties are truthful inasmuch as they make me think of
the Creator at the back of them. But even these sunsets and sunrises
would be mere hindrances if they did not help me to think of Him.
Anything which is a hindrance to the flight of the soul is a delusion
and a snare; even like the body, which often does actually hinder you
in the path of salvation.
R: So, Bapuji, Beauty and Truth are not merely separate aspects of the
G: Truth is the first thing to be sought for, and Beauty and Goodness
will then be added unto you. That is what Christ really taught in
the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was to my mind a supreme artist
because he saw and expressed Truth; and so was Muhammad. Scholars
say that the Koran is the most perfect composition in all Arabic
literature. Because both of them strove first for Truth, therefore
the grace of expression naturally came in. Yet neither Jesus nor
Muhammad wrote on Art. That is the Truth and Beauty I crave for, live
for, and would die for.
R: May not, after all, some artists be able to see Truth itself in and
through Beauty, rather than Beauty in and through Truth?
G: Some may, but here too, just as elsewhere, I must think in terms of
millions. And to the millions, we cannot give that training to acquire
a perception of Beauty in such a way as to see Truth in it. Show them
Truth first and they will see Beauty afterwards. Let us give today
first the vital things of life, and all the graces and ornaments of
life will follow. "
Om Santih! Peace! - J. K. Mohana Rao