Selected Letters of Gandhi : Part-2

A collection of Mahatma Gandhi letters.

Chapter-9: Knowing God

There cannot be any proof for the existence of God which is acceptable to human reason, for God is beyond reason. We land ourselves in great difficulty if we think that reason is everything and that there is nothing beyond it. The human soul herself is beyond reason. People have tried to reason out her existence as well as the existence of God. But he who knows the soul and God by his intellect knows nothing. Intellect at times is useful in the acquisition of knowledge, but a man who depends upon it alone can never know the self, just as someone who knows the advantages of eating food grains by his intellect cannot derive the benefits which accrue from actual eating. The soul and God are not objects of knowledge. They are knowers themselves and therefore cannot be apprehended by the intellect. There are two stages in the knowledge of God, (1) faith and (2) experience arising from faith. The great teachers of mankind have borne witness to the existence of God by their experience. And those whom the world would dismiss as fools have borne witness by their faith. If we share their faith, we shall have actual experience in God's good time. A man sees another with his eyes, but being deaf hears nothing. If then he says the other man cannot be heard he would be wrong of course. In the same way to say that God cannot be recognized by reason is to betray our ignorance. We cannot perceive God by the senses or apprehend Him by the intellect, just as we cannot hear with the eyes. A different faculty is needed to realize God and that faculty is unshakable faith. The intellect can be misled every moment as we know to our cost. But real faith can never be led astray.

Written in Yervada Prison on May 5, 1932; translated from the Gujarati.