Page:A Brief Study of Mahatma Gandhi.djvu/3

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Rajaram Vinayak Gogate, M. A., Ed. M.[1]

TRUE greatness and nobility of a nation does not depend upon its territorial bigness, nor upon its military and naval power, nor upon its wealth, but upon its just dealing and unselfish service to others. The possession of material powers brings in its train not only the possibilities of health, wealth and happiness, but also it is fraught with equally certain dangers which are quite capable of destroying the possessor materially as well as morally. Nations have risen and fallen, leaving behind them a lesson which, if looked in the face, could help to save further disintegration of humanity. But the intoxication of material power is still too great for mankind, and one has to agree with Edmund Burke in his assertion that men do not learn from history.

In spite of this discouraging aspect of human nature, it is possible with a little sober deliberation to discern that there are still other elements in human nature, viz., reason and righteousness, which persist in bringing forth in the midst of a matter-mad humanity personalities that are at once human and capable of revealing the divine potentialities of men. All greatness has to stand the test of time, and judged by this standard, one is happily surprised to realize that those civilizations which are called primitive, are the only ones that have brought forth permanent values. Even to this day, in spite of the material degeneration of the Orient, which has inflicted upon its teeming millions the punishment of ignorance, misery and poverty, it is obvious that great souls are arising in those lands who are admitted to be the saving grace of this war-torn world.

It is the recurring presence of such great souls as Buddha, Jesus, Confucius, Lincoln and Tolstoy which has brought from time to time stability to the tottering edifice of human civilization. The great English writer, H. G. Wells, in his attempt to write the history of the world as a narrative of man and his works on this earth, found himself impelled to engage in a retrospective evaluation of the makers of human history. In choosing the six greatest men from the recorded history of the world, he has taken one Jew, one Greek, one Englishman, one American and two Indians, Gautam, the Buddha, and Emperor Ashōka. If Wells were to pick the six greatest living men of the present age, I believe that again he would

  1. Mr. Gogate represented India at the World Conference on Education in 1923 at San Francisco and as a member of the Board of Directors attended the Educational Congress held at Edinburgh in the summer of 1925. At present he holds the Macy Scholarship at Teachers' College and the chair of Philosophy in the Pre-Legal Division of the New Jersey Law School at Newark, N. J.