THERE ARE two aspects of things-the outward and the inward…. The outward has to
meaning except in so far as it helps the inward. All true Art is thus an
expression of the soul. The outward forms have value only in so far as they are
the expression of the inner spirit of man.
I know that many call themselves artists, and are recognized as such, and yet in
their works there is absolutely no trace of the soul's upward urge and unrest.
All true Art must help the soul to realize its inner self. In my own case, I
find that I can do entirely without external forms in my soul's realization. I
can claim, therefore, that there is truly efficient Art in my life, though you
might not see what you call works of Art about me.
My room may have blank walls; and I may even dispense with the roof, so that I
may gaze out at the starry heavens overhead that stretch in an unending expanse.
What conscious Art of man can give me the panoramic scenes that open out before
me, when I look up to the sky above with all its shining stars?
This, however, does not mean that I refuse to accept the value of productions of
Art, generally accepted as such, but only that I personally feel how inadequate
these are compared with the eternal symbols of beauty in Nature. These
productions of man's Art have their value only in so far as they help the soul
onward towards self-realization.
Truth is the first thing
to be sought for, and Beauty and Goodness will then be added unto you. Jesus
was, to my mind, a supreme artist because he saw and expressed Truth; and so was
Muhammad, the Koran being, the most perfect composition in all Arabic
literature--at any rate, that is what scholars say. It is because both of them
strove first for Truth that the grace of expression naturally came in and yet
neither Jesus not Muhammad wrote on Art. That is the Truth and Beauty I crave
for, live for, and would die for.
– Young India,20-11-1924
for the Millions
Here too, just as elsewhere, I must think in terms of the 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… Whatever can be useful to those starving millions in beautiful to my
mind. Let us give today first the vital things of life and all the graces and
ornaments of life will follow.
- Young India,20-11-1924
I want art and literature that can speak to the millions.
- Harijan, 14-11-1936
After all, Art can only be expressed not through inanimate power-driven
machinery designed for mass-production, but only through the delicate living
touch of the hands of men and women.
- Young India,14-3-1929.
True art takes note not merely of form but also of what lies behind. There is an
art that kills and an art that gives life… True art must be evidence of
happiness, contentment and purity of its authors.
- Young India,11-8-1921
I love music and all the other arts, but I do not attach such value to them as
is generally done. I cannot, for example, recognize the value of those
activities that require technical knowledge for their understanding.
Life is greater than all art. I would go even further and declare that the man
whose life comes nearest to perfection is the greatest artist; for what is art
without the sure foundation and framework of a noble life?
We have somehow accustomed ourselves to the belief that art is independent of
the purity of private life. I can say with all the experience at my command that
nothing could be more untrue. As I am nearing the end of my earthly life, I can
say that purity of life, is the highest and truest art. The art of producing
good music from a cultivated voice can be achieved by many, but the art of
producing that music from the harmony of a pure life is achieved very rarely.
I see and find Beauty in Truth or through Truth. All Truths, not merely true
ideas, but truthful faces, truthful pictures or songs are highly beautiful.
People generally fail to see Beauty in Truth, the ordinary man runs away from it
and becomes blind to the beauty in it. Whenever men begin to see Beauty in
Truth, then true Art will arise.
- Young India,13-11-1924
To a true artist only that face is beautiful which, quite apart from its
exterior, shines with the Truth within the soul. There is… no Beauty apart from
Truth. On the other hand, Truth may manifest itself in forms, which may not be
outwardly beautiful at all. Socrates, we are told, was the most truthful man of
his time, and yet his features are said to have been the ugliest in Greece. To
my mind he was beautiful, because all his life was a striving after Truth, and
you may remember that his outward form did not prevent Phidias from appreciating
the beauty of Truth in him, though as an artist he was accustomed to see Beauty
in outward forms also.
- Young India,13-11-1924
Truth and Untruth often co-exist; good and evil are often found together. In an
artist also not seldom [do] the right perception of things and the wrong
co-exist. Truly beautiful creations come when right perception is at work. If
these monuments are rare in life, they are also rare in Art.
- Young India,13-11-1924
These beauties are sunset or a crescent moon that shines amid the stars at
night'] are truthful, inasmuch as they make me think of the Creator at the back
of them. How else could these be beautiful, but for the Truth that is in the
center of creation? When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the
moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator. I try to see Him and His
mercies in all these creations. But even the sunsets and sunrises would be mere
hindrances if they did not help me to think of the soul is a delusion and a
snare; even like the body, which often does hinder you in the path of salvation.
Why can't you see the beauty of colour in vegetables? And then, there is beauty
in the speckless sky. But no, you want the colours of the rainbow, which is a
mere optical illusion. We have been taught to believe that what is beautiful
need not be useful and what is useful cannot be beautiful. I want to show that
what is useful can also be beautiful.