Mahatma Gandhi: a ray biography
by Peter Liefhebber


It is not difficult to establish that the dominant characteristics of Mohandas K. Gandhi should be sought in the interaction between the second and sixth rays. The ray structure of this small Indian leader of the people (1869-1948) speaks for itself. The soul, personality and the astral bodies of Gandhi were all on the second ray of Love-Wisdom. His mental body was on the sixth ray of Idealism and Devotion. The physical ray was that of the third ray of Active, Creative Intelligence.

A second degree initiate, Mahatma Gandhi strove constantly and on the whole successfully to develop and express the best facets of his character. "Patience and endurance, love of truth, intuition, calmness, loyalty and faith and an unruffled state of mind" are some of the virtues which are ascribed to the second ray by the Master DK in Esoteric Psychology , Volume 1 (Lucis Press). It was precisely these attributes which were characteristic of Gandhi, or at least to which he aspired.

Let us begin with a closer analysis of some of these qualities beginning with "love of truth". Gandhi's own formulation of the meaning of satyagraha, one of the foundation stones of his philosophy, is significant: 'satyagraha is the strength which is born out of a love of truth and non-violence'. The title of his autobiography, The Story of my Experiments with Truth is no less typical. Gandhi took his desire for truth to extremes in his daily life. In his published writing he spoke with utter frankness of sexual experiences and conduct normally considered too intimate to divulge in public. Nothing was too sacred or intimate. He revealed, for instance, that once, while he was sitting at his father's death bed, he was overwhelmed by physical desire for his wife. He could not resist and left the others to watch over his father, who died while Gandhi was with his wife. He never forgave himself for this fact.

Gandhi dealt with other areas of his private life with the same insistence on openness. In fact, he eventually organized his life in such a way that privacy had no place. His aim was to do away with hypocrisy and prudery. He was oblivious to the aesthetic sensitivities of others: after every meal he would immediately begin cleaning his dentures at the table. There are many details in Gandhi's life which serve to illustrate his uncompromising efforts to eliminate pretence. We could posit that, in these cases, an essential quality of the second ray was perhaps exaggerated by the influence of Gandhi's sixth ray mental body. Assuming that Gandhi, being a second degree initiate, must have been fairly mentally polarized, his sixth ray mental body would have strongly influenced the second ray of Love-Wisdom which he possessed on three levels. His inherent striving for truth, sincerity and oneness was sometimes expressed in a typically sixth manner with what could be called mild fanaticism.

Several other periods and events in Gandhi's long life show a struggle for supremacy between second and sixth ray attributes. One of the most outstanding characteristics of his later life was his complete fearlessness. Neither physical violence, imprisonment, nor any threat to his personal welfare could deflect him from his path. Once he had plotted a course, he stuck to it with the extraordinary courage which the sixth-ray disciple can summon when trying to achieve a goal (an attribute only shared by the first ray of Will or Power and, in a different way, the fourth ray of Harmony through Conflict.) It is interesting to note that Gandhi acquired his fearlessness only in later life. His youth, when his mental body was not fully developed, was plagued by fear: fear of ghosts, of thieves, of snakes. Wild horses would not drag him out at night.

At that stage he had obviously not gained sufficient control over his astral body, which was influenced by the second ray, and this meant that he suffered from rather exaggerated fears. Second ray people are particularly sensitive to the gigantic thought form of fear which mankind has built.

Gandhi and his wife Kasturbai were married when they were thirteen, and later in life, with his usual love of honesty, he spoke frankly about his insatiable sexual appetite. In his adolescence Gandhi was no stranger to jealousy either. Often he would not allow his young wife to go out into the street alone. 'Jealousy and selfish love' are two of the vices of the sixth ray, according to the Master DK (Esoteric Psychology, Volume 1). As he grew older Gandhi gradually achieved control over the less desirable reactions of the sixth ray as well as those of the second. For example, as a young man Gandhi recognized in himself a desire for popularity. He was afraid of not being taken seriously; the thought that people might laugh at him was a constant nightmare. As a boy he was shy; he usually ran straight home after school and hardly dared speak to anyone. When he was a law student in London he had still not freed himself from this second ray weakness, strengthened by the sixth ray tendency to need the approval of others. Gandhi particularly did not want to be seen as a backward Indian peasant. He therefore dressed with the utmost care a top hat, pin-striped trousers and spats, a walking stick with silver knob were his safeguards against ridicule. His lack of self-confidence and fear of making a fool of himself in public, prevented him, on his return to India, from working effectively as a lawyer. The first time he was called upon to defend a client he was struck with such stage fright that he was unable to enter the law courts and was obliged to ask a colleague to stand in for him.

Once Gandhi had rid himself of timidity, his powerful sixth ray mental body swung him to the other extreme indifference to either praise or condemnation. An example of this, again, is how he dressed in later life. Whatever the occasion, Gandhi always wore the white shirt which he had woven himself and which caused Churchill to refer disapprovingly to 'that half-naked fakir'. On his visits to England neither the cold nor pouring rain could make Gandhi wear anything else but his open sandals and his thin shirt. Even an interview with the King did not tempt him into wearing something more in keeping with protocol. "How could you?" a journalist asked him. "The King had enough clothes for both of us," he replied affably.

Gandhi's development (from timid young person with very little self-confidence to fearless, self-assured man) began during his years in South Africa (1891-1914) where he became the heart and soul of the struggle of Indian immigrants for reasonable citizens' rights. During this time he lost every trace of the fearfulness which so marked his youth. The fearlessness of the sixth-ray person when fighting for his ideals, combined with the second-ray characteristic of being able to endure suffering with patience, was taken to the utmost in an equally second-ray tendency to make a habit of self sacrifice. This capacity was an essential part of Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence.

It is worth interjecting at this point a quotation from The Externalisation of the Hierarchy (Lucis Press) in which the Master Djwhal Khul indicates unequivocally Hierarchy's attitude to Gandhi's policies of pacifism at the time of the Second World War. Writing in 1942, the Master DK outlines the three main positions vis--vis the war: the democratic position, the totalitarian approach and, thirdly "The appeasement and the pacifist attitudes idealistic and impractical and finding their focus today in the attitude of Gandhi. He brings into clear perspective the uncompromising, fanatical attitude which is non-realistic and which will willingly sacrifice lives, nations and the future of humanity in order to attain its object. If Gandhi were to succeed in his objective now, it would precipitate civil war in India, bring about a slaughtering of countless thousands, and permit Germany to join hands with Japan across Asia, with the appalling probability of a totalitarian victory."

Gandhi's premise was that it is possible to force an opponent to a change of heart and to evoke compassion by patiently enduring suffering. His pacifism and the Master DK's view of it point up in sharp contrast the vices and virtues of Gandhi's ray structure. All these aspects are highlighted in one of the most gripping scenes in Richard Attenborough's fascinating film epic, Gandhi. Though beaten mercilessly the little civil rights leader persists in throwing the notorious 'pass-books' (identity papers which the South African authorities require all non-whites to carry) into the fire. I have already referred to Gandhi's second ray qualities of patience and endurance. Intuition, a distinguishing quality of both the second and the sixth rays, was another of his characteristics. When no logical and immediate solution to the many complex political problems with which he was faced presented itself, Gandhi would always wait until his 'inner voice' proffered a solution. To be sure, there is a great difference between this and the delusion of many aspirants and disciples who believe that they are constantly being guided, usually by a Master at the very least. Gandhi's intuition was of a different, more reliable nature and proved him right time and time again, even where friends and supporters had serious doubts. Gandhi intuitively knew exactly what response he could evoke through his hunger strikes, for instance, and by which simple, non-violent means he could most confuse the British authorities in India.

Although circumstances eventually permitted no other course than the partition of India, Gandhi opposed it to the last. His intuition told him that the creation of an independent Pakistan would not solve the conflict between Hindu and Muslim, but would be giving in to the evils of separativeness and religious fanaticism. Countless thousands of deaths and the largest migration of peoples ever were the consequences of the partitioning of India, and led even those who had at first opposed Gandhi to complain that 'Bapu' (father) had been right all along although no-one had been able to suggest an alternative solution.

'Loyalty' is another second ray attribute which Gandhi had developed to the full. It was expressed, for instance, in his attitude towards the British Empire and its peoples. In spite of all his objections to British rule over India, the Mahatma never permitted himself a single act of disloyalty. During the war years he prevented India from taking advantage of the weakening of the British Empire, just as earlier on in South Africa he had postponed demonstrations by the Indians so that the regime which he opposed could deal with strikes of their own railway staff.

The mixture of qualities of the second ray and of the sixth ray which I have described, constantly recur throughout Gandhi's life. His outstanding second ray characteristics were always rather exaggerated by the sixth ray virtues of devotion and one-pointedness. More than once this produced the interesting result of two virtues strengthening each other to the point of instability.

Here are some examples by way of an illustration. For a long period in his life Gandhi believed it necessary to wrestle with his powerful sex drive. At the age of thirty seven, he made a vow of brahmacharya and imposed on those around him the same degree of self control. In his South African ashram, Tolstoi-farm, boys and girls had to bathe together in the spring and at night everyone slept on an open veranda, boys and girls close together. Predictably, Gandhi's advocacy of self-control was not practiced as enthusiastically by everyone in the community; not everyone is a Gandhi. His reaction when things went wrong was no example of understanding, tolerance or wisdom: he personally cut off all the hair of a girl who, with enthusiastic cooperation of two boys, had preferred sexual experiment to Gandhi's injunction.

Nor can it be said that he was not prone to over-react when he came to realize the injustice of the Hindu caste system In 1920 he had described it as "fundamental, natural and essential". Only two years later, he allowed his youngest son Devadas to marry a girl (Devadas had begged his father's permission to marry her for years) from another caste. Until then Gandhi had viewed love matches as less valid than marriages arranged by the parents. This narrow-minded (sixth ray) attitude could not last long in a man of Gandhi's calibre, a man who was constantly reaching for perfection. In 1932 he declared that the Hindu religion does not forbid mixed marriages or prohibit different castes from eating together. From then on Gandhi would attend only mixed marriages. He dealt a coup de grace to his earlier ideas by eventually permitting only mixed marriages in his ashram, Sevagashram his definition of 'mixed' in this case being that one partner should be a harijan or 'untouchable'. An untouchable is officially designated as not belonging to any of the four main castes and therefore condemned to a most humiliating existence.

Gandhi tended to impose his own ideals of self-perfection (resulting in permanent dissatisfaction with himself; the second ray type is usually very self-critical) on others. He expected only one thing from his four sons saintliness. This is an aspect of that sixth ray inclination to divide the world into two camps: the saints and the devils. In his positive view of men Gandhi had no place for the second group, so everyone just had to be saints; this particularly applied to his immediate associates. The Mahatma rightly believed that good character and service are more important than scholarship or a profession. Because of this conviction he did not allow his sons to be educated, perhaps forgetting that character and service plus education can provide many more possibilities. In such cases the sixth ray black-or-white mentality (either-or) sometimes overrides second ray inclusiveness (and-and).

The following is a short summary of other features of Gandhi's life which are a typical expression of his ray make-up:

Teaching is an expression of the second ray and in Gandhi's life manifests itself in his life-long concern with education through various publications, in which he wrote educative dissertations about religion, morality, non-violence and other subjects.

The second ray person can cope with a flood of details. In the midst of major political matters of global importance, Gandhi always had an eye, time and interest for the smallest individual matters.

Certain types of second ray people are distinguished by their simplicity. Gandhi's life increasingly became a remarkable example of this. He spoke simply; he lived simply; he reduced complex matters to essentials; he used simple but effective methods of political pressure and so reached the hearts of the humblest people.

The sixth ray talent of always seeing the ideal behind every form and manifestation, even if to others against all better knowledge, could be recognized in all Gandhi's works and aspirations.

Some of the things that Gandhi did not do in life, also tell us about his rays. Although he could have had any political position in his country he never attempted to acquire formal power, perhaps because he did not have the first ray of Will or Power in his make-up. He preferred to leave the actual governing to his friend Jawaharlal Nehru, who had two first ray soul and mental bodies.

His tenacious battle for Indian independence over a period of several decades demonstrates how his second ray personality had learned to conquer every expression of sixth ray impatience and short-sighted timing.

Ahimsa (harmlessness), one of the most important principles to Gandhi, is one of the specific qualities of a second ray astral body.

Gandhi's ability to express his ideals physically can be attributed to his third ray physical body. It explains his ability for unceasing work and perhaps also his changeability. He could suddenly lay aside an issue for long periods of time and address himself with equal intensity to something completely different.

I realize that this analysis could give a somewhat critical impression where certain of Gandhi's relative shortcomings are emphasized. These shortcomings, however, are of no importance whatsoever in comparison with the exceptional qualities he displayed. It is in the contrast between his phenomenal achievements and his much less important failings that the interaction of Gandhi's rays can be seen most clearly.

As stated before, Mahatma Gandhi possessed all the particular virtues of the second ray mentioned by the Master DK and he also made the 'virtues to be acquired' his own to an admirable degree (virtues of love, compassion, unselfishness, energy). Of the typical second ray vices (callousness, indifference to others, immersion in study) he did not have a trace. Almost the same applies in the case of sixth ray attributes which influenced him by way of his mental body: devotion, tenderness and intuition to name but a few were virtues which he liberally manifested.

He struggled with some of the vices of his ray structure in his youth, as we have seen. His stage of evolutionary advancement made it possible for him to overcome the defects of one ray with the qualities of another. Sectarianism, division and forming of factions, which are all vices of the sixth ray, would not stand a chance against the inclusive, all-embracing understanding which is the higher expression of the second ray. It was manifested through his indefatigable attempts to move Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and Christians to be tolerant towards one another. Similarly, in efforts to acquire some of the virtues of the sixth ray, such as love of truth and self-sacrifice, similar second ray tendencies must have been a great help to him (Self-sacrifice can even take on a form of glamour in the true second ray person.) The end result did not always lead to a golden middle way. That is not surprising if we remember that in one aspect the sixth ray and the second ray have one important shortcoming in common a potential lack of equilibrium. This lack is especially characteristic of the person whose soul and astral body are both on the second ray of Love-Wisdom and also the sixth-ray person's task is to achieve that equilibrium. That this is one thing that Gandhi did not manage to achieve in his life is less important and it does not detract in the least from the brilliant qualities he displayed in so many other fields. It makes him almost a classic example of what a second ray initiate can be and achieve when the code 2-2-6-2-3 applies to them.


Bibliography: The Alice Bailey Teachings (Lucis Press) in particular: Esoteric Psychology, Discipleship in the New Age and Glamour, a World Problem. Gandhi the Man, by Eknath Easwaran, Nilgiri Press, USA; Gandhi, His life and message for the World, by Louis Fischer, New American Library, USA. The Words of Gandhi, Newmarket Press, New York, USA. Gandhi, a pictorial biography, Newmarket Press,USA.


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