Monday, 8 August 2016

The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy


1.Title                                              The Kingdom of God is                                                                                         Within You                                                                              
2.Author                                                              Leo Tolstoy
3.Publisher                                                          Rupa & Co.(2006 reprint)
4.First Published in                                            1893.
5.ISBN                                                                 81-7167-515-8.
6.Format                                                              Rupa Paperback
7.Page Count                                                       407.
8.Price                                                                  Rs 295.
9.Genre                                                                 Essay
10.Part of series                                                   No.
11.Translator                                                        Aylmer Maude
12Rating                                                              *****
 This book was  one of the two books which inspired MK Gandhi to fight for freedom of India from British rule, the other book being  Unto This last by John Ruskin.
              Jesus Christ said,” Ye have heard that it was said , An eye for an eye , and a tooth for tooth.But I say unto you ,Resist not  him that is evil ;but whosoever  smiteth  thee on thy right cheek , turn to him  the other also .And if any  man would go  to law with thee, and take away  thy coat , let him have thy cloak also.”We are not to resist evil by evil, but by all just means.
                     A Christian  must not voluntarily pay the taxes .He must not participate in elections , in the law court  or the government , for such a participation  is participation in  governmental violence.The crimes of our rulers are our own if knowing them  to be crimes , we promote them by our  co-operation .The government  and ruling classes base  themselves on four methods of  violence:
1.Intimidation.
2.Corruption.
3.Hypnotization of people  , with superstition of patriotism.
4.Selecting public servants (civil servants , police , soldiers) and making them submissive  instruments for  carrying out  all the cruelties and brutalties  needed by the governments.
Those who possess power (by inheritance, by army or by elections) differ in no way from  other men .They are more disposed than others  to subordinate public interests  to their own .
              The purpose of life is to fulfil the law of God. This deprives all human laws  of their right to restrict man .He cannot be in bondage  and be forced by any threat  of external harm to  commit an action  which is contrary to his conscience.Man cannot serve two masters.How can a soldier kill people when  the law of God says;”Thou shalt not kill.”A true Christian  integrates  Principles into every action of his life and refuses to co-operate with any  thing that is contrary to those Principles.Some of these Principles are contained in  the Five Commandments of    the Sermon on the Mount.
1.Have no ill-will towards any  one , not to provoke ill-will but  to love all men. Not to offend any one by  a word.
2.Refrain from adultery.
3.Not to take an oath , not to promise any thing  for the future.
4.Not to return evil for evil  but to endure wrongs.To give up one’s shirt.
5.Do no evil to our enemies , to speak well of them  and not to make distinction between  them and our compatriots.Only abidingby Principles and not by any external efforts  can we safeguard our  life.
               “The sole  meaning of human life  lies in  serving the world  by promoting the  establishment of the Kingdom of God.”This kingdom  comes by recognition  and avowal of truth by each separate individual .
             It is not that  all the arguments given by Tolstoy are perfect .In a way , he advocates a society without government  because government    is essentially based on violence and force in the form of Police , Army , Civil Servants , Courts and Judges.But he does inspire us to follow our conscience and not to  become an instrument of oppression in the hands of rulers  who invariably  rule by intimidation , corruption , hypnotization and controlling the  police , army , civil service  and courts.

As a former civil servant , I know that Tolstoy is right .I wish I had read this book much earlier.