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Speaking Tree: Agape love is universal

South African peace activist and granddaughter of M K Gandhi, Ela Gandhi, is a social worker who was vice-president of the Natal Indian Congress. She was a member of parliament, and is a committed social activist who advocates gender equity and humanitarian causes. Spiritually inspired, Ela is a great votary of what is termed as agape love, that is, universal, selfless, unconditional love for all beings, which paves the way for a better world.

Ela says in an interview to Alene Dawson for the Templeton Foundation that love is a big part of ahimsa, non-violence, and clarifies that ahimsa is not the absence of violence; it is a complete way of life that is conducive to living a non-violent life. She adds that faith in God is an important part of whatever we do because, no matter what, God will always love you. This kind of faith in connecting to the Divine gives one strength to face adversity.

She acknowledges that her spiritual inspiration is her grandfather, Gandhiji, and it is from walking this path that one can find inner peace. ‘When you are at peace within yourself, you can be at peace with the world,’ says Ela, who embraces the good things of all faiths, not just the Hindu faith.
Active in the inter-faith movement, Ela Gandhi prays at any place of worship, be it a temple, church or synagogue, for example, for prayer is a personal connection one makes with soul and spirit. She believes that every one of us has the potential to change for the better.