Vaishnava janatO song was dear to Gandhiji.
The lyrics of this song begin with the foremost quality of a vaishnava -
that of knowing the pain of others
so that he can never cause pain to others
and that he would go out of his way to help those in pain.
This is called as "para-dukkam sahiyaamai" in Tamil.
A srivasihnava would not bear the sight of one suffering and
would do everything possible to relieve him of that suffering.
It is because that is the quality of Sri Rama, an avatar of Vishnu.
Vishnu himself as Protector, is one who can not bear the sufferings of people.
In his avatara as Rama, he stood as a symbol of this 'para-dukkam sahiyaamai'
(not bearing others to suffer)
In her narration to Hanuman of her old times (sudhara khandam)
Sita said that once she asked Rama what his supreme dharma was.
Rama had said " para-dukkam sahiyaamai" - not bearing others suffer.
When Rama followed that dharma with respect to others,
was she not one among others requiring to be protected by Rama
who had to follow that dhrama, asked Sita.
Could Rama, who would not bear the sufferings of others,
remain quiet when his beloved wife was suffering?
Rama would not.
So were / are his devotees.
A parama srivaishnava is one who can not bear the sufferings of others.
Gandhi was a parama srivaishnava.
No wonder this song by Narsi appealed to him
which he insisted on hearing very often.
Vaishnav jan to tene kahiye je
PeeD paraayi jaaNe re
One who is a Vaishnav (Devotee of Vishnu)
Knows the pain of others
Par-dukhkhe upkaar kare toye
Man abhimaan na aaNe re (Vaishnav...)
Does good to others
without letting pride enter his mind.
SakaL lok maan sahune vande
Nindaa na kare keni re
A Vaishnav, Tolerates and praises the the entire world.
Does not speak ill of others
Vaach kaachh man nishchaL raakhe
Dhan-dhan janani teni re (Vaishnav...)
Keeps his promises, actions and thoughts pure
your mother is blessed indeed.
Sam-drishti ne trishna tyaagi
Par-stree jene maat re
A Vaishnav sees everything equally, rejects greed and avarice
respects women as he respects his own mother
Jivha thaki asatya na bole
Par-dhan nav jhaalee haath re (Vaishnav...)
though his tongue may tire he will utter no untruth
Never touches the property of others.
Moh-maaya vyaape nahi jene
DriDh vairaagya jena man maan re
A Vaishnav is one who does not succumb to worldly attachments,
Who has devoted himself to staunch detachment from worldly pleasures,
Ram naam shoon taaLi laagi
SakaL tirath tena tan maan re (Vaishnav...)
Who has become addicted to the elixir coming by the name of Ram,
For whom all the religious sites are in the mind.
VaN-lobhi ne kapaT-rahit chhe
Kaam-krodh nivaarya re
A Vaishnav does not succumb to worldly attachments
he has renounced lust of all types and anger
BhaNe Narsaiyyo tenun darshan karta
KuL ekoter taarya re (Vaishnav...)
The poet Narsi will like to see such a person By who's virtue,
the entire family gets salvation