“Cleanliness is Next to Godliness” is a proverb that establishes a relation between cleanliness and Godliness. It places cleanliness and Godliness at almost same level, with cleanliness closely following godliness. The proverb is being used since centuries and its exact date of formation cannot be ascertained. The phrase has been mentioned from time to time by authors, literate and common people. The phrase was also the favorite of Mahatma Gandhi, who had used it often in his speeches and interactions with public, to spread awareness about cleanliness.
Long Essay on Cleanliness is Next to Godliness in English
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Following cleanliness is next to godliness essay explains the phrase in detail along with its history and its significance. You will also know about the author who used the phrase for the first time etc.
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Cleanliness is Next to Godliness Long Essay (800 Words)
The phrase “Cleanliness is Next to Godliness” has been used several times by notable personalities from around the world. Basically, it implies that cleanliness is very near to if not equal to religious devotedness and in a way conforms to the wishes of God.
The phrase also implies that without practicing cleanliness, one can’t achieve Godliness; in other words, unless one is clean, religions oblations and devotion have no worth. Going by the inference it seems that whoever coined the phrase, was eager on promoting cleanliness or personal hygiene.
Cleanliness is Next to Godliness – Origin
The phrase is known to be first used by John Wesley, an English preacher and the founder of Methodist movement. While delivering a sermon named “On Dress” in 1769 Wesley said – “Let it be observed, the slovenliness (untidiness) is no part of religion; that neither this, nor any text of Scripture, condemns neatness of apparel. Certainly this is a duty, not a sin. Cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness.”
Some believe that the phrase is mentioned in the Bible; which is a myth. Though, explicitly stressing on various cleanliness habits and personal hygiene issues, the Bible doesn’t mentions the phrase cleanliness is next to godliness.
Meaning of Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
The prime objective of the phrase is to spread awareness about cleanliness and to tell people about its significance. In his sermon, John Wesley had that mentioned slovenliness, despite being unpleasant to God, didn’t falls in the category of sins; though, he made it very clear through the phrase that practicing cleanliness is the next godly thing to do.
The phrase Cleanliness is Next to Godliness strongly recommends cleanliness and personal hygiene by stating it as the next important thing to religious devotedness.
Though, in practice the two are considered to go hand in hand; In other words, it implies that, devotion to God can only be fulfilled and complete when one practices cleanliness.
It could also be inferred that the phrase stresses on two types of cleanliness – physical and spiritual. Physical cleanliness includes personal hygiene and appearance, while spiritual cleanliness refers to the purity of thoughts.
Another meaning of the phrase is that, physical cleanliness indicates spiritual purity. That is, being physically clean in appearance is a sign of piousness of thoughts or vice versa.
Cons – Against the Phrase
The phrase, despite it invokes a strong feeling for cleanliness, has been stirring up debates on social platforms from time to time, on whether cleanliness is actually next to or close to anything being godly at all.
Those who speak against the phrase, argue that, mere by washing hands, bating twice daily or wearing new clothes, doesn’t gets you near to God. The argument seems to have some logic. Does someone who has no money to buy new clothes or is physically dirty because of the work she/he is engaged in, have no right to be religious?
Like beggars, menial workers etc can’t be devoted to God or their prayers wouldn’t be answered just because they don’t appear clean. Well, in this case the phrase “cleanliness is next to Godliness” holds no ground.
Pros – For the Phrase
Those who argue for the phrase, say that it only reflects the ancient religious practices that have been followed by almost all religions since centuries. It is a mandatory practice for Hindus to bathe and wear clean clothes, if not new, when visiting a temple. The priests have also must appear neat and clean.
Similar practices are observed in Islam, Christianity, Jainism and other religions as well. Though physical cleanliness can’t be forced upon someone and it depends on several external factors; internal cleanliness or purity of thoughts is a must for any kind of religious engagements.
Going by the arguments given above, both in support and against the phrase, it seems that the pros have more weight over the cons. It is correct that anyone irrespective of his/her physical appearance has all the rights to be devotedly religious and in no way to be considered inferior to someone suavely dressed.
Besides, in front of God, physical cleanliness gets a back seat and it is the purity of soul that wins. Therefore, in my opinion, the phrase “Cleanliness is Next to Godliness” holds more ground when we consider its spiritual attributes, rather than physical.