Mahatma Gandhi and Christianity

By: Dibin Samuel
Thursday, 14 August 2008, 23:50 (IST)
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If not Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the Indian Independence struggle would have taken longer with more blood shed, division and war. When senior leaders of the Hindu political groups urged Gandhi to respond 'violence with violence' and 'sword with sword', he opposed insisting and exhorting the path of non–violence and peace, which was Gandhi's biggest sword to combat the trained and fully equipped forces.

For sure this great man is one of the most respected leaders of modern history, for not only his life, but also his ideals and his message to the people.

Although Hindu, Gandhi had a very close connection with Christianity and admired Jesus very much, often quoting from his favorite 'Sermon on the Mount' chapter in Mathew 5–7.

When the missionary E. Stanley Jones met with Gandhi he asked him, "Mr. Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?"

Gandhi replied, "Oh, I don't reject Christ. I love Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ."

“If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today,” he added.

Gandhi's closeness with Christianity began when he was a young man practicing law in South Africa. Apart from being attached with the Christian faith, he intently studied the Bible and the teachings of Jesus, and was also seriously exploring becoming a Christian, which led him to his discovery of a small church gathering in his locality.

These strongly entrenched Biblical teachings have always acted a panacea to many of India's problems during its freedom struggle.

After deciding to attend the church service in South Africa, he came across a racial barrier, the church barred his way at the door. "Where do you think you're going, kaffir?" an English man asked Gandhi in a belligerent tone.

Gandhi replied, "I'd like to attend worship here."

The church elder snarled at him, "There's no room for kaffirs in this church. Get out of here or I'll have my assistants throw you down the steps."

This infamous incident forced Gandhi to never again consider being a Christian, but rather adopt what he found in Christianity and its founder Jesus Christ.

In a speech to Women Missionaries in 28 July 1925, he said, “…although I am myself not a Christian, as an humble student of the Bible, who approaches it with faith and reverence, I wish respectfully to place before you the essence of the Sermon on the Mount...There are thousands of men and women today who, though they may not have heard about the Bible or Jesus have more faith and are more god fearing than Christians who know the Bible and who talk of its Ten Commandments..."

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Have your say on this article

Added: Tuesday, 17 March 2009, 11:42 (IST)

I love Mahatma Gandhi and his way of life. Even though he was Hindu he followed Christ in his life. So I was just wondering even though he was a hindu what made him to live like Christ and as per the Bible. So in the internet I just gave the title "Gandhi and Christianity" and found this very interesting article which I never heard of before. So it is clearly evident that the title christian is secondary and living like how Christ lived is primary. That's what God needs from all of us.

Cynthia Lobo, Manama, Bahrain

Added: Wednesday, 26 August 2009, 16:03 (IST)

Gandhi has been iconized by dominant religious and cultural groups in India and abroad, despite the fact that Gandhi did not do enough for social inclusion of socially ostracized people. Read Vishal Mangalwadi's "India the grand experiment". This will give you an idea. n his book, The Grand Experiment, Mangalwadi asserts: "India's independence was actually the fruit produced by the 'Gospel of Jesus Christ'". He continues, "The transformation of India into a free and modern nation was a grand experiment that was envisioned and carried out by leaders who were driven by a biblical world view". I sincerely doubt that Mahatma Gandhi was driven by a Christian world view! Need I say more about Mangalwadi's assertions? Kindly read the following too: http://listserv.virtueonline.org/pipermail/virtueonline_listserv.virtueonline.org/2002-November/004320.html

vijay, Amsterdam

Added: Tuesday, 19 November 2013, 0:46 (IST)

Could someone tell me where to find to footnotes to this article? Thanks!

Scott, Canada

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