The Candid Eye

October 10, 2009

Converting Mahatma Gandhi!

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi

Just as converting Dr. Ambedkar to Buddhism was expected to bring in a group of Dalits into the Buddhist fold, strenuous marketing efforts were made to convert Gandhiji to Christianity so that a mass of Hindus would fall in line and embrace Christianity. But Gandhi frowned upon proselytizing. He said: ” I claim to be a staunch Sanatani Hindu because, I find the Hindu scriptures to satisfy the needs of the soul. I would dispute the claim that Christianity is the only true religion.” (source: The Mahatma and The Missionary – By Clifford Manshardt p. 58-59). ” Religion is not a matter of barter.” (ibid.p. 71). “Yes, I do maintain that India’s great faiths are all-sufficing for her..” (source: Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi 1969)Vol. 46 p.28-29). Mahatma Gandhi has stated -“God is not so helpless in winning souls all by himself as to need anybody’s help.”

Quotes from Gandhi on Conversion

I believe that there is no such thing as conversion from one faith to another in the accepted sense of the word. It is a highly personal matter for the individual and his God. I may not have any design upon my neighbor as to his faith which I must honor even as I honor my own. Having reverently studied the scriptures of the world I could no more think of asking a Christian or a Musalman, or a Parsi or a Jew to change his faith than I would think of changing my own. (source: Harijan: September 9, 1935).

I came to the conclusion long ago … that all religions were true and also that all had some error in them, and that whilst I hold by my own, I should hold others as dear as Hinduism. So we can only pray, if we are Hindus, not that a Christian should become a Hindu … But our innermost prayer should be that a Hindu should be a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Christian a better Christian. (source: Young India: January 19, 1928)

Why should a Christian want to convert a Hindu to Christianity? Why should he not be satisfied if the Hindu is a good or godly man? (source: Harijan: January 30, 1937) .

I am not interested in weaning you from Christianity and making you Hindu, and I do not relish your designs upon me, if you had any, to convert me to Christianity. I would also dispute your claim that Christianity is the only true religion. (source: Harijan: June 3, 1937).

Conversion nowadays has become a matter of business like any other … India (Hindus) is in no need of conversion of the kind … Conversion in the sense of self-purification, self-realization, is the crying need of the times. That however is never what is meant by proselytizing. To those who would convert India (Hindus), might it not be said: Physician heal thyself. (source: Young India: April 23, 1931)

I hold that proselytizing under the cloak of humanitarian work is unhealthy to say the least. It is most resented by people here. Religion after all is a deeply personal thing. It touches the heart. Why should I change my religion because a doctor who professes Christianity as his religion has cured me of some disease, or why should the doctor expect such a change whilst I am under his influence? (source: Young India: April 23, 1931).

Christianity in India has been inextricably mixed up for the last one hundred and fifty years with British rule. It appears to us as synonymous with materialistic civilization and imperialistic exploitation by the stronger white races of the weaker races of the world. Its contribution to India has been therefore, largely negative. (source: Young India: March 21, 1929).

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