|Mahatma Gandhi Album|
Gandhi and Christianity
First Online: January 31, 2002
Henry Polak and his wife Millie Graham Polak were quite to close to Gandhi. They actually formed members of his household in South Africa. Mr. Polak, then a young lawyer and editor of a journal, "Critic," presented John Ruskin's book "Unto the Last" to Gandhi which greatly influenced him. John Newman's "Lead Kindly Light" was Gandhi's favorite prayer. Ms. Millie has given affectionate and intimate recollections of Gandhi household and her conversations with Gandhi on many matters. Following excerpts are from her book, "Mr. Gandhi, the Man" which gives Gandhi's religious belief and deep insight of other religions.
"Is Mr. Gandhi a Christian?", a visitor asked Millie. Ms. Millie asked for further clarification whether she meant one converted to Christianity or one who believed in the teachings of Christ. The visitor emphatically told she meant former. She was talking about him with some friends and they were wondering that Gandhi knew Christian scriptures so well, and fond of quoting words of Christ frequently and hence her friends thought he must be a Christian.
Ms. Millie brooded over. What the visitor said was true. Mr. Gandhi frequently quoted the sayings and teachings of Jesus. The lesson of the "Sermon on the Mount" seemed to constantly in his mind, and was a source of guidance and inspiration to him. There was beautiful picture of Jesus Christ that adorned the wall over his desk. (There was no picture of the Buddha or of Krishna in the office, and only three other pictures were to be seen on the walls. One was of Justice Ranade, the great Indian social reformer. Another was of Annie Besant, ever eager to defend the downtrodden and to denounce injustice. The third picture was of Sir William Wilson Hunter, editor of "Imperial Gazetteer of India" who had very strongly written against the system of Indian indentured labor which he called as "semi-slavery," and at home there was photograph of Dadhbhai Naoroji, grand men and women who were fighting for liberation of the oppressed and so were dear to Mr. Gandhi's heart. But in the center of his office room was the face of Christ.)
When asked why he did not embrace Christianity, Gandhi has said that he had studied the scriptures and was tremendously attracted. But eventually he came to the conclusion that there was nothing really special in the scriptures which he had not got in his own, and "to be a good Hindu also meant that I would be a good Christian. There was no need for me to join your creed to be a believer in the beauty of the teachings of Jesus or try to follow His example," he said.
"What do you think is the essential lesson for man in the teaching of Christianity?" Gandhi asked Millie. "I could think of two or three. But one that stands out strongest is "One is your Master Christ and all ye are brethren," said Millie. "Yes," replied Gandhi, "and Hinduism teaches the same great truth and Mohammedanism and Zoroastrianism, too."
Derived from Millie Graham Polak's book Gandhi, The Man.
|Kamat's Potpourri Mahatma Gandhi Album|
Merchandise and Link Suggestions