Monotheism and Hinduism: How Gandhiji silenced a Catholic priest

Written by AK SRIVASTAVA

A Roman Catholic Father who met him suggested to Mahatma Gandhi that “if Hinduism becomes monotheistic, Christianity and Hinduism can serve India in corporation”.

To this Gandhiji replied: “I would love to see the corporation happen but it cannot if the present-day Christian missions persist in holding up Hinduism to ridicule and saying that no one can go to Heaven unless he renounces and denounces Hinduism.  But I can conceive a good Christian silently working away and shedding the sweet aroma of his life on Hindu communities like the rose which does not need any speech to spread its fragrance but spreads it because it must. Even so it truly spiritual life. Then surely there would be peace on earth and goodwill among men. But not so long as there is militant or “muscular” Christianity. This is not to be found in the Bible but you find it in Germany and other countries.”

The priest asked: “But if Indians begin to believe in one God and give up idolatry don’t you think the whole difficulty will be solved?”

Gandhiji answered: “Will the Christians be satisfied with it? Are they all united?”

Catholic Father: “Of course, all the Christian sects are not united.”

Gandhiji: “Then, you are asking only a theoretical question. And may I ask you: Is there are any amalgamation between Islam and Christianity though both are said to believe in one god? If these two have not amalgamated there is less hope of amalgamation of Christians and Hindus along the lines you suggest. I have my own solution but in the first instance I dispute the description that Hindus believe in many gods and are idolaters. They do say there are many gods but they also declare unmistakably that there is one God, God of Gods. It is, therefore, not proper to suggest that Hindus believe in many gods. They certainly believe in many worlds just as there is a world inhabited by men and another by beasts so also there is one inhabited by superior beings called gods whom we do not see but who nevertheless exist. The whole mischief is created by the English rendering of the word Dav or Devta for which you have found a better term God. But God is Ishwara. So you see it is the other it is the word God used to describe different divine beings that has given rise to such confusion. I believe that I am a thorough Hindu but I never believe in many gods. Never even in my childhood did I hold that belief, and no one ever taught me to do so.”

 

 

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AK SRIVASTAVA

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