Thursday, October 01, 2009

Gandhi ,Jesus and Christianity

Gandhi like Jesus remains a conscience in the hearts of men

Come October 2nd 2009 will be the 140th birthday of one of the greatest personalities of recent times; Mahatma Ghandi.It is only proper for us to pay tribute this great man who is undeniably a saint of non-violence. He lived and sacrificed his life in defending that virtuous policy of non-violence. He died in the hands of his own people for trying to protect the minority in his own country, a fine example for our own ruling majority.

This is what he had to say about Jesus:

“Jesus was the most active resister known perhaps to history. His was nonviolence par excellence.”

As Christians, who claim to be the followers of Jesus, very often we do not emulate Christ in real life. It may be timely for us to reflect on our lives to see how Christ-like we are in our daily living.

This is what Gandhi had to say about Christians:

“It is a first class human tragedy that people of the earth who claim to believe in the message of Jesus, whom they describe as the Prince of Peace; show little of that belief in actual practice.” He continues “I like your Christ but I can’t say of Christians”

Though Gandhi’s views were influenced by his bitter experiences with the racist policies and hegemony of the powerful Christian British Empire at that time, his observations are nevertheless true to this day. He continued,

“Do not flatter yourselves with the belief that a mere recital of that celebrated verse in St. John makes a man a Christian. If I had to face only the Sermon on the Mount and my own interpretation of it, I should not hesitate to say, ‘O yes, I am a Christian.”

Today many of us have the misguided notion that to be a good Christians we must have a thorough knowledge of the bible. What about those who cannot read and write? What about those who are physically or mentally handicapped? Can’t they be good followers of Christ? Is reading and mastering the holy book is what Christianity all about? Jesus’ teachings are so simple and down to earth and I don’t think we need geniuses to decipher them. It is not how much we know the bible but rather how much we want to live the way Jesus wants us to.

Gandhi, a devout Hindu, appeared to have understood Jesus much more than many of us. He lived a life more like Christ than may of us Christians. Lord Mountbatten, the last British Viceroy of India had this to say “Gandhi would go down in history as 'on par with Buddha and Jesus Christ', I cannot agree less with that statement and I even go a step further to say that the Mahatma was a modern version of the man,Jesus.

Gandhi believed in the universality of God, “The Allah of Islam is the same as the God of Christians and the Ishwar of Hindus.” he said.

This concept of the universality of God is something which is badly needed in today’s world where violence in the name of the Almighty is so rampant and is threatening to destroy the human race. We have come to a ridiculous stage where we even fight over the name to address Him. The universality of God is something we as Christians can learn from Gandhi; despite belonging to different faiths we are in fact all children of one God. God is God by whatever name we choose to call him.

We are so intent in fighting one another to claim superiority over our adversaries, man against man, race against race, religion against religion and nation against nation. We resort to all the resources at our disposal; powerful arms, violence and war, to achieve victory over our enemies. We justify the use of violence to protect our perceived rights. Is destroying our enemies in self-defense Christ-like?

To the great man of non-violence “Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.”

That philosophy he proved right when he single-handedly defeated the all powerful British Empire, not by power and might but peace and love. Doesn’t his action resemble those of Jesus, whose love, humility, non-retaliation and forgiveness, brought him victory over the powerful Roman Empire?

Many of us today find it difficult to believe how a small, timid and frail looking man like Gandhi could dare to challenge the mighty British Empire. Just after sixty years we are finding it difficult to believe how Gandhi could have brought down the British Empire. In fact with the passage of time, as Albert Einstein,said 'Generations to come will scarcely believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.

Mahatma Gandhi may have left this world but his memories remain very much with us, alive and relevant .Like Jesus he did not possess power, position or wealth. His simplicity, integrity and a heart for fellow men, including the enemies, had touched many and he will and must remain a conscience in the hearts of men for generations to come.

Dr.Chris Anthony


Thavamalar Govindasamy said...

Dr. Chris,

You write very well.
Your view on Universality of God and Equality of Religions is very empowering and powerful in that it can steer the human race towards a blissful and serendipitious life.

I'm an ardent follower of Dr. Deepak Chopra's work whose preachings are similar to Mahatma Gandhi's. I have been trying to live every moment of my life according to these principles with the main purpose of influencing my teenage children to live the same way too. The results are amazing!

Accepting the Universality of God and Equality of Religion is really the most profound basis for unity at any level. A step forward would be to do away with the need to formalize religions. What do you think?

Mohan said...

Dr. Chris,
I enjoyed your write-up on Gandhi.
I Hope, no Christian will object to Gandhi's comment that he likes Christ but hates Christians.
This is food for thought,
Jesus is a commercial ad for most churches and leaders in the pursuit of self aggrandizement.
Keep up your good work.
May God bless you.

Mohan Mathew