Gandhiji’s Interesting Argument with a Catholic Priest (Post No.11,964)


Post No. 11,964

Date uploaded in London – –  May 3 2023                  

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Catholic Father/Priest:-

“If Hinduism become monotheistic”, suggested the Father, “Christianity and Hinduism can serve India in cooperation”.

Gandhiji :

I would love to see the cooperation happen. But it cannot if the present day Christian missions persisting in holing 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, 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 a truly spiritual life. Then surely there would be peace on earth and good will 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.

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

Will the Christians be satisfied with it? Are they all united?

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

Then you are asking only a theoretical question. And may I ask you is there any amalgamation between Islam and Christianity, though both are said to believe in one God? If these two are not amalgamated, there is less scope for amalgamation among the Christians and Hindus along the lines you suggest. I have my own solution, but in the first instance I dispute the description that the 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,  the GOD of gods. It is therefore, not proper to suggest that Hindus believe in many gods. They certainly believe in many worlds. Just there is a world inhabited by men , and another by beasts, so also is there one inhabited by superior beings and called Gods whom we do not see but who nevertheless exist.

The whole mischief is created by the English rendering of the word Deva or Devata, for which you have not found a better term than God but God is Ishwatra, Devadideva , God of Gods. So you see 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.



As for idol worship, you cannot do without it in some form or other. Why does a Mussulman give his life to defend a mosque which he calls a house of god ? and why does a Christian go to church  when he is required to take an oath he swears by the Bible?  Not that I see any objection to it. And what is it if not idolatry to give untold riches for building mosques and tombs? And what do the Roman Catholics do when they kneel before Virgin Mary and before saints- quite imaginary figures in stone or painted on canvas or glass?

Catholic Father :– But I keep my mother’s photo and kiss  it in veneration of her. But I do not worship it, nor do I worship saints.  When I worship God, I acknowledge Him as Creator and greater than any human being.

Gandhiji : Even so, it is not the stone  we worship, but is God we worship in images of stone or metal however rude they may be.

Catholic Bishop : But villagers worship stones as God.

Gandhiji: No, I tell you they do not worship anything that is less than God. When you kneel before Virgin Mary and ask for her intercession, what do you do? You ask to establish contact with God through her. Even so a Hindu asks to establish contact with God through a stone image . I can understand your asking for the Virgin Mary’s intercession. Why are Mussalmans filled with awe and exultation when they enter a mosque? Why, is not the whole universe is a mosque? And what about the magnificent canopy of heaven that spreads over you? Is it any less than a mosque? But I understand and sympathise with the Muslims. its their way of approach to God. The Hindus have their own way of approach to their Eternal Being. Our media  of approach are different, but that does not make Him different.

Bishop: But the Catholics believe that God revealed to them the true way.

Gandhiji: But why do you say that the will of God is expressed in only one book called the Bible and not in others? Why do you circumscribe the power of God?

Bishop: But Jesus proved that he had received the word of God through miracles

Gandhiji: But that is Mohammed’s claim too. If you accept Christian testimony, you must accept Muslim testimony and Hindu testimony too.

Bishop: But Mohammed said that he could not do miracles.

Gandhiji: No. He did not want to prove the existence of God by miracles. But he claimed to receive messages from God.

–Harijan 13-3-1937

Source book – Hindu Dharma, M K Gandhi, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, 1950.


 Tags- Christian priest, Gandhiji, argument, One God, Miracles, Idolatry, Muslim, Mohamed 

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