Chapter

‘A Hindu of Hindus’

B. R. Nanda

in Gandhi and his Critics

Published in print January 1994 | ISBN: 9780195633634
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081332 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195633634.003.0002

Series: Oxford India Paperbacks

‘A Hindu of Hindus’

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Mahatma Gandhi’s critics sneered at his ‘saintliness’ and his pursuit of ‘personal holiness, at the expense of public good’. They labelled him ‘a Hindu of Hindus’ and dismissed his religious ideas as having little real relevance to the world of today. Gandhi grew up in Porbandar and Rajkot in western India in a devout Hindu household steeped in Vaishnavism and was exposed to strong Jain influences. While the literature of the Theosophical Society was leading Gandhi to focus on religion, he also learned about the Bible. He was drawn to the New Testament, particularly the Sermon on the Mount. When he went to South Africa in 1893, Gandhi met some ardent Quakers who decided to annex him to Christianity. The teachings of Bible, Buddha, and Gujarati poet Shamal Bhatt fused the young Gandhi’s mind. Years later, Gandhi confided to a group of Christian missionaries that Hinduism ‘satisfies his soul’.

Keywords: Hinduism; New Testament; South Africa; Quakers; Christianity; Shamal Bhatt

Chapter.  1546 words. 

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