“My effort should never be to undermine another’s faith, but to make him a better follower of his own faith.”
–Gandhi (Mahatma, Vol. 2, p. 343)
Throughout Gandhi’s life, especially in the early days, many of his friends wanted to convert him to Christianity, thinking that Hinduism–his own religion–was inferior. For example, before he departed for England as a young man, his mother gave him a necklace with religious significance reminding him of his devotion to her, as well as three vows she asked him to take (no meat, no women, and no alcohol). His friend tried to get him to remove it, calling it a superstition. He was also invited to join many Bible study meetings, which he attended out of curiosity and interest in the religion itself. Instead of converting to another faith, however, Gandhi decided to begin understanding his own at a deeper level, and turned to the Gita, which stayed with him for the rest of his life. Interestingly enough, E. Stanley Jones, a missionary in India would say of Gandhi later: “There’s only one Christian in the world today — and he’s a Hindu.”
We need not change our faith, or undermine that of another, simply because it is different from our own or even because they interpret it differently than we would. What we can do–whether we are religious, spiritual or none of the above- is show with our own lives the spirit of nonviolence in action–selfless service to one another and mutual respect.
Experiment in Nonviolence:
Gandhi wanted all children to get a “reverential study” of all the world’s religions. Can you do that for your children, or a nearby school?
Daily Metta 2015, a service of the Metta Center for Nonviolence, is a daily reflection on the strategic and spiritual insights of Mahatma Gandhi in thought, word and deed. As Gandhi called his life an “experiment in truth,” we have included an experiment in nonviolence to accompany each Daily Metta. Check in every day for new inspiration. Each year will be dedicated to another wisdom teacher.