Friday, October 31, 2014

Gandhi to E. Stanley Jones

     "My first contact with Mahatma Gandhi was the one which brought me the most unalloyed joy of all the contacts through the years.  It was soon after his return from South Africa when he was just beginning to take up the threads of his work in India.  There was no area of conflict such as developed between him and the missionaries in later years over mass conversions and the right and the propriety of conversion in general.  Our relations had not been clouded by that controversy in my first meeting with the Mahatma.  He was not on the defensive, and I was not on the offensive.  It was simple and natural and unstrained.
     "I was giving addresses in St. Stephen's College, Delhi, and Principal Rudra said rather casually:  'Mr. Gandhi [that was before he became Mahatma, 'The Great-souled'] is upstairs.  Would you like to see him?'  This was all in great contrast with later years; for in later years the house would have been surrounded night and day with a curious crowd, and to get an interview with him would not have been easy, for people from all over the world would have been pressing him for interviews.  But here I was being asked if I would like to see him!  He was seated on a bed surrounded by papers, and he greeted me with an engaging and contagious smile.  Without preliminaries I went straight to my question:  'How can we make Christianity naturalized in India, not a foreign thing, identified with a foreign government and a foreign people, but a part of the national life of India and contributing its power to India's uplift?  What would you, as one of the Hindu leaders of India, tell me, a Christian, to do in order to make this possible?'
     "He responded with great clarity and directness:  'First, I would suggest that all of you Christians, missionaries and all, must begin to live more like Jesus Christ.  Second, practice your religion without adulterating it or toning it down.  Third, emphasize love and make it your working force, for love is central to Christianity.  Fourth, study the non-Christian religions more sympathetically to find the good that is within them, in order to have a more sympathetic approach to the people.'"

     E. Stanley Jones, Mahatma Gandhi:  an interpretation (New York:  Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1948), chap. 5 ("Gandhi and the Christian faith"), pp. 51-52.

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