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My Hindu instinct tells me that all religions are more or less true. All proceed from the same God but all are imperfect because they have come down to us through imperfect human instrumentality. The real Shuddhi movement should consist in each one trying to arrive at perfection in his or her own faith. In such a plan character would be the only test. What is the use of crossing from one compartment to another, if it does not mean a moral rise? What is the meaning of my trying to convert to the service of god (for that must be the implication of Shuddhi or Tabligh) when those who are in my fold are every day denying God by their action?”Physician, heal thyself” is more true in matters religious than mundane.
Young India, 29-5-’24
I am against the modern method of proselytizing.
Years’ experience of proselytizing both in South Africa and India has convinced me that it has not raised the general moral tone of the converts who have imbibed the superficialities of European civilization, and have missed the teaching of Jesus.
I must be understood to refer to the general tendency and not to brilliant exceptions. The indirect contribution, on the other hand, of Christian missionary effort is great. It has stimulated Hindu and Musalman religious research. It has forced us to put our own houses in order. The great educational and curative institutions of Christian missions I also count, among indirect result, because they have been established, not for their own sakes, but as an aid to proselytizing.
Young India 17-12-‘25
I hold that proselytizing under the cloak of humanitarian work is, to say the least, unhealthy. It is most certainly resented by the people here. Religion after all is a deeply personal matter, it touches the heart. Why should I change my religion because a doctor who professes Christianity as his religion has cured me of some disease or why should the doctor expect or suggest such a change whilst I am under his influence? Is not medical relies its own reward and satisfaction? Or why should I whilst I am in a missionary educational institution have Christian teaching thrust upon me? In my opinion these are not uplifting and give rise to suspicion if not even secret hostility. The methods of conversion must be like Caesar’s wife above suspicion. Faith is not imparted like secular subjects. It is given through the language of the heart. If a man has a living faith in him, it spreads its aroma like the rose its scent. Because of its invisibility, the extent of its influence is far wider than that of the visible beauty of the colour of the petals.
I am, then, not against conversion. But I am against the modern methods of it. Conversion nowadays has become a matter of business, like any other. I remember having read a missionary report saying how much it cost per head to convert and then presenting and then presenting a budget for ‘the next harvest.’
Yes, I do maintain that India’s great faiths are all sufficing for her. Apart from Christianity and Judaism,, Hinduism and its offshoots, Islam and Zoroastrianism are living faiths. No one faith is perfect. All faiths are equally dear to their respective votaries. What is wanted, therefore, is a living friendly contact among the followers of the great religious of the world and not a clash among them in the fruitless attempt on the part of each community to show the superiority of its faith over the rest. Through such friendly contact it will be possible for us all to rid our respective faiths of shortcomings and excrescences.
It follows from what have said above that India is in no need of conversion of the kind I have in mind, Conversion in the sense of self-purification, self-realization is the crying need of the times. That however, is not what is ever meant by proselytizing. To those who would convert India, might it not be said, “Physician, heal thyself”?
Young India, 23-4-‘31
Why should a Christian want to covert a Hindu to Christianity and vice versa? Why should he not be satisfied if the Hindu is a good or godly man? If the morals of a man are a matter of no concern, the fore of worship in a particular manner in a church, a mosque or a temple is an empty formula; it may even be a hindrance to individual or social growth, and insistence on a particular form or repetition of a credo may be a potent cause of violent quarrels leading to bloodshed and ending in utter disbelief in religion, i.e. God Himself.