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08. Christ - A Prince Amongst Satyagrahis

Buddha fearlessly carried the war into the enemy's camp and brought down on its knees an arrogant priest­hood. Christ drove out the money-changers from the temple of Jerusalem and drew down curses from Heaven upon the hypocrites and the pharisees. Both were for intensely direct action. But even as Buddha and Christ chastized they showed unmistakable gentleness and love behind every act of theirs. They would not raise a finger against their enemies, but would gladly surrender them­selves rather than the truth for which they lived. Buddha would have died resisting the priesthood, if the majesty of his love had not proved to be equal to the task of bending the priesthood. Christ died on the Cross with a crown of thorns on his head defying the might of a whole empire. And if I raise resistance of a non-violent character, I simply and humbly follow in the footsteps of the great teachers.

Young India, 12-5-1920

My reading of it {Bible) has clearly confirmed the opinion derived from a reading of the Hindu scriptures. Jesus mixed with the publicans and the sinners neither as dependent or as a patron. He mixed with them to serve and to convert them to a life of truthfulness and purity. But he wiped the dust off his feet of those places which did not listen to his word. I hold it to be my duty not to countenance a son who disgraces himself by a life of shame and vice. Enlightened non-co-operation is the expression of anguished love.... Would Jesus have accepted gifts from money-changers, taken from them scholarships for his friends, and advanced loans to them to ply their nefarious traffic? Was his denunciation of hypocrites, pharisees, and sadducees merely in word? Or did he not actually invite the people to beware of them and shun them?

Young India, 19-1-1921

The virtues of mercy, non-violence, love and truth in any man can be truly tested only when they are pitted against ruthlessness, violence, hate and untruth.

If this is true, then it is incorrect to say that Ahimsa is of no avail before a murderer. It can certainly be said that to experiment with Ahimsa in face of a murderer is to seek self-destruction. But this is the real test of Ahimsa. He who gets himself killed out of sheer help­lessness, however, can in nowise be said to have passed the test. He who when being kicked bears no anger against his murderer and even asks God to forgive him is truly non-violent. History relates this of Jesus Christ.

With His dying breath on his Cross he is reported to have said: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

Harijan, 28-4-1946

The theory is that an adequate appeal to the heart never fails. Seeming failure is not of the law of Satyagraha but of incompetence of the satyagrahi by what­ever cause induced. It may not be possible to give a complete historical instance. The name of Jesus at once comes to the lips. It is an instance of brilliant failure. And he has been acclaimed in the West as the prince of passive resisters. I showed years ago in South Africa that the adjective 'passive' was a misnomer, at least as applied to Jesus. He was the most active resister known perhaps to history. His was non-violence par excellence.

Harijan, 30-6-1946

Europe mistook the bold and brave resistance, full of wisdom, by Jesus of Nazareth for passive resistance, as if it was of the weak. As I read the New Testament for the first time, I detected no passivity, no weakness about Jesus as depicted in the four Gospels, and the meaning became clearer to me when I read Tolstoy's Harmony of the Gospels and his other kindred writings. Has not the West paid heavily in regarding Jesus as a passive resister? Christendom has been responsible for the wars which put to shame even those described in the Old Testament and other records, historical or semi-historical.

Harijan, 7-12-1947

Jesus as a Politician

Jesus, in my humble opinion, was a prince among politicians. He did render unto Caesar that which was Caesar's. He gave the devil his due. He never shunned him and is reported never once to have yielded to his incantations. The politics of his time consisted in se­curing the welfare of the people by teaching them not to be seduced by the trinkets of the priests and the pharisees. The latter then controlled and moulded the life of the people.

Freedom's Battle, p. 195, Ganesh & Co., Madras, 1921