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17. Some Questions and Answers

[The following were some of the questions put to Gandhiji and answered by him when Christian missionaries and other followers of the faith visited him.]

Q.: Do you definitely feel the presence of the living Christ within you?

A.: If it is the historical Jesus surnamed Christ that you refer to, I must say I do not. If it is an adjective signifying one of the names of God, then I must say I do feel, the presence of God—call Him Christ, call Him Krishna, call Him Rama. We have one thousand names to denote God, and if I did not feel the presence of God within me, I see so much of misery and disappointment every day that I would be a raving maniac and my destination would be the Hooghli.

Young India, 6-8-1925

Q.: Why do you refuse to enter God's house if Jesus invites you? Why does not India take up the Cross ?

A.: If Jesus has reference to God, I have never refused to enter the house of God, indeed every moment I am trying to enter it. If Jesus represents not a person, but the principle of non-violence, India has accepted its protecting power.

Young India, 31-12-1931

Q.: Did not Jesus himself teach and preach?

A.: We are on dangerous ground here. You ask me to give my interpretation of the life of Christ. Well, I may say that I do not accept everything in the Gospels as historical truth. And it must be remembered that he was working amongst his own people, and he said he had not come to destroy but to fulfill. I draw a great distinction between the Sermon on the Mount and the Letters of Paul. They are a graft on Christ's teaching, his own gloss apart from Christ's own experience.

Young India, 19-1-1928

Q.: But, Mr Gandhi, why do you object to proselytization as such? Is not there enough in the Bible to authorize us to invite people to a better way of life?

A.: Oh yes, but it does not mean that they should be made members of the Church. If you interpret your texts in the way you seem to do, you straightaway condemn a large part of humanity unless it believes as you do. If Jesus came to earth again, he would disown many things that are being done in the name of Christianity. It is not he who says “Lord, Lord” that is a Christian, but “He that doeth the will of the Lord " that is a true Christian. And cannot he who has not heard the name of Christ Jesus do the will of the Lord?

Harijan, 11-5-1935

Q.: Why may not I share with others my experience of Jesus Christ which has given me such an ineffable peace?

A.: Because you cannot possibly say that what is best for you is best for all. Quinine may be the only means of saving life in your case, but a dangerous poison in the case of another. And again, is it not superannua­tion to assume that you alone possess the key to spiritual joy and peace, and that an adherent of a different faith cannot get the same in equal measure from a study of his scriptures? I enjoy a peace and equanimity of spirit which has excited the envy of many Christian friends. I have got it principally through the Gita.

Your difficulty lies in your considering the other faiths as false or so adulterated as to amount to falsity. And you shut your eyes to the truth that shines in the other faiths and which gives equal joy and peace to their votaries. I have not hesitated, therefore, to recommend to my Christian friends a prayerful and sympathetic study of the other scriptures of the world. I can give my own humble testimony that, whilst such study has enabled me to give the same respect to them that I give to my own, it has enriched my own faith and broadened my vision.

Q.: What would be your message to a Christian like me and my fellows?

A.: Become worthy of the message that is imbedded in the Sermon on the Mount, and join the spinning brigade.

Harijan, 13-1-1940

Q.: Could you tell me the things one should avoid in order to present the gospel of Christ?

A.: Cease to think that you want to convert the whole world to your interpretation of Christianity. At the end of reading the Bible, let me tell you, it did not leave on my mind the impression that Jesus ever meant Christians to do what the bulk of those who take his name do. The moment you adopt the attitude I suggest, the field of service becomes limitless. You limit your own capacity by thinking and saying that you must proselytize.

Harijan, 23-3-1940

Q.: You often refer to the Sermon on the Mount. Do you believe in the verse, "If any man will take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also?" Does it not follow from the principle of non-violence?

A.: In the verse quoted by you Jesus put in a picturesque and telling manner the great doctrine of non­violent non-co-operation. Your non-co-operation with your opponent is violent when you give a blow for a blow, and is ineffective in the long run. Your non- co-operation is non-violent when you give your opponent all in the place of just what he needs. You have disarmed him once for all by your apparent co-operation, which in effect is complete non-co-operation.

Harijan, 13-7-1940