Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

Merry Christmas to all.
I was thinking about the place of Jesus and Gandhi in history. I thought, Jesus was the first 'Satyagrahi' of the world. That Gandhi had studied Bible is a wellknown fact. I was surprised to analyse the role Jesus played in his time and I came to consider him a political rebel. His mixing with lower classes of the society, mass mobilization and revolt - everything is stimulating.
I place here the link of my article 'My Own Jesus' which is available on of Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. It is in the section 'visitor's Essay' on Christianity. here is the link:

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Thank you, Polly. for your wonderful words. Some five years ago, I heard a radio talk delivered by Father Valson Thimpu who was principal of St. Stphens College, Delhi. He explained that 'Love thy neighbour' meant that you cannot love God without loving your fellow being. This led me to take more interest in Jesus. Then, I thought what 'Kingdom of heaven' was. I realized, then, that Israel was under the occupation of Romans and KIngdom of God was an alternative order! And I started looking at Jesus from a different angle. As I read New Testament 3-4 times, Jesus captured my mind. I thought his essential personality had to be extracted from the words that have come to us as gospels. Even otherwise, I thought of him as a rebel but it was because somebody else told so! Now I personally believe so. Thanks again.
Gandhi follows Jesus in time and spirit too. Both of them were killed by his own people; only thing, Gandhi's murder was overtly for political reasons but covertly for religious ones. In case of Jesus,political reasons took cover of religion.
Dear Dipak,
I enjoyed this article,"My Own Jesus". I am interested in Arun Gandhi's criticism of peace leaders here in the USA. Do you think Jesus and Mahatma Gandhi would agree with these two statements:
"You can quote me as saying Mahatma Gandhi would disagree with the Plowshares actions because they employ tactics of secrecy and destruction of property. I also think locking up the most courageous and devoted peace leaders for long prison terms is a way of weakening the peace movement. Those leaders could do much more for peace outside of jail than in it." ( The Jesus Journal - Summer 1995 - No. 77 - page 44 )

"Common people who are not directly involved in social debates and political conflicts have their lives to live, they become angry at those who are disturbing their lives or damaging property that has to be repaired using public funds. Thus the average person, whose support is often necessary for lasting success, is alienated. Rather than leading to a resolution, they escalate the conflict and create more deeply entrenched opponents." (Legacy of Love by Arun Gandhi – page 132)
Dear William,
Thank you for reading my article. You have posed two interesting questions making me think in detail. I think, Mahatma Gandhi would agree with the first one because, he opposed secrecy. Now, this does not mean that Gandhi always spoke off the cuff. But,when he took a decision he stood by it. Jesus too knew, his own end. He only mobilized people and invited his own death, Again, this did not mean he spoke off the cuff. You will finnd in my article his shrewd answer that " to Caeser what is Caeser's". He was not a foolhardy to fight blindly..

I think peace movements these days are more emotional than strategic. 'Common people' can be galvanised for a cause. After all, this is what happened in India - and in Philippines against Markos. This is what happened in United States where Dr. King fought for the cause. So, I think, even if Gandhi and Jesus agreed with Arun Gandhi's assessment as 'what is', they would insist on 'what should be' i.e.strategy and mobilization. Arun Gandhi does not offer a solution or strategy. Anyway, there is no point in criticising the well-meaning people however, weak they may be. One day an all-compassing comprehensive strategy will emerge. It is in a larger context that however weak and imperfect action may be, it is bound to lead to greater cohesion. Nothing to dispair. .

Another aspect worth considering is the concept of 'peace'. I think Jesus and Gandhi spoke about changing the world order. Here, well-meaning persons sometimes interprete peace as something spiritual. Jesus and Gandhi fought for peace with a view to changing the exploitative society.
Dear Dipak,
Thank you for your reply. You write, "Anyway, there is no point in criticising the well-meaning people however, weak they may be. One day an all-compassing comprehensive strategy will emerge. It is in a larger context that however weak and imperfect action may be, it is bound to lead to greater cohesion. Nothing to dispair." I think that polite criticism can be helpful. For example, a new book, "Gandhi and Jesus" by Terrence J. Rynne which is a very good study of nonviolence, still does not take into account the tactics of secrecy and destruction of property. Arun Gandhi calls this book "An outstanding study of two great people and their message which is so misunderstood and maligned in mordern times". But the author himself probably would not ageee with the two quotes from Arun Gandhi. I was privileged to question Mr. Rynne at a peace conference last October at Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Although he didn't agree with me, he was very polite and thanked me for my question. Obviously, Mr. Rynne has made an important contribution to the peace movement; but, this all the more reason why we should help him see his mistakes.
Well, non-violence is an offshoot of willingness to speak truth and face its consequences. Secrecy has, therefore, no place in it. Plan of action should be open. You have mentioned Rynne's book. i do not think he has correctly analysed the impact of secrecy on the movement itself and of distruction of public property on the morale of the people.Moreover, Governments are always more powerful than a mob.if government decides to resort to violence, mob will have no place to run away to. .Rynne may be condoning it, I do not know. But I must read the book. When I said that there is no point in criticising well-meaning people... I did not exclude the possibility of frank discussion and pointing out faulty thinking. But the route is through trial and error. In that sense only we should offer constructive criticism. It is a journey undertaken by each with his or her peculiar understanding. Rejecting them outright will not help.
Namaste ~ Thank you , Dipak, for your link to the thoughtful essay on Jesus posted at I found it very well-written and insightful. As regards this discussion, it is clear that Gandhi would never have supported secrecy because of his emphasis on truthfullness. However, Gandhi knew that the freedom movement would result in some Indians being killed by the British. He was not deterred by this inevitable violent result. Certainly, destruction of property would not have deterred him either. Still, I don't recall any instance of Gandhi using property destruction (sabotage) as a strategy. You write that one day "an all-encompassing strategy will emerge." Yes, I agree. But this new strategy will not be developed by Jesus or Gandhi. It will come from the living. It will come from the focused efforts of people like you, Mr. Horan, Polly, and others who believe a peaceful and just future is possible. ~ Chris
Yes, Chris, Gandhi and Jesus can't come back. Someone from amongst us, the ordinary people, will carry forward their legacy.
Dipak ~ Allow me to thank you again for continuing to add so much to these discussions. I am excited to have found Ghanditopia, where the variety and thoughtfulness of the discussions is always an inspiration. But to the point, we are blessed that Gandhi recorded his life, including his own "ordinariness", for all to see. While Jesus told followers to turn the other cheek, the Bible contains no reference to his opposition to the customary slavery of his day. I would bet that he was an abolitionist, and that part of his teaching didn't survive church censorship in a culture that had always used slaves. And I would bet that he, like Gandhi, was an "ordinary" man. Before their inspiration and deeds, they were only "ordinary." People have high hopes for Obama, yet think of him as an ordinary man like us - just smarter and more confident. If his deeds are great enough, he may someday be seen as a savior like Gandhi or Jesus. Of course, he will still be, in actuality, an "ordinary" man.
Chris, that is the point. Ordinariness which, however, is simultaneously combined with the unshakable faith in "possibles". They dared to think, dared to experiment with unusual tools with the least concern for their lives.
There is no doubt in my mind that When Romans adopted Christianity, they censored some parts of New Testament which they found unacceptable from their point of view. What we have is an apolitical version 'reducing' Jesus to a 'monk' caring for spiritual rise of man - and nothing for practical life.
Obama too is an 'ordinary' man in that sense. he may fail and even worse may happen to him. But, I will still hold him in high esteem The question is: Can he stick to the direction that he has promised to take? If he cannot, it will be his personal failure.
Meanwhile, our friend Balaji too has posted an interesting interpretation in this thread.if you recall, or have read his response to my discussion "Am I a Gandhian?" he believes there can be a Gandhian doctor, Gandhian Engineer which puts all of us, the ordinary people into a responsible position to conduct our businesses. We cannot just look into the past and do whatever little we can.
Dear DD,
I have read your nice article. Your exploration on the pre-historic Roman Empire is surely wonderful. The article rightly starts with Jesus showing the non-violent submission to the Roman servant for his readiness to face the ruler. Then, you narrated the evils of Roman empire and the people's struggle. Later, towards the end, the birth of Christianity and its influence on the people was touched upon lightly and finally with a question of the Jesus's mission.

He was truly the Hero of the masses then to fight against the injustice and untruthful myths preached by the Roman rulers. Alas, it was too political that he was ditched by his own people for botched up reasons. He spilled his blood due to the cruelty of the then society and the heads of the society but not for cleaning up the sins as told by his followers. The society was simply watching of him been killed and dubbed as two other thieves.

He was a born God and Godly figure! He lived as God and the messenger of God. His mission was successful even during his period and also aftermath. His message was served to the public during his lifetime and is followed even today. But, this God in human incarnation was fatal physically and left the world with a glorifying, rightful path of love and tolerance.

Mahatma Gandhi was a common man who rose to the level of God through his actions and messages. It was not the stars foretold his birth or the followers worship him religiously as a routine work. He rests in the God’s heaven after leaving innumerable laws of life.

Precisely, I would say that Jesus is a religious God and Gandhi is a political God. Who will be the God of these days full of fake saints, demi-gods, celluloid-devathas?
Dear Balaji,
Thanks for reading my article and your nice comments.
I think, stories around the birth of Jesus were an attempt to disrob him of his political significance. 'Make him God and kill his message'. This is the name of a trick being played everywhere. Mahatma Gandhi too has to be protected from such efforts. His political vision and methods must survive. Gods and demi-gods, Gurus... oh! sometimes I feel the world is moving backward!


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