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Mahatma Gandhi’s view on Religion

Religion was central to Gandhi’s life, thought and work .His religious ideas were complex and varied according to the occasion. Writing in 1927 in Young India he said, “It (Hinduism) was the most tolerant of all religions. Its freedom from dogma gave the votary the largest scope for self-expression. Not being an exclusive religion it enabled the followers not merely to respect all the other religions but to admire and assimilate whatever may be good in the other faith. Non- violence is common to all religions but it has found the highest expression and application in Hinduism. Hinduism believes in the oneness not only of merely all-human life but in the oneness of all other lives.” Gandhi was proud of his religion but it did not prevent him from rejecting and criticizing several institutions, ideas and beliefs that Hindus would ordinarily regard as part of their religion.

He rejected untouchability and fought against it all his life and the constitutional banning of untouchability and the subsequent legislation making its practice an offence owed a great deal to the public opinion he built over the decades against it. Gandhiji was opposed to blood sacrifices to deities and any form of cruelty to animals. He criticized the practice of ‘phuka’ by which peasants used to drive a nail fixed to a stick into the rectum of bullocks to make them move faster. His modernity in religious matters was deep and radical. He had no time for elaborate rituals and puja. While his sense of dependence on God was total it did not come in the way of his exerting himself to the utmost in promoting the causes he believed in. He condemned the widespread practice of child marriage, dowry and inhuman treatment of widows. He declared, “woman is the companion with equal mental capacities and she has the same right of freedom and liberty.” The Gita had a great impact on him in particular the ideas of aparigraha (non –possession) and samabhava (equability). Gandhi renounced his other possessions and prevailed upon Kasturba to give her possessions as well