Gandhi’s Religious Universalism

  • Elton Hall


If Gandhi’s life and thought are an enigma to the casually interested, they are a deepening mystery to the serious student and devotee. His remarks were public and widely shared, his correspondence voluminous, his articles and speeches translated into half a dozen tongues, and his style open and plain. He was never secretive and seldom cryptic. More than any thinker in the twentieth century, he was concerned to explain his views to anyone who asked about them, whatever the mood of the inquirer or level of the question. Writer, editor, public speaker, social reformer, preacher, leader of prayers, diplomat, politician, lawyer, experimenter in diet, health and social structures, his recorded words fill more than ninety volumes. Despite being perhaps the most visible public figure in three generations, the more one examines the great treasury of his thought, the more elusive his views become. Some writers will fare better perceived from a sympathetic distance, where their work can be appreciated as a coherent whole, rather than looked at closely, where flaws in the edifice are revealed. Mahatma Gandhi’s unsystematic and diverse writings, however, have misled superficial readers into detecting alleged discrepancies and inconsistencies throughout, but the closer one draws to them — letter by letter, speech by speech — the more solid his foundation is seen to be.


Relative Truth Spiritual Experience Christian Missionary Claremont Graduate School Great Religion 
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  1. 16.
    Raghavan Iyer, The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi, 2nd edn (Santa Barbara: Concord Grove Press, 1983) pp. 74–5Google Scholar
  2. 18.
    ‘Questions and Answers’, in Sir S. Radhakrishan, Contemporary Indian Philosophy (London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1952) p. 21Google Scholar

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© The Claremont Graduate School 1989

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  • Elton Hall

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