26 September, 2005

Is any religion the "greatest"?

Although Gandhi was born a Hindu he was critical of institutional religion. He wrote the following about religion in his autobiography The Story of My Experiments with Truth:
Thus if I could not accept Christianity either as a perfect, or the greatest religion, neither was I then convinced of Hinduism being such. Hindu defects were pressingly visible to me. If untouchability could be a part of Hinduism, it could but be a rotten part or an excrescence. I could not understand the raison d'etre of a multitude of sects and castes. What was the meaning of saying that the Vedas were the inspired Word of God? If they were inspired, why not also the Bible and the Koran? As Christian friends were endeavouring to convert me, so were Muslim friends. Abdullah Sheth had kept on inducing me to study Islam, and of course he had always something to say regarding its beauty.
He then went on to say:
As soon as we lose the moral basis, we cease to be religious. There is no such thing as religion over-riding morality. Man, for instance, cannot be untruthful, cruel or incontinent and claim to have God on his side.
One of Gandhi's sources of inspiration came from Leo Tolstoy's Christian anarchist book The Kingdom of God Is Within You, which he described in his autobiography as having "overwhelmed me" and "left an abiding impression".

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