The Bible and the Mahatma
By Dominic Emmanuel
Jan 21, 2010
The Bible has greatly influenced the lives of millions of people over the centuries, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Pandita Rama Bai and Sadhu Sundar Singh to mention just a few and it keeps inspiring millions more in all age categories regardless of race, gender and nationality.
Nearly 1,67,000 Bibles are sold around the world daily, making it the most read, bought and gifted book in the world.
What attracted Mahatma Gandhi to the New Testament is clearly mentioned by him in his autobiography, My Experiments with Truth.
He says that he was simply thrilled to find a connection, or “unity”, between Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” and the teachings in the Hindu holy text, the Bhagvad Gita.
The said sermon is found in the Gospel of St. Matthew and reads thus: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted; Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth; Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied; Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy; Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God; Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God; Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account, rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you (Mt 5: 3-12)”.
There have been many books written on each of the Beatitudes, explaining in complete detail the meaning and import of the eight blessed sayings in their full context.
Hence one actually finds enough material to reflect on and base one’s priorities of life on all or any one of them.
Jesus’ sermon clearly show His preference for those who are poor — not just economically but also those who might be wealthy and are yet poor in spirit — and those who suffer and are meek.
Equal importance is also given to those who work for humanity, peace, righteousness or justice and those who are merciful.
Jesus was not speaking here of any one particular religion, caste, race or of any particular god or goddess.
He was speaking plainly for anyone who wanted to listen and turn one’s life towards godliness and goodness.
It is not surprising, therefore, that a man like Mahatma Gandhi who was working on his own perfection while using peaceful and non-violent means to achieve freedom for India, was fascinated by the Sermon on the Mount.
The Bible, thus, offers substantial and inspiring material for every single person to pattern his or her life on and also profit from for one’s own spiritual growth.
— Father Dominic Emmanuel, a founder-member of Parliament of Religions, is the director of communication of the Delhi Catholic Church. He was awarded the National Communal Harmony Award 2008 by the Government of India.
Source: Copyright © 2009 Deccan Chronicle