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Thus spoke the Mahatma

We remember Mahatma Gandhi ritually on his anniversaries but he is worth remembering each day as the voice of sanity?

india Updated: Apr 28, 2006 15:15 IST

We remember Mahatma Gandhi ritually on his anniversaries but he is worth remembering each day as the voice of sanity?

I realise this anew from the hand-written Urdu jottings of Maulana Azad that I recently translated. These jottings are from my personal archives and I’d like to share what the Maulana recorded of Bapu’s address at a prayer meeting in Patna on March 12, 1947.

"Religion is one tree with many branches. As branches, you may say, religions are many, but as a tree, religion is only one. No religion taught man to kill fellowmen because they held different opinions or was of another religion."

"Religions are not for separating men from one another, they are meant to bind them. I do not expect India of my dreams to develop one religion, that is, to be wholly Hindu or wholly Mussalman but I want it to be wholly tolerant with its religions working side by side with one another."

In the same prayer meeting, the Mahatma pacified people saying, "It is no justification to argue that the Hindus damaged the mosque because the Muslims in the past were desecrating the temples. Hindus wor ship idols, while the Muslims do not but every human being does worship something or the other."

Azad had underlined these words of Gandhi as important: "God resides everywhere, not in the Bible and the Quran, in a mosque or a temple, but in the nose, ear, nail or even a single hair of the body. I have been taught ever since my childhood that God resides everywhere. It is one and the same thing whether one worships Him in a mosque, a temple or a church. I am as much an idol-worshipper as an idol-breaker. Yet, when I go to a temple, I’m happy when I find it neat and clean."

First Published: Apr 28, 2006 15:15 IST