LONDON: A unique letter written by Mahatma Gandhi in which he described Jesus Christ as ‘one of the great teachers of mankind’ has been sold for $50,000 (£36,275). The letter was written to response to one sent by Milton Newberry Frantz, a religious elder in the US at the time, and is dated 6 April, 1926.
Frantz had written to Gandhi, a devout Hindu who was by then emerging as a prominent figure in the Indian independence movement, inviting him to read an article the American had written about Christianity. Gandhi wrote back to Frantz from the Sabarmati ashram, in the western Indian state of Gujarat, praising Jesus but saying he was unable to fully accept the Christian view of him.
The letter has been in a private collection for decades and is being sold by the Pennsylvania-based Raab Collection, though it would not reveal who has bought it.
The Raab Collection said their ‘research discloses no other letter of Gandhi mentioning Jesus to have ever reached the public market.’ Gandhi wrote: ‘Dear Friend, I have your letter. I am afraid it is not possible for me to subscribe to the creed you have sent me. ‘The subscriber is made to believe that the highest manifestation of the unseen reality was Jesus Christ.
In spite of all my efforts, I have not been able to feel the truth of that statement. ‘I have not been able to move beyond the belief that Jesus was one of the great teachers of mankind. Do you not think that religious unity is to be had not by a mechanical subscription to a common creed but by all respecting the creed of each? ‘In my opinion, difference in creed there must be so long as there are different brains. But what does it matter if all these are hung upon the common thread of love and mutual esteem? ‘I return the stamp kindly sent by you. It cannot be used in India.’