Mohandas K. GandhiClick here to view the original article.

Although a Hindu, Mohandas K. Gandhi, in an interview with an Atlanta woman, said he was “tremendously influenced by Jesus Christ” and was deliberately following the teachings of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.

The woman, Dr. Hazel F. Foster, teacher of Bible and comparative religions at Spelman College, in 1940 visited Gandhi in his tiny mud hut home in Sevagram, India, and talked with him for 20 minutes, the Hindu spiritual leader spinning cotton yarn throughout the interview.

Dr. Foster believes that Gandhi was the only leader in public life who literally followed the teachings of Christ as expressed in the Sermon on the Mount. She said that the teaching-“But whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” etc.-formed the basis of Gandhi’s philosophy of disobedience without violence.

“While the doctrine of nonviolence might appear silly and insane to some,” declared Dr. Foster, “it is deeply symbolic. By following it, Gandhi secured India’s freedom and I think it is one that the United Nations would do well to study.”

Dr. Foster said the philosophy behind Gandhi’s fasts was one of making your adversary realize that you were enough interested in your cause to suffer for it, but at the same time did not intend to exact a penalty from him. The fast had the effect of making Gandhi’s opponents feel sorry for him, or, in another sense, feel charitable toward him.

Dr. Foster recalled how Gandhi had used this “turn the other cheek” philosophy to India’s benefit. One of his most notable fasts occurred while Lord Halifax was Viceroy of India. Gandhi had been jailed for protesting a salt tax levied by the British. He then began one of his fasts. Lord Halifax, naturally, became disturbed. Fearful that the Hindu leader would starve to death while in jail, he ordered his release, then had Gandhi as his guest in New Delhi’s Government House. “The whole thing broke up in a prayer meeting,” says Dr. Foster.

Dr. Foster explained Gandhi’s attire-the homespun, sack like Doha. He wears it, she says, because it is the conventional dress of the Indian coolie. Gandhi lived on six cents a day, which was the standard of living of the Indian coolie. His philosophy caused him to believe that the only way one can help the poor, is to be one of them.

His home in Sevagram, Dr. Foster said, was a dark, ugly little mud hut, with mats hung in the windows to keep out the fierce monsoon rains. Sevagram itself is a mud village and the five roads connecting it with Wardhi are mud roads. The thousands of persons who visited Gandhi in his life time-dignitaries from all nations, persons from. all walks of life-all traveled over these roads, just as did Dr. Foster on her two visits.

Dr. Foster said she is grateful that Gandhi’s assassin was a Hindu and not a Moslem. She says that she hopes Nehru will handle whatever repercussions might follow firmly without losing his head. “He has already lost his heart.” declared Dr. Foster, referring to Nehru’s great love for Gandhi.