On April 6, 1926, Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter in which he called Jesus Christ “one of the great teachers of mankind.” The rare letter has found a buyer, who paid $50,000 to acquire it, according to the Pennsylvania-based Raab Collection, which said that the letter has been in a private collection for half a century.
The name of the buyer has not been disclosed.
The typed document, which bears Gandhi’s handwritten signature, “is the embodiment of Gandhi’s vision for a world of religions at peace. His belief in Jesus as a teacher of mankind shows his efforts to find commonality with his fellow man,” said Nathan Raab, principal at the Raab Collection.
In 1926, an American Christian religious elder, Milton Newberry Frantz, wrote to Gandhi, asking him to read a recent publication he had written with verses about Christianity. Gandhi wrote back to Frantz from his Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat.
“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.”
Gandhi, a devout Hindu, goes on to write: “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 who 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,” he concluded.
The Raab Collection called the letter “one of the finest letters on religion that Gandhi ever wrote,” adding that “Our research discloses no other letter of Gandhi mentioning Jesus to have ever reached the public market.”