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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, February 21, 2002

Arun Gandhi reaches beyond Hindu religious traditions

 •  Grandson carries Gandhi's message to Hawai'i

By Mary Kaye Rtiz
Advertiser Religion & Ethics Writer

Like his famous grandfather, Arun Gandhi doesn't consider himself a Hindu in religious terms. Push him to put a label on his religion, and he will say he's more Unitarian than anything.

"Hinduism is not really a religion, if you look at it," he said. "There is nothing you need to do except be born a Hindu. I was born a Hindu; I am a Hindu; nobody can deprive me of being a Hindu. Yet I can practice it differently."

At the peak of his involvement in the struggle for Indian independence, Mohandas Gandhi stopped worshipping in the traditional Hindu way. His prayer services were held in the open, borrowing ideas from Hindus, Muslims and Christians in "universal prayers," Arun Gandhi recalled.

Today, the younger Gandhi still doesn't follow the Hindu tradition: "We believe in a quiet worship at home or in public in the universal setting, where people can join," he said.

As his grandfather said: "Religion is like climbing a mountain. Ultimately, we are all going to the same peak, so why should it matter which side we are going up?"