Historic Gandhi letter praising Jesus Christ goes on sale in US

A historic letter written by Mahatma Gandhi praising the person of Jesus Christ has gone on sale in the US.

The typed letter, dated toApril 6, 1926, was written by the Indian activist and world leader to the American religious elder Milton Newberry Frantz. Gandhi described Christ as 'one of the greatest teachers of mankind', but stopped short of ascribing divinity to him.

'Dear Friend, I have your letter,' Gandhi wrote. '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.

Mohandas K Gandhi led the Indian independence movement against British rule.Wikimedia Commons

'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?'

He added: '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?'

It is being sold by the Raab Collection, based in Pennsylvania, for $50,000 (£36,275). The seller described it as 'one of the finest letters of Gandhi to reach the market'. It is believed to be the first letter in which Gandhi discusses Christ to have gone on public sale.

Nathan Raab, president of the Raab Collection, told CNN that the document, sold to his organisation by an American collector, was 'a powerful, emotional letter'.

He added, regarding Gandhi's religious views: 'I think his message of tolerance, of not preaching only his feelings, is as important now as it was back then.'