Absolute Equality and Absolute Difference: Gandhi on the Plurality of Religions

Philosophia 48 (2):727-742 (2020)
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This paper will consider the ideas of absolute equality and absolute difference that are part of Gandhi’s vision on the plurality of religions. It will fall into three sections. The first section is entitled “Thinking samadarshana through samabhava-Gandhi on “equimindedness” and religious ‘others’”. It will seek to bring out the central ideas in Gandhi’s thoughts on the plurality of religions. In this context the paper will briefly examine the difference between Gandhi’s arguments for absolute equality and the liberal position on religious toleration. The second section will elaborate Gandhi’s reasons for thinking the absolute equality of all religions and will be entitled “The Religion at the heart of all religions- Truth or God”. The third section will be entitled “The truth-untruths of religious others and the duty of resistance: Difficulties with a relativist reading of Gandhi”. It will recapitulate the different strands of the argument in the paper and bring out the implications of ahimsa as love as it transforms resistance to what one thinks of as the truth-untruths of religious ‘others’ in a plural context. It will also take issue with an important contemporary reading of Gandhi, that of Professor Akeel Bilgrami, who reads Gandhi’s position along the lines of a “thorough going relativism about Truth”. In the course of the paper it is hoped to unpack the absolute equality in absolute difference that constituted Gandhi’s vision on the plurality of religions.



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Bindu Puri
Jawaharlal Nehru University

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