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A Letter to a Hindu   By: (1828-1910)

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A Letter to a Hindu by Leo Tolstoy is a thought-provoking and insightful work that delves into the complexities of religion, politics, and morality. In this letter, the renowned Russian writer expresses his beliefs and addresses Mahatma Gandhi directly, engaging him in a dialogue about the fundamental principles of life.

Tolstoy begins by acknowledging the cultural and religious differences between the Western world, which he belonged to, and India, the spiritual birthplace of Gandhi. Despite these disparities, he emphasizes the universality of the human condition and the shared values that transcend geographical boundaries. By doing so, he establishes a common ground on which he attempts to convey his views.

The book delves into the intricacies of different religious traditions, dissecting their teachings and practices, and revealing their inherent contradictions. Tolstoy questions the validity of religious rituals and ceremonies, arguing that they can often obscure the true essence of spirituality. He advocates for a pure and unadulterated form of faith that is centered around love, truth, and non-violence. Through this lens, he presents a critique of organized religion, suggesting that it often becomes a tool for the powerful to manipulate and control others.

Throughout the letter, Tolstoy demonstrates his intellectual depth and wide-ranging knowledge by referencing various religious texts, philosophers, and historical events. His arguments are compelling and well-reasoned, encouraging the reader to reflect on their own beliefs and consider alternative perspectives. The author's rhetoric is captivating, drawing the reader into a deep and meaningful exploration of the human experience.

The most significant aspect of this work is Tolstoy's correspondence with Gandhi. Through their exchange of letters, they engage in a lively dialogue that reflects their mutual respect and desire for intellectual growth. The reader is invited to witness this exchange, gaining insights into the thoughts and beliefs of two influential thinkers.

Despite the brilliance of Tolstoy's ideas, one might find some sections of the book challenging to comprehend fully. The author, at times, delves into complex philosophical concepts, which may require additional reflection and analysis. Nonetheless, this complexity also serves as an invitation for further exploration and intellectual engagement.

In conclusion, A Letter to a Hindu is a powerful and thought-provoking work that delves into the dynamics of religion, morality, and human nature. Tolstoy's eloquent writing style, coupled with his penetrating insights, make this book an enriching and captivating read. It invites readers to critically examine their beliefs and reflect on the profound questions of existence.

First Page:



With an Introduction by M. K. GANDHI

By Leo Tolstoy


The letter printed below is a translation of Tolstoy's letter written in Russian in reply to one from the Editor of Free Hindustan. After having passed from hand to hand, this letter at last came into my possession through a friend who asked me, as one much interested in Tolstoy's writings, whether I thought it worth publishing. I at once replied in the affirmative, and told him I should translate it myself into Gujarati and induce others' to translate and publish it in various Indian vernaculars.

The letter as received by me was a type written copy. It was therefore referred to the author, who confirmed it as his and kindly granted me permission to print it.

To me, as a humble follower of that great teacher whom I have long looked upon as one of my guides, it is a matter of honour to be connected with the publication of his letter, such especially as the one which is now being given to the world.

It is a mere statement of fact to say that every Indian, whether he owns up to it or not, has national aspirations. But there are as many opinions as there are Indian nationalists as to the exact meaning of that aspiration, and more especially as to the methods to be used to attain the end... Continue reading book >>

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