Gandhi's rare 1926 letter about Jesus Christ goes on sale for $50,000

A rare letter that Indian human rights activist Mahatma Gandhi wrote about Jesus Christ in 1926 has been made available for sale in the U.S. last Thursday for $50,000.

(REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe)Mahatma Gandhi, Indian's revered national hero, wrote about Jesus in a 1926 letter to a Christian leader.

The document, which was addressed to Christian leader Milton Newberry Frantz, contained Gandhi's praises of Jesus and a message about religious tolerance. The letter is part of the Raab Collection, and it is the only known piece where Gandhi mentions Christ.

"I have not been able to move beyond the belief that Jesus was one of the great teachers of mankind," Gandhi's letter read. "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?"

Gandhi apparently wrote the letter at his residence in Sabarmati Ashram in India on April 1926 as a reply to Frantz, who wanted the iconic activist to read a document about Christianity. It was typewritten with faded ink and the document also had Gandhi's signature.

Reports revealed that the letter came from a private collector in the American south who also owned several other historical documents which he had since the 1960s. Raab Collection president Nathan Raab pursued this unnamed person and acquired those documents.

"We went down and bought the collection and in that collection (we found) that gem," Raab stated.

"It's a powerful, emotional letter," Raab added, stating that the letter underscored the message of tolerance and respect for other beliefs and religions.

He also confirmed that the Gandhi letter had gone through a process of authentication. In particular, experts examined the paper and ink used, which were particular to Gandhi's documents.

Gandhi, who studied law in London, became an activist for civil rights after spending 21 years in South Africa. Experiencing discrimination for his skin color and heritage, Gandhi vowed to fight against Indian persecution in the foreign land. He also sought for India's independence from the British before World War I.

Gandhi opposed India's participation in the Second World War by holding civil rights protests, which led to several arrests. After spending two years in prison in his old age, he was later released due to his failing health. He was, however, assassinated on his way to a prayer meeting in 1948 at 78 years old.