Page:MKGandhi patriot.djvu/49

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a passive resister, in Volksrust Gaol.

It was during these school days, while still in the fourth standard, that Mohandas reached a religious crisis, and all but lost his way. For a while he was practically an atheist. Up to that point he had worshipped the gods honestly. He had never, since the age of reasoning, imagined that the stone or wood or metal image was itself a god, but he had been told, and believed, that an act of consecration endowed the image with a Divine Spirit, and this localised spirit he worshipped. His companionship with other minds, however, almost imperceptibly changed his conception of religion. He became sceptical. A strong natural tendency to analytical study made him question the why of everything.

"I wanted to know," he said, "how this or that could be so, and why it was so," questions which brought him at length into hopeless conflict with the religious teaching of his mother. There was no alternative, so far as he knew, between idolatrous Hinduism and Atheism. So Atheism it was.

From this moment, other time-honoured customs, besides worship, felt also, and but for one habit which had hardened into character, and which stood the strain, the youth would probably have become