Beliefnet
In 1891, when he moved to 52 St. Stephen's Gardens, Bayswater, Gandhi started a new local branch of the Vegetarian Society, serving as its secretary; his friend and roommate, Dr. Josiah Oldfield, editor of The Vegetarian, agreed to preside over all meetings of their West London Food Resource Society.

"Good Christian" that Dr. Oldfield was, he tried to convert his young Indian

friend to the Anglican faith, urging him to read the Bible. Gandhi found the Old Testament much less appealing than the New, attracted on the first reading to the Sermon on the Mount, which "went straight to my heart." He thus received scriptural validation for nonviolence from Christian sources even before reading much about it in India's literature.

Two vegetarian bachelor "brothers" who had been studying the Hindu "Bhagavad Gita" (Song of the Blessed One), using Edwin Arnold's poetic rendition, "The Song Celestial," invited Gandhi to read and translate the original Sanskrit version of that epic poem with them. Edwin Arnold would later agree to serve as vice-president of Gandhi's Bayswater Food Society, and Mohan found his "Light of Asia," a life of the Buddha, just as compelling as his work on the "Gita."

The unnamed bachelor "brothers" were both Theosophists, and they tried to convert Gandhi to that esoteric sect. At one point they brought him to Blavatsky Lodge in London, where he met the mysterious founder of Theosophy, Madame Helena Blavatsky, then mortally ill. Her "Key to Theosophy," Gandhi recalled, "stimulated in me the desire to read books on Hinduism and disabused me of the notion fostered by the missionaries that Hinduism was rife with superstition." At London's Theosophical Society he first met Madame's recent convert, her most brilliant disciple, Anne Besant.

Annie had gained notoriety, long before meeting Madame Blavatsky, as atheist Charles Bradlaugh's lover, helping him lift a ban imposed on a book advocating birth control, leading the first women's strike (of matchmakers) in London, joining George Bernard Shaw's Fabian Socialist Society, and campaigning as vigorously for Irish Home Rule as she later would for Indian Home Rule. She was


to be the first woman, and the only Englishwoman, ever elected to preside over India's National Congress.

Annie tried her eloquent best to lure Mohandas into Theosophy, as she would later convert Motilal Nehru and his only son, Jawaharlal, but Gandhi remained impervious to all her allures, as he was to Dr. Oldfield's attempts to bring him "up" to Christ. "It was only after I came in contact with...Christians, that I resolved...I should be termed a Hindu," he later reflected.

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