The line from Ram Guha’s introduction to the book captures my thoughts (before I read the book) rather well:
Could we not follow Gandhi in his empathy for the poor and his insistence on non-violence while rejecting the religious idiom in which his idead were cloaked?
Ramu Gandhi argued that the attempt to secularise Gandhi was mistaken. If you take the Mahatma’s faith out of him, he told me, then Gandhi would not be the Mahatma.
After reading the wonderful (and thoroughly gripping) book by JTF Jordens Gandhi’s religion: a homespun shawl, I can see Ramu Gandhi’s point. A great read. Strongly recommended. Here is the Hindu review: the last paragraph of the review summarises the experience of reading the book rather nicely:
The image of Gandhi’s religion as a “bulky homespun shawl” is poetic. “At first it looks very plain to the eye, but we can detect the beauty of the strong patterns and the contrasting shades of folk art. With its knots and unevenness, it feels at first rough to touch; but soon we can experience how effective it is in warming cold and hungry limbs.” We feel that warmth by reading Jordens too.