Gandhi represents a real sea change that occured during the late 1800s into the 1900s. Instead of the common conception of religion being a series of rules designed to govern people's behavior, people like Gandi (and later, the Liberation Theologists) began to emphasize the power of good behavior and quests for social justice. This is a fundamental change from the manner in which religion had heretofore been thought of. Gandhi's mix of Hinduism, Jainism, Christianity, Judaism and Islam created a wholly unique vision of the manner in which the present world (and after-life) existed. Of course, since his reality demanded that action, not beliefs, guided religion, it should come as no surprise that he would lead the nonviolent protest movement against the British imperialists who had control of India at the time. His version of reality demanded that he act.
This is a large part of the point I have been beating into your heads lately. The concept behind religions-be it Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity or whatever-has changed dramatically over the last 3,000 years, and the very "truths" of these religions, open to interpretation, change as humanity changes. What it was like to be a Jew in 100 B.C. is exponentially different than what it means to be a Jew today. Sure, the holy book is the same, but the interpretation of that book, over time, has meant very different things to different people living in incredibly different historical periods.
So where does that leave us today? As I mentioned in class, the world is still adjusting to the concept of religion as "do" versus religion as "do not." Those who still believe religion is a set of rules tend to see the world in wholly different (and contradictory) ways from those who see religion as demonstrated through good actions. As such, we see many conflicts that arise out of these contradictory realities. From 9/11 to the situation in Darfur, the competing visions of reality that shape those people involved set these conflicts in motion, and help keep them going. Hopefully, as people begin to become more comfortable with these competing ideas of what religion truly means, these conflicts will subside and the world will begin to gain some understanding of itself.