アメリカと中国、ロシア、イラン、北朝鮮、パレスチナ、韓国。日本と中国、韓国, 北朝鮮。アフリカ諸国間での紛争。南米諸国内でも、様々な国で 「憎しみの連鎖」、「避難の応酬」、「一触即発の危ない状況」様々な嫌がらせ、せめぎあいが続いている。随分 住みにくい世の中になって来た。思いめぐらしている内に マハトマ・ガンジーさんのことを思い出した。
情況に追い込まれた。だが めげずに 「非暴力、不服従」の原則で
The Speech of Mahatma Gandhi recorded in Kingsley Hall, London in 1931.この時の話が詳細に下記に語られている。失意のロンドン訪問だった。He was a great Leader who was the pioneer of Satyagraha and Ahinsa.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
2 October 1869
|Died||30 January 1948(aged 78)|
|Cause of death||Assassination|
|Other names||Mahatma Gandhi, Bapu ji, Gandhi ji|
|Education||Bachelor of Laws|
|Alma mater||University College London
|Known for||Indian Independence Movement,
|The Story of My Experiments with Truth|
|Office||President of the Indian National Congress|
|Political party||Indian National Congress|
|Movement||Indian independence movement|
(m. 1883; died 1944)
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
and in turn inspire movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.
first applied to him in 1914 in South Africa, is now used throughout the world.
trained in law at the Inner Temple, London, Gandhi first employed nonviolent civil
disobedience as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, in the resident Indian
community’s struggle for civil rights. After his return to India in 1915,
he set about organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers to protest against excessive land-tax and discrimination. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921,
Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for various social causes and for achieving Swaraj or self-rule. Gandhi led Indians in challenging the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km (250 mi) Dandi Salt March in 1930, and later in calling for the British to Quit India in 1942.
He was imprisoned for many years, upon many occasions, in both South Africa and India. He lived modestly in a self-sufficient residential community and worethe traditional Indian dhotiand shawl, woven with yarn hand-spun on acharkha. He ate simple vegetarian food, and also undertook long fasts as a means of both self-purification and political protest.
Gandhi’s vision of an independent India based on religious pluralism was challenged in the early 1940s by a new Muslim nationalism which was demanding a separate Muslim homeland carved out of India.
Eschewing the official celebration of independence in Delhi, Gandhi visited the affected areas, attempting to provide solace. In the months following, he undertook several fasts unto death to stop religious violence. The last of these, undertaken on 12 January 1948 when he was 78, also had the indirect goal of pressuring India to pay out some cash assets owed to Pakistan.
Gandhi’s birthday, 2 October, is commemorated in India as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday, and worldwide as the International Day of Nonviolence. Gandhi is commonly,though not formally considered the Father of the Nation in India. Gandhi is also called Bapu (Gujarati: endearment for father,papa).
★ さて 戦争の危機が迫る頃 ガンジーが取った行動規範。武器をもつことなども実現しようとした。もちろん行動規範を作っての上のことだ。貴重な資料を見つけた。 詳細を知りたい人は 見てみよう。どのように考え、どのような姿勢を判断基準として 行動して来たのか？ とても参考になる。
Gandhi’s enduring legacy: Ramachandra Guha at TEDxMAIS
Struggle for Indian independence (1915–1947)
Gandhi joined the Indian National Congress and was introduced to Indian issues, politics and the Indian people primarily by Gokhale. Gokhale was a key leader of the Congress Party best known for his restraint and coderation, and his insistence on working inside the system.
Gandhi took Gokhale’s liberal approach based on British Whiggish traditions and transformed it to make it look Indian.
Gandhi took leadership of the Congress in 1920 and began escalating demands until on 26 January 1930 the Indian National Congress declared the independence of India.
The British did not recognize the declaration but negotiations ensued, with the Congress taking a role in provincial government in the late 1930s. Gandhi and the Congress withdrew their support of the Raj when the Viceroy declared war on Germany in September 1939 without consultation.
Tensions escalated until Gandhi demanded immediate independence in 1942 and the British responded by imprisoning him and tens of thousands of Congress leaders. Meanwhile, the Muslim League did co-operate with Britain and moved, against Gandhi’s strong opposition, to demands for a totally separate Muslim state of Pakistan.
In August 1947 the British partitioned the land with India and Pakistan each achieving independence on terms that Gandhi disapproved.
Role in World War I （この部分は 重要だ）単なる不服従だけではない。
War Conference in Delhi. Gandhi agreed to actively recruit Indians for the war effort.
In contrast to the Zulu War of 1906 and the outbreak of World War I in 1914, when he
recruited volunteers for the Ambulance Corps, this time Gandhi attempted
to recruit combatants.
In a June 1918 leaflet entitled “Appeal for Enlistment”, Gandhi wrote
“To bring about such a state of things we should have the ability to defend
ourselves, that is, the ability to bear arms and to use them…
If we want to learn the use of arms with the greatest possible despatch,
it is our duty to enlist ourselves in the army.” He did, however, stipulate
in a letter to the Viceroy’s private secretary
that he “personally will not kill or injure anybody, friend or foe.”
Gandhi’s war recruitment campaign brought into question his consistency
Gandhi’s private secretary noted that “The question of the consistency
between his creed of ‘Ahimsa‘ (nonviolence) and his recruiting campaign was
raised not only then but has been discussed ever since.”
Champaran and Kheda
Gandhi’s first major achievement came in 1917 with the Champaran agitation in Bihar.
The Champaran agitation pitted the local peasantry against their largely British landlords
who were backed by the local administration.
The peasantry was forced to grow Indigo, a cash crop whose demand had been declining
over two decades, and were forced to sell their crops to the planters at a fixed price.
Unhappy with this, the peasantry appealed to Gandhi at his ashram in Ahmedabad.
Pursuing a strategy of nonviolent protest,
Gandhi took the administration by surprise and won concessions
from the authorities.
In 1918, Kheda was hit by floods and famine and the peasantry was demanding
relief from taxes. Gandhi moved his headquarters to Nadiad, organising scores
of supporters and fresh volunteers from the region, the most notable being Vallabhbhai Patel.
Using non-co-operation as a technique, Gandhi initiated a signature campaign where
peasants pledged non-payment of revenue even under the threat of confiscation of land.
A social boycott of mamlatdars and talatdars (revenue officials within the district)
accompanied the agitation.
Gandhi worked hard to win public support for the agitation across the country.
For five months, the administration refused but finally in end-May 1918,
the Government gave way on important provisions and relaxed the conditions
of payment of revenue tax until the famine ended. In Kheda, Vallabhbhai
Patel represented the farmers in negotiations with the British, who suspended
revenue collection and released all the prisoners.
Every revolution begins with a single act of defiance.
In 1919 after the World War I was over, Gandhi (aged 49) sought political co-operation from Muslims in his fight against British imperialism by supporting the Ottoman Empire that had been defeated in the World War.
Before this initiative of Gandhi, communal disputes and religious riots between Hindus and Muslims were common in British India, such as the riots of 1917–18. ]
Gandhi had already supported the British crown with resources and by recruiting Indian soldiers to fight the war in Europe on the British side. This effort of Gandhi was in part motivated by the British promise to reciprocate the help with swaraj (self-government) to Indians after the end of World War I.
The British government, instead of self government, had offered minor reforms instead, disappointing Gandhi.Gandhi announced his satyagraha (civil disobedience) intentions. The British colonial officials made their counter move by passing the Rowlatt Act, to block Gandhi’s movement.
The Act allowed the British government to treat civil disobedience participants as criminals and gave it the legal basis to arrest anyone for “preventive indefinite detention, incarceration without judicial review or any need for a trial”.
Gandhi felt that Hindu-Muslim co-operation was necessary for political progress against the British. He leveraged the Khilafat movement, wherein Sunni Muslims in India, their leaders such as the sultans of princely states in India and Ali brothers championed the Turkish Caliph as a solidarity symbol of Sunni Islamic community (ummah). They saw the Caliph as their means to support Islam and the Islamic law after the defeat of Ottoman Empire in World War I.
Gandhi’s support to the Khilafat movement led to mixed results. It initially led to a strong Muslim support for Gandhi. However, the Hindu leaders including Rabindranath Tagore questioned Gandhi’s leadership because they were largely against recognising or supporting the Sunni Islamic Caliph in Turkey.
The increasing Muslim support for Gandhi, after he championed the Caliph’s cause, temporarily stopped the Hindu-Muslim communal violence. It offered evidence of inter-communal harmony in joint Rowlatt satyagraha demonstration rallies, raising Gandhi’s stature as the political leader to the British.
His support for the Khilafat movement also helped him sideline Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who had announced his opposition to the satyagraha non-cooperation movement approach of Gandhi. Jinnah began creating his independent support, and later went on to lead the demand for West and East Pakistan.
By the end of 1922 the Khilafat movement had collapsed. Turkey’s Ataturk had ended the Caliphate, Khilafat movement ended, and Muslim support for Gandhi largely evaporated. Muslim leaders and delegates abandoned Gandhi and his Congress.Hindu-Muslim communal conflicts reignited. Deadly religious riots re-appeared in numerous cities, with 91 in United Provinces of Agra and Oudh alone.
With his book Hind Swaraj (1909) Gandhi, aged 40, declared that British rule was established in India with the co-operation of Indians and had survived only because of this co-operation. If Indians refused to co-operate, British rule would collapse and swaraj would come.
In February 1919, Gandhi cautioned the Viceroy of India with a cable communication that if the British were to pass the Rowlatt Act, he would appeal to Indians to start civil disobedience. The British government ignored him and passed the law, stating it would not yield to threats. The satyagraha civil disobedience followed, with people assembling to protest the Rowlatt Act. On 30 March 1919, British law officers opened fire on an assembly of unarmed people, peacefully gathered, participating in satyagraha in Delhi.
People rioted in retaliation. On 6 April 1919, a Hindu festival day, he asked a crowd to remember not to injure or kill British people, but express their frustration with peace, to boycott British goods and burn any British clothing they own. He emphasised the use of non-violence to the British and towards each other, even if the other side uses violence. Communities across India announced plans to gather in greater numbers to protest. Government warned him to not enter Delhi. Gandhi defied the order. On 9 April, Gandhi was arrested.
People rioted. On 13 April 1919, people including women with children gathered in an Amritsar park, and a British officer named Reginald Dyer surrounded them and ordered his troops to fire on them. The resulting Jallianwala Bagh massacre (or Amritsar massacre) of hundreds of Sikh and Hindu civilians enraged the subcontinent, but was cheered by some Britons and parts of the British media as an appropriate response. Gandhi in Ahmedabad, on the day after the massacre in Amritsar, did not criticise the British and instead criticised his fellow countrymen for not exclusively using love to deal with the hate of the British government. Gandhi demanded that people stop all violence, stop all property destruction, and went on fast-to-death to pressure Indians to stop their rioting.
The massacre and Gandhi’s non-violent response to it moved many, but also made some Sikhs and Hindus upset that Dyer was getting away with murder. Investigation committees were formed by the British, which Gandhi asked Indians to boycott. The unfolding events, the massacre and the British response, led Gandhi to the belief that Indians will never get a fair equal treatment under British rulers, and he shifted his attention to Swaraj or self rule and political independence for India. In 1921, Gandhi was the leader of the Indian National Congress. He reorganised the Congress. With Congress now behind him, and Muslim support triggered by his backing the Khilafat movement to restore the Caliph in Turkey, Gandhi had the political support and the attention of the British Raj.
Gandhi expanded his nonviolent non-co-operation platform to include the swadeshi policy –
the boycott of foreign-made goods, especially British goods. Linked to this was his advocacy
that khadi (homespun cloth) be worn by all Indians instead of British-made textiles.
Gandhi exhorted Indian men and women, rich or poor, to spend time each day spinning
khadi in support of the independence movement.
In addition to boycotting British products, Gandhi urged the people to boycott British
institutions and law courts, to resign from government employment, and to forsake
British titles and honours. Gandhi thus began his journey aimed at crippling the British India
government economically, politically and administratively.
The appeal of “Non-cooperation” grew, its social popularity drew participation from
all strata of Indian society. Gandhi was arrested on 10 March 1922, tried for sedition, and
sentenced to six years’ imprisonment.
He began his sentence on 18 March 1922. With Gandhi isolated in prison,
the Indian National Congress split into two factions, one led by Chitta Ranjan Das and
Motilal Nehru favouring party participation in the legislatures, and the other led
Furthermore, co-operation among Hindus and Muslims ended as Khilafat movement
collapsed with the rise of Ataturk in Turkey. Muslim leaders left the Congress and began
forming Muslim organisations.
The political base behind Gandhi had broken into factions. Gandhi was released
in February 1924 for an appendicitis operation, having served only two years.
Salt Satyagraha (Salt March)
After his early release from prison for political crimes in 1924, over the second half of the 1920s, Gandhi continued to pursue swaraj. He pushed through a resolution at the Calcutta Congress in December 1928 calling on the British government to grant India dominion status or face a new campaign of non-co-operation with complete independence for the country as its goal.After his support for the World War I with Indian combat troops, and the failure of Khilafat movement in preserving the rule of Caliph in Turkey, followed by a collapse in Muslim support for his leadership, some such as Subhas Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh questioned his values and non-violent approach. While many Hindu leaders championed a demand for immediate independence, Gandhi revised his own call to a one-year wait, instead of two.
The British did not respond favourably to Gandhi’s proposal. British political leaders such as Lord Birkenhead and Winston Churchill announced opposition to “the appeasers of Gandhi”, in their discussions with European diplomats who sympathised with Indian demands. On 31 December 1929, the flag of India was unfurled in Lahore. Gandhi led Congress celebrated 26 January 1930 as India’s Independence Day in Lahore. This day was commemorated by almost every other Indian organisation. Gandhi then launched a new Satyagraha against the tax on salt in March 1930. Gandhi sent an ultimatum in the form of a polite letter to the viceroy of India, Lord Irwin, on 2 March. A young left wing British Quaker by the name of Reg Reynolds delivered the letter. Gandhi condemned British rule in the letter, describing it as “a curse” that “has impoverished the dumb millions by a system of progressive exploitation and by a ruinously expensive military and civil administration… It has reduced us politically to serfdom.” Gandhi also mentioned in the letter that the viceroy received a salary “over five thousand times India’s average income.” British violence, Gandhi promised, was going to be defeated by Indian non-violence.
This was highlighted by the famous Salt March to Dandi from 12 March to 6 April, where, together with 78 volunteers, he marched 388 kilometres (241 mi) from Ahmedabad to Dandi, Gujarat to make salt himself, with the declared intention of breaking the salt laws. The march took 25 days to cover 240 miles with Gandhi speaking to often huge crowds along the way. Thousands of Indians joined him in Dandi. On 5 May he was interned under a regulation dating from 1827 in anticipation of a protest that he had planned. The protest at Dharasana salt works on 21 May went ahead without its leader, Gandhi. A horrified American journalist, Webb Miller, described the British response thus:
In complete silence the Gandhi men drew up and halted a hundred yards from the stockade. A picked column advanced from the crowd, waded the ditches and approached the barbed wire stockade… at a word of command, scores of native policemen rushed upon the advancing marchers and rained blows on their heads with their steel-shot lathis [long bamboo sticks]. Not one of the marchers even raised an arm to fend off blows. They went down like ninepins. From where I stood I heard the sickening whack of the clubs on unprotected skulls… Those struck down fell sprawling, unconscious or writhing with fractured skulls or broken shoulders.
This went on for hours until some 300 or more protesters had been beaten, many seriously injured and two killed. At no time did they offer any resistance.
This campaign was one of his most successful at upsetting British hold on India; Britain responded by imprisoning over 60,000 people. Congress estimates, however, put the figure at 90,000. Among them was one of Gandhi’s lieutenants, Jawaharlal Nehru.
According to Sarma, Gandhi recruited women to participate in the salt tax campaigns and the boycott of foreign products, which gave many women a new self-confidence and dignity in the mainstream of Indian public life. However, other scholars such as Marilyn French state that Gandhi barred women from joining his civil disobedience movement because he feared he would be accused of using women as political shield. When women insisted that they join the movement and public demonstrations, according to Thapar-Bjorkert, Gandhi asked the volunteers to get permissions of their guardians and only those women who can arrange child-care should join him. Regardless of Gandhi’s apprehensions and views, Indian women joined the Salt March by the thousands to defy the British salt taxes and monopoly on salt mining. After Gandhi’s arrest, the women marched and picketed shops on their own, accepting violence and verbal abuse from British authorities for the cause in a manner Gandhi inspired.
Gandhi as folk hero
According to Atlury Murali, Indian Congress in the 1920s appealed to Andhra Pradesh peasants by creating Telugu language plays that combined Indian mythology and legends, linked them to Gandhi’s ideas, and portrayed Gandhi as a messiah, a reincarnation of ancient and medieval Indian nationalist leaders and saints.
The plays built support among peasants steeped in traditional Hindu culture, according to Murali, and this effort made Gandhi a folk hero in Telugu speaking villages, a sacred messiah-like figure.
According to Dennis Dalton, it was the ideas that were responsible for his wide following. Gandhi criticised Western civilisation as one driven by “brute force and immorality”, contrasting it with his categorisation of Indian civilisation as one driven by “soul force and morality”.
Gandhi captured the imagination of the people of his heritage with his ideas about
winning “hate with love”. These ideas are evidenced in his pamphlets from the 1890s,
in South Africa, where too he was popular among the Indian indentured workers.
After he returned to India, people flocked to him because he reflected their values.
Gandhi also campaigned hard going from one rural corner of the Indian subcontinent
Prahlada as a paradigmatic icon, and such cultural symbols as another facet of swaraj
These ideas sounded strange outside India, during his lifetime, but they readily and
deeply resonated with the culture and historic values of his people.
The government, represented by Lord Irwin, decided to negotiate with Gandhi. The Gandhi–Irwin Pact was signed in March 1931. The British Government agreed to free all political prisoners, in return for the suspension of the civil disobedience movement.
According to the pact, Gandhi was invited to attend the Round Table Conference in London for discussions and as the sole representative of the Indian National Congress. The conference was a disappointment to Gandhi and the nationalists.
Gandhi expected to discuss India’s independence, while the British side focused on the Indian princes and Indian minorities rather than on a transfer of power.
Lord Irwin’s successor, Lord Willingdon, took a hard line against India as an independent nation, began a new campaign of controlling and subduing the nationalist movement. Gandhi was again arrested, and the government tried and failed to negate his influence by completely isolating him from his followers.
In Britain, Winston Churchill, a prominent Conservative politician who was then out of office but later became its prime minister, became a vigorous and articulate critic of Gandhi and opponent of his long-term plans. Churchill often ridiculed Gandhi, saying in a widely reported 1931 speech:
It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the Vice-regal palace….to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King-Emperor
Churchill’s bitterness against Gandhi grew in the 1930s. He called Gandhi as the one who was “seditious in aim” whose evil genius and multiform menace was attacking the British empire. Churchill called him a dictator, a “Hindu Mussolini“, fomenting a race war, trying to replace the Raj with Brahmin cronies, playing on the ignorance of Indian masses, all for selfish gain. Churchill attempted to isolate Gandhi, and his criticism of Gandhi was widely covered by European and American press. It gained Churchill sympathetic support, but it also increased support for Gandhi among Europeans. The developments heightened Churchill’s anxiety that the “British themselves would give up out of pacifism and misplaced conscience”.
Round Table Conferences
During the discussions between Gandhi and the British government over 1931–32 at the Round Table Conferences, Gandhi, now aged about 62, sought constitutional reforms as a preparation to the end of colonial British rule, and begin the self-rule by Indians. The British side sought reforms that would keep Indian subcontinent as a colony. The British negotiators proposed constitutional reforms on a British Dominion model that established separate electorates based on religious and social divisions. The British questioned the Congress party and Gandhi’s authority to speak for all of India. They invited Indian religious leaders, such as Muslims and Sikhs, to press their demands along religious lines, as well as B. R. Ambedkar as the representative leader of the untouchables. Gandhi vehemently opposed a constitution that enshrined rights or representations based on communal divisions, because he feared that it would not bring people together but divide them, perpetuate their status and divert the attention from India’s struggle to end the colonial rule.
The Second Round Table conference was the only time he left India between 1914 and his death in 1948. He declined the government’s offer of accommodation in an expensive West End hotel, preferring to stay in the East End, to live among working-class people, as he did in India. He based himself in a small cell-bedroom at Kingsley Hall for the three month duration of his stay and was enthusiastically received by East Enders.. During this time he renewed his links with the British vegetarian movement.
After Gandhi returned from the Second Round Table conference, he started a new satyagraha. He was arrested and imprisoned at the Yerwada Jail, Pune. While he was in prison, the British government enacted a new law that granted untouchables a separate electorate. It came to be known as the Communal Award. In protest, Gandhi started a fast-unto-death, while he was held in prison. The resulting public outcry forced the government, in consultations with Ambedkar, to replace the Communal Award with a compromise Poona Pact.
In 1934 Gandhi resigned from Congress party membership. He did not disagree with the party’s position but felt that if he resigned, his popularity with Indians would cease to stifle the party’s membership, which actually varied, including communists, socialists, trade unionists, students, religious conservatives, and those with pro-business convictions, and that these various voices would get a chance to make themselves heard. Gandhi also wanted to avoid being a target for Raj propaganda by leading a party that had temporarily accepted political accommodation with the Raj.
Gandhi returned to active politics again in 1936, with the Nehru presidency and the Lucknow session of the Congress. Although Gandhi wanted a total focus on the task of winning independence and not speculation about India’s future, he did not restrain the Congress from adopting socialism as its goal. Gandhi had a clash with Subhas Chandra Bose, who had been elected president in 1938, and who had previously expressed a lack of faith in nonviolence as a means of protest. Despite Gandhi’s opposition, Bose won a second term as Congress President, against Gandhi’s nominee, Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya; but left the Congress when the All-India leaders resigned en masse in protest of his abandonment of the principles introduced by Gandhi. Gandhi declared that Sitaramayya’s defeat was his defeat.
World War II and Quit India movement
Gandhi opposed providing any help to the British war effort and he campaigned against any Indian participation in the World War II. Gandhi’s campaign did not enjoy the support of Indian masses and many Indian leaders such as Sardar Patel and Rajendra Prasad. His campaign was a failure. Over 2.5 million Indians ignored Gandhi, volunteered and joined the British military to fight on various fronts of the allied forces.
Gandhi opposition to the Indian participation in the World War II was motivated by his belief that India could not be party to a war ostensibly being fought for democratic freedom while that freedom was denied to India itself. He also condemned Nazism and Fascism, a view which won endorsement of other Indian leaders. As the war progressed, Gandhi intensified his demand for independence, calling for the British to Quit India in a 1942 speech in Mumbai. This was Gandhi’s and the Congress Party’s most definitive revolt aimed at securing the British exit from India. The British government responded quickly to the Quit India speech, and within hours after Gandhi’s speech arrested Gandhi and all the members of the Congress Working Committee. His countrymen retaliated the arrests by damaging or burning down hundreds of government owned railway stations, police stations, and cutting down telegraph wires.
In 1942, Gandhi now nearing age 73, urged his people to completely stop co-operating with the imperial government. In this effort, he urged that they neither kill nor injure British people, but be willing to suffer and die if violence is initiated by the British officials. He clarified that the movement would not be stopped because of any individual acts of violence, saying that the “ordered anarchy” of “the present system of administration” was “worse than real anarchy.” He urged Indians to Karo ya maro (“Do or die”) in the cause of their rights and freedoms.
Gandhi’s arrest lasted two years, as he was held in the Aga Khan Palace in Pune. During this period, his long time secretary Mahadev Desai died of a heart attack, his wife Kasturba died after 18 months’ imprisonment on 22 February 1944; and Gandhi suffered a severe malaria attack. While in jail, he agreed to an interview with Stuart Gelder, a British journalist. Gelder then composed and released an interview summary, cabled it to the mainstream press, that announced sudden concessions Gandhi was willing to make, comments that shocked his countrymen, the Congress workers and even Gandhi. The latter two claimed that it distorted what Gandhi actually said on a range of topics and falsely repudiated the Quit India movement.
Gandhi was released before the end of the war on 6 May 1944 because of his failing health and necessary surgery; the Raj did not want him to die in prison and enrage the nation. He came out of detention to an altered political scene – the Muslim Leaguefor example, which a few years earlier had appeared marginal, “now occupied the centre of the political stage” and the topic of Muhammad Ali Jinnah‘s campaign for Pakistan was a major talking point. Gandhi and Jinnah had extensive correspondence and the two men met several times over a period of two weeks in September 1944, where Gandhi insisted on a united religiously plural and independent India which included Muslims and non-Muslims of the Indian subcontinent coexisting. Jinnah rejected this proposal and insisted instead for partitioning the subcontinent on religious lines to create a separate Muslim India (later Pakistan). These discussions continued through 1947.
While the leaders of Congress languished in jail, the other parties supported the war and gained organizational strength. Underground publications flailed at the ruthless suppression of Congress, but it had little control over events. At the end of the war, the British gave clear indications that power would be transferred to Indian hands. At this point Gandhi called off the struggle, and around 100,000 political prisoners were released, including the Congress’s leadership.
Partition and independence
Gandhi opposed partition of the Indian subcontinent along religious lines. The Indian National Congress and Gandhi called for the British to Quit India. However, the Muslim League demanded “Divide and Quit India”. Gandhi suggested an agreement which required the Congress and the Muslim League to co-operate and attain independence under a provisional government, thereafter, the question of partition could be resolved by a plebiscite in the districts with a Muslim majority.
Jinnah rejected Gandhi’s proposal and called for Direct Action Day, on 16 August 1946, to press Muslims to publicly gather in cities and support his proposal for partition of Indian subcontinent into a Muslim state and non-Muslim state. Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, the Muslim League Chief Minister of Bengal – now Bangladesh and West Bengal, gave Calcutta’s police special holiday to celebrate the Direct Action Day. The Direct Action Day triggered a mass murder of Calcutta Hindus and the torching of their property, and holidaying police were missing to contain or stop the conflict. The British government did not order its army to move in to contain the violence. The violence on Direct Action Day led to retaliatory violence against Muslims across India. Thousands of Hindus and Muslims were murdered, and tens of thousands were injured in the cycle of violence in the days that followed.Gandhi visited the most riot-prone areas to appeal a stop to the massacres.
Archibald Wavell, the Viceroy and Governor-General of British India for three years through February 1947, had worked with Gandhi and Jinnah to find a common ground, before and after accepting Indian independence in principle. Wavell condemned Gandhi’s character and motives as well as his ideas. Wavell accused Gandhi of harbouring the single minded idea to “overthrow British rule and influence and to establish a Hindu raj”, and called Gandhi a “malignant, malevolent, exceedingly shrewd” politician. Wavell feared a civil war on the Indian subcontinent, and doubted Gandhi would be able to stop it.
The British reluctantly agreed to grant independence to the people of the Indian subcontinent, but accepted Jinnah’s proposal of partitioning the land into Pakistan and India. Gandhi was involved in the final negotiations, but Stanley Wolpert states the “plan to carve up British India was never approved of or accepted by Gandhi”.
The partition was controversial and violently disputed. More than half a million were killed in religious riots as 10 million to 12 million non-Muslims (Hindus, Sikhs mostly) migrated from Pakistan into India, and Muslims migrated from India into Pakistan, across the newly created borders of India, West Pakistan and East Pakistan.
Gandhi spent the day of independence not celebrating the end of the British rule but appealing for peace among his countrymen by fasting and spinning in Calcutta on 15 August 1947. The partition had gripped the Indian subcontinent with religious violence and the streets were filled with corpses. Some writers credit Gandhi’s fasting and protests for stopping the religious riots and communal violence. Others do not. Archibald Wavell, for example, upon learning of Gandhi’s assassination, commented, “I always thought he [Gandhi] had more of malevolence than benevolence in him, but who am I to judge, and how can an Englishman estimate a Hindu?”
At 5:17 pm on 30 January 1948, Gandhi was with his grandnieces in the garden of the former Birla House (now Gandhi Smriti), on his way to address a prayer meeting, when Nathuram Godse fired three bullets from a Beretta M1934 9mm Corto pistol into his chest at point-blank range. According to some accounts, Gandhi died instantly. In other accounts, such as one prepared by an eyewitness journalist, Gandhi was carried into the Birla House, into a bedroom. There he died about 30 minutes later as one of Gandhi’s family members read verses from Hindu scriptures.
Friends and comrades, the light has gone out of our lives, and there is darkness everywhere, and I do not quite know what to tell you or how to say it. Our beloved leader, Bapu as we called him, the father of the nation, is no more. Perhaps I am wrong to say that; nevertheless, we will not see him again, as we have seen him for these many years, we will not run to him for advice or seek solace from him, and that is a terrible blow, not only for me, but for millions and millions in this country.
Gandhi’s assassin Godse made no attempt to escape and was seized by the witnesses. He was arrested. In the weeks that followed, his collaborators were arrested as well. Godse was a Hindu nationalist with links to the extremist Hindu Mahasabha. They were tried in court at Delhi’s Red Fort. At his trial, Godse did not deny the charges nor express any remorse. According to Claude Markovits, a French historian noted for his studies of colonial India, Godse stated that he killed Gandhi because of his complacence towards Muslims, holding Gandhi responsible for the frenzy of violence and sufferings during the subcontinent’s partition into Pakistan and India. Godse accused Gandhi of subjectivism and of acting as if only he had a monopoly of the truth. Godse was found guilty and executed in 1949.
Gandhi’s death was mourned nationwide. Over a million people joined the five-mile long funeral procession that took over five hours to reach Raj Ghat from Birla house, where he was assassinated, and another million watched the procession pass by. Gandhi’s body was transported on a weapons carrier, whose chassis was dismantled overnight to allow a high-floor to be installed so that people could catch a glimpse of his body. The engine of the vehicle was not used; instead four drag-ropes manned by 50 people each pulled the vehicle. All Indian-owned establishments in London remained closed in mourning as thousands of people from all faiths and denominations and Indians from all over Britain converged at India House in London.
Gandhi’s assassination dramatically changed the political landscape. Nehru became his political heir. According to Markovits, while Gandhi was alive, Pakistan’s declaration that it was a “Muslim state” had led Indian groups to demand that it be declared a “Hindu state”. Nehru used Gandhi’s martyrdom as a political weapon to silence all advocates of Hindu nationalism as well as his political challengers. He linked Gandhi’s assassination to politics of hatred and ill-will.
According to Guha, Nehru and his Congress colleagues called on Indians to honour Gandhi’s memory and even more his ideals. Nehru used the assassination to consolidate the authority of the new Indian state. Gandhi’s death helped marshal support for the new government and legitimise the Congress Party’s control, leveraged by the massive outpouring of Hindu expressions of grief for a man who had inspired them for decades. The government suppressed the RSS, the Muslim National Guards, and the Khaksars, with some 200,000 arrests.
For years after the assassination, states Markovits, “Gandhi’s shadow loomed large over the political life of the new Indian Republic”. The government quelled any opposition to its economic and social policies, despite they being contrary to Gandhi’s ideas, by reconstructing Gandhi’s image and ideals.
Funeral and memorials
Gandhi was cremated in accordance with Hindu tradition. Gandhi’s ashes were poured into urns which were sent across India for memorial services. Most of the ashes were immersed at the Sangam at Allahabad on 12 February 1948, but some were secretly taken away. In 1997, Tushar Gandhi immersed the contents of one urn, found in a bank vault and reclaimed through the courts, at the Sangam at Allahabad. Some of Gandhi’s ashes were scattered at the source of the Nile River near Jinja, Uganda, and a memorial plaque marks the event. On 30 January 2008, the contents of another urn were immersed at Girgaum Chowpatty. Another urn is at the palace of the Aga Khan in Pune (where Gandhi was held as a political prisoner from 1942 to 1944) and another in the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in Los Angeles.
The Birla House site where Gandhi was assassinated is now a memorial called Gandhi Smriti. The place near Yamuna river where he was cremated is the Rāj Ghātmemorial in New Delhi. A black marble platform, it bears the epigraph “Hē Rāma” (Devanagari: हे ! राम or, Hey Raam). These are widely believed to be Gandhi’s last words after he was shot, though the veracity of this statement has been disputed.
Principles, practices and beliefs
Gandhi’s statements, letters and life have attracted much political and scholarly analysis of his principles, practices and beliefs, including what influenced him. Some writers present him as a paragon of ethical living and pacifism, while others present him as a more complex, contradictory and evolving character influenced by his culture and circumstances.
Gandhi grew up in a Hindu and Jain religious atmosphere in his native Gujarat, which were his primary influences, but he was also influenced by his personal reflections and literature of Hindu Bhakti saints, Advaita Vedanta, Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, and thinkers such as Tolstoy, Ruskin and Thoreau. At age 57 he declared himself to be Advaitist Hindu in his religious persuasion, but added that he supported Dvaitist viewpoints and religious pluralism.
Gandhi was influenced by his devout Vaishnava Hindu mother, the regional Hindu temples and saint tradition which co-existed with Jain tradition in Gujarat. Historian R.B. Cribb states that Gandhi’s thought evolved over time, with his early ideas becoming the core or scaffolding for his mature philosophy. He committed himself early to truthfulness, temperance, chastity, and vegetarianism.
Gandhi’s London lifestyle incorporated the values he had grown up with. When he returned to India in 1891, his outlook was parochial and he could not make a living as a lawyer. This challenged his belief that practicality and morality necessarily coincided. By moving in 1893 to South Africa he found a solution to this problem and developed the central concepts of his mature philosophy.
According to Bhikhu Parekh, three books that influenced Gandhi most in South Africa were William Salter’s Ethical Religion (1889); Henry David Thoreau‘s On the Duty of Civil Disobedience (1849); and Leo Tolstoy‘s The Kingdom of God Is Within You (1894). Ruskin inspired his decision to live an austere life on a commune, at first on the Phoenix Farm in Natal and then on the Tolstoy Farm just outside Johannesburg, South Africa. The most profound influence on Gandhi were those from Hinduism, Christianity and Jainism, states Parekh, with his thoughts “in harmony with the classical Indian traditions, specially the Advaita or monistic tradition”.
According to Indira Carr and others, Gandhi was influenced by Vaishnavism, Jainism and Advaita Vedanta. Balkrishna Gokhale states that Gandhi was influenced by Hinduism and Jainism, and his studies of Sermon on the Mount of Christianity, Ruskin and Tolstoy.
Additional theories of possible influences on Gandhi have been proposed. For example, in 1935, N. A. Toothi stated that Gandhi was influenced by the reforms and teachings of the Swaminarayan tradition of Hinduism. According to Raymond Williams, Toothi may have overlooked the influence of the Jain community, and adds close parallels do exist in programs of social reform in the Swaminarayan tradition and those of Gandhi, based on “nonviolence, truth-telling, cleanliness, temperance and upliftment of the masses.” Historian Howard states the culture of Gujarat influenced Gandhi and his methods.
Along with the book mentioned above, in 1908 Leo Tolstoy wrote A Letter to a Hindu, which said that only by using love as a weapon through passive resistance could the Indian people overthrow colonial rule. In 1909, Gandhi wrote to Tolstoy seeking advice and permission to republish A Letter to a Hindu in Gujarati. Tolstoy responded and the two continued a correspondence until Tolstoy’s death in 1910 (Tolstoy’s last letter was to Gandhi). The letters concern practical and theological applications of nonviolence. Gandhi saw himself a disciple of Tolstoy, for they agreed regarding opposition to state authority and colonialism; both hated violence and preached non-resistance. However, they differed sharply on political strategy. Gandhi called for political involvement; he was a nationalist and was prepared to use nonviolent force. He was also willing to compromise. It was at Tolstoy Farm where Gandhi and Hermann Kallenbach systematically trained their disciples in the philosophy of nonviolence.
Gandhi credited Shrimad Rajchandra, a poet and Jain philosopher, as his influential counsellor. In Modern Review, June 1930, Gandhi wrote about their first encounter in 1891 at Dr. P.J. Mehta’s residence in Bombay. Gandhi exchanged letters with Rajchandra when he was in South Africa, referring to him as Kavi(literally, “poet”). In 1930, Gandhi wrote, “Such was the man who captivated my heart in religious matters as no other man ever has till now.” ‘I have said elsewhere that in moulding my inner life Tolstoy and Ruskin vied with Kavi. But Kavi’s influence was undoubtedly deeper if only because I had come in closest personal touch with him.’
Gandhi, in his autobiography, called Rajchandra his “guide and helper” and his “refuge […] in moments of spiritual crisis”. He had advised Gandhi to be patient and to study Hinduism deeply.
During his stay in South Africa, along with scriptures and philosophical texts of Hinduism and other Indian religions, Gandhi read translated texts of Christianity such as the Bible, and Islam such as the Quran. A Quaker mission in South Africa attempted to convert him to Christianity. Gandhi joined them in their prayers and debated Christian theology with them, but refused conversion stating he did not accept the theology therein or that Christ was the only son of God.
His comparative studies of religions and interaction with scholars, led him to respect all religions as well as become concerned about imperfections in all of them and frequent misinterpretations. Gandhi grew fond of Hinduism, and referred to the Bhagavad Gita as his spiritual dictionary and greatest single influence on his life.
Gandhi was acquainted with Sufi Islam‘s Chishti Order during his stay in South Africa. He attended Khanqah gatherings there at Riverside. According to Margaret Chatterjee, Gandhi as a Vaishnava Hindu shared values such as humility, devotion and brotherhood for the poor that is also found in Sufism. Winston Churchill also compared Gandhi to a Sufi fakir.
On wars and nonviolence
Support for Wars
Gandhi participated in South African war against the Boers, on the British side in 1899. Both the Dutch settlers called Boers and the imperial British at that time discriminated against the coloured races they considered as inferior, and Gandhi later wrote about his conflicted beliefs during the Boer war. He stated that “when the war was declared, my personal sympathies were all with the Boers, but my loyalty to the British rule drove me to participation with the British in that war”. According to Gandhi, he felt that since he was demanding his rights as a British citizen, it was also his duty to serve the British forces in the defence of the British Empire.
During World War I (1914–1918), nearing the age of 50, Gandhi supported the British and its allied forces by recruiting Indians to join the British army, expanding the Indian contingent from about 100,000 to over 1.1 million. He encouraged his people to fight on one side of the war in Europe and Africa at the cost of their lives. Pacifists criticised and questioned Gandhi, who defended these practices by stating, according to Sankar Ghose, “it would be madness for me to sever my connection with the society to which I belong”. According to Keith Robbins, the recruitment effort was in part motivated by the British promise to reciprocate the help with swaraj (self-government) to Indians after the end of World War I. After the war, the British government offered minor reforms instead, which disappointed Gandhi. He launched his satyagraha movement in 1919. In parallel, Gandhi’s fellowmen became sceptical of his pacifist ideas and were inspired by the ideas of nationalism and anti-imperialism.
In a 1920 essay, after the World War I, Gandhi wrote, “where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence.” Rahul Sagar interprets Gandhi’s efforts to recruit for the British military during the War, as Gandhi’s belief that, at that time, it would demonstrate that Indians were willing to fight. Further, it would also show the British that his fellow Indians were “their subjects by choice rather than out of cowardice.” In 1922, Gandhi wrote that abstinence from violence is effective and true forgiveness only when one has the power to punish, not when one decides not to do anything because one is helpless.
After World War II engulfed Britain, Gandhi actively campaigned to oppose any help to the British war effort and any Indian participation in the war. According to Arthur Herman, Gandhi believed that his campaign would strike a blow to imperialism. Gandhi’s position was not supported by many Indian leaders, and his campaign against the British war effort was a failure. The Hindu leader, Tej Bahadur Sapru declared in 1941, states Herman, “A good many Congress leaders are fed up with the barren program of the Mahatma”. Over 2.5 million Indians ignored Gandhi, volunteered and joined on the British side. They fought and died as a part of the allied forces in Europe, North Africa and various fronts of the World War II.
Truth and Satyagraha
Gandhi dedicated his life to discovering and pursuing truth, or Satya, and called his movement as satyagraha, which means “appeal to, insistence on, or reliance on the Truth”. The first formulation of the satyagraha as a political movement and principle occurred in 1920, which he tabled as “Resolution on Non-cooperation” in September that year before a session of the Indian Congress. It was the satyagraha formulation and step, states Dennis Dalton, that deeply resonated with beliefs and culture of his people, embedded him into the popular consciousness, transforming him quickly into Mahatma.
Gandhi based Satyagraha on the Vedantic ideal of self-realization, ahimsa (nonviolence), vegetarianism, and universal love. William Borman states that the key to his satyagraha is rooted in the Hindu Upanishadic texts. According to Indira Carr, Gandhi’s ideas on ahimsa and satyagraha were founded on the philosophical foundations of Advaita Vedanta. I. Bruce Watson states that some of these ideas are found not only in traditions within Hinduism, but also in Jainism or Buddhism, particularly those about non-violence, vegetarianism and universal love, but Gandhi’s synthesis was to politicise these ideas. Gandhi’s concept of satyaas a civil movement, states Glyn Richards, are best understood in the context of the Hindu terminology of Dharma and Ṛta.
Gandhi stated that the most important battle to fight was overcoming his own demons, fears, and insecurities. Gandhi summarised his beliefs first when he said “God is Truth”. He would later change this statement to “Truth is God”. Thus, satya(truth) in Gandhi’s philosophy is “God”. Gandhi, states Richards, described the term “God” not as a separate power, but as the Being (Brahman, Atman) of the Advaita Vedanta tradition, a nondual universal that pervades in all things, in each person and all life. According to Nicholas Gier, this to Gandhi meant the unity of God and humans, that all beings have the same one soul and therefore equality, that atman exists and is same as everything in the universe, ahimsa (non-violence) is the very nature of this atman.
The essence of Satyagraha is “soul force” as a political means, refusing to use brute force against the oppressor, seeking to eliminate antagonisms between the oppressor and the oppressed, aiming to transform or “purify” the oppressor. It is not inaction but determined passive resistance and non-co-operation where, states Arthur Herman, “love conquers hate”. A euphemism sometimes used for Satyagraha is that it is a “silent force” or a “soul force” (a term also used by Martin Luther King Jr. during his famous “I Have a Dream” speech). It arms the individual with moral power rather than physical power. Satyagraha is also termed a “universal force”, as it essentially “makes no distinction between kinsmen and strangers, young and old, man and woman, friend and foe.”
Gandhi wrote: “There must be no impatience, no barbarity, no insolence, no undue pressure. If we want to cultivate a true spirit of democracy, we cannot afford to be intolerant. Intolerance betrays want of faith in one’s cause.” Civil disobedience and non-co-operation as practised under Satyagraha are based on the “law of suffering”, a doctrine that the endurance of suffering is a means to an end. This end usually implies a moral upliftment or progress of an individual or society. Therefore, non-co-operation in Satyagraha is in fact a means to secure the co-operation of the opponent consistently with truth and justice.
While Gandhi’s idea of satyagraha as a political means attracted a widespread following among Indians, the support was not universal. For example, Muslim leaders such as Jinnah opposed the satyagraha idea, accused Gandhi to be reviving Hinduism through political activism, and began effort to counter Gandhi with Muslim nationalism and a demand for Muslim homeland. The untouchability leader Ambedkar, in June 1945, after his decision to convert to Buddhism and a key architect of the Constitution of modern India, dismissed Gandhi’s ideas as loved by “blind Hindu devotees”, primitive, influenced by spurious brew of Tolstoy and Ruskin, and “there is always some simpleton to preach them”. Winston Churchillcaricatured Gandhi as a “cunning huckster” seeking selfish gain, an “aspiring dictator”, and an “atavistic spokesman of a pagan Hinduism”. Churchill stated that the civil disobedience movement spectacle of Gandhi only increased “the danger to which white people there [British India] are exposed”.
Although Gandhi was not the originator of the principle of nonviolence, he was the first to apply it in the political field on a large scale. The concept of nonviolence (ahimsa) has a long history in Indian religious thought, with it being considered the highest dharma (ethical value virtue), a precept to be observed towards all living beings (sarvbhuta), at all times (sarvada), in all respects (sarvatha), in action, words and thought. Gandhi explains his philosophy and ideas about ahimsa as a political means in his autobiography The Story of My Experiments with Truth.
Gandhi was criticised for refusing to protest the hanging of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Udham Singh and Rajguru. He was accused of accepting a deal with the King’s representative Irwin that released civil disobedience leaders from prison and accepted the death sentence against the highly popular revolutionary Bhagat Singh, who at his trial had replied, “Revolution is the inalienable right of mankind”.
Gandhi’s views came under heavy criticism in Britain when it was under attack from Nazi Germany, and later when the Holocaust was revealed. He told the British people in 1940, “I would like you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity. You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions… If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourselves, man, woman, and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them.”George Orwell remarked that Gandhi’s methods confronted ‘an old-fashioned and rather shaky despotism which treated him in a fairly chivalrous way’, not a totalitarian Power, ‘where political opponents simply disappear.’
In a post-war interview in 1946, he said, “Hitler killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs… It would have aroused the world and the people of Germany… As it is they succumbed anyway in their millions.” Gandhi believed this act of “collective suicide”, in response to the Holocaust, “would have been heroism”.
On inter-religious relations
Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs
Gandhi believed that Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism were traditions of Hinduism, with shared history, rites and ideas. At other times, he acknowledged that he knew little about Buddhism other than his reading of Edwin Arnold‘s book on it. Based on that book, he considered Buddhism to be a reform movement and the Buddha to be a Hindu. He stated he knew Jainism much more, and he credited Jains to have profoundly influenced him. Sikhism, to Gandhi, was an integral part of Hinduism, in the form of another reform movement. Sikh and Buddhist leaders disagreed with Gandhi, a disagreement Gandhi respected as a difference of opinion.
Gandhi had generally positive and empathetic views of Islam, and he extensively studied the Quran. He viewed Islam as a faith that proactively promoted peace, and felt that non-violence had a predominant place in the Quran. He also read the Islamic prophet Muhammad‘s biography, and argued that it was “not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission.” Gandhi had a large Indian Muslim following, who he encouraged to join him in a mutual nonviolent jihad against the social oppression of their time. Prominent Muslim allies in his nonviolent resistance movement included Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Abdul Ghaffar Khan. However, Gandhi’s empathy towards Islam, and his eager willingness to valorize peaceful Muslim social activists, was viewed by many Hindus as an appeasement of Muslims and later became a leading cause for his assassination at the hands of intolerant Hindu extremists.
While Gandhi expressed mostly positive views of Islam, he did occasionally criticize Muslims. He stated in 1925 that he did not criticise the teachings of the Quran, but he did criticise the interpreters of the Quran. Gandhi believed that numerous interpreters have interpreted it to fit their preconceived notions. He believed Muslims should welcome criticism of the Quran, because “every true scripture only gains from criticism”. Gandhi criticised Muslims who “betray intolerance of criticism by a non-Muslim of anything related to Islam”, such as the penalty of stoning to death under Islamic law. To Gandhi, Islam has “nothing to fear from criticism even if it be unreasonable”. He also believed there were material contradictions between Hinduism and Islam, and he criticised Muslims along with communists that were quick to resort to violence.
One of the strategies Gandhi adopted was to work with Muslim leaders of pre-partition India, to oppose the British imperialism in and outside the Indian subcontinent. After the World War I, in 1919–22, he won Muslim leadership support of Ali Brothers by backing the Khilafat Movement in favour the Islamic Caliph and his historic Ottoman Caliphate, and opposing the secular Islam supporting Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. By 1924, Ataturk had ended the Caliphate, the Khilafat Movement was over, and Muslim support for Gandhi had largely evaporated.
In 1925, Gandhi gave another reason to why he got involved in the Khilafat movement and the Middle East affairs between Britain and the Ottoman Empire. Gandhi explained to his co-religionists (Hindu) that he sympathised and campaigned for the Islamic cause, not because he cared for the Sultan, but because “I wanted to enlist the Mussalman’s sympathy in the matter of cow protection”. According to the historian M. Naeem Qureshi, like the then Indian Muslim leaders who had combined religion and politics, Gandhi too imported his religion into his political strategy during the Khilafat movement.
In the 1940s, Gandhi pooled ideas with some Muslim leaders who sought religious harmony like him, and opposed the proposed partition of British India into India and Pakistan. For example, his close friend Badshah Khan suggested that they should work towards opening Hindu temples for Muslim prayers, and Islamic mosques for Hindu prayers, to bring the two religious groups closer. Gandhi accepted this and began having Muslim prayers read in Hindu temples to play his part, but was unable to get Hindu prayers read in mosques. The Hindu nationalist groups objected and began confronting Gandhi for this one-sided practice, by shouting and demonstrating inside the Hindu temples, in the last years of his life.
Gandhi criticised as well as praised Christianity. He was critical of Christian missionary efforts in British India, because they mixed medical or education assistance with demands that the beneficiary convert to Christianity. According to Gandhi, this was not true “service” but one driven by ulterior motive of luring people into religious conversion and exploiting the economically or medically desperate. It did not lead to inner transformation or moral advance or to the Christian teaching of “love”, but was based on false one-sided criticisms of other religions, when Christian societies faced similar problems in South Africa and Europe. It led to the converted person hating his neighbours and other religions, it divided people rather than bringing them closer in compassion. According to Gandhi, “no religious tradition could claim a monopoly over truth or salvation”. Gandhi did not support laws to prohibit missionary activity, but demanded that Christians should first understand the message of Jesus, and then strive to live without stereotyping and misrepresenting other religions. According to Gandhi, the message of Jesus wasn’t to humiliate and imperialistically rule over other people considering them inferior or second class or slaves, but that “when the hungry are fed and peace comes to our individual and collective life, then Christ is born”.
Gandhi believed that his long acquaintance with Christianity had made him like it as well as find it imperfect. He asked Christians to stop humiliating his country and his people as heathens, idolators and other abusive language, and to change their negative views of India. He believed that Christians should introspect on the “true meaning of religion” and get a desire to study and learn from Indian religions in the spirit of universal brotherhood. According to Eric Sharpe – a professor of Religious Studies, though Gandhi was born in a Hindu family and later became Hindu by conviction, many Christians in time thought of him as an “exemplary Christian and even as a saint”.
Some colonial era Christian preachers and faithfuls considered Gandhi as a saint. Biographers from France and Britain have drawn parallels between Gandhi and Christian saints. Recent scholars question these romantic biographies and state that Gandhi was neither a Christian figure nor mirrored a Christian saint. Gandhi’s life is better viewed as exemplifying his belief in the “convergence of various spiritualities” of a Christian and a Hindu, states Michael de Saint-Cheron.
According to Kumaraswamy, Gandhi initially supported Arab demands with respect to Palestine. He justified this support by invoking Islam, stating that “non-Muslims cannot acquire sovereign jurisdiction” in Jazirat al-Arab (the Arabian Peninsula). These arguments, states Kumaraswamy, were a part of his political strategy to win Muslim support during the Khilafat movement. In the post-Khilafat period, Gandhi neither negated Jewish demands nor did he use Islamic texts or history to support Muslim claims against Israel. Gandhi’s silence after the Khilafat period may represent an evolution in his understanding of the conflicting religious claims over Palestine, according to Kumaraswamy. In 1938, Gandhi spoke in favour of Jewish claims, and in March 1946, he said to the Member of British Parliament Sidney Silverman, “if the Arabs have a claim to Palestine, the Jews have a prior claim”, a position very different from his earlier stance.
Gandhi discussed the persecution of the Jews in Germany and the emigration of Jews from Europe to Palestine through his lens of Satyagraha. In 1937, Gandhi discussed Zionism with his close Jewish friend Hermann Kallenbach. He said that Zionism was not the right answer to the problems faced by Jewsand instead recommended Satyagraha. Gandhi thought the Zionists in Palestine represented European imperialism and used violence to achieve their goals; he argued that “the Jews should disclaim any intention of realizing their aspiration under the protection of arms and should rely wholly on the goodwill of Arabs. No exception can possibly be taken to the natural desire of the Jews to find a home in Palestine. But they must wait for its fulfillment till Arab opinion is ripe for it.”
In 1938, Gandhi stated that his “sympathies are all with the Jews. I have known them intimately in South Africa. Some of them became life-long companions.” Philosopher Martin Buber was highly critical of Gandhi’s approach and in 1939 wrote an open letter to him on the subject. Gandhi reiterated his stance that “the Jews seek to convert the Arab heart”, and use “satyagraha in confronting the Arabs” in 1947. According to Simone Panter-Brick, Gandhi’s political position on Jewish-Arab conflict evolved over the 1917-1947 period, shifting from a support for the Arab position first, and for the Jewish position in the 1940s.
On life, society and other application of his ideas
Vegetarianism, food, and animals
Gandhi was brought up as a vegetarian by his devout Hindu mother. The idea of vegetarianism is deeply ingrained in Hindu Vaishnavism and Jain traditions in India, such as in his native Gujarat, where meat is considered as a form of food obtained by violence to animals. Gandhi’s rationale for vegetarianism was largely along those found in Hindu and Jain texts. Gandhi believed that any form of food inescapably harms some form of living organism, but one should seek to understand and reduce the violence in what one consumes because “there is essential unity of all life”.
Gandhi believed that some life forms are more capable of suffering, and non-violence to him meant not having the intent as well as active efforts to minimise hurt, injury or suffering to all life forms. Gandhi explored food sources that reduced violence to various life forms in the food chain. He believed that slaughtering animals is unnecessary, as other sources of foods are available. He also consulted with vegetarianism campaigners during his lifetime, such as with Henry Stephens Salt. Food to Gandhi was not only a source of sustaining one’s body, but a source of his impact on other living beings, and one that affected his mind, character and spiritual well being. He avoided not only meat, but also eggs and milk. Gandhi wrote the book The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism and wrote for the London Vegetarian Society’s publication.
Beyond his religious beliefs, Gandhi stated another motivation for his experiments with diet. He attempted to find the most non-violent vegetarian meal that the poorest human could afford, taking meticulous notes on vegetables and fruits, and his observations with his own body and his ashram in Gujarat. He tried fresh and dry fruits (Fruitarianism), then just sun dried fruits, before resuming his prior vegetarian diet on advice of his doctor and concerns of his friends. His experiments with food began in the 1890s and continued for several decades. For some of these experiments, Gandhi combined his own ideas with those found on diet in Indian yoga texts. He believed that each vegetarian should experiment with his or her diet because, in his studies at his ashram he saw “one man’s food may be poison for another”.
Gandhi championed animal rights in general. Other than making vegetarian choices, he actively campaigned against dissection studies and experimentation on live animals (vivisection) in the name of science and medical studies. He considered it a violence against animals, something that inflicted pain and suffering. He wrote, “Vivisection in my opinion is the blackest of all the blackest crimes that man is at present committing against God and His fair creation.”
Gandhi used fasting as a political device, often threatening suicide unless demands were met. Congress publicised the fasts as a political action that generated widespread sympathy. In response the government tried to manipulate news coverage to minimise his challenge to the Raj. He fasted in 1932 to protest the voting scheme for separate political representation for Dalits; Gandhi did not want them segregated. The British government stopped the London press from showing photographs of his emaciated body, because it would elicit sympathy. Gandhi’s 1943 hunger strike took place during a two-year prison term for the anticolonial Quit India movement. The government called on nutritional experts to demystify his action, and again no photos were allowed. However, his final fast in 1948, after the end of British rule in India, his hunger strike was lauded by the British press and this time did include full-length photos.
Alter states that Gandhi’s fasting, vegetarianism and diet was more than a political leverage, it was a part of his experiments with self restraint and healthy living. He was “profoundly skeptical of traditional Ayurveda”, encouraging it to study the scientific method and adopt its progressive learning approach. Gandhi believed yoga offered health benefits. He believed that a healthy nutritional diet based on regional foods and hygiene were essential to good health. Recently ICMR made Gandhi’s health records public in a book ‘Gandhi and Health@150’. These records indicate that despite being underweight at 46.7 kgs Gandhi was generally healthy. He avoided modern medication and experiemented extensively with water and earth healing. While his cardio records show his heart was normal, there were several instances he suffered from ailments like Malaria and was also operated twice for piles and appendicts. Despite health challenges Gandhi was able to walk about 79000 kms in his lifetime which comes to an average of 18 kms per day and is equivalent to walking around the earth twice.
Gandhi strongly favoured the emancipation of women, and urged “the women to fight for their own self-development.” He opposed purdah, child marriage, dowryand sati. A wife is not a slave of the husband, stated Gandhi, but his comrade, better half, colleague and friend, according to Lyn Norvell. In his own life however, according to Suruchi Thapar-Bjorkert, Gandhi’s relationship with his wife were at odds with some of these values.
At various occasions, Gandhi credited his orthodox Hindu mother, and his wife, for first lessons in satyagraha. He used the legends of Hindu goddess Sita to expound women’s innate strength, autonomy and “lioness in spirit” whose moral compass can make any demon “as helpless as a goat”. To Gandhi, the women of India were an important part of the “swadeshi movement” (Buy Indian), and his goal of decolonising the Indian economy.
Some historians such as Angela Woollacott and Kumari Jayawardena state that even though Gandhi often and publicly expressed his belief in the equality of sexes, yet his vision was one of gender difference and complementarity between them. Women, to Gandhi, should be educated to be better in the domestic realm and educate the next generation. His views on women’s rights were less liberal and more similar to puritan-Victorian expectations of women, states Jayawardena, than other Hindu leaders with him who supported economic independence and equal gender rights in all aspects.
Brahmacharya: abstinence from sex and food
Along with many other texts, Gandhi studied Bhagavad Gita while in South Africa. This Hindu scripture discusses jnana yoga, bhakti yoga and karma yogaalong with virtues such as non-violence, patience, integrity, lack of hypocrisy, self restraint and abstinence. Gandhi began experiments with these, and in 1906 at age 37, although married and a father, he vowed to abstain from sexual relations.
Gandhi’s experiment with abstinence went beyond sex, and extended to food. He consulted the Jain scholar Rajchandra, whom he fondly called Raychandbhai.Rajchandra advised him that milk stimulated sexual passion. Gandhi began abstaining from cow’s milk in 1912, and did so even when doctors advised him to consume milk. According to Sankar Ghose, Tagore described Gandhi as someone who did not abhor sex or women, but considered sexual life as inconsistent with his moral goals.
Gandhi tried to test and prove to himself his brahmacharya. The experiments began some time after the death of his wife in February 1944. At the start of his experiment he had women sleep in the same room but in different beds. He later slept with women in the same bed but clothed, and finally he slept naked with women. In April 1945, Gandhi referenced being naked with several “women or girls” in a letter to Birla as part of the experiments. According to the 1960s memoir of his grandniece Manu, Gandhi feared in early 1947 that he and she may be killed by Muslims in the run up to India’s independence in August 1947, and asked her when she was 18 years old if she wanted to help him with his experiments to test their “purity”, for which she readily accepted. Gandhi slept naked in the same bed with Manu with the bedroom doors open all night. Manu stated that the experiment had no “ill effect” on her. Gandhi also shared his bed with 18-year-old Abha, wife of his grandnephew Kanu. Gandhi would sleep with both Manu and Abha at the same time. None of the women who participated in the brahmachari experiments of Gandhi indicated that they had sex or that Gandhi behaved in any sexual way. Those who went public said they felt as though they were sleeping with their ageing mother.
According to Sean Scalmer, Gandhi in his final year of life was an ascetic, looked ugly and a sickly skeletal figure, already caricatured in the Western media. In February 1947, he asked his confidants such as Birla and Ramakrishna if it was wrong for him to experiment his brahmacharya oath. Gandhi’s public experiments, as they progressed, were widely discussed and criticised by his family members and leading politicians. However, Gandhi said that if he would not let Manu sleep with him, it would be a sign of weakness. Some of his staff resigned, including two of his newspaper’s editors who had refused to print some of Gandhi’s sermons dealing with his experiments. Nirmalkumar Bose, Gandhi’s Bengali interpreter, for example criticised Gandhi, not because Gandhi did anything wrong, but because Bose was concerned about the psychological effect on the women who participated in his experiments. Veena Howard states Gandhi’s views on brahmacharya and religious renunciation experiments were a method to confront women issues in his times.
Untouchability and castes
Gandhi spoke out against untouchability early in his life. Before 1932, he and his colleagues used the term Antyaja for untouchables. One of the major speeches he made on untouchability was at Nagpur in 1920, where he called untouchability as a great evil in Hindu society. In his remarks, he stated that the phenomena of untouchability is not unique to the Hindu society, but has deeper roots because Europeans in South Africa treat “all of us, Hindus and Muslims, as untouchables; we may not reside in their midst, nor enjoy the rights which they do”. He called it intolerable. He stated this practice can be eradicated, Hinduism is flexible to allow this, and a concerted effort is needed to persuade it is wrong and by all to eradicate it.
According to Christophe Jaffrelot, while Gandhi considered untouchability to be wrong and evil, he believed that caste or class are based neither on inequality nor on inferiority. Gandhi believed that individuals should freely intermarry whoever they want to, but no one should expect everyone to befriend them. Every individual regardless of his or her background, stated Gandhi, has a right to choose who they welcome into their home, who they befriend and who they spend time with.
In 1932, Gandhi began a new campaign to improve the lives of the untouchables, whom he started referring to as Harijans or “the children of god”. On 8 May 1933, Gandhi began a 21-day fast of self-purification and launched a one-year campaign to help the Harijan movement. This new campaign was not universally embraced within the Dalit community. Ambedkar and his allies felt Gandhi was being paternalistic and was undermining Dalit political rights. Ambedkar described him as “devious and untrustworthy”. He accused Gandhi as someone who wished to retain the caste system. Ambedkar and Gandhi debated their ideas and concerns, where both tried to persuade each other.
In 1935, Ambedkar announced his intentions to leave Hinduism and join Buddhism. According to Sankar Ghose, the announcement shook Gandhi, who reappraised his views and wrote many essays with his views on castes, inter-marriage and what Hinduism says on the subject. These views contrasted with those of Ambedkar. In actual elections of 1937, except for some seats in Mumbai where Ambedkar’s party won, India’s untouchables voted heavily in favour of Gandhi’s campaign and his party, the Congress.
Gandhi and his colleagues continued to consult Ambedkar, keeping him influential. Ambedkar worked with other Congress leaders through the 1940s, wrote large parts of India’s constitution in the late 1940s, and converted to Buddhism in 1956. According to Jaffrelot, Gandhi’s views evolved between the 1920s and 1940s, when in 1946 he actively encouraged inter-marriage across castes. However, Gandhi’s approach to untouchability was different from Ambedkar’s, championing fusion, choice and free intermixing. Ambedkar envisioned each segment of society maintaining its identity group, and each group then separately advancing the “politics of equality”.
The criticism of Gandhi by Ambedkar continued to influence the Dalit movement past Gandhi’s death. According to Arthur Herman, Ambedkar’s hate for Gandhi and Gandhi’s ideas was so strong that after he heard the news of Gandhi’s assassination, remarked after a momentary silence a sense of regret and then “my real enemy is gone; thank goodness the eclipse is over now”. According to Ramachandra Guha, “ideologues have carried these old rivalries into the present, with the demonization of Gandhi now common among politicians who presume to speak in Ambedkar’s name.”
Nai Talim, basic education
Gandhi rejected the colonial Western format of education system. He stated that it led to disdain for manual work, generally created an elite administrative bureaucracy. Gandhi favoured an education system with far greater emphasis on learning skills in practical and useful work, one that included physical, mental and spiritual studies. His methodology sought to treat all professions equal and pay everyone the same.
Gandhi called his ideas Nai Talim (literally, ‘new education’). He believed that the Western style education violated and destroyed the indigenous cultures. A different basic education model, he believed, would lead to better self awareness, prepare people to treat all work equally respectable and valued, and lead to a society with less social diseases.
Nai Talim evolved out of his experiences at the Tolstoy Farm in South Africa, and Gandhi attempted to formulate the new system at the Sevagram ashram after 1937. Nehru government’s vision of an industrialised, centrally planned economy after 1947 had scant place for Gandhi’s village-oriented approach.
Gandhi believed that swaraj not only can be attained with non-violence, it can be run with non-violence. A military is unnecessary, because any aggressor can be thrown out using the method of non-violent non-co-operation. While military is unnecessary in a nation organised under swaraj principle, Gandhi added that a police force is necessary given human nature. However, the state would limit the use of weapons by the police to the minimum, aiming for their use as a restraining force.
According to Gandhi, a non-violent state is like an “ordered anarchy”. In a society of mostly non-violent individuals, those who are violent will sooner or later accept discipline or leave the community, stated Gandhi. He emphasised a society where individuals believed more in learning about their duties and responsibilities, not demanded rights and privileges. On returning from South Africa, when Gandhi received a letter asking for his participation in writing a world charter for human rights, he responded saying, “in my experience, it is far more important to have a charter for human duties.”
Swaraj to Gandhi did not mean transferring colonial era British power brokering system, favours-driven, bureaucratic, class exploitative structure and mindset into Indian hands. He warned such a transfer would still be English rule, just without the Englishman. “This is not the Swaraj I want”, said Gandhi. Tewari states that Gandhi saw democracy as more than a system of government; it meant promoting both individuality and the self-discipline of the community. Democracy meant settling disputes in a nonviolent manner; it required freedom of thought and expression. For Gandhi, democracy was a way of life.
Hindu nationalism and revivalism
Some scholars state Gandhi supported a religiously diverse India, while others state that the Muslim leaders who championed the partition and creation of a separate Muslim Pakistan considered Gandhi to be Hindu nationalist or revivalist. For example, in his letters to Mohammad Iqbal, Jinnah accused Gandhi to be favouring a Hindu rule and revivalism, that Gandhi led Indian National Congress was a fascist party.
In an interview with C.F. Andrews, Gandhi stated that if we believe all religions teach the same message of love and peace between all human beings, then there is neither any rationale nor need for proselytisation or attempts to convert people from one religion to another. Gandhi opposed missionary organisations who criticised Indian religions then attempted to convert followers of Indian religions to Islam or Christianity. In Gandhi’s view, those who attempt to convert a Hindu, “they must harbour in their breasts the belief that Hinduism is an error” and that their own religion is “the only true religion”. Gandhi believed that people who demand religious respect and rights must also show the same respect and grant the same rights to followers of other religions. He stated that spiritual studies must encourage “a Hindu to become a better Hindu, a Mussalman to become a better Mussalman, and a Christian a better Christian.”
According to Gandhi, religion is not about what a man believes, it is about how a man lives, how he relates to other people, his conduct towards others, and one’s relationship to one’s conception of god. It is not important to convert or to join any religion, but it is important to improve one’s way of life and conduct by absorbing ideas from any source and any religion, believed Gandhi.
Gandhi believed in sarvodaya economic model, which literally means “welfare, upliftment of all”. This, states Bhatt, was a very different economic model than the socialism model championed and followed by free India by Nehru – India’s first prime minister. To both, according to Bhatt, removing poverty and unemployment were the objective, but the Gandhian economic and development approach preferred adapting technology and infrastructure to suit the local situation, in contrast to Nehru’s large scale, socialised state owned enterprises.
To Gandhi, the economic philosophy that aims at “greatest good for the greatest number” was fundamentally flawed, and his alternative proposal sarvodaya set its aim at the “greatest good for all”. He believed that the best economic system not only cared to lift the “poor, less skilled, of impoverished background” but also empowered to lift the “rich, highly skilled, of capital means and landlords”. Violence against any human being, born poor or rich, is wrong, believed Gandhi.He stated that the mandate theory of majoritarian democracy should not be pushed to absurd extremes, individual freedoms should never be denied, and no person should ever be made a social or economic slave to the “resolutions of majorities”.
Gandhi challenged Nehru and the modernizers in the late 1930s who called for rapid industrialisation on the Soviet model; Gandhi denounced that as dehumanising and contrary to the needs of the villages where the great majority of the people lived. After Gandhi’s assassination, Nehru led India in accordance with his personal socialist convictions. Historian Kuruvilla Pandikattu says “it was Nehru’s vision, not Gandhi’s, that was eventually preferred by the Indian State.”
Gandhi called for ending poverty through improved agriculture and small-scale cottage rural industries. Gandhi’s economic thinking disagreed with Marx, according to the political theory scholar and economist Bhikhu Parekh. Gandhi refused to endorse the view that economic forces are best understood as “antagonistic class interests”. He argued that no man can degrade or brutalise the other without degrading and brutalising himself and that sustainable economic growth comes from service, not from exploitation. Further, believed Gandhi, in a free nation, victims exist only when they co-operate with their oppressor, and an economic and political system that offered increasing alternatives gave power of choice to the poorest man.
While disagreeing with Nehru about the socialist economic model, Gandhi also critiqued capitalism that was driven by endless wants and a materialistic view of man. This, he believed, created a vicious vested system of materialism at the cost of other human needs such as spirituality and social relationships. To Gandhi, states Parekh, both communism and capitalism were wrong, in part because both focussed exclusively on materialistic view of man, and because the former deified the state with unlimited power of violence, while the latter deified capital. He believed that a better economic system is one which does not impoverish one’s culture and spiritual pursuits.
Gandhism designates the ideas and principles Gandhi promoted; of central importance is nonviolent resistance. A Gandhian can mean either an individual who follows, or a specific philosophy which is attributed to, Gandhism. M. M. Sankhdher argues that Gandhism is not a systematic position in metaphysics or in political philosophy. Rather, it is a political creed, an economic doctrine, a religious outlook, a moral precept, and especially, a humanitarian world view. It is an effort not to systematise wisdom but to transform society and is based on an undying faith in the goodness of human nature. However Gandhi himself did not approve of the notion of “Gandhism”, as he explained in 1936:
There is no such thing as “Gandhism”, and I do not want to leave any sect after me. I do not claim to have originated any new principle or doctrine. I have simply tried in my own way to apply the eternal truths to our daily life and problems…The opinions I have formed and the conclusions I have arrived at are not final. I may change them tomorrow. I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and nonviolence are as old as the hills.