Life and left behind


I will be introducing M. K. Gandhi as a man that led a life and left behind a legacy that has remained a controversial matter in the 20th century history of India. Born in 1869 in Porbandar on the Western coast of India and raised by Hindu parents to the Modh Bania caste, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi found many opportunities in his early life to meet people of all faiths. He had many Christian and Muslim friends, as well as being heavily influenced by Jainism in his youth. I will discuss his religious principle of 'Ahimsa' (doing no harm) and the growth of his own famous principle of Satyagraha (truth force) later on in his life. Gandhi's hope was to win people over by changing their hearts and minds, and promoted non-violence in all things. He himself remained a committed Hindu throughout his life, but was critical of all faiths and what he saw as the hypocrisy of organised religion.

From here I intend to move on to the true nature of the topic at hand and discuss that although he was a man of peace, supporter of non- violence, credited as 'saint', he didn't become prime minister, wasn't happy with the end result of partition itself and ultimately, died a violent death. So how far does this actually make him a saint? Not everyone obviously thought that he was this saintly figure the mass population were stating, even those as close to him as his own son, thought otherwise.

I will be explaining the meaning behind 'saint' and 'politician' and introduce the three arguments I will be discussing over the next three chapters in order to answer my question. The first idea being that he was a saint and nothing less. I will be analyzing the true extent to which this statement is referred to and to whom this is agreement with and whom it is not. I will move on to the second and third chapters, identifying the remaining two core arguments enlisted amongst historians.

Chapter 1

'Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth' Albert Einstein

Here I intend to begin discussion of the first of what I believe 3 main arguments put forward by Historians which will help me to counter argue the statement of my question. The notion of Gandhi as an undeniable 'saint' and nothing of the contrary, agreed by the likes of Albert Einstein, Judith Brown and other like minded critics, enables us to see Gandhi as not only to have deep spirituality, but to have 'possessed great moral and physical courage and an unwavering commitment to non-violence that transformed the lives of those around him.' The fact that his experimentations with truth allowed him to be recognised as a man of great depth that was not led by the material he possessed (making his wife dispose of her gold and reducing his dress code to a simple doti) enabled him to fight the biggest cause concerning his home country, a cause that would leave them liberated and freed from British rule, can be seen more political than saintly. However the saintly image, conversed both in India and the West helped to bridge the cultural differences, making Gandhi the saviour of what was seemed impossible. This image that he exposed helped the Indian nationalist struggle from what seemed a narrowly focused political campaign into a mass based moral crusade which eventually helped conquer the British Empire.

In this chapter I will be looking at all aspects of this vision of a saint and therefore I will also be considering those that thought he was nothing of the sort and was merely a politician who exercised his powers of appearing as a saint but all along having a hidden agenda. Lord Wavell is seen to have referred to the Mahatma as 'a very tough politician and not a saint' and Tilak stating 'Politics is a game of worldly people, and not of a sadhus (holy men)'. There are many different views on this great man and here I will be deciphering the diverse outlook they held.

Chapter 2

In this chapter I will be exploring the reasons behind the idea of Gandhi as the Father of the nation and therefore a Politian. Overall it can be seen that historians generally take one of three stances when analysing and later identifying with Gandhi and the outlook on his life. The first is that he was a 'saint', second being he was a politician and therefore not a saint, and third, the constant shift between Gandhi as a revolutionary, a traditionalist or a downright reactionary.

I will be looking at the why Gandhi is seen as the 'maker of modern India' and therefore events and core revolutionary changes that were determined because of him. I will be reviewing the dominant role he played in the anti-colonial struggle from 1919 onwards, the unique style of his leadership, the manner in which he began the nationalist-turn- mass movement and the several non-violent civil disobedience (satyagraha) campaigns. In addition to this I will be looking at the wide ranging programme of social reform which led to campaigning against the untouchability, his pursuit of gender equality, his efforts to revitalise India's villages and encourage hand spinning. All these ideas of Gandhi, his 'experiment with truth' as he likes to call it would set the social and economic agenda for India for decades to come.

However I will not be forgetting the ideas that differ from this view and instead hold people such as Nehru in the forefront as the revolutionary change that has since occurred. Nehru openly promoted the idea of Gandhi being the 'maker of India' regardless of his own personal disputes and political differences with Gandhi, but how much did Gandhi himself relate to what India is now today. Not all Gandhi's ideas and activities are now seen to have promoted national unity or to have advanced the cause of national independence. Unlike Nehru, Gandhi did not see the need of technological and scientific advancement in the 20th century India. His ideas I will explore more greatly. I will also look closely at those that supported Gandhi i.e. the peasants and how this vision attracted them to the Mahatma in their own image and attributing to his ideas and aspirations with their ideals, outlook and experience.

Chapter 3 Gandhis ideology (DISCUSS SOMETHING ELSE)

Here I will be exploring Gandhi as this notion of him as a revolutionary, a traditionalist or in its simplest forms, even a reactionary of what he stood for, preached and eventually his sad assassination. Although Gandhi cannot be seen so much a revolutionary in the conventional sense, as he whole heatedly believed in non-violence, and at the very least accepted violence even to overthrow the Empire that he by , he can be considered a revolutionary in regards to

I will be questioning and bringing to light

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