Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Mohandas K. Gandhi (2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948)

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, affectionately christened by his devotees and admirers “Mahātmā” Gandhi, was assassinated 70 years ago on this date in 1948.

Please see Vinay Lal’s blog post, “Gandhi and His Assassins–Then and Now,” as well as the embedded link to his excellent article, “The Gandhi Everyone Loves to Hate,”* a snippet from which follows:

[….] My contention is that Gandhi furnishes no solace or anchor to those who are accustomed or inclined to view the world in Manichaean categories, and that one of the many reasons why Gandhi creates a profound uneasiness among the many constituencies which had to deal with him – Brahmins and Sudras, Sanatanists and Dalits, Indians and the English, Hindus and Muslims, liberals and Marxists, feminists and patriarchs, communalists and secularists, modernisers and traditionalists, developmentalists and ecologists, even militarists and pacifists – is that he came to embrace the idea of an open-ended conversation even as he stood unequivocally for certain moral, political, and epistemological positions. [….]

There is, needless to say, no singular Gandhi that everyone loved to hate, and the advocates of many critical worldviews on Gandhi have all authored their own Gandhi. This is far from being as unreasonable as it sounds, for if environmentalists, pacifists, conscientious objectors, non-violent activists, nudists, naturopaths, vegetarians, prohibitionists, social reformers, internationalists, moralists, trade union leaders, political dissidents, hunger strikers, anarchists,  luddites, celibates, anti-globalisation activists, pluralists, ecumenists, walkers, and many others  have at one time or a not her claimed Gandhi as their patron saint, or at least drawn inspiration from him, then one is also free to choose the Gandhi that one dislikes. It may even come as a surprise to many, who know of Gandhi only as a prophet of non-violence, a beacon light to a beleaguered humanity, and an instigator of change through peaceful means, three among other sentiments which have ceaselessly circulated about him, to discover that Gandhi provoked, and continues to provoke, considerable resentment, and often sharper reactions, among a wide swathe of his and our contemporaries.” [….]

* Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 43, No. 40 (October 4, 2008): 55-64.

My basic bibliography for the life, work, and legacy of Gandhi is here.

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