Mahatma Gandhi: The Historical Biography
127 pages
English

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127 pages
English

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Description

Quite distinct from the abundant literature available on Mahatma Gandhi, this historical biography attempts to articulate the historiography of India's freedom struggle, of which Gandhi was undoubtedly the central figure. Relooking at key issues and themes that have been raised in the research conducted over the past few decades, this is an interpretative essay that seeks to contextualize Gandhi and his ideology of ahimsa and satyagraha. Instead of focusing merely on Gandhi's personal life, Prof Bidyut Chakrabarty conceptualizes the evolution of his ideas in the context of anti-colonial nationalism. A nationalism of the Mahatma that for the first time in the history of the independence struggle reached every village and taluk of the state. A nationalism for a country and a society based on his principles of nai talim (new education) and sarvodaya (upliftment of all). But was it the right path and ideology for a new and emerging nation? Despite being Gandhi-centred, the biography is thus imbued with questions, which it attempts to answer. Through a unique study of one of the most prominent personalities of the twentieth century, it addresses areas of human concerns, which will always remain universal in scope and content.

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Publié par
Date de parution 01 mars 2007
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9789351940593
Langue English

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About the book
Quite distinct from the abundant literature available on Mahatma Gandhi, this historical biography attempts to articulate the historiography of India’s freedom struggle, of which Gandhi was undoubtedly the central figure. Relooking at key issues and themes that have been raised in the research conducted over the past few decades, this is an interpretative essay that seeks to contextualize Gandhi and his ideology of Ahimsa and Satyagraha. Instead of focusing merely on Gandhi’s personal life, Professor Bidyut Chakrabarty conceptualizes the evolution of his ideas in the context of anti-colonial nationalism. A nationalism of the Mahatma that for the first time in the history of the independence struggle reached every village and taluk of the state; a nationalism for a country and a society based on his principles of Nai Talim (new education) and Sarvodaya (Upliftment of all). But was it the right path and ideology for a new and emerging nation? Despite being Gandhi-centered, the biography is thus imbued with questions, which it attempts to answer. Though a unique study of one of the most prominent personalities of the twentieth century, it addresses areas of human concerns, which will always remain universal in scope and content.
MAHATMA GANDHI

ROLI BOOKS
This digital edition published in 2014
First published in 2007 by The Lotus Collection An imprint of Roli Books Pvt. Ltd M-75, Greater Kailash- II Market New Delhi 110 048 Phone: ++91 (011) 40682000 E-mail: info@rolibooks.com Website: www.rolibooks.com
Copyright © Bidyut Chakrabarty, 2005
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in a retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic, mechanical, print reproduction, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of Roli Books. Any unauthorized distribution of this e-book may be considered a direct infringement of copyright and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.
ISBN: 978-93-5194-059-3
Cover Design: Nabanita Das
All rights reserved. This e-book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated, without the publisher‘s prior consent, in any form or cover other than that in which it is published.
CONTENTS

PREFACE
INTRODUCTION
1 Articulation of a New Ideology: Gandhi, Satyagraha and Ahimsa
2 The Rise of Gandhi as a Pan-Indian Leader: The Non-Cooperation and Civil Disobedience Movements
3 Do or Die: Gandhi‘s Articulation of Freedom
4 The Mahatma and the Masses
5 Gandhi and his Colleagues: Rabindranath Tagore and B.R. Ambedkar
6 The Mahatma and the Marginal Gandhi
CONCLUSION
GLOSSARY
BIBLIOGRAPHY
PREFACE

THIS HISTORICAL BIOGRAPHY IS A CRITICAL GANDHIAN response to those who tend to belittle the academic feats of any kind by referring to their ‘pipe-line’ publications. In this world of academia, these individuals flourish by networks drawing not on serious academic works, but on ‘back-scratching’ among those belonging to the so-called ‘mutual admirer club’. In the name of academic excellence (justifying their academic pretensions) these individuals despite having devastatingly damaged the natural growth of our academia survive as ‘parasites’. The aim of this biography is thus two-fold: first, to reiterate the basic dictum of academia: Vidya Dadati Vinayam (Learning makes people humble), and secondly, to uphold the spirit of fraternity among those in the academia who still believe that academics is not merely a profession, but also a vocation. Instead of a fraternal bond, factions seem to have ruled the roost now. The schism between factions is not ‘principle-based’ but ‘personalized ideology’, largely idiosyncratically defined self-seeking means.
Gandhi’s life is instructive. In his fight against the mighty imperial power, he was guided by ahimsa, which he never compromised even in adverse circumstances. Following the Chauri Chaura, Gandhi, for instance, withdrew the Non- Cooperation Movement despite opposition from his colleagues. To him, it was ‘a Himalayan blunder’ and yet, he defended his decision simply because the campaign had deviated from ahimsa. The same Gandhi did not, however, assert to the extent he was expected when the Congress stalwarts agreed to accept partition as a major condition for the final transfer of power. Gandhi was thus a true ‘organic’ intellectual who epitomized ‘praxis’ in its classical definition.
Formatted in ‘life and times’ perspective, the biography is both a tribute to this greatest Indian and an intellectual account of his ideas and deeds that he undertook in a specific historical context of British colonialism. I owe a debt of gratitude to my family, my peers, my teachers and those who interacted with me when I had an opportunity to speak on Gandhi. I am thankful to my colleagues in the South Asian Studies Programme of National University Singapore, especially Professor Peter Reeves for his personal care and intellectual support during my stay in the campus. In the completion of this work, Dr Ian Copland of Monash University, Melbourne, had a very significant role, which he played more as a true friend in the Down-Under and less as a sponsor. I fondly remember Professor Ronald Terchek for having kindled my sustained interest in Gandhi and ahimsa. Professor Bob Frykenberg contributed immensely to this project by providing relevant inputs as and when I had asked for. My colleague in the University of Hull (England), Professor Bhikhu Parekh remains a constant source of inspiration to my intellectual feat. Without Dipakda’s uncritical support in my fight against those distorting the system for narrow personal gains, it would not have been possible for me to remain Gandhian in my response. Subratada and Dipa Boudi made my regular trip to their home in CR Park most interesting not only because they provided ‘food for thought’ but also for their fulfilling company.
I thankfully remember my students and my family. Sanchita contributes to my tenacity by expressing doubts in my ability to handle our children, Barbie and Pablo, and my academic works simultaneously. Barbie and Pablo have sustained my interests in creativity by their constant engagement in activities that are not stereotypical and hence require innovations while gauging their nature and impact. By her frugal lifestyle, my mother makes me believe in the natural beauty of simple life long before I was drawn to Mahatma’s philosophy of life. My Calcutta-based sisters provide resources for life in circumstances, which are not exactly conducive for academic creativity.
Finally, I would like to remember those individuals pretending to be my friends when the cloud disappears and blue sky is visible with an earnest request to avoid indulging in hara-kiri for narrow personal gains. We survive if we appreciate academic excellence regardless of creed, colour and clan. We ruin ourselves if we do otherwise.
INTRODUCTION

MOHANDAS KARAMCHAND GANDHI (1869-1948), POPULARLY known as Mahatma Gandhi, continues to generate interest even more than half a century after his assassination in 1948. The much-hyped reenactment of the famous Dandi Yatra (march) in India in 2005, which Gandhi undertook in 1930 as part of his famous Salt Satyagraha is perhaps suggestive of the relevance of Gandhian technique in political mobilization in contemporary India. It is true that though Richard Attenborough’s film on Gandhi immensely popularized him all over the world, Gandhi remains an important topic of research and discussion among those interested in exploring alternative ideological traditions. The task is made much easier simply because Gandhi’s own writings on various themes are plenty and less ambiguous. 1 His articulation is not only clear and simple but also meaningful in similar contexts in which he led the most gigantic nationalist struggle of the twentieth century. Gandhi wrote extensively for the Indian Opinion, Young India and Harijan, the leading weekly journals of the era where he commented on the issues of contemporary relevance. Superficially they may not appear to be relevant now, but his writings frequently address matters of everyday importance to Indians in the early and mid-twentieth century. Writing for the ordinary people, he usually employed metaphors and engaged in homilies to teach Indians about their abilities and also their strong cultural/historical traditions. This is one of the ways in which he involved his readers in non-violent struggles against the British imperialism, untouchability and communal discord.
This biography seeks to articulate the historiography of India’s freedom struggle of which Gandhi was undoubtedly the central figure, by engaging with those key issues/themes that have been raised in the research conducted over the past few decades. This will serve two purposes: first, apart from situating Gandhi within the broad contour of the nationalist campaign, this exercise will acquaint readers with major theoretical premises on the study of Gandhi and his ideas which arose out of a specific context involving the nationalists and their bete noire, the colonial power. Secondly, by dwelling on people’s perceptions of the Mahatma, the proposed biography aims to explore the relatively unknown dimensions of the life of perhaps the most popular nationalist leader of the twentieth century. The Mahatma became a metaphor that galvanized the masses into action even under most adverse circumstances. In the evolution of such a metaphor, the saintly image of Gandhi was as significant as his ideology of non-violence or ahimsa. While challenging many forms of ‘domination’, whether ancient or modern, in the subcontinent, he developed a comprehensive theory that transcended national boundaries about the basic contours of ‘a good society’ and the importance of ‘non-violence’. Drawing upon ‘ethnicity’, ‘religion

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