This paper was written during my undergraduate studies in the Department of East Asian Studies, Tel Aviv University.
It was submitted as part of the Seminar: "The Liberation of Consciousness”
Lecturer: Dr. Dani Rave
In order to make it easier to orient yourself in the text I have included a table of contents:
- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
- Gandhi and Hinduism
- Gandhi’s Neo-Hinduism
- Gandhi’s Teachings
- Liberation According to Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (October 2, 1869-January 30, 1948)
Who was Gandhi?
Why should we remember him 60 years after his death?
An Indian leader, their Moses, the Indian George Washington, the man who lead India to independence and liberated the Indians from Britain’s oppressive rule to political freedom. Gandhi is still identified as the father of the nation in India.
If we look at what he did in an historical perspective, it may be said that he was the first person, or almost the first in Asia or Africa who dared stand against “white” oppressive rule and demand the honor and rights of dark-skinned people.
He was a pioneer of the awakening and liberation of Asia and Africa, which led to the almost total disappearance of colonialism, at least in its older meaning, from the map of the world.
Gandhi belongs not only to India, he is a world figure, a man who belongs to all of us, and his words should be heard and embraced by the entire world. In his special way, Gandhi is a friend of all human beings on earth.
Gandhi was born a Hindu, but during his life he couldn’t accept Hinduism as way it was, all of its ideas and principles, because some of them contradicted the ideas of equality to which he devoted his life.
It never occurred to him for a moment to leave Hinduism. However, due to his great love for it and for every living creature in the world, his innovative ideas about true equality and the power of love, he created a new religion, based almost entirely on the powerful ideas of Hinduism with the addition of his own ideas, which strengthened the combination and created a completely new thing, indestructible, perfect and eternal.
When the news of his death spread around the world, people from distant countries, places he had never been, people who never saw or heard his voice cried in the streets. These were simple people and they cried because they knew they had lost a friend.
Because even when he was a world-renowned leader, he never changed his simple ways, his
meager attire and he was accessible to everyone.
At the end of his life, when offered to head India, he refused and continued to live without an income.
He identified with the simple people as much as humanly possible.
Until the day he was murdered, success did not corrupt him and did not change the way he thought or his pure simple ways which have influenced in no small measure the way the world looks today.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was an Indian political and spiritual leader, who led the Indian independence movement in its struggle against British imperial rule.
He is also considered a symbol of non-violent resistance through the articulation and application of Satyagraha, a philosophy focused on the search for truth and resistance to evil through non-violent active resistance, which led to India's independence and inspired various human rights and freedom movements around the world.
Gandhi’s life story demonstrates his efforts in actual practice, to implement moral unity in his life.
According to Gandhi, his nutrition, political behavior, the way he related to friends and foe, his relations to his people and to strangers, his behavior at home and outside the home – these are all subject to one moral consideration at whose center is Ahimsa ("nonviolence").
More than being a built-in imperative, the nonviolence that engages Gandhi is a field of research, experimentation and discovery. The internal voice wishes to illuminate and clarify what the path of nonviolence is at every step of our lives.
It is not, therefore, a known recipe or prescription, but a single question that is asked seemingly at all levels, in all spheres and in all areas of human life.
Gandhi is one of the most admired figures of all the leaders of the 20th century.
He is known in India and the world as Mahatma Gandhi (“Mahatma” in Sanskrit means “the Great Spirit”, a name given him by the poet Rabindranath Tagore).
In India he is also called Bapu (“father” in Gujarati). He is officially considered the father of the Indian nation and his birthday, October 2, is observed as an Indian national holiday each year called "Gandhi Jayanti".
On June 15, 2007, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared October 2 the International Day of Nonviolence.
Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869 to a Hindu family in the city of Porbandar.
His family belonged to "Moda" – A famous merchant community originating in the city of Modhara in Gujarat. His father was Karamchand Gandhi Sr., who was the Prime Minister of the Porbandar principality which is part of the state of Gujarat today.
His mother, Putilbai was Karamchand’s forth wife, and a member of the Pranami Vaishnava Order. Karamchand's first two wives, each of whom gave birth to a daughter, died of unknown causes. Gandhi, who grew up with a devoted mother and under the influence of Gujarat Jainism, learned from an early age the beliefs about not harming living things, vegetarianism, fasting for purity, and mutual tolerance between members of different faiths and castes. Gandhi and his family were members of the Huishia Caste (Caste of Dealers and Artists).
In May 1883, at the age of 13, his parents married him to Kasturbai Makhanji, with whom he had five sons. The oldest of them died in infancy; Harilal Gandhi was born in 1888; Manilal Gandhi was born in 1892; Ramdas Gandhi was born in 1897 and Devas Gandhi was born in 1900. Later, Mohandas Gandhi disowned his eldest son, Harilal, for his debauchery.
When he was 18, Gandhi was sent to England to study law, there for the first time, he met people who were not Hindus. Living in England aroused his desire to learn about his religion and customs in depth.
He encountered difficulties in maintaining the customs and lifestyles to which he was accustomed, among them vegetarianism.
After completing his studies, Gandhi was sent to Africa, where for the first time he applied non-violent civil disobedience in the struggle of the Indian community for civil rights in South Africa.
When he returned to India from Africa, he organized protests of peasants and poor workers against oppressive taxation and widespread discrimination.
After being appointed as head of the Indian National Congress, Gandhi led national campaigns to alleviate poverty, liberate women, for solidarity between different religions and ethnic groups, to end the discrimination against castes in general and the “untouchables” in particular, and for economic independence for India.
Beyond all these struggles, he fought for “Swaraj” Indian independence from foreign occupation.
Gandhi led the Indian nation in civil disobedience against the salt tax, which was instituted in India, and in 1930 he led “Gandhi’s Salt March” in which he walked 400 kilometers.
In 1942, he publicly called for the British to leave India.
He was imprisoned for many years following many arrests both in South Africa and in India.
Gandhi applied and advocated for truth and nonviolence in every situation. He lived a simple life and organized an ashram which was financially viable on its own.
He made his own clothes – the traditional Indian Dahuti and cape which he spun and wove using his own spindle. He ate simple vegetarian food and later a diet of fruit.
He fasted for long periods of time (sometimes more than a month) both for self-purification and as an act of protest. Gandhi was murdered on January 30, 1948 by a Hindu assassin, who opposed his agreement to pay considerable reparations to Pakistan, as the British had advised, claiming that it would weaken the Hindus.
His body was burned, and the ashes were spread over the world’s rivers. Some of Gandhi’s ashes were buried in California and a monument was erected there in his memory.
Hinduism and Gandhi
Throughout his life, Gandhi absorbed something from all of his travels in the world and his acquaintance with other religions.
From the West which was so free and different from India in its ideas and ways of life which sometimes seemed puzzling, promiscuous and obscure, such as eating meat, drinking liquor and wearing valuable garments, through Islam and its ideas which were so different from Hinduism.
Gandhi walked through life barefoot, through various and different paths known to him in India, he collected stones along the way, gathered branches and ideas from anything new he met on the way, and almost always saw the good in everything he passed.
During his life, Gandhi actually founded a new religion, but when asked in 1931, what is his religion, he replied that he is a Hindu.
For him it was the religion of all mankind and it brought together within it the best of all the religions known to him. He was guided by this religion, by love and truth.
Gandhi saw himself as Hindi.
For Gandhi, the sanctity of the cow was one of the most important things for humanity, a central and significant idea in Hinduism. He viewed the cow as a symbol of all the weak creatures that God created.
According to him, a person who takes pity on a cow, an incredibly gentle animal, will also pity and protect weak human beings. Protecting the cow is a gift of the Hindu religion to the world.
The way to protect cows, he say is to die protecting them, but it is forbidden to kill another person for this purpose.
One can see that the idea of the sanctity of the cow according to Gandhi, is a symbol of protecting the weak, and of equality between all human beings regardless of race, gender or religion. This became an important part of his new teachings, which he took from the traditional Hindu religion.
Gandhi compared the Hindu religion to his wife: she motivates him as no other woman in the world can, and although she has disadvantages, and there are doubtless many which he himself sees, however there is an eternal connection between them that can never be broken.
Additionally, almost all of his ideas and the spirit in which his teachings about nonviolence were formed, are taken from Hinduism, in which he grew up and was educated, and its influence upon him was enormous.
While he was in England for the first time, he found himself exposed to other customs, which were in stark contrast to Hinduism, and he did not think for a moment to abandon it.
For him Hinduism is the heart which beats inside the new body he built himself. Without the heart, the body is worthless, and without the body, the heart cannot exist.
This is the way he viewed his new teachings, as an inseparable combination of Hinduism as he knew it and his new ideas, that even if they were different from Hinduism, they did not contradict it, since it is open to accepting any belief and path of any person.
Gandhi's Neo Hinduism
Gandhi is known as having studied many religions deeply.
The writings of Jainism, The New Testament and Lev Tolstoy's sociological writings are three of the main sources of his ideas on nonviolence, whose sources are drawn from the intellectual, philosophical and political knowledge of the West.
The presence of Western culture in India, which began with the Portuguese penetration into India in the 16th century and its consolidation with British domination in the 18th century, had an unprecedented influence on the history of the subcontinent. It was a multi-dimensional presence, which created deep inferiority in the heart of the Indians and created a challenge of adjustment of unknown magnitude.
In the opinion of credible researchers, Hindu society (and the Brahman elite within it) did not appreciate contact with foreign peoples and cultures outside of the borders of the subcontinent. The Indians did not follow distant nations and did not strive to learn foreign languages. It is possible that the enormous variety of experience and creativity in many languages and spiritual currents, within the Hindu entirety itself, created a spiritual climate which was deeply satiated that made contact with foreigners unnecessary. The modern Western presence, which included advanced technology, bureaucratic management etc, produced an almost traumatic shock among the various layers of Indian society.
The English Governor of Bengal, The Duke of Ronaldshai, wrote:
"In the middle of the 19th century there already was complete intellectual anarchy. This anarchy swept the younger generation like a ship torn from the dock in a storm.
Westernism became the leading fashion, and it demanded of its followers that they completely reject their own culture.
The more the young people admired the West, the more they rejected the East. They began to have contempt for learning the ancient knowledge, and the customs and traditions were pushed aside.
The ancient religion was declared a collection of superstitions. The traditional foundations of Hindu society were completely undermined…."
It was a kind of trauma which was expressed in every sphere of life in India. While the history of the subcontinent is full of invasions and conquests (especially by Muslim invaders), on the Indian side there was generally a large measure of adaptation to the foreign presence, which became assimilated into local culture.
It seems that the contact with Western culture created a new unprecedented situation.
The spiritual trend known as "Neo-Hinduism" encompasses a wide variety of phenomena and personages over the last two hundred years.
There is no doubt that the new Hinduism in all its forms is decidedly the result of contact with the West. It is a creative adaptation that has dozens and hundreds of spiritual, social and political varieties.
The West itself opened up to a great extent to the power and potential of Hinduism which became accessible in India from the beginning of the 19th century.
Here we should remember the wonderful story of the decapitation of Vishnu in the Dharmic field called Kurukshetra. Both deities had horse heads, and they suggested to the great teacher Dadyanesh to cut off his head and to put the horse head on himself (which would be cut off again, by the deity Indra).
In the ancient story from the "Brahmana of the Thousand Paths", the horse head is the head capable of transmitting the big secret to the ַAshwinis , who have horse heads.
Hence, there are great secrets that cannot be transmitted without a dramatic surgical process (like decapitation).
In a way, Neo-Hinduism is the horse head of the ancient Indian culture, that is the horse head from whose mouth we can learn something about the secrets of ancient Hinduism.
Some of the most prominent intellectuals of the 20th century (Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, Ramana Maharishi, Urubindu, Radhakrishnan, Krishnamurti, and others) are an expression of the communicative ability of the new Hinduism. Among the researchers there are sometimes disagreements about the authenticity of Neo-Hinduism.
Some believe that this is a deep phenomenon of synthesis that may save the human race (and the West in particular), while others claim that it is a shallow adaptation that has no real substance.
The latter believe that globalization has gone too far and swallowed all cultural and spiritual foreignness, and there is no way to copy ancient Hinduism into the new and destructive technological context.
There are millions of Indians who do not belong to any caste. They have the lowest status, and they are called by many names: "casteless", "untouchables" or "impure".
In the past they were forbidden to drink water from the well from which the other people in the village drank or even to talk next to people from other castes, and their children were forbidden to go to school.
Already in his childhood Gandhi was disgusted with this Hindu custom. When in his childhood he had such a friend, his parents forbade him to have any contact with him or be friends with him, Gandhi thought it did not make sense, and that it was not possible that accidental contact that happened by chance would be considered a sin.
He thought that his friend was a human being like everyone else, and since this division among humans does not exist for God, it should not exist for us.
He said that he could never accept such a prohibition, despite the fact that this belief had been transmitted for generations in Hinduism. He said that there are also other cruel and evil beliefs and deeds, which have been transmitted through the generations, but that does not mean that he or anyone else must accept them.
For example, sacrificing girls to prostitution is not a tradition that Hinduism teaches, although the custom is very common in certain areas of India. As is sacrificing goats to the God "Kali". Animal sacrifice was unthinkable to Gandhi and therefore he did not see it as part of the Hindu religion.
In his opinion, the Hindu religion is a religion which was developing with time, although there is no doubt that there was a time when animal sacrifice was accepted in Hinduism, that is not the religion itself.
In 1931, Gandhi said that he did not believe in castes in the modern world. He said that the castes are like a disability which hinders development. He, as a man who believes in complete equality between human beings, cannot accept the superiority of one group over another, and in his view, it is a sin against God and all of humanity.
In his view the division between castes was pure evil, and no person can claim superiority over another. He said that the prohibition of sitting together at a table or of marriage between castes is not relevant, and it does not mean that someone lowers his status if he marries a woman from an "inferior" caste, and it does not reduce his status.
He thought that each caste had a different and unique characteristic, with which it serves God, but the bottom line is everyone serves God.
The Brahmans, with their knowledge, the soldiers with their physical prowess and power to defend, the merchants, with their commercial abilities, and the laborers with their physical labor.
But that does not mean that the Brahmans, for instance are exempt from physical labor, or that a man from the laborer’s caste does not have the right to acquire all the knowledge his soul desires.
In the future, Gandhi would fight the custom of “prohibition of touching” and for the abolition of castes. Gandhi said that Hinduism was in danger of losing believers if it continued to occupy itself with the letter of the law and ”who sits at the table”.
Here we can already see that Gandhi, despite his young age was already using the logic of truth and equality even if that meant raising doubts about early Hindu customs which were self-evident to the rest of the Hindus.
Gandhi became acquainted with other religions from the age of 13, when he went with his family to Rajkot, where he was privileged to learn the fundamentals of tolerance for all of the branches of Hinduism and other religions.
His father had Muslim and Persian friends with whom he spoke about art, and the young Gandhi would listen to the conversations. He found a place in his heart for what he had heard, and he integrated it within himself and this planted the seeds of tolerance for all religions. All except Christianity, with which Gandhi had unpleasant encounters with radical preachers in the streets and stories of Hindus who converted to Christianity who had to eat meat and drink intoxicating beverages.
Gandhi learned about religions at this young age and he was tolerant towards all of them, but later on he wrote that despite his acquaintance with many religions, his spirit tended towards atheism, but one thing struck roots: the belief that morality is the basis for all things, and that truth is the essence of all morality.
Truth became his sole goal.
During his stay in England where he studied law, Gandhi met a Christian from Manchester.
After they had talked and Gandhi told him about his bitter experience with Christianity, the man explained to him that the holy scripture does not command eating meat or drinking liquor and that he himself is a vegetarian and abstained from liquor. In addition, he asked Gandhi to read the Bible, and Gandhi agreed.
Gandhi did not particularly like the Bible, but the New Testament was another matter, and he eagerly read it. He even compared it to the “Gita”, which Gandhi called “The Book”.
This stimulated him to get to know other religions and thus he deepened his acquaintance with other religious writings. Some years later, a Christian friend brought him to the “Wellington Conference”, a conference which lasted three days for devout Christians whose goal was religious purification. There Gandhi read additional Christian writings, spoke with members of the conference, deepened his acquaintance with Christianity and was enchanted with it.
Despite that and despite the fact that Gandhi saw some truth in Christianity, he could not accept it as the most perfect or sublime religion, but he couldn’t accept Hinduism as such either.
Certain aspects of Hinduism, such as the attitude towards the impure, the division of people by castes, he found onerous. He thought that if the Hindu holy scriptures were inspired by God, then it is possible to believe that the Bible and the Quran were as well.
Like his Christian friends who tried to convert him, his Muslim friends tried as well.
Gandhi worked for the unity of Hindus and Muslims, which he knew would not be easy. His connections with his Muslim brothers were strengthened and at a certain time, he succeeded in convincing the Hindus and the Muslims to fast together during Ramadan.
He presented the idea of nonviolence to the Indian Muslims.
Gandhi, as a politician, enthusiastically joined the demands of the Caliphate of the Muslims, in which there was nothing that conflicted with the principles he preached. The Caliphate movement was a Pan-Islamic movement that stirred millions of Muslims in Indian and was outstanding in its anti-British orientation.
Gandhi viewed the Caliphate as an opening to strengthen Indian unity and to secure the hearts and trust of the Muslims and he included the Caliphate in the main program of his movement.
Gandhi preached against a “barbaric” struggle with firearms. However, at the same time, he acknowledged that “the Muslims have obligations from the Quran which the Hindus can join or not (meaning the obligation of “holy war”) and therefore, in case the movement of non-cooperation for nonviolence should not succeed – they have the right to use all the “methods permitted by Muslim holy scriptures” and it was clear to all what those “permitted methods” were and how little they had in common with Gandhi’s theory.
When he was in India the second time, Gandhi worked for the release of the Ali brothers, Muslim brothers who were imprisoned for their activities for the Caliphate.
Gandhi’s goal was to achieve their release with the aid of the cooperation and support of Hindu Indians rather than Muslims, because that would greatly advance Hindu Muslim unity.
Gandhi saw himself as Hindu, but he had reservations as to the religious customs, and it is clear that the West and other religions had an influence upon him.
What stands out in this context is that he did not rule out the worship of statues. He said that he did not oppose the admiration of objects.
He himself was not enthusiastic about it and did not do so, but he did not consider it improper, and thought it was part of human nature. We pursue symbols, and they are aids to worshiping God.
He was of the opinion that no Hindu considered the statue as God himself, and the Hindus do not need to view the worship of statues as a sin.
He thought that Hinduism was not an exclusive religion and it had room for everyone, of every belief and religion, even those who worship statues.
The Hindu religion invites everyone to worship God in his own way, and lives in peace with every way of worshiping God.
Gandhi read about Islam, deepened his understanding of the Quran, and wrote that from his deepening acquaintance with Christianity and Islam, his respect for the Hindu religion grew stronger, but at the same time he did not develop prejudices against other religions, but found in them all a measure of truth, and through that he came to understood the enormous possibility within “universal love”. He believed in a “religion of service”.
His acquaintance with other religions did not push any of them aside, on the contrary, they were integrated in his consciousness into one wonderful religion, which contained the best of all worlds.
We see that Gandhi gathers beliefs and customs from the Hindu religion, leaves a few principles behind, adds new ideas of equality which he clearly absorbed from the West, and from this combination his fascinating teachings was formed which contains the best of Hinduism and integrates within it enlightened ideas from the West.
The idea of nonviolence, as is the story of India’s struggle for independence, are connected to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
Gandhi’s greatness in this doctrine of nonviolence was not in revealing this principle, many in all generations preceded him, but the fact that he was the first to use it on a mass scale.
Gandhi, unlike his predecessors, saw nonviolence not just as a path for virtuous individuals. He turned it into an idea for the masses. He forged the method of nonviolence as a method of struggle, as a dynamic method, as a political weapon, as a revolutionary tactic.
At the center of his unique approach was the concept of "Ahimsa" which Gandhi took from the Indian tradition, a concept in ancient Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, and he integrated it as a central foundation in his concept of Satyagraha which literally means “holding on to the truth”.
It tried to encompass in its principles the common truth of all religions and all humanistic thought. It tried to offer a solution in its method of dealing with the central problems of social and human existence.
“Ahimsa” or Ahinsa, is a religious rule that is customary in Indian society as a whole, which speaks of nonviolence in the sense of avoiding any harm, in thought and deed, towards all parts of the world.
It is not only passive avoidance but rather avoidance of violence and an active struggle against the manifestation of violence. The philosophic holistic idea of Ahimsa states that God is everywhere and therefore in very living creature as well and man is forbidden from harming the harmonious order of the world.
Ahimsa is expressed in the movement of energy currents from within to without, and thus you influence anybody who interacts with you. It strengthens the boundless Upanishadic self, and the principle of the spread of consciousness. The internal field is strengthened, and compassion and love flow out.
Celibacy also entered the movement for nonviolence with Gandhi, since he viewed sexual passion as a violent manifestation and an expression of weakness. His line of thought was that solidarity with all living creatures is an expression of the truth.
Nevertheless, Gandhi initially supported entering the First World War, alongside the British, saying that just as a mouse cannot be non-violent towards a cat, so is their situation. He also claimed that in order to achieve a condition of nonviolence, man must first learn to be violent.
Ahimsa as the active state of love and doing good. The intention is not to encourage evil (turning the other cheek from the Christian tradition), but rather passive resistance stemming from love.
“Satyagraha” “Satya” is a Sanskrit word meaning “truth”. The root “graha” means “holding tightly”. The self-purification that Gandhi adopted was a preparation for Satyagraha, and so were all the events in his life.
The principle of Satyagraha was born before its name was invented, when it was born there was no word for it.
The concept “passive resistance” which was used to describe it, was too narrow, and it was possible to interpret it as hatred, which was out of the question.
Gandhi had to re-explain what the true nature of the Hindu movement was. The concept Satyagraha was coined by Manilal Gandhi.
Gandhi described the concept in the following way:
“The root meaning is to hold tightly, thence the power of truth. I also called it the power of love or the power of the soul. Applying Satyagraha, I discovered in the early stages that the pursuit of the truth does not allow using violence against an adversary but rather to wean him from his error through patience and sympathy. After all what looks like the truth to one may seem mistaken to another. Tolerance means self-suffering.
Thus the meaning of the doctrine is justifying or proving the truth, not by making the adversary suffer, but yourself.”
An example of Satyagraha according to Gandhi:
Kasturbai, Gandhi’s wife, was mortally ill, on the verge of death many times. One of those times, Gandhi tried to dissuade her from eating salt and legumes, for those who are physically weak should avoid those foods.
She did not agree, despite his many pleas. She said she would not stop, because he himself could not give them up even if his life depended on it.
Gandhi replied that he swore to stop eating legumes and salt from this moment on. His wife pleaded with him that he recant, and that she would stop eating those foods from now on.
In the end, Gandhi could not take back his oath, and did not eat these foods for a year, and his wife as well, who gave up trying to dissuade him to recant.
This is a wonderful example of Satyagraha, of how the power of love and self-suffering can convince someone of his error better than physical strength.
Liberation According to Gandhi
For Gandhi liberation was not only physical independence from British rule, but rather true spiritual liberation that comes from the understanding of the Indians and the English that they must liberate India from oppressive rule and allow everyone to live as they wish. To better understand what liberation is for Gandhi, let's look at his behavior while England fought in World War I.
Gandhi went to England two days after the war broke out and understood that he must help the English. He preached to young Indians living in England to join England’s war effort, which seemed strange, since Gandhi dedicated his life to the liberation of India from British rule.
Indeed, the response of the young Indians in England was that the British are the enemy, they are the Lords, while the Indians are slaves and when the Lord is in distress, it would not occur to the slave to help him, and it would be smarter to use the weak situation of the Lord to liberate himself from his chains.
Gandhi did not view the situation that way at all. In his view the chains were not physical, but conceptual, and physical liberation would not be valuable without a joint understanding by both sides that India must be independent.
His reply to these young Indians was that their obligation as Indians was to help the British in their hour of need, and by fighting alongside the English and supporting them, the Indians would be able, through the power of love, to improve their position and only this way would they achieve true liberation.
We see how his new Neo-Hindu ideas are expressed and we see here the seed of his teachings, and what true liberation was in Gandhi’s opinion. When the strongman who controlled him was in distress, he did not use it for the liberation of India, since this was not the liberation that Gandhi was seeking, because it did not come from love, it came from power and the exploitation of the other’s distress. He thought that it was India’s obligation to stand beside England in its time of distress, and thus they would bring true liberation from the English.
The realization of the goal, independence, was for him a continuous way of life, which demanded personal spiritual work and personal responsibility of the individual.
Therefore, receiving independence and the establishment of the Indian state in 1947 were in his view, one step on the long path to independence and freedom, and indeed he did not get carried away with euphoria and did not rest on his laurels in light of this event.
We saw how at the end of the day, Gandhi identified himself as a Hindi, lived as a Hindi, but did not blindly accept all the Hindu principles, and he built for himself throughout his life, a new, more modern philosophy.
Despite his opposition to Western modernism and a licentious way of life, it is impossible not to see the undeniable influence of the West on Gandhi and his thought, which developed with his travels through the world and his acquaintance with new religions which other Hindus would never think of accepting or adopting as part of the Hindu religion.
In Gandhi’s opinion, the Hindu religion was an infinite pure entity that could contain all that was good, no matter where it came from, but could not contain evil of any kind, so it had to be blotted out immediately, even if the evil came from the Hindu religion itself, such as the caste system.
Gandhi claimed that there is no barrier that cannot be crossed between East and West. Western people, before they were influenced by modernization had a lot in common with India.
The West and the East, in his view, could truly meet if the West would put modernism aside almost entirely, and if the East would adopt some of it.
The question of Gandhi’s teachings has stood in the center of intense debates among historians from the years of India's struggle for independence and years after his death.
Many British viewed him as a cynical politician who used nonviolence in order to achieve political advantage. Winston Churchill for example claimed that “Gandhi was an Indian Fakir who fasted to death many times but for some reason did not die.”
It is likely that the principle of nonviolence also stemmed from the understanding that the path to India's independence passed through public opinion in London and that they would show greater sympathy for independence if Indians engaged in a nonviolent struggle.
It seems to me that having only a utilitarian view, ignoring Gandhi's sincerity and the exemplary life he led and his spirit of sacrifice, is shortsighted.
Gandhi believed in nonviolence as an ideal and a path for humanity, but he was not only a religious man.
He was also a politician, and as such he considered and used tactics and took steps that were just on their own, but he gave explanations that had nothing to do with the considerations he prescribed.
There is no doubt that Gandhi was one of the most influential figures in history. Today his view of liberation is seen by many as obvious, the release of physical oppression through love and nonviolence, once thought to be totally illogical, but today this idea is pretty obvious and is implemented by masses around the world.
There was no one like him in all of history in my opinion who walked his path so stubbornly, barefoot, almost naked and terribly skinny despite his political, and social position. He did not exalt himself but on the contrary, saw himself as one of the people, and it never occurred to him that his status and wealth should grow because of his great political power, rather especially in this situation, he needed to guard himself, after all that was the heart of his philosophy: simplicity and equality.
Bhikhu, Parekh, “ Redistribution or Recognition? A Misguided Debate,” in: Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Minority Rights, edited by: May Stephen, Modood Tariq and Squires Judith, pp. 199-214. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2004.
Chatterjee, Margaret, Gandhi's Religious Thought, The Macmillan Press Ltd, London, 1983.
M.K Gandhi, Non-Violent Resistance (Satyagraha), Schocken Books,1961.
Sharma, Arvind, Modern Hindu Thought: The Essential Texts, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2002.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, )Hebrew(, Am Oved, Tel Aviv, 1944.
Yohanan Grinshpon, Hinduism: A Short Introduction (Hebrew), Mapa Publishing Co., 2005
- Parekh Bhikhu, “Redistribution or Recognition? A Misguided Debate,” in" Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Minority Rights”, edited by: May Stephen, Modood Tariq and Squires Judith, pp. 199-214. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2004.
- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, In Hebrew, Am Oved, Tel Aviv, 1944, pp. 25-30.
- Parekh Bhikhu, “Redistribution or Recognition? A Misguided Debate”, in “Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Minority Rights,” edited by: May, Stephen, Modood Tariq and Squires, Judith, pp. 199-214. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2004.
- Gandhi, Mahatma, Speeches and Writings, 1922, p.407-411.
- Yohanan Grinshpon, Hinduism: A Short Introduction (Hebrew), Mapa Publishing Co., 2005, p.35.
- Ibid, pp. 21-65.
- Gandhi, Mahatma, Speeches and Writings, 1922, pp.450-479.
- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, )Hebrew(, Am Oved, Tel Aviv, 1944, pp. 35-70.
- Gandhi, Mahatma, Speeches and Writings, 1922, pp.481-553.
- Gandhi, Mahatma, Speeches and Writings, 1922, pp.450-479.
- Gandhi M.K, Non-Violent Resistance (Satyagraha), Schocken Books, 1961 p.3-34
- Gandhi M.K, Non-Violent Resistance (Satyagraha), Schocken Books, 1961 p.3-34.
- Arvind, Sharma, Modern Hindu Thoughts – The Essential Text, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2002, p.10-60.
- Yohanan Grinshpon, Hinduism: A Short Introduction (Hebrew), Mapa Publishing Co., 2005, p.150.