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Lecture 15

Lecture 15 Gandhi Part I Nov 4.docx

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Religious Studies
Ann Pearson

Gandhi Part I: the Ethic of Nonviolence Gandhi’s legacy Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948), considered the ‘father’of independent India When assassinated, Nehru said: “the light has gone out from our lives,” who “represented the living truth… taking this ancient country to freedom” Gandhi had predicted his own assassination 2 weeks prior to his death Who was this man?According to Raghavan Iyer, Gandhi was: “a heroic champion of human rights in SouthAfrica; the revolutionary leader of a mass movement for political freedom; a crusader against untouchability; an experimenter in … dietetics and education; a reformer much concerned with alcoholism, the exploitation of women, cruelty to animals; a student of comparative religions and a powerful advocate of their doctrinal & practical unity; a skilled lawyer and draftsman of petitions and memoranda… Aprolific [writer and] correspondent who gave moral guidance to thousands of people in many countries; the founder of several ashrams and communal settlements ... something of a mystic and monk...; a daring though not systematic political thinker.” Synopsis of life Born Oct. 2, 1869 into a middle-class Vaishya family in coastal Gujarat Arranged marriage; wife Kasturbai Law degree in London South Africa for 20 years Returned to India in 1915 Campaigned for over 30 years Jailed numerous times Assassinated in 1948 (months after India’s independence from GB) Gandhi’s mission: Swaraj (“self-rule”) His mission after he returned to India from SouthAfrica was to win India’s liberation from the yoke of British imperialism. In the larger view, Gandhi’s mission was no less than the regeneration of India’s populace, so that India could take her proper place in the world as heir to a great civilization; and as citizens, Indians would learn to ‘master themselves’. Gandhi’s vision: “The India of My Dreams” “I shall work for an India in which the poorest shall feel it is their country in whose making they have an effective voice; an India in which there will be no high class or low class of people; an India in which all communities shall live in perfect harmony. There can be no room in such an India for the curse of untouchability or the curse of intoxicating drinks and drugs. Women will enjoy the same rights as men. … Since we shall be at peace with all the rest of the world, neither exploiting, nor being exploited, we should have the smallest army imaginable.All interests not in conflict with the interests of the dumb millions will be scrupulously respected, whether foreign or indigenous. This is the India of my dreams” (Young India, 1932). Gandhi’s religious views “I am not a saint who has strayed into politics, I am a politician who is striving to become a saint.” Key concepts/ principles: 1. God is Truth: Truth is embedded in the very nature of the universe; later Gandhi said that Truth is God, for… 2. Unity of Truth/ relativity of truth: Truth cannot contradict itself; none of us can know all of Truth, thus truth is relative, partial, as it is mediated through us. 3. The search for truth: G. felt an obligation of every human being. Truth must be weighed by reason and tested in practice. Lying is the “mother of violence” 4. Unity of religions: all religions are equal (all have truth, but all are or have been subject to human misinterpretation/ corruption of the original message and purpose) 5. Unity of humanity/ interconnectedness and sanctity of all life: we are all brothers/sisters; all life is precious; violence is blasphemy and against our natures – harming others harms ourselves Ideals into practice Practicing various forms of self-discip
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