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Lecture 1

RE321 Lecture 1: Lesson 1 - Introduction to the course
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Department
Religion & Culture
Course Code
RE321
Professor
Alexander Damm

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Swaraj : self-rule
Satyagraha : non-violent resistance
Sarvodaya : the welfare of all
Mahatma Gandhi : Early Life and Influences
Gadhi’s hildhood as eooially priileged ad soially seure
Family was influential
Belonged to Vaishyaor caste (merchant)
Mother belonged to Pranami sect practiced devotion to both Vishnu and Allah
Father State Minister of Probandar
o Hosted numerous figures from different religions and enjoyed discussion of religious topics
Family had understanding that Hinduism as a religion of service
o Good actions in life without expectation of reward
Went to study law in England for 3 years
Went to practice law in India for 2 years too timid, and lacked sufficient knowledge of legal practice in India
Went to work as legal assistant in British colony of South Africa
o Established own law practice in city of Johannesburg
Three foundational experiences to which Gandhi reacted, or which developed his thought
1. Experience of Colonialism: colonial gov and colonial culture of Britain surrounded gandhi from his birth
a. Colonialism: gov policy and ideology common from 16th century to early 20th centuries policy whereby a European gov
appropriated lands of indigenous ppl elsewhere in the world and used it to achieve 2 goals : profit economically by
exporting, processing and then re-importing natural resources AND to instill European culture into indeigenous ppl
b. British Colonialism in India: Colonialism in India had 2 phases : Phase 1 was the growing political power in India of the
British East India Company arm of the British gov; used to generate profits through establishing trading posts. Phase
2 started  Britai’s estalishet of diret or Crown rule over Company lands.
2. Experience of modernity: Gandhi became a close observer of it and began to formulate ideas in opposition to it
a. Modernity quality of western civilizations; denotes 4 characteristics of a civilization
i. Capitalist economy: wealth is generated and distributed chiefly by private corporations gov play little role and
profit is ultimate goal
ii. Industrial economy: economy that values mechanized and mass production of goods for profit
iii. Championing of science: rational inquiry and experiment are the surest means to progress and to know what is
true and good, means far more valuable than religion
iv. Material wealth as a gauge of success: capitalist, industrial economy produces wealth and consumer goods
that together
v. Gandhi found modernity discouraging
Having learned and seen something of Gandhi as a young man
,
how do your
impressions from the start of the lesson compare? What strikes you personally as
novel or revealing? I look forward to hearing your reactions online.
Previously, I knew a lot about Gandhi’s life as a child, his transition to South Africa and then his work in India as a politician, but a lot of
this knowledge was shallow with basic facts. It was taught to me by my family and through children’s books based on Gandhi After
reading this lesson, I am beginning to understand a lot of the motivations behind what he did and of what I already know about him. He
was always taught to us as being the ‘perfect Hindu’ and someone very morally and ethically correct. I did not realise that he only had a
shallow knowledge about Hinduism and that a lot of his actions and beliefs were influenced by various other religions. This is very
shocking to me as someone who follows Hinduism and has adopted some of Gandhi’s morals and beliefs as my own morals and beliefs, I
now know where they come from and how they were formed.
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Description
Swaraj : self-rule Satyagraha : non-violent resistance Sarvodaya : the welfare of all Mahatma Gandhi : Early Life and Influences Gandhis childhood was economically privileged and socially secure Family was influential Belonged to Vaishyaor caste (merchant) Mother belonged to Pranami sect practiced devotion to both Vishnu and Allah Father State Minister of Probandar o Hosted numerous figures from different religions and enjoyed discussion of religious topics Family had understanding that Hinduism as a religion of service o Good actions in life without expectation of reward Went to study law in England for 3 years Went to practice law in India for 2 years too timid, and lacked sufficient knowledge of legal practice in India Went to work as legal assistant in British colony of South Africa o Established own law practice in city of Johannesburg Three foundational experiences to which Gandhi reacted, or which developed his thought 1. Experience of Colonialism: colonial gov and colonial culture of Britain surrounded gandhi from his birth th th a. Colonialism: gov policy and ideology common from 16 century to early 20 centuries policy whereby a European gov appropriated lands of indigenous ppl elsewhere in the world and used it to achieve 2 goals : profit economically by exporting, processing and then re-importing natural resources AND to instill European culture into indeigenous ppl b. British Colonialism in India: Colonialism in India had 2 phases : Phase 1 was the growing political power in India of the British East India Company arm of the British gov; used to generate profits through establishing trading posts. Phase 2 started w Britains establishment of direct or Crown rule over Company lands.
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