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Lecture 12

RE321 Lecture 12: RE321 Lesson 12 Course Summary and Evaluation of Gandhi
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7 Pages
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Department
Religion & Culture
Course Code
RE321
Professor
Alexander Damm

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RE321 Lesson 12: Course Summary and Evaluation of Gandhi Summarizing the Course It is quite fitting that we introduce Gandhi in the context of religious studies o Gandhi was a religious thinker The following summary of his life and thought is not exhaustive, but it highlights several points Let us summarize what we know about Gandhis early life, midlife, late life, and finally some general themes Early Life and Religion 1. Religious Gandhis early life was thoroughly religious, although not always in conventional ways He was born and raised in an inclusivist Hindu setting When he studied law and started his legal career in South Africa, he became fascinated by the worlds other major religions and texts o Christian New Testament o Hindu Bhagavad Gita o Muslim Quran o Jainism As he developed deeper religious knowledge, and partly because of his knowledge (particularly the works of Leo Tolstoy and John Ruskin), Gandhi became pained by the negative effects of modernity and colonialism o Modern life denigrated religion o Uncritically elevated the principles of science, capitalism, speed, and consumerism o Moreover, the greed characteristic of modernity was causing European states to acquire colonies and claim that Europe was the apex of civilization 2. Ahimsa Above all, Gandhi believed that ones goal should be to recognize Truth o The essential nature of Truth is ahimsa (nonviolence) 3. Ethics Gandhis religiosity was primarily ethical Gandhi regarded the centerpiece of religion as a life of service and love (ahimsa) Gandhi found his best exemplified in the Hindu scripture the Bhagavad Gita It was the ethical life, not the life of religious ritual or monastic withdrawal, that for Gandhi led most directly to Truth Gandhis religiosity was also unifying or fundamental o Everything that one should fall within the search for Truth MidLife and Political and SocialEconomic Principles 1. Hind Swaraj As he reached his midlife, Gandhi codified several key principles in his book Hind Swaraj (1909) o Swaraj, satyagraha, and sarvodaya At base, Gandhi exhorted Indians to apprehend Truth by rediscovering swaraj o A traditional life grounded in the related concepts of (ethical) religion, nonviolence, and selfreliance
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