Hinduism Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
by
Veena Howard
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 August 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0225

Introduction

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 October 1869–30 January 1948) is internationally known for his leadership in India’s independence movement and the methods of ahiṃsā (nonviolence) and satyagraha (truth force; nonviolent resistance). Because of his personal ascetic practices, political methods, and selfless service, he was given the honorific title Mahatma, “Great Soul.” Gandhi was born in a bania merchant subcaste in Porbandar (Gujarat), western India. His devout mother, Putali Bai, was a major influence in molding his character. Keeping with the norms of that time, his marriage was arranged at age thirteen to Kasturba, also thirteen. They had four sons—Harilal, Ramdas, Manilal, and Devdas—and many grandchildren. Gandhi’s character and political methods developed through his experiences studying law in England in 1888–1891, and his work commencing in 1893 as a lawyer for an Indian firm in South Africa, where he started a movement to end discrimination against Indians. The writings of Leo Tolstoy and John Ruskin, as well as texts such as the Sermon on the Mount and the Bhagavad Gītā, were influential both in his personal and activist lives. He established ashrams to train an army of nonviolent resisters and to disrupt inequality based on caste, economic status, religion, and gender. In his forty-year tenure as the leader of the movement against British occupation in South Africa and India, he led many nonviolent resistance campaigns, including the Salt March to protest the salt tax and the Quit India movement. He occasionally fasted to resist various forms of violence, including riots against Muslims. His dedication to India’s nation-building earned him the title “Father of the Nation.” Gandhi was also a prolific writer and authored many periodicals and books: an autobiography, a translation of and commentary on the Bhagavad Gītā, the manifesto Hind Swaraj, and others. His nonviolent methods have been utilized by international movements and leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., César Chávez, Nelson Mandela, and Rev. James M. Lawson Jr. Along with laudatory appraisals by prominent thinkers such as Albert Einstein, he has also had many detractors, such as B. R. Ambedkar, who confronted him on his views ofcaste and untouchability. Various Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim leaders saw his views on nonviolence, religion, culture, and politics simply as ideological and unfeasible. Numerous studies focus on his idiosyncratic practices of celibacy and his views on women, caste, and technology, which depict him as stubborn, unprogressive, and even dangerous. Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse in Delhi, on 30 January 1948. Even though Gandhi appears to be a forgotten figure in India, thousands of books about him, an Academy Award–winning film, and, more recently, renewed interest in his philosophy and methods all are a testament to the ongoing global impact of his life and legacy.

General Overviews

The literature analyzing various aspects of Gandhi’s life and work is vast and capacious. Several biographies and anthologies of Gandhi’s writings provide an excellent overview of his life, legacy, philosophy, and methods. Such works treat Gandhi’s life and his essential writings, articulating various facets of his political and personal philosophy and the methods of ahiṃsā and satyagraha. Parekh 1997 is an accessible introduction to Gandhi’s personal and political philosophy and offers a succinct overview of major philosophical insights and the limitations of Gandhi’s thought. Fischer 1997, cited under Biographies is a helpful biographical starting point for learning about Gandhi’s life. Iyer 1993, a collection of Gandhi’s letters, excerpts from his writings, and analysis, remains a great resource. Brown 2008 is a broad overview of Gandhi’s writings. A comprehensive study of Gandhi’s philosophy and methods is furthered in Brown and Parel 2011, which includes insightful essays by internationally renowned scholars. Johnson 2006 comprises both Gandhi’s essential writings and scholarly analyses of his philosophy, providing a survey of key events in Gandhi’s life, writings on satyagraha, constructive programs (which included communal unity, removal of untouchability, economic equality, etc.), and his moral and political thought. Allen 2011 is a biography that provides a new perspective on Gandhi’s life and helps us analyze his methods for our modern world.

  • Allen, Douglas. Mahatma Gandhi (Critical Lives). London: Reaktion Books, 2011.

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    A fresh analysis of Mahatma Gandhi’s life, with emphasis on the satyagraha movement. Includes a critical evaluation of various topics such as exploitation, colonialism, oppression, social revolution, and Gandhi’s relevance for the modern world.

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  • Brown, Judith M., ed. The Essential Writings of Mahatma Gandhi. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    A selection of Gandhi’s writings encapsulating the topics of ahiṃsā, God, self-discipline, satya, swarāj, and satyagraha, including references to figures that influenced his life and work.

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  • Brown, Judith M., and Anthony Parel, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Gandhi. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

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    A comprehensive volume with twelve chapters written by internationally renowned scholars on various aspects of Gandhi’s life, methods, and legacy. The first part traces Gandhi’s extraordinary story from his early life as a lawyer in South Africa, to his later period as a skilled political activist and leader of civil resistance in India, culminating in an examination of Gandhi’s vast legacy in India, the West, and beyond.

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  • Iyer, Raghavan, ed. The Essential Writings of Mahatma Gandhi. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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    A collection of Gandhi’s letters and excerpts from his writings, with the editor’s analysis; a great resource for learning about Gandhi’s life and his personal, moral, and political philosophy.

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  • Johnson, Richard L., ed. Gandhi’s Experiments with Truth: The Essential Writings by and about Mahatma Gandhi. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2006.

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    A scholarly survey of Gandhi’s life and thought, and selections from Gandhi’s writings, with essays by eminent scholars on Gandhi’s practice and theory of satyagraha with respect to human rights, stopping terrorism, etc., and a critical appraisal of his impact on the world.

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  • Nanda, B. R. Gandhi: A Pictorial Biography. 4th ed. New Delhi: Publication Division Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, 1987.

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    An accessible and detailed biographical account of Gandhi’s life, his struggle for India’s independence, and his achievements, told through photographs, facsimiles of newspapers, articles, cartoons, etc.

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  • Nayyar, Pyarelal. The Last Phase. Ahmedabad, India: Navajivan, 1965.

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    The earliest and most comprehensive personal account of Gandhi’s life, written by his personal secretary. Both volumes consist of authoritative accounts and documentation of Gandhi’s private, social, and political life, including the author’s firsthand experiences with Gandhi in the last four years of his life.

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  • Parekh, Bhikhu. Gandhi: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

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    A comprehensive survey of Gandhi’s philosophical, political, economic, and spiritual thought, referencing original source material.

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Bibliographies

The thousands of books and articles on Gandhi make it difficult to create a comprehensive bibliography. Pandiri 1995 provides a comprehensive annotated list of materials, including books, articles, and pamphlets. Howard 2007 is a bibliographic resource on Gandhi’s journey from Mohandas to Mahatma. The websites by Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal and Manibhavan Sangrahalaya offer resources on Gandhi’s life and writings as well as photo galleries.

Biographies

In his autobiography, Gandhi makes connections between his personal life and his social and political activism. There have been over four hundred biographies written from 1909 to the current time, which continue the tradition established by his example and offer increasingly fresh and critical insights into his life, death, and personal, social, and political philosophy and practices. Biographies focus on his bodily, sexual, and dietary experiments; his personal relations; and his ascetic practices and their connection with his philosophy and actions, as well as his failures. Nanda 1958, now in its sixth edition, is considered an authoritative account that captures details of Gandhi’s personal practices and political methods. Kripalani 1968 is an earlier biography by one of Gandhi’s contemporaries and is a good resource for learning about Gandhi’s early reception. Brown 1991 is a comprehensive resource for Gandhi’s life and the man, with his personal flaws and political setbacks, behind his image of Mahatma, “great soul.” Mehta 1977, cited under Gandhi’s Contemporaries and Critical Appraisals constructs Gandhi’s biography from the accounts of his close followers. Guha 2015 is a historian’s comprehensive account of Gandhi’s evolution from lawyer to political leader, presenting an abundance of new material and uncovering the story of his first forty-five years of life.

  • Alexander, Horace Gundry. Gandhi through Western Eyes. 2d ed. Philadelphia: New Society, 1984.

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    A close look at Gandhi’s later years (1928 onward) by the author, who knew Gandhi personally. The book focuses on Gandhi’s formative years, his leadership in the Indian National Congress, the Gandhi-Irwin talks, the Quit India Movement, the end of British rule, and the end of Gandhi’s life.

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  • Andrews, Charles. Mahatma Gandhi: His Life and Ideas. Foreword by Arun Gandhi. Woodstock, VT: Skylight Paths, 2003.

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    An intimate biography by Andrews (popularly known as Charlie), an Anglican priest and close personal friend of Gandhi. The book weaves together the author’s personal reminiscences and Gandhi’s various writings to paint a vivid picture of Gandhi’s extraordinary life.

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  • Brown, Judith M. Gandhi: Prisoner of Hope. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1991.

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    A widely recognized biography written by a historian provides a complex view of Gandhi’s life, in which Gandhi is presented as a powerful man with his own limitations and idiosyncrasies regarding his diet, self-control, and celibacy. It delves deeply into his career as a lawyer in South Africa from 1893 to 1914 and his struggle against racism in South Africa.

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  • Disalvo, Charles R. M. K. Gandhi, Attorney at Law: The Man before the Mahatma. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013.

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    The first biography of Gandhi that focuses primarily on his early career as a lawyer. Gandhi himself did not write much about this subject, and this book provides a detailed picture of Gandhi’s professional career in South Africa.

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  • Fischer, Louis. The Life of Mahatma Gandhi. New York: HarperCollins, 1997.

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    Fischer’s biography, written in lucid style, provides a glimpse into Gandhi’s life and the unique strategies employed by the Mahatma to bring about the independence of India. The award-winning motion picture Gandhi by Richard Attenborough is based on this book.

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  • Guha, Ramachandra. Gandhi before India. New York: Vintage, 2015.

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    An illuminating portrait of Gandhi’s life, work, and historical context, ranging from Gandhi’s birth in 1869, through his upbringing in Gujarat and his years as a student in London, to his two decades as a lawyer and community organizer in South Africa.

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  • Guha, Ramachandra. Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World, 1914–1948. New York: Knopf, 2018.

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    This colossal study by the historian Ramchandra Guha is the continuation of his earlier work, beginning from when Gandhi returned to India from South Africa in 1915. Guha draws from various archival collections, including from those not previously available.

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  • Kripalani, Krishna. Gandhi: A Life. New Delhi: National Book Trust, 1968.

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    A biography filled with facts and interspersed with quotations from Gandhi’s writings.

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  • Nanda, B. R. Mahatma Gandhi: A Biography. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1958.

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    A chronicle of important life events critically analyzed. Provides a good background and insights into Indian nationalism and the evolution of Gandhi’s views on sex, communal problems, and nonviolence. More recently published in 2004 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press).

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  • Wolpert, Stanley. Gandhi’s Passion: The Life and Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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    Wolpert offers an intricate biography of the Mahatma, focusing on his passion instead of renunciation. He meticulously chronicles Gandhi’s life and identifies him as a Great Soul who suffered passionately for his people.

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Primary Texts

Gandhi was a prolific writer. Gandhi’s autobiography (Gandhi 1927) provides access to Gandhi’s personal life, philosophy, and experiments in the areas of self-transformation and political activism. Gandhi 1958–1991 is a voluminous collection (ninety-eight volumes) of his writings, speeches, and personal correspondence. Gandhi 1957, a republished autobiography is by far the most widely read book and is considered in the category of “spiritual.” Fischer 2002, a collection of Gandhi’s writings, provides a snapshot of his views on the topics of politics, nonviolence, satyagraha, suffering, etc. Gandhi 2009 is a reprint of Gandhi’s manifesto, the foundation for his personal, political, and social actions. There exist many open online resources published by Manibhavan for Gandhi’s writings, articles, photo library, and secondary sources.

  • Fischer, Louis, ed. The Essential Gandhi: An Anthology of His Writings on His Life, Work, and Ideas. New York: Vintage, 2002.

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    Introduces Gandhi’s thoughts on politics, spirituality, poverty, suffering, love, nonviolence, civil disobedience, and his own life. Includes explanatory notes by Gandhi’s biographer Fischer; an exhaustive analysis of Gandhi’s life.

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  • Gandhi, Mohandas K. Satyana Prayoga Athva Atmakatha. Ahmedabad, India: Navbhavan Prakshan Mandir, 1927.

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    Translates as “My experiments with truth or autobiography.” Gandhi wrote the story of his life about at the midpoint of his career (events encompassing from his childhood through 1921) as a nonviolent activist and political leader. Written in his native Gujarati, and first published in two installments, the story provides a glimpse of his childhood, education, experiments in personal self-control, and arguments for choosing the methods of ahiṃsā and satyagraha for confronting racism and colonialism.

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  • Gandhi, Mohandas K. Satyagraha in South Africa. Ahmedabad, India: Navajivan, 1950.

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    Gandhi’s account of the seminal civil disobedience campaigns protesting legislation discriminating against the Indian population in South Africa, and the evolution of his strategy and theory of satygraha.

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  • Gandhi, Mohandas K. The Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Translated by Mahadev Desai. Boston: Beacon, 1957.

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    The earlier mentioned translation of the widely popular autobiography of Gandhi, chronicling his life, personal challenges, moral experiments, and political campaigns through 1921, initially written in Gujarati and published as weekly articles in the Navjivan from 1925 to 1929.

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  • Gandhi, Mohandas K. All Men Are Brothers: Life and Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi as Told in His Own Words. Ahmedabad, India: Navajivan, 1958.

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    An easily accessible resource material on various topics from Gandhi’s speeches and written materials, covering his political, social, philosophical, religious, and ethical thought.

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  • Gandhi, Mohandas K. The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi. 98 vols. New Delhi: Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1958–1991.

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    A comprehensive collection of Gandhi’s works, including speeches, letters, writings, correspondences, pamphlets, and more. A version that is not completely identical with the original published work is available online at the Gandhiashramsevagram website.

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  • Gandhi, Mohandas K. Non-violent Resistance (Satyagraha). Compiled and edited by Bharatan Kumarappa. New York: Schocken Books, 1961.

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    Gandhi’s highly influential book on passive resistance, structured on the foundational principle of nonviolence (ahiṃsā). Outlines the rigorous program of courage and self-discipline necessary for the execution of satyagraha.

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  • Gandhi, Mohandas K. The Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi. Edited by John Strohmeier. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Hills Books, 2000.

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    Mentioned in the following entry, Gandhi’s commentary on and translation of a text central to the Hindu tradition, and highly influential in shaping the direction of Gandhi’s thoughts and actions. Gandhi interprets the battle context of the Bhagavad Gītā allegorically and offers a unique rendering of the teachings of the text, focusing on the path of action, karma yoga.

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  • Gandhi, Mohandas K. Anasakti Yoga: The Bhagavad-Gita with a Translation. New Delhi: Sasta Sahitaya Mandal Prakashan, 2002.

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    Translates as “The Yoga of Non-Attachment.” In 1926, Gandhi delivered over two hundred lectures on the Bhagavad Gītā at the Satyagraha Ashram, Ahmedabad. In 1929, Gandhi completed the first translation of the Gītā in Gujarati, which was first published in 1930. The English translation by Mahadev Desai was first published in 1946 as The Gita According to Gandhi. Gandhi himself wrote the foreword to the book.

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  • Gandhi, Mohandas K. “Hind Swaraj” and Other Writings. Centenary ed. Edited by Anthony Parel. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511807268Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Hind Swaraj (Home Rule), written in the genre of dialogue in 1909, is Gandhi’s seminal work in his native Gujarati. Parel provides a comprehensive introduction along with annotations and situates the work in historical and political contexts during Gandhi’s sea voyage from London to South Africa, examining various intellectual influences on Gandhi. The second part of the volume contains some of Gandhi’s other writings, including his correspondence with Leo Tolstoy and Jawaharlal Nehru, and select speeches.

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  • Gandhi, Mohandas K. An Autobiography or the Story of My Experiments with Truth. Introduction and notes by Tridip Suhrud. Translated by Mahadev Desai. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2018.

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    An annotated rendition of Gandhi’s autobiography, with extensive introduction and critical notes provided by a renowned Gandhi scholar.

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Major Influences on Gandhi

In his works, Gandhi documents major figures and texts that influenced him. He identifies the writings of Leo Tolstoy, John Ruskin, and Henry David Thoreau as sources of his inspiration for his methods of nonviolence and civil disobedience, and his vision of social welfare. The philosophical and religious teachings of the Bhagavad Gītā, Sermon on the Mount, and the Yoga Sūtra became foundational to Gandhi’s personal commitment to service, trust in love force, and the value of vows for inner empowerment. Gandhi also considered Bal Krishna Gokhale his political guru. Jordens 1986 analyzes Gandhi’s engagement with the Bhagavad Gītā, which he considered his spiritual dictionary. Among Western influences, Parel 2016 analyzes the influence of Henry David Thoreau. Weber 2004 is an excellent resource for a survey of major influences on Gandhi.

  • Jordens, J. T. F. “Gandhi and the Bhagavadgita.” In Modern Interpreters of the Bhagavadgita. Edited by Robert N. Minor, 88–109. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986.

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    This chapter gives a historical account of Gandhi’s close engagement with the Bhagavad Gītā and his innovative translation and unique interpretation of the text.

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  • Parel, Anthony. “Gandhi and Thoreau.” In Pax Gandhiana: The Political Philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. By Anthony Parel, 180–204. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

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    An examination of Gandhian satyagraha in relation to the practice and theory of Thoreau. Specifically traces the influence of Thoreau’s two essays “The Duty of Civil Disobedience” and “Life without Principle.”

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  • Ruskin, John. Unto This Last and Other Writings. Edited by Clive Wilmer. New York: Penguin Classics, 1986.

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    Ruskin’s famous polemic against social injustice and corruption, with other writings culled from his oeuvre. Gandhi himself translated this book under the title Sarvodaya (“Well-being of all”) and incorporated its ideas in his social and economic program.

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  • Rynne, Terrence. Gandhi and Jesus: The Saving Power of Nonviolence. New York: Orbis Books, 2008.

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    Demonstrates the commonalities between Jesus’s and Gandhi’s views on nonviolence, arguing specifically for the potential benefit of integrating Gandhian principles such as satyagraha and ahiṃsā into a Christian framework.

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  • Talwalkar, Govind. Gopal Krishna Gokhale: Gandhi’s Political Guru. New Delhi: Pentagon, 2016.

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    Gandhi considered Gokhale his “political guru.” Depicts Gokhale’s personality and achievements in the context of predominant social, economic, and political situations, particularly in reference to the famines, revenue policies, and partition of Bengal.

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  • Tolstoy, Leo. The Kingdom of God Is within You. Translated by Constance Garrett. Seaside, OR: Watchmaker, 2010.

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    A classic literary work Gandhi routinely cited as influential on his philosophy of nonviolence.

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  • Weber, Thomas. Gandhi as Disciple and Mentor. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511490774Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This text is a careful catalogue and analysis of Gandhi’s personal inspirations and professional relationships, paying close attention to figures inspiring the Mahatma, and those who in turn were inspired by him.

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Social, Political, and Moral Philosophy

Gandhi interlinked the moral, social, and political in his personal life and political methods. Many studies show how he infused moralist vocabulary in all aspects of his political and social philosophy and also framed his social and political activism within spiritual aspirations.

Social and Political Thought

Many studies evaluate Gandhi’s social and political thought by focusing on issues including his critique of the modern state, and his political philosophy vis à vis contemporaneous political theories. Earlier volumes on Gandhi’s social and political thought, Alexander 1949 and Kripalani 1951, draw on the authors’ personal experiences to examine Gandhi’s political and social ideas. Mantena 2012 focuses on Gandhi’s critique of the modern state. Parekh 1989 and Parel 2016 provide a critical examination of Gandhi’s political philosophy.

Moral Thought

Various studies engage with Gandhi’s moral thought and his innovative ways to create a worldview that is rooted in moral principles. Iyer 1979 is a comprehensive study of the central concepts underlying Gandhi’s moral and political thought and his views on the relationship between means and ends in politics. Sharp 1997, cited under Indian Independence Movement and Gandhi’s Leadership explores Gandhi’s political strategies for attaining justice and equity. Kapila 2011 uniquely shows how Gandhi circumvents 20th-century political categories. Skaria 2016 is a refreshingly new critical reading of Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj and other important works, which focuses on Gandhi’s religion and his critique of liberal forms of secularism and equality.

  • Hazama, Eijiro. “The Paradox of Gandhian Secularism: The Metaphysical Implication Behind Gandhi’s ‘Individualization of Religion.’” Modern Asian Studies 51.5 (2017): 1394–1438.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0026749X16000354Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article focuses on Gandhi’s later intellectual developments: his insistence on political secularism and his controversial experiments with brahmacharya (celibacy). The author argues that Gandhi’s secularism reflected his belief in the relationships among the concepts of brahmacharya, individuality, and religion.

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  • Iyer, Raghavan. The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979.

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    An erudite analysis on the central concepts of Gandhi’s moral and political thought. It treats the underlying presuppositions, effectiveness, and universal importance of his methods of truth and nonviolence, freedom, and duty, as well as his understanding of the connection between means and ends in politics.

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  • Kapila, Shruti. “Gandhi before Mahatma: The Foundations of Political Truth.” Public Culture 23.2 (2011): 431–448.

    DOI: 10.1215/08992363-1161985Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Identifies Gandhi’s focus as transformation of the self and his evading of the then-dominant political ideologies of liberalism, historicism, and Marxism.

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  • Skaria, Ajay. Unconditional Equality: Gandhi’s Religion of Resistance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016.

    DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816698653.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A philosophical account of Gandhi’s political and social theories, by a philosopher. The book provides a new look at the central place the concept of dharma plays in these theories. It also explores the notion of satyagraha as applied both to human and nonhuman forms of life.

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Theory and Practice of Ahiṃsā (Nonviolence) and Satyagraha (Truth Force; Nonviolent Resistance)

Gandhi’s methods of ahiṃsā and satyagraha have been analyzed by scholars from all angles—from their historical evolution and their efficacy to critical appraisals. Erikson 1993 offers a critical analysis, using a psychoanalytical lens, of Gandhi’s “militant” nonviolence; Weber 1996 focuses on Gandhi’s ideology of ahiṃsā and the “peace army” in India. Dalton 2000 analyzes major campaigns of the Indian independence movement, and Chakrabarty 2014 is a comprehensive account of nonviolence and its challenges and modern-day movements in India.

  • Allen, Douglas. Gandhi After 9/11: Creative Non-Violence and Sustainability. Uttar Pradesh: Oxford University Press, 2019.

    DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199491490.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A new study by Douglas Allen invites the reader to consider Gandhi’s philosophy and methods of nonviolence creatively and selectively to confront the challenges of the post 9/11 era. Provides insights into the relevance of Gandhi’s for India and the modern world. Critical and constructive appraisals of Gandhi's approaches in the area of technology, terrorism, socialism, marginality, etc.

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  • Brown, Judith M. “Gandhi and Civil Resistance in India, 1917–47: Key Issues.” In Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent action from Gandhi to the Present. Edited by Adam Roberts and Timothy Garton Ash, 43–57. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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    A close analysis of the recurring crucial issues in Gandhi’s passive-resistance movements from 1917 to 1947 that explores how historical specificities play a crucial role in his movements. This chapter is part of a comprehensive book focusing on literature, historical context, and 20th-century civil resistance movements.

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  • Chakrabarty, Bidyut, ed. Non-violence: Challenges and Prospects. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014.

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    This compendium provides a broad historical perspective through theoretical essays on nonviolence by writers such as Leo Tolstoy and Henry David Thoreau, coupled with essays contributed by contemporary scholars on nonviolence as a political strategy and methods in contemporaneous political and social movements.

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  • Dalton, Dennis. Mahatma Gandhi: Nonviolent Power in Action. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.

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    Chronicles the main events of Gandhi’s life and the intellectual and political development of his leadership. Dalton focuses on the triumphs: the civil disobedience movement of 1930 and the Calcutta fast of 1947. The book concludes with a comparison of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X.

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  • Erikson, Erik H. Gandhi’s Truth: On the Origins of Militant Nonviolence. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.

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    Erikson, a psychoanalyst, explores the origins of Gandhi’s “militant” nonviolence and links it to his sexuality. He shows how Gandhi succeeded in mobilizing the Indian people both spiritually and politically. Gandhi became the revolutionary innovator of militant nonviolence, and India became the site of large-scale civil disobedience.

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  • Kumar, Ravindra. “Nonviolent Non-cooperation: An Effective, Noble and Valuable Means for Peaceful Change.” Social Alternatives 29.1 (2010): 5–10.

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    Reviews the central principles of nonviolent noncooperation, particularly as espoused by Gandhi. Identifies key traditions, values, and historical practices that frame nonviolent noncooperation.

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  • van Goelst Meijer, Saskia. “The Power of the Truthful: Satya in the Nonviolence of Gandhi and Havel.” International Journal on World Peace 32.2 (2015): 19–39.

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    A comparative analysis of the complex and multifaceted element satya or “truth” and its role in the work of Gandhi and Václav Havel, a Czech statesman and writer, focusing on the importance of “living in truth.”

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  • Weber, Thomas. Gandhi’s Peace Army: The Shanti Sena and Unarmed Peacekeeping. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1996.

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    This book examines how the Gandhian movement in India developed the idea that nonviolent volunteers should act in place of armed police and provide a nonviolent alternative to the army.

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Gandhi’s Global Legacy: Nonviolent Leaders and Movements

Numerous texts explore Gandhi’s relevance in current times and his influence on the major peace movements and activists of the 20th century. Scholars critically analyze his influence on Martin Luther King Jr., César Chávez, Nelson Mandela, and many nonviolent-resistance programs across the globe. Hardiman 2003 provides a thorough overview of the global legacy of Gandhi’s ideas. Kapur 1992 traces the influence of Gandhi on the American civil rights movement. King 1992 is an excellent account of King’s visit to India and the inspiration he drew from Gandhi. Gandhi 2017, by Gandhi’s grandson, provides a systematic account of Gandhi’s life and global legacy.

  • Gandhi, Rajmohan. Why Gandhi Still Matters: An Appraisal of the Mahatma’s Legacy. New Delhi: Aleph Book, 2017.

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    A book by Gandhi’s grandson shows Gandhi’s continuing relevance for the modern world, and the value of his teachings for addressing modern-day issues of racism, terrorism, and equality.

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  • Hardiman, David. Gandhi in His Time and Ours: The Global Legacy of His Ideas. London: Hurst, 2003.

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    A detailed assessment of Gandhi’s politics, his conflicts with the Raj and critics within India, his moral strategies for confronting the advocates of violent, caste privilege, etc. Despite his limitations, Gandhi has inspired figures such as Jayaprakash Narayan, Medha Patkar, Mandela, and Petra Kelly and influenced new social, feminist, and environmental movements. The author studied “subaltern” movements in India for many years before engaging with Gandhi.

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  • Kapur, Sudarshan. Raising Up a Prophet: The African American Encounter with Gandhi. Boston: Beacon, 1992.

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    Kapur argues that it was Gandhi, rather than Martin Luther King Jr., who was responsible for introducing the concept of nonviolent resistance to African Americans. The book also addresses many facets of the larger civil rights movement.

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  • King, Martin Luther, Jr. “My Trip to the Land of Gandhi.” In I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World. Edited by James M. Washington, 39–48. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1992.

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    A synopsis of King’s visit to India and his experience of the legacy of Gandhian thought. Chronicles his journey between February and March 1959, and the Indian people’s reception of King’s campaign against racism and oppression.

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  • León, Luis D. The Political Spirituality of Cesar Chavez: Crossing Religious Borders. Oakland: University of California Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520283688.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This biography provides a full account of Chávez’s penchant for religious symbolism and austere practice of fasting. The book includes ample discussion of Gandhi’s influence on Chávez, the legendary Latino-American civil rights activist.

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  • Nojeim, Michael J. Gandhi and King: The Power of Nonviolent Resistance. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004.

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    A comprehensive analysis of the concept of nonviolent resistance as theorized and practiced both by Gandhi and King.

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  • Puri, Rashmi-Sudha. Gandhi on War and Peace. New York: Praeger, 1987.

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    A study of Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence, which rejected any rationalizing of war or any justification of it. Puri traces the influence of the historical persons and events that shaped Gandhi’s views on nonviolence. These figures include Henry David Thoreau and Leo Tolstoy, and events such as the unfairness of the Versailles Treaty, the oppression of blacks in the United States, and the Nazi persecution of Jews, all of which shaped Gandhi’s views.

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  • Schell, Jonathan. The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People. New York: Henry Holt, 2003.

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    Focuses particularly on the topic of violence in the modern world. Proceeds to examine nonviolent tendencies in countries around the world, and Gandhian ideas for developing peaceful resistance movements.

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Gandhi’s Moral Experiments and Religious Thought

Gandhi’s personal vows, his experiments with celibacy and diet control, and his development of āśram communities continue to attract wide critical attention. Gandhi 1964 is a compilation of Gandhi’s articulation of the value and challenges in the practice of brahmacharya (celibacy). Gandhi 1999 is a collection of Gandhi’s words on the ashrama vows. Rudolph and Rudolph 1983 traces the roots of Gandhi’s charisma in his moral and spiritual practices. Alter 2000 focuses on Gandhi’s preoccupation with diet, sex, and naturopathy. Howard 2013 provides an extensive analysis and evolution of Gandhi’s celibacy by tracing Gandhi’s own words and the Indian philosophical texts that inspired him. Lal 2000 is a perceptive article on the relationship between Gandhi’s celibacy and his nonviolence.

  • Alter, Joseph S. Gandhi’s Body: Sex, Diet, and the Politics of Nationalism. Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 2000.

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    The author reevaluates Gandhi’s life and thoughts by focusing on “Gandhi’s Body,” his obsessive preoccupation with sexual control, discipline of diet, and naturopathy. He concludes that a distinction cannot be made between Gandhi’s concern with biodiscipline (including fasting and celibacy) and his beliefs about nonviolence.

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  • Amin, Shahid. “Gandhi as Mahatma: Gorakhpur District, Eastern UP, 1921–2.” In Subaltern Studies III: Writings on South Asian History and Society. Edited by Ranjit Guha, 1–61. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1984.

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    Amin gives a historical analysis of Gandhi’s visit to the district of Gorakhpur in 1921-1922 and a detailed account of how Gandhi’s charisma “registered in peasant consciousness.” It was evidenced by Gandhi’s reception and miraculous stories that circulated afterward.

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  • Chatterjee, Margaret. Gandhi’s Religious Thought. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983.

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    Focuses primarily on Gandhi’s religious ideology and relates it both to Indian religions and Christian principles. Chatterjee also analyzes the purpose and role of Gandhi’s dialectics of religion in his political method.

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  • Gandhi, Mohandas K. The Law of Continence: Brahmacharya. Edited by Anand Hingorani. Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1964.

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    A collection of Gandhi’s words about his theorization and practice of the ideal of brahmacharya (celibacy), specifically its place in social and political service.

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  • Gandhi, Mohandas K. Vows and Observances. Edited by John Strohmeier. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Hill Books, 1999.

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    Culled from texts Gandhi initially penned for Satyagraha Ashram, the community he founded, this work specifically outlines the Mahatma’s “Eleven Observances,” which Gandhi believed to underlie proper moral life.

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  • Howard, Veena R. Gandhi’s Ascetic Activism: Renunciation and Social Action. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2013.

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    This volume explores the intricate practice and theory of renunciation and celibacy as they played out in Gandhi’s life, specifically how they vitalized Gandhi’s strategies of nonviolence for mobilizing his people in sociopolitical movements.

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  • Lal, Vinay. “Nakedness, Nonviolence, and Brahmacharya: Gandhi’s Experiments in Celibate Sexuality.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 9.1–2: (2000): 105–136.

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    A probing essay on Gandhi’s theory and experiments in brahmacharya (celibacy), which included lying naked with young women, a detailed account of Gandhi’s definitions of brahmacharya, his discussion on the ancient yogic practices of preserving semen, and experiments to remove any trace of sexual thoughts. He argues that Gandhi’s nakedness was consistent with his ideal of reducing himself to “zero” and his vision of nonviolence and truth.

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  • Lelyveld, Joseph. Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India. New York: Vintage Books, 2012.

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    A bold account of both the achievements and failures faced by Gandhi, providing scintillating details of his sexual mores and idiosyncrasies. This biography discusses the disappointments faced by the great soul following his fierce struggle to bring about social change.

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  • Rudolph, Susanne and Lloyd Rudolph. The Traditional Roots of Charisma. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226227603.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The authors uniquely explore how Gandhi combined traditional values with progressive political thought. This resulted in a self-critical, inclusive, and ethical political movement for India’s independence.

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  • Sharma, Arvind. Gandhi: A Spiritual Biography. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2013.

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    An intriguing analysis of Gandhi’s life, with a unique focus on how his teachings pertain not only to worldly affairs (social revolution, politics, and equality) but to spiritual liberation.

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Portrayals of Gandhi in Film, Literature, Documentaries, and Opera

In addition to works of history and scholarship, it is important to note the representations of Gandhi in film, documentaries, literature, and music. These portrayals make a complex figure such as Gandhi accessible to the general public. Furthermore, the artistic representations of Gandhi in film and fiction have contributed to Gandhi’s popular image as an extraordinary leader and moral exemplar.

Films and Opera

Films and documentaries on Gandhi are useful tools to learn about his life and methods. Attenborough 1982, an Academy Award–winning film, continues to be the most popular introduction to Gandhi’s life and accomplishments. Benegal 1996 focuses of Gandhi’s formative years in South Africa. Hirani 2006 is an early-21st-century effort for a renewal of Gandhi’s ideas through a Bollywood comedy drama. York 1999 focuses on Gandhi’s Salt March through photographic historical footage. Käch 1979, an opera, is a pristine presentation of Gandhi’s satyagraha struggle.

  • Attenborough, Richard, dir. and prod. Gandhi. DVD. Burbank, CA: Columbia Pictures, 1982.

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    Comprehensive film, with Western sensibilities, is dedicated to Gandhi’s life, beginning in 1893, when Gandhi is pushed off a train in South Africa, to his assassination in 1948. Starring Ben Kingsley as the Mahatma.

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  • Benegal, Shyam, dir. Making of the Mahatma. VHS. Johannesburg, South Africa: South African Broadcasting, 1996.

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    Focuses on Gandhi’s earlier life, specifically his time spent in South Africa. Based on the book The Apprenticeship of a Mahatma by Fatima Meer.

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  • Evtushenko, Galina and Anna Evtushenko. Leo Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi: A Double Portrait in the Interior Age. New York: New York State Riters Institute, 2016.

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    The film explores the correspondence between Leo Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi during the last year of Tolstoy's life. Even though these two figures never met they exchanged letters, which focused on various moral, religious, and political topics of their era. In his autobiography, Gandhi praises Tolstoy’s book, The Kingdom of God is Within You, for its messages of rejection of violence, morality, and truthfulness, but their letters highlight the moral struggles and social and political concerns that they shared.

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  • Hirani, Rajkumar, dir. Lage Raho Munna Bhai. New Delhi: Vinod Chopra Productions, 2006.

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    Comedy-drama about the protagonist Munna Bhai, a powerful Mumbai crime figure who develops deep resonances with the thought of Mahatma Gandhi and begins to transform into an honest man.

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  • Käch, Hugo, dir. Satyagraha. Lyrics composed by Constance DeJong and Philip Glass. Leipzig: Kinowelt, 1979.

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    An opera in three acts, based on the life of Gandhi, with a libretto drawn from the Bhagavad Gītā. First performed in 1980 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. This was the second installment in Glass’s “Portrait Trilogy”; the other two are dedicated to the lives of Albert Einstein and the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten.

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  • Murthy, C. S., Oinam Bedajit Meitei, and Dapkupar Tariang. “The Tale of Gandhi through the Lens: An Inter-textual Analytical Study of Three Major Films—Gandhi, The Making of the Mahatma, and Gandhi, My Father.” Cinej Cinema Journal 2.2 (2013): 4–37.

    DOI: 10.5195/CINEJ.2013.66Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This study elaborates how different personal and social events in Gandhi’s life are woven together by these three prominent films, to bring out the character of the Mahatma.

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  • York, Steve, dir. A Force More Powerful. Santa Monica, CA: Santa Monica Pictures, 1999.

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    Emmy- nominated documentary examines six nonviolent resistance movements across the globe and their relationship to the thought of Gandhi, including the civil rights movement, anti-apartheid resistances, the Polish Solidarity movement, etc. One segment focuses on Gandhi’s techniques of mobilizing the masses to break the unjust salt tax.

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Fiction

Fictionalized portrayals of Gandhi began to appear during his lifetime and became sources for his popularity as the leader of India’s independence movement. Rao 1947 is a novel that situates Gandhi within the Hindu incarnation myth of Lord Śiva, presenting his ascension on Earth to liberate India. Narayan 1955 is a novel portraying Gandhi’s revolutionary ideas.

  • Narayan, R. K. Waiting for the Mahatma. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955.

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    One of Narayan’s most acclaimed novels, which, through fictional characters, creates a dialogue between Gandhi’s revolutionist ideas and traditionalist views. The political struggle for India’s independence serves as the background to the novel’s plot.

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  • Rao, Raja. Kanthapura. Bombay: Oxford University Press, 1947.

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    A novel detailing the arrival of Gandhi’s revolutionary ideas in the fictional village of Kanthapura. Focuses on the protagonist Moorthy, who introduces the concept of satyagraha in his small village after visiting the big city.

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Gandhi’s Contemporaries and Critical Appraisals

In his long struggle for India’s independence, Gandhi had close interactions with associates, followers, and detractors. Gandhi openly dialogued with his critics about issues including caste, women, religion, nonviolence, and Hindu-Muslim unity. While Gandhi’s associates portray a glorified image of Gandhi, his critics complicate the picture by focusing on his controversial ideologies and actions. Ahir 1969 offers a comparative analysis of Gandhi’s and B. R. Ambedkar’s approaches to the issue of untouchability. Ambedkar 1970 offers a fierce critique of Gandhi’s views on caste. Coward 2003 is an anthology of essays on various Indian critiques of Gandhi. Bose 1988 is an intimate and objective account of Gandhi’s life and his challenges during the last two years of life, which were mired with communal violence and controversies. Desai and Vahed 2015 provides a probing analysis of the issue of racism in Gandhi’s relationship with native Africans.

  • Ahir, D. C. Gandhi and Ambedkar. New Delhi: Ajay Prakashan, 1969.

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    A comparative study of the lives of Gandhi and Ambedkar and their approach to the issue of untouchability.

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  • Ambedkar, Bhimrao Ramji. Gandhi and Gandhism. Edited with an introduction by Bhagwan Das. Jullundur, India: Bheem Patrika, 1970.

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    A booklet by Ambedkar, a staunch critic of Gandhi, that questions Gandhi’s approach to the issue of untouchability. Ambedkar, born in an untouchable family, criticizes Gandhi as a “defender of the caste system,” and “Gandhism” as “philosophic justification” for Hindu dogmas.

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  • Bose, Nirmal Kumar. My Days with Gandhi. New ed. New Delhi: Sangam Books, 1988.

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    An objective account by Gandhi’s secretary and companion during the crucial last years (1946–1948). Bose documents his witnessing of Gandhi’s taxing daily schedule, his concern for the violence against women, his controversial practice of sleeping with his grandniece, which he called yajña (sacrifice), and his frustration with the Congress in the newly independent India. The book ends with his personal emotional eulogy on Gandhi’s martyrdom.

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  • Coward, Harold, ed. Indian Critiques of Gandhi. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2003.

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    A collection of essays focusing on Gandhi’s debates with the Indian independence movement’s major figures, who were often his critics, including Jawaharlal Nehru, Rabindranath Tagore, Sri Aurobindo, and Ambedkar. The book also includes chapters on Gandhi’s ambivalent relationship with various groups such as the Hindu Mahasabha, Sikhs, and Indian Muslims.

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  • Desai, Ashwin, and Goolam Vahed. The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015.

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    A thorough investigation of Gandhi’s activities in South Africa and his relationship with native South Africans. The book provides a complex portrait of South African Gandhi, who during his stay in South Africa championed Indians’ rights but stayed loyal to the British Empire and excluded Africans from enfranchisement.

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  • Gandhi, Rajmohan. Ghaffar Khan: Nonviolent Badshah of the Pakistan. New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 2004.

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    Analysis of the life Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a close friend of Gandhi’s, who played an important role in galvanizing his people to follow the method of nonviolence in the northern Punjab. He is famously known as the “Frontier Gandhi” because of his emphasis on nonviolence in Islam in the face of violent engagements between the Muhammadzal tribe and the Pakhtuns.

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  • Lal, Vinay. “The Gandhi Everyone Loves to Hate.” Economic & Political Weekly 43.40 (4 October 2008): 55–64.

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    Notwithstanding Gandhi’s overall popularity around the globe, Lal provides an overview of how Gandhi has been a target of harsh criticism for some of his views, such as his use of Hindu idiom, his views on women, and caste.

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  • Mehta, Ved Parkash. Mahatma Gandhi and His Apostles. New York: Viking, 1977.

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    A biography of Gandhi’s personal life and his saintly and complex image, constructed from interviews with Gandhi’s female followers and his close friends, including Rajagopalachari, Bose, and Mirabehn.

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  • Nanda, B. R. Gandhi and His Critics. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1985.

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    By providing historical context for the controversial issues regarding Gandhi’s life, actions, and thought, Nanda address some of the allegations by his critics. These critiques include inconsistencies with his stance on nonviolence, sneering at his saintliness, his role in the partition of India and Pakistan, complicity in racialism in South Africa, and more. Nanda also shows that notwithstanding these critiques, Gandhi always engaged with his detractors.

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  • Orwell, George. “Reflections on Gandhi.” Partisan Review 16.1 (1949): 85–92.

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    A frequently cited critical review of many aspects of Gandhi’s philosophy and life, which nevertheless recognizes his moral character and positive contributions as a politician.

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Intimate Reminiscence and Family

Gandhi’s close associates provide an intimate and complex view of Gandhi’s life and personality. Mirabehn 1949 focuses on personal correspondence and Gandhi’s ashrams. Slade 2010 is an account of Mirabehn’s journey with Gandhi, and Nayyar 1960 reminiscences about Gandhi’s wife and close confidant, Kasturba. Gandhi and Gandhi 1998 is an intimate account of Gandhi’s wife, Kasturba, by their grandson and his wife. Khan 2007 is a film examining the estranged relationship between Gandhi and his eldest son, Harilal. Gandhi 2012 an emotional, personal account by Gandhi’s grandniece who accompanied him during the most trying last two years of his life.

  • Gandhi, Arun. Legacy of Love: My Education in the Path of Nonviolence. El Sobrante, CA: North Bay Books, 2003.

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    A heartfelt memoir by Gandhi’s grandson, Arun Gandhi, who is carrying on the legacy of his grandfather through writings and an institute. The memoir covers his childhood experiences and the two years he spent with his grandfather in India. He focuses on the practical wisdom that he learned from his grandfather regarding simplicity, religious unity, humility, truth, and nonviolence.

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  • Gandhi, Arun, and Sunanda Gandhi. The Forgotten Woman: The Untold Story of Kastur Gandhi. Huntsville, AR: Ozark Mountain, 1998.

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    Written by Gandhi’s grandson, the book examines the life of Kasturba, a detailed account of the presence of “Ma” (mother) in the Mahatma’s life.

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  • Gandhi, Manubehn. Bapu – My Mother. trans. Chitra Desai. Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House, 1949. Reprint 2012.

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    A booklet reminiscing about intimate personal experiences during the last two years of Gandhi’s life. Focuses on Gandhi’s mother-like love for her. Provides a glimpse into Gandhi’s strong and caring character.

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  • Khan, Feroz, dir. Gandhi, My Father. DVD. Mumbai: Anil Kapoor Film, 2007.

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    A biographical drama produced by Bollywood star Anil Kapoor. Details the complicated relationship between Gandhi and his son Harilal Gandhi.

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  • Mirabehn. Gleanings Gathered at Bapu’s Feet. Ahmedabad, India: Navajivan, 1949.

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    A collection of various informal conversations and correspondence between Mirabehn and Gandhi.

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  • Nayyar, Sushila. Kasturba: A Personal Reminiscence. Foreword by M. K. Gandhi. Ahmedabad, India: Navajivan, 1960.

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    A personal account by the personal physician to Gandhi’s wife and family, written after the death of Gandhi’s wife, Kasturba. This short book offers a deep insight into Kasturba’s life, her scrupulous character, and her dedication to Gandhi and provides a glimpse into the integral bond of friendship and care between “Bapu” and “Ba,” which lasted sixty-two years.

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  • Slade, Madeleine. The Spirit’s Pilgrimage. Foreword by Vincent Sheean. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger, 2010.

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    An autobiographical account of Slade (popularly known as Mirabehn) and her journey with Gandhi for twenty-five years. She renounced her privileged life and served Gandhi in many roles—as a secretary, his aide, and a fellow traveler. Her intimate reflections shed light on Gandhi’s personality and her journey alongside Gandhi.

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Gandhi: The Philosopher

Some early-21st-century studies by esteemed philosophers analyze philosophical tenets of Gandhi’s thought systematically and carefully, without dismissing them as religious ideas. Bilgrami 2003 analyzes epistemological and methodological structures of Gandhi’s thought. Sorabji 2012 uniquely compares Gandhi and the Stoics. Allen 2008 is an excellent resource for understanding the relevance of Gandhi’s philosophy in the 21st century.

  • Allen, Douglas, ed. The Philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi for the Twenty-First Century. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2008.

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    A comprehensive collection of essays written by prominent scholars including Fred Dallmayr, Joseph Prabhu, Bhikhu Parekh, and Nicholas Gier relating Gandhi’s thought to many modern issues, such as interreligious dialogue, civil disobedience, terrorism, education, religious ethics, social order, and Hindutva.

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  • Bilgrami, Akeel. “Gandhi, the Philosopher.” Economic & Political Weekly 38.39 (2003): 4159–4165.

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    An analysis of the epistemological and methodological structures underlying Gandhi’s ethical thought. Explores the connections between these two layers of Gandhi’s theory and practice.

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  • Chatterjee, Partha. Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993.

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    This broad study of the historical evolution of nationalist thought in the colonial world also engages with Gandhi’s ideas on democracy in which the ruler with moral strength upholds the collective will of the people. While pointing to the paradoxes of Gandhi’s ideologies, the author also underscores the new historical possibilities for the Indian state.

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  • Haksar, Vinit. Gandhi and Liberalism: Satayagraha and the Conquest of Evil. New Delhi: Routledge India, 2017.

    DOI: 10.4324/9781315102818Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This book provides a reconstruction of Gandhi’s doctrine of nonviolence, arguing for the value of necessary violence with compassion for eliminating evil. Haksar compares Gandhi’s ideas with moral, legal, and political thinkers and demonstrates the effectiveness of Gandhi’s methods of noncooperation, civil disobedience, and self-sacrifice.

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  • Jahanbegloo, Ramin. The Global Gandhi: Essays in Comparative Political Philosophy. New York: Routledge, 2018.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780429491320Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This volume argues that Gandhi was a “relevant political theorist,” and uses a comparative perspective to analyze Gandhi’s thought. The author provides innovative comparative analysis between Gandhi and select eminent figures, such as Hannah Arendt, Isiah Berlin, and Henry David Thoreau.

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  • Rao, Ramakrishna Koneru. Gandhi’s Dharma. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

    DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199477548.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Provides a fresh overview of Gandhi—his person, philosophy, and practices. The book is a systematic interdisciplinary sketch of Gandhi’s paradigm of nonviolence, his philosophical framework, and their modern relevance.

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  • Sorabji, Richard. Gandhi and the Stoics: Modern Experiments on Ancient Values. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199644339.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Sorabji answers the question “Was Gandhi a philosopher?” in the affirmative. In this monumental study, he sheds mutual light on the overlapping values in Gandhian thought and the Stoic philosophy. He draws attention to various issues, including the relationship between emotional detachment and family love, nonviolence as universal love, and Gandhi’s hesitancy about universal rules of conduct on the basis of his belief in svadharma (personal duty).

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Indian Independence Movement and Gandhi’s Leadership

Numerous anthologies document and analyze various events and satyagraha struggles that were initiated by Gandhi as the leader of the Indian independence movement. Bondurant 1969 remains a valuable resource for three major nonviolent resistance campaigns by Gandhi. Ahmad 1987 is a study of the peasants’ role in satyagraha movements. Sharp 1997 discusses Gandhi’s strategies throughout the movement. Brown 1977 offers an insightful analysis of Gandhi’s civil disobedience and civil resistance events.

  • Abbas, Khwaja Ahmed and N. G. Jog. A Report to Gandhiji: A Survey of Indian and World Events during the 21 Months of Gandhiji’s Incarceration. Bombay: Hind Kitabs, 1944.

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    Chronicles the Quit India movement and its repercussions.

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  • Ahmad, Razi. Indian Peasant Movement and Mahatma Gandhi. Foreword by Bimal Prasad. Delhi: Shabd Prakashan, 1987.

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    A study of the Champaran Satyagraha movement as well as the peasants’ role in freedom fights from 1867 to 1917.

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  • Bondurant, Joan V. Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.

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    An analysis of Gandhi’s approach to conflict and struggle in three of his campaigns in India: the 1918 Ahmedabad textile worker’s strike, the 1919 resistance to repressive Rowlatt Bills, and the 1930–1931 Salt March.

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  • Brown, Judith M. Gandhi and Civil Disobedience: The Mahatma in Indian Politics, 1928–1934. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1977.

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    This book is an analysis, based on new material, of the phase between 1928 and 1934, when Gandhi was leader of campaigns of civil disobedience against the Raj.

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  • Hermon, Arthur. Gandhi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry That Destroyed the Empire and Forged Our Age. New York: Bantam Books, 2008.

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    A well-researched historical narrative of the two legendary figures of the 20th century, Gandhi and Churchill. The contrast between the two leaders highlights Gandhi’s strategies of satyagraha and his defiant character. The author also underscores the personal failures of both men.

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  • Natarajan, Nalini. Atlantic Gandhi: The Mahatma Overseas. New Delhi: SAGE, 2013.

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    Using diaspora and postcolonial theories, Natarajan demonstrates that Gandhi’s transnational planetary forces came to bear on the formation of his concept of Indianness.

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  • Parekh, Bhikhu. Debating India: Essays on Indian Political Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

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    A systematic analysis of the Indian tradition of public political debates and the major debates between prominent political leaders of India’s independence movement. Chapters include the debates between Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore and Gandhi’s views on nonviolence, democracy and interreligious dialogue.

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  • Sharp, Gene. Gandhi Wields the Weapon of Moral Power: Three Case Histories. Ahmedabad, India: Navjivan, 1997.

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    Sharp’s main focus is on the 1930–1931 independence campaign, but he also covers the peasant struggle in Chamaparan 1917–1918, and Gandhi’s 1948 fast in Delhi against intercommunal killings linked to Partition.

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Gandhi’s Death

The event of Gandhi’s death created shockwaves across the globe and has been significant for the formation of India. Some studies analyze the reasons for Gandhi’s murder by a Hindu fanatic, while others deliberate on the formation of India after the assassination of the “Father of the Nation.” Koenraad 2016 provides insights into Nathuram Godse’s reasons for killing Gandhi. Paranjape 2014 is a comprehensive study of the effect of Gandhi in his death and postdeath India. Sardesai 2017 gives a glimpse into the mind of Gandhi’s assassin. The website by Bombay Savrodaya Mandal and the Gandhi Research Foundation, provides resources that display the impact of Gandhi’s death on the world, as evidenced by various newspaper articles of the time.

  • Douglass, James. Gandhi and the Unspeakable: His Final Experiment with Truth. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2012.

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    Through careful research, in three concise chapters, Douglass provides insight into the question of why Gandhi was killed. Consistent with the theme of his previous work focusing on John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Douglass argues that Gandhi’s assassination was also meant to extirpate his radical vision of reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims and nonviolence—a story that is relevant for modern times.

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  • Koenraad, Elst. The Man Who Killed Mahatma Gandhi: Understanding the Mind of a Murderer. New York: Edwin Mellen, 2016.

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    An account of Gandhi’s assassination at the hands of Godse, and Godse’s reasons for wanting Gandhi dead, and a detailed analysis of the sociopolitical situation in which the assassination occurred.

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  • Paranjape, Makarand. The Death and Afterlife of Mahatma Gandhi. New York: Routledge, 2014.

    DOI: 10.4324/9781315773742Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An account of Gandhi’s assassination and its repercussions for the nation of India. Also focuses on the last months of Gandhi’s life in Delhi.

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  • Payne, Robert. The Life and Death of Mahatma Gandhi: Leaders of Our Time. New Delhi: Rupa, 1997.

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    Comprehensive synopsis of the Mahatma’s life and spiritual teachings. Attention is placed on Gandhi’s friendships with and mentorship from the figures such as Gokhale and Shrimad Rajchandra.

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  • Sardesai, Anup. Nathuram Godse: The Hidden Untold Truth. Goa, India: Pegadas Criacao, 2017.

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    A study of the life and background of Godse that sheds light on his reasons for his assassination of Gandhi. Contends that the assassination of Gandhi was not motivated by Godse’s religious fanaticism, but his deep patriotism.

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  • Suhrud, Tridip, and Peter deSouza, eds. Speaking of Gandhi’s Death. Hyderabad, India: Orient Blackswan, 2010.

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    A short but important book of dialogues concerning Gandhi’s death, originally held at the Sabaramati Ashram in 2008, emphasizing the significance of Gandhi’s assassination and how it shaped the direction of independent India.

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Controversies and Constructive Programs: A Broad Overview

There has continued to be much critical analysis about Gandhi’s views on women, his sexual experiments, racial discrimination and issues related to the caste system, and religion. Gandhi’s constructive programs regarding economics, interfaith harmony, and politics, including swadeshi (reliance on local products), are receiving international attention. Kishwar 1985 provides insight into Gandhi’s unique contributions to the cause of women. Howard 2013 is a close analysis of Gandhi’s last experiment regarding the practice of celibacy involving his grandniece Manu. Juergensmeyer 2005 is an excellent resource that systematizes Gandhi’s strategies for conflict resolution.

  • Arunachalam, K. Gandhian Approach to Rural Development. Madurai, India: Sarvodaya Ilakkiya Pannai, 1981.

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    A collection of twelve essays addressing the role of construction workers, education, and economic development. Discusses the concept of sarvodaya and its relevance for Indian democracy.

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  • Cante, Freddy, and Wanda T. Torres, eds. Nonviolent Political Economy: Theory and Applications. Routledge Frontiers of Political Economy. New York: Routledge, 2019.

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    In the context of theoretical solutions to build a nonviolent economy, this volume draws on Gandhian solutions, among other schools of thought, to develop alternative economic structures based on various principles and actions, including nonviolence, disarmament, and small-scale production.

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  • Chatterji, Rakhahari. Gandhi and the Ali Brothers: Biography of a Friendship. Delhi: SAGE, 2013.

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    This book offers insight into Gandhi’s approach to Hindu-Muslim unity through a study of his close friendship with the Ali brothers. A historical analysis of the Khalifat movements, Gandhi’s efforts to bring Muslims to India’s politics, his relationship with the Ali brothers (Indian Muslim political leaders and activists), its subsequent breakdown, and its effect on India’s national politics.

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  • Desai, Ashwin, and Goolam Vahed. The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015.

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    A thoroughly researched book providing an ambiguous portrait of Gandhi, in that he desired to integrate Indians staying true to the British Empire while simultaneously excluding the native Africans from his political and moral principles.

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  • Gandhi, Rajmohan. Gandhi: The Man, His People, and the Empire. Oakland: University of California Press, 2008.

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    A biography of Gandhi by his grandson focuses on Gandhi’s campaigns against racial discrimination in South Africa and untouchability in India. Examines the evolution of Gandhi’s strategies of nonviolent resistance and Hindu-Muslim relations.

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  • Howard, Veena. “Rethinking Gandhi’s Celibacy: Ascetic Power and Women’s Empowerment.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 81.1 (2013): 130–161.

    DOI: 10.1093/jaarel/lfs103Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A detailed synopsis of the concept of brahmacharya (celibacy, roughly) as articulated and practiced by Gandhi. The article shows how this practice informed Gandhi’s moral, political, and social philosophies, and his nuanced relations with women.

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  • Juergensmeyer, Mark. Gandhi’s Way: A Handbook of Conflict Resolution. Oakland: University of California Press, 2005.

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    The author develops a creative strategy to solve daily conflicts by using Gandhi’s activist methods, drawing the reader directly into the discussion of Gandhi’s activism versus pacifism.

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  • Kishwar, Madhu. “Gandhi on Women.” Economic & Political Weekly 20.41 (1985): 1753–1758.

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    Analyzes Gandhi’s role in encouraging women’s participation in India’s freedom movement. Gandhi represents a crucial break from many reform movements of the 19th century, which tended to see women as passive recipients of more-humane treatment by men.

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  • Kolge, Nishikant. Gandhi against Caste: An Evolving Strategy to Abolish Caste System in India. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

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    Examines Gandhi’s understanding of the caste and varṇa system. Argues that in 1915, Gandhi had started talking about the positive aspects of the caste system and proclaimed his faith in it because the Hindu masses were not yet ready for radical reform.

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  • Kumar, Girja. Brahmacharya: Gandhi & His Women Associates. New Delhi: Vitasta, 2006.

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    An extensive analysis of Gandhi’s practice of brahmacharya, his intentions, and how they relate to the discipline of celibacy in Indian traditions. The book provides a catalogue of Gandhi’s women associates and the complexity of their relationships.

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  • Puspa, Joshi, ed. Gandhi on Women: Collection of Mahatma Gandhi’s Writings and Speeches on Women. Ahmedabad, India: Navajivan, 2002.

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    Culled from various writings and speeches, this book presents a thorough analysis of Gandhi’s often-complicated beliefs concerning women and their relationship to his philosophy of satyagraha, ahiṃsā, sarvodaya, etc.

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