Gnostic Books. Com

An Autobiography : The Story of My Experiments With Truth by Mahadev Desai (Translator), Mahatma Ghandi, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Sissela Bok Gandhi's nonviolent struggles in South Africa and India had already brought him to such a level of notoriety, adulation, and controversy that when asked to write an autobiography midway through his career, he took it as an opportunity to explain himself. Although accepting of his status as a great innovator in the struggle against racism, violence, and, just then, colonialism, Gandhi feared that enthusiasm for his ideas tended to exceed deeper understanding. He says that he was after truth rooted in devotion to God and attributed the turning points, successes, and challenges in his life to the will of God. His attempts to get closer to this divine power led him to seek purity through simple living, dietary practices (he called himself fruitarian), celibacy, and ahimsa, a life without violence.

Gandhi on Non-Violence by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Thomas Merton (Editor)

In this book, Merton has selected the basic statements of principle and interpretation which make up Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence (AHIMSA) and non-violent action (SATYAGRAHA). The Gandhi text follows that established by the Navaijivan Trust with sections dealing with "Principles of non-violence", "Non-violence, true and false", "Spiritual dimensions of non-violence". "The political scope of non-violence", and "The purity of non-violence".

Gandhi : A Life by Yogesh Chadha If we think about those people of the 20th century whose influence will reach far beyond their lifetimes, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi should be near the top of the list. A shy schoolboy, a foreign law student, an indifferent barrister, Gandhi's firsthand experience with racist degradation in South Africa transformed him into a political powerhouse that would shake the British empire to its foundations. His program of Satyagraha, or nonviolent civil disobedience, would also provide the blueprint for similar peaceful rebellions across the globe. Yogesh Chadha retells the story of Gandhi's life with a reverence tempered by the realities of a complex man. Chadha consciously sets aside intricate detail on behalf of the larger narrative, which turns out to be not only compelling but sometimes breathless reading. And in the sweep of the drama, the essence of Gandhi crystallizes--a man of political force, yes, but even more a man of unshakable religious conviction, a man whose ultimate struggle was to "see God face to face." --Brian Bruya

The Washington Post Book World Chadha uncovers what Louis Fischer and Judith M. Brown to take two of the major Western biographers missed in their seemingly thorough works...Gandhi: A Life has other offerings not found in conventional biographies. Gandhi scholarship will be well served by Chadha's effort."

Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict
by Joan Valerie Bondurant

"If I were asked to recommend two books to introduce the American reader to Gandhi's political thought and activity, I would suggest his Autobiography and Conquest of Violence." --D. Mackenzie Brown, Journal of Asian Studies "Conquest of Violence has two merits: first, it gives us the clearest and most powerful statement to date of the central ideas in Gandhi's political thought; second, it forces us to consider these ideas not as a historical or cultural curiosity but as a challenge to the main body of Western political philosophy." --W. H. Morris-Jones, Pacific Affairs When Mahatma Gandhi died in 1948 by an assassin's bullet, the most potent legacy he left to the world was the technique of satyagraha (literally, holding on to the Truth). His "experiments with Truth" were far from complete at the time of his death, but he had developed a new technique for effecting social and political change through the constructive conduct of conflict...

Gandhi (1982) DVD
Sir Richard Attenborough's 1982 multiple-Oscar winner (including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Ben Kingsley) is an engrossing, reverential look at the life of Mohandas K. Gandhi, who introduced the doctrine of nonviolent resistance to the colonized people of India and who ultimately gained the nation its independence. Kingsley is magnificent as Gandhi as he changes over the course of the three-hour film from an insignificant lawyer to an international leader and symbol. Strong on history (the historic division between India and Pakistan, still a huge problem today, can be seen in its formative stages here) as well as character and ideas, this is a fine film. --Tom Keogh

The Gospel of Selfless Action: Or the Gita According to Gandhi
by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Mahadev H. Desai

This collection is Mahadev Desai's English rendering of the Mahatma Gandhi's Gujurati text of the Bhagavad Gita. Only the Gita passages themselves and Gandhi's sparse, elegant comments are included. Here, Gandhi fully explains his approach to the Gita.

Who's Mahatma Gandhi?

Peace will not come out of a clash of arms but out of justice lived and done by unarmed nations in the face of odds.

Democracy and violence can ill go together. Evolution of democracy is not possible if we are not prepared to hear the other side.

A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.

Hatred ever kills, love never dies; such is the vast difference between the two. What is obtained by love is retained for all time. What is obtained by hatred proves a burden in reality for it increases hatred.

Non-cooperation with evil is a sacred duty.

You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees.An evil system never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil. A good person will resist an evil system with his or her whole soul.

Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man

It may be long before the law of love will be recognized in international affairs. The machinery's of government stand between and hide the hearts of one people from those of another.

To forgive is not to forget. The merit lies in loving in spite of the vivid knowledge that the one that must be loved is not a friend.

What kind of victory is it when someone is left defeated?

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

Whether humanity will consciously follow the law of love, I do not know. But that need not disturb me. The law will work just as the law of gravitation works, whether we accept it or not. The person who discovered the law of love was a far greater scientist than any of our modern scientists. Only our explorations have not gone far enough and so it is not possible for everyone to see all its workings.

Violent means will give violent freedom.

Nonviolence and cowardice are contradictory terms.

Nonviolence is the greatest virtue, cowardice the greatest vice. Nonviolence springs from love, cowardice from hate. Nonviolence always suffers, cowardice would always inflict suffering. Perfect nonviolence is the highest bravery. Nonviolent conduct is never demoralizing, cowardice always is.

Destruction is not the law of humans. Man lives freely only by his readiness to die, if need be, at the hands of his brother, never by killing him. Every murder or other injury, no matter for what cause, committed or inflicted on another is a crime against humanity.

Man's nature is not essentially evil. Brute nature has been known to yield to the influence of love. You must never despair of human nature.

Nonviolence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being.

It is good to see ourselves as others see us. Try as we may, we are never able to know ourselves fully as we are, especially the evil side of us. This we can do only if we are not angry with our critics but will take in good heart whatever they might have to say.

It is the law of love that rules mankind. Had violence, i.e. hate, ruled us we should have become extinct long ago. And yet, the tragedy of it is that the so-called civilized men and nations conduct themselves as if the basis of society was violence.

Gandhi was once asked what he thought about western civilization. His response was: "I think it would be a good idea."

Mohandas Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, Gujarat, India. He was the son of a Karamchand Gandhi, the dewan (Chief Minister) of Porbander, and Putliba, Karamchand's fourth wife. They were descendents of traders (The word "Gandhi" means grocer). At the age of 13 Gandhi married Kasturbai, who was of his same age. They had four children, all sons: Harilal Gandhi born in 1888, Manilal Gandhi born in 1892, Ramdas Gandhi born in 1897 and Devdas Gandhi born in 1900.

At the age of 19, Gandhi went to University College, in the University of London to train as a lawyer. He went to Durban, South Africa to practice law in 1893 and began his political career by lobbying against laws discriminating against Indians in South Africa, inspired by an incident in which he was physically thrown off a train in Pietermaritzburg, after refusing to move to the third class coach, while travelling on a first class ticket. Gandhi was arrested on November 6, 1913 while leading a march of Indian miners in South Africa.

Gandhi drew inspiration from the Bhagavad Gita and the writings of Leo Tolstoy, who in the 1880s had undergone a profound conversion to a personal form of Christian anarchism. Gandhi translated Tolstoy's "Letter to a Hindu" which was written in 1908 in response to aggressive Indian nationalists, and the two corresponded until Tolstoy's death in 1910. The letter by Tolstoy uses Hindu philosophy taken from the Vedas and sayings of the Hindu God Lord Krishna to present his view of that state of growing Indian nationalism.

During World War I, Gandhi returned to India, where he campaigned for Indians to join the British Indian Army.

Movement for Indian independence

After the war, he became involved with the Indian National Congress and the movement for independence. He gained worldwide publicity through his policy of civil disobedience and the use of fasting as a form of protest, and was repeatedly imprisoned by the British authorities (for example on March 18, 1922 he was sentenced to six years in prison for civil disobedience but served only 2 years).

Gandhi's other successful strategies for the independence movement included swadeshi policy - the boycott of foreign-made goods, especially British goods. Linked to this was his advocacy that all Indians should wear khadi - homespun cloth, instead of relying on British-made textiles. Gandhi advocated that Indian women, rich or poor, should spend time each day spinning khadi in support of the independence movement. This was a strategy to include women in the independence movement at a time when many thought that such activities were not 'respectable' for women to engage in.

His pro-independence stance hardened after the Amritsar Massacre in 1920.

One of his most striking actions was the salt march known as the Dandi March, that started on March 12, 1930 and ended on April 5, when he led thousands of people to the sea to collect their own salt rather than pay the salt tax. On May 8, 1933 Gandhi began a fast that would last 21 days to protest British 'oppression' in India. In Bombay, on March 3, 1939 Gandhi fasted again in protest of the autocratic rule in India.

World War II

Gandhi became even more vocal in his demand for independence during World War II, drafting a resolution calling for the British to Quit India, which soon sparked the largest movement for Indian independence ever, with mass arrests and violence on an unprecedented scale. Gandhi and his supporters made clear that they would not support the war effort unless India was granted immediate independence. During this time, he even hinted an end for his otherwise unwavering support of non-violence, saying that the 'ordered anarchy' around him was 'worse than real anarchy'. He was then arrested in Bombay by British forces on August 9, 1942 and was held for two years.

Partition of India and Assassination

Gandhi had great influence among the Hindu and Muslim communities of India. It is said that he ended communal riots through his mere presence. Gandhi was vehemently opposed to any plan which partitioned India into two separate countries (the plan was eventually adopted, creating a Hindu-dominated India, and a Muslim-dominated Pakistan). On the day of the power transfer, Gandhi did not celebrate independence with the rest of India, but mourned partition alone in Calcutta instead. He was assassinated in New Delhi on January 30, 1948 by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu radical who held him responsible for weakening the new government by insisting on a payment to Pakistan. Godse was later tried, convicted, and executed.

It is indicative of Gandhi's long struggle and search for God that his dying words were a popular two-word mantra to the Hindu conception of God as Rama: "Hai Ram!" It is seen as an inspiring signal of his spirituality as well as his idealism regarding the possibility of unificatory peace. While there are some who are skeptical about this, the vast majority of evidence and witnesses, as well as popular opinion, support this utterance as truly having occurred.


Gandhi's philosophies and his ideas of satya and ahinsa had been influenced by the Bhagavad Gita and Hindu beliefs as well as practiced Jain religion. The concept of 'nonviolence' (ahimsa) was a long-standing one in Indian religious thought and saw many revivals with Hindu, Buddhist and Jain contexts. Gandhi explains his philosophy and way of life in his autobiography The Story of my Experiments with Truth.

He was a strict vegetarian and had written books on the subject while studying law in London (where he met vegetarian campaigner Henry Salt at meetings of the Vegetarian Society). It might be added that the idea of vegetarianism was a deeply ingrained one in Hindu and Jain society in India, and that in his native land of Gujarat most Hindus were vegetarian. He experimented with different diets and believed that a diet should be enough to satisfy the minimum requirements of the body. He also abstained from taking food for periods of time, and he used this practice of fasting also as a political weapon.

Gandhi gave up sexual intercourse at the age of 36 and became totally celibate while still married, a course deeply influenced by the Hindu idea of brahmacharya, or spiritual and practical purity, largely associated with celibacy.

Gandhi spent a day of the week in silence. He would abstain from speaking and he believed it brought him inner peace. These were drawn from such Hindu understandings of the power of 'mouna' and 'shanti'. On such days he communicated with others by writing on paper.

After returning to India from a successful lawyer career in South Africa, he gave up his clothing that represented wealth and success. His idea was to adopt a kind of clothing whereby he can be accepted by even the poorest person in India. He advocated use of home-spun cloth (khadi). Gandhi and his followers followed the practice of weaving their own cloth using a spinning-wheel and wearing a dress made of that. He also advocated others use spinning wheels to spin clothes. This was a threat to the British establishment - while Indian workers were often idle due to unemployment, they bought their clothing from foreign English industrial manufacturers - if Indians spun their own clothes, this would leave British industry idle. The spinning wheel was later incorporated into the flag of the Indian National Congress.

Gandhi was against conventional education as taught in schools and believed that children learn best from parents and from the society. While in South Africa, Gandhi along with other elders formed a group of teachers and directly imparted education to the children.

Artistic depictions

The most famous artistic depiction of his life is the film Gandhi, directed by Richard Attenborough and starring Ben Kingsley (interestingly half-Gujarati) in the title role. Another film that deals with Gandhi's 21 years of life in South Africa is The Making of the Mahatma directed by Shyam Benegal and starring Rajit Kapur.

In the United States, there are statues of Gandhi outside the Ferry Building in San Francisco, in Union Square Park in New York City and near the Indian Embassy in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC.

Nobel Peace Prize nominations

M.K.Gandhi never received the Nobel Peace Prize, though he was nominated five times for the same between 1937 and 1948. Decades later however, the omission was publicly regretted by the Nobel Committee. When the Dalai Lama was awarded the Peace Prize in 1989, the chairman of the committee said that this was "in part a tribute to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi".

The official Nobel e-museum has an article discussing the issue. (

Throughout his lifetime, Gandhi's activities attracted a wide range of comment and opinion. For example, as a subject of the British Empire, Winston Churchill once referred to Gandhi as a "brown fakir." Conversely, Albert Einstein said of Gandhi, "Generations to come, it may be, will scarcely believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth."



Page List | Home Page & Search For