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Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
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James K. Mathews is an American but also a life-long friend and admirer of India and of the Indian people. He first came to India in 1938 and lived there fore come than eight years. In addition it had been his practice for many years to visit India at least once a year. His travels have been taken him to every state save Orissa.
In 1940 he married Eunice Jones, daughter of the late Dr. E. Stanley Jones, himself also a life-long admirer and interpreter of India both to the West and to India. He too was a biographer of Gandhi in his book entitled, Gandhi, portrayal of a friends. Dr. Mathews is now a retried bishop of The United Mathodist Church. His service has been in New England and in Washington, D.C. where he and his wife now live. In addition and work have carried him to six continents. He is the author of seven books and many articles on wide variety of subjects.
In his volume Dr. Mathews shares the fruit of his Gandhian studies which have extended over many years. He claims to have read virtually everything that Gandhi wrote. The title The Matchless Weapon, comes from Gandhi's own phrase. The book argues that although the Gandhian method has many roots and many branches, the determinative "springs of action" come from Hinduism.
Given the situation in the world and in South Asia, this new impression of the study of Mahatma Gandhi By Bishop James Mathews is timely. But it is remembering that hit was researched before Indian independence, while James Mathews was serving in India as a Methodist missionary.
The author of this book and his wife Eunice the daughter of the famous E. Stanley Jones, knew Gandhi and sympathized with his struggle for Indian independence, for Hindu-Muslim friendship and for dignity for India's "untouchables". So did E. Stanley Jones, whose writings brought India and Gandhi close to Americans in the 1940s and the 1950s.
James and Eunice Mathews have never stopped in their tireless endeavour to strengthen the ties between the people of the U.S.A. and india, and in spotlighting the values they hold in common. But this study was not written for a cause, however worthy. It was an attempt to understand the roots of Gandhi's brought, and in particular to explore Gandhi's satyagraha.
That it contains important insights was confirmed when in 1932 the Gandhi Peace Foundation chose the book for a special award.
As violence heightens in the world and as spectacular hits in the name of Justice or in the fight against terrorism, win neither justice nor peace, the weapon of satyagraha, which refuses to hate even while refusing to yield to oppression, is surely as intriguing as it ever was.
With gladness and gratitude I welcome this new edition.
What possible justification is there for yet another study concerning Mahatma Gandhi? Sir Stanley Reed, long and editor of the Times Of India, has said that a greater literature has grown up around this remarkable man than any other figure of his generation. This is undoubtedly true. Jagdish Saran Sharma, of Delhi, presented in 1954 as a thesis for his doctorate at the University of Michigan a bibliography with three thousand three hundred seventy-six entries, cataloguing and annotating all literature published by and about Gandhi in ten European language alone up to that time. Yet it can scarcely be claimed that all of these have exhausted the subject. Many more document have been added to the above number.
The purpose of this present study, written originally as a doctoral dissertation for Columbia University, is to example the techniques Gandhi used during his public life in south Africa and India on a more or less wide social scale to achieve various ends. The particular reference will be to determine the extent to which these may be termed religious techniques.
In order to achieve the above-stated purpose a careful study had been made of Gandhi's own writings as well as a great deal that has been written about him and the prolific writer; for years a stream of articles issued from his pen. Her was also a public speaker. Many of his speeches have been set down. Devoted secretaries recorded his conversations with a constant flow of visitors. So the amount of material is indeed vast.
Much of this is not readily available Gandhi did not copyright everything he wrote, so that "compendiums" of his writings are common. These are often poorly edited and documented, and so are highly unreliable. Much material is scattered, literally all over the world. It long ago become the conviction of this writer that there needed to be a complete and carefully edited set of Gandhi's works. It was with pleasure that he learned in February 1956 that the Government of India was going to undertake just this monumental task. This plan has largely been fulfilled, but new material continues to surface.
Not all that he wrote or said was of great significance of course, for he often had to compose in haste and about some passing issue. He himself, was aware of this and once suggested that his writings be cremated with him! What he produced was not always originally in English but was immediately and faithfully translated.
The research for this writings was necessarily spread over several years[, for the writer was otherwise occupied with full-time responsibilities, fortunately in connection with india. The outline of treatment only very slowly emerged as did the principal conclusions. Though the treatment is not meat is arranged essentially in chronological order so that a reasonably full portrayal of Gandhiji's career is given.
It did seem important to start with a sketch of his early life for it was felt to be so basic with respect to the development of his techniques. This is followed by a presentation of some of the roots of his life and thought serving to illuminate what has gone before and preparatory to the further treatment to follow. In the succeeding chapter is described Gandhi's basic technique of Satyagraha, which he called the matchless weapon for a non-violent struggle.
The fourth chapter is a fuller consideration of the religious nature of Gandhi's techniques, especially of Satyagraha, the comprehensive term for his methods. It is felt that the most original and significant part of chapter touching on critique and evaluation of Gandhi's work brings the study to an end. Though the details of Gandhi's campaigns of direct action in South Africa and India and the constructive programme were carefully studied, it was finally decided not to include a full treatment of these in the body of this book.
It has become increasingly clear to the writer during his research that the determinative force in Gandhi's life and programme was Hinduism, Indeed, the degree to which this was true came as a surprise explicitly brought out in the final chapter. Though this may seem quite obvious, it is needed not so clear in the west and is felt to be an important corrective to prevailing views. It has too long been assumed that if Gandhi was not a Christian, at least Christianity or Westerners thought was dominant with him. Though he acknowledge his indebtedness to a number of Westerners, he would not have been flattered by being regarded either Western or Christian.
The writer lived in India for more than eight years and has visited once a year for decades. He met Gandhi only once, in 1940, when he was privileged to accompany the Mahatma for an hour's early morning walk and conversation. Be assured that that experience is a precious part of memory's storehouse. This pleasant recollection enables him the opportunity to testify to Gandhi's great kindness and personal charm. During the study, I have had the privilege visiting Sevagram, Gandhi's last ashram near Wardha India.
My travels have also taken me to South Africa where there was a memorable visit to the Phoenix Settlement now alas destroyed. It was a delight to have met on two occasions Gandhi's son Manilal. Other visits were made with the youngest son Devadas, in Delhi; with Pyarelal one of Gandhi's secretaries both now deceased; with Dr. Sushila Nayyar, Pyarelal's sister and physician to Gandhi; with the late Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, also a secretary but later India's Minister of Health in Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's cabinet. It was a fine experience to confer at length in London with H.S.L. polak a close friends and colleague of Mohandas Gandhi during the important South Africa years. Meetings were also afforded with Jawaharlal Nehru and more than once with Indira Gandhi. In more recent years I have privileged by friendship with Rajmohan Gandhi and Arun Gandhi, both grandsons of Gandhi. Mention too, must of my father-in-law, the late Dr. E. Stanley Jones, friends of India and friend of Gandhi; and his book entitled Gandhi. Portrayal of a friends. The weiter is indebted to these persons and many others who encouraged this study.
A number of books were obtained in India. It was difficult to secure Indian Opinion Gandhi's South African periodical. Part of it was obtained by microfilm from London. The rest was examined in the British Museum. Besides reading in New York libraries, much help was found in the library of Cambridge University and the valuable India Office Library in London.
It may be noted that young India edited by Gandhi, expect for prison from 1919 until the early 1930s is cited more frequently than is the later periodical, The Harijan. There are a number of reasons for this. For example he wrote more frequently and on a greater variety of subject during the earlier period. He was also more active and seemingly more fresh and creative. Latterly he seemed less inspired often prolix and was more fully concerned with the constructive programme, especially Harijan uplift. His ideas were for the most part set forth with more clarity and passion during the 1920s
Though not a devotee of Gandhi the writer's respect for him has greatly increased during the study. One can only hope that this effort will make Gandhi more readily understood and that injustice to him has not been done in his this interpretation of his methods.
I wish to thank Shri Rajmohan Gandhi for reading the proofs, preparing the Index and for being a constant source of help and inspiration.
|Preface to second edition||xiii|
|I||My Life is my Message||1|
|The influence of background and early life; as a student in London; A failure at home; a success abroad; what manner of man? Some personal qualities of character; Qualities of leadership|
|II||Some Roots of Gandhi's Life and Thought||31|
|Gandhi's view of religion; Gandhi and the Gita; Precursors of Gandhi; western influence; Influence of Thoreau; Influence of Ruskin; influence of Tolstoy; Hind Swaraj", summary|
|III||The Matchless Weapon Satyagraha||73|
|Gandhi's remedy Relationship of terms; how Satyagraha works; Techniques of Satyagraha; Techniques of purification; Techniques of direct action; Techniques of constructive activity|
|IV||Gandhi Ideas and Techniques as Religious||118|
|Religion and politics; Gandhi's sacramental usage; Satyagraha as "infallible", why is Satyagraha "nfallible?"|
|V||What Then Shall We Say?||153|