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Words of Freedom Ideas of a Nation: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Words of Freedom Ideas of a Nation: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Description

A satyagrahi, whether free or incarcerated, is ever victorious. He is vanquished only when he forsakes truth and non-violence and turns a deaf ear to the inner voice

—MOHANDAS KARAMCHAND GANDHI

Abarrister by training, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi lived for over twenty years in South Africa and first employed his philosophy of satyagraha— non-violent passive resistance through mass civil disobedience—to fight the repressive legislative and executive measures of the South African authorities and claim political rights for the Indian community. Returning to India in 1915, Gandhi soon rose to the forefront of the nationalist politics and became the undisputed leader of the Indian National Congress and the struggle for independence. Gandhi spearheaded the nationwide non-cooperation movement and the adoption of swadeshi—self-reliance and the boycott of British-made goods—apart from stressing on non-violent satyagraha. He also undertook the famous Dandi march to personally break the salt law. In 1942, Gandhi announced the last call for Indian independence and, exhorting people to 'Do or Die', he launched the Quit India movement. His efforts came to fruition in 1947 with India's freedom from British rule but the celebration was marred by Partition, which Gandhi had opposed. Gandhi's views on the Partition of India and the events that took place thereafter drew criticism from extremist wings of Hindu and Muslim sectarian organizations. His perceived appeasement of Muslims led a young Hindu fanatic, Nathuram Godse, to assassinate Gandhi on 30 January 1948.

Even today, over sixty years after Gandhi's demise, his words remain relevant to our understanding of freedom and provide a portrait of a deeply principled and courageous man whose unwavering belief in ahimsa and the transformative quality of truth and whose abiding humanity has given him an unparalleled position in the annals of world history.

Introduction

A leader of his people, unsupported by any outward authority; a politician whose success rests not upon craft nor the mastery of technical devices, but simply on the convincing power of his personality; a victorious fighter who has always scorned the use of force; a man of wisdom and humility, armed with resolve and inflexible consistency, who has devoted all his strength to the uplifting of his people and the betterment of their lot; a man who has confronted the brutality of Europe with the dignity of the simple human being, and thus at all times risen superior.

—Albert Einstein

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 October 1869-30 January 1948), also called Mahatma (Great Soul) and Bapu, was the foremost political and spiritual leader of India's struggle for independence. A barrister by training, Gandhi accepted an offer from Dada Abdulla, an Indian businessman from Durban, to be his legal adviser. Gandhi lived for over twenty years in South Africa and it is this period that led to his political awakening. Confronted by the horrific racism faced by Indians in Natal, South Africa, Gandhi was moved to organize and lead the Indian community to agitate for its rights. Gandhi first employed his philosophy of satyagraha—non-violent passive resistance through mass civil disobedience—to fight the repressive legislative and executive measures of the South African authorities and claim political rights for the Indian community.

Returning to India in 1915, Gandhi's involvement in the Kheda and Champaran satyagrahas and in the dispute between mill workers and the management of textile mills in Ahmedabad established him as a major leader of the nationalist movement. Leading the opposition to the repressive Rowlatt Acts, he soon rose to the forefront of the nationalist politics and in 1921 became the president of the Indian National Congress.

Gandhi spearheaded the nationwide non-cooperation movement and the adoption of swadeshi—self-reliance and the boycott of British-made goods—apart from stressing on non-violent satyagraha. He also urged the boycott of educational institutions and law courts, returning of British titles and honours by the people upon whom they were conferred and mass resignations from government employment. Gandhi was arrested and tried for sedition on 10 March 1922. He was sentenced to six years imprisonment, though he ultimately served only two. His statement at the trial is considered a most scathing indictment of British rule in India.

In the Calcutta Congress of 1928, Gandhi initiated the resolution requesting the British government to grant dominion status to India or face a non-cooperation movement with purna swaraj, or complete independence, as its goal. On 31 December 1929, the flag of India was unfurled in Lahore and 26 January 1930 was celebrated as India's Independence Day by the INC. The salt satyagraha was launched soon after in March 1930 with Gandhi protesting against the tax on salt. Gandhi was joined by thousands as he undertook the famous Dandi march to personally break the salt law. Over 60,000 people were imprisoned by the British in response to the movement including Gandhi and most of the INC leadership. Subsequently Lord Irwin, the viceroy, and the British agreed to another Round Table Conference in London to negotiate the possibility of Indian independence. Although Gandhi attended the conference, it was ultimately unsuccessful and he spent the years following the conference on strengthening the cadres working for Indian independence and on addressing issues close to his heart like alleviating the plight of the Harijans or untouchables, integrating women into the freedom movement and promoting Hindu-Muslim unity.

In 1942, Gandhi announced the last call for Indian independence and asked every Indian to lay down their life, if necessary, for the cause of freedom. Exhorting people to 'Do or Die', he launched the Quit India movement for which he was imprisoned once again. As the movement to grant India independence gained momentum after the Second World War, the call for a separate country for Muslims, which Gandhi had always denounced, became a persistent demand and Hindu—Muslim unity that he had fought hard to preserve his whole life was disappearing. Declaring his moral opposition to the Partition of India, but giving his grudging support to the INC's decision, Gandhi dedicated himself to bringing succour and spreading peace in areas like Noakhali that had been ravaged by communal violence.

Gandhi's views on the Partition of India and the events that took place thereafter drew criticism from both fundamentalist Muslims and members of the Hindu Mahasabha. His perceived appeasement of Muslims led a young Hindu fanatic, Nathuram Godse, to assassinate Gandhi on 30 January 1948.

A prolific writer and master communicator, Gandhi wrote several books, including An Autobiography or My Experiments with Truth, Hind Swaraj and Satyagraha in South Africa and edited several newspapers for decades, including Harijan, Indian Opinion, in South Africa, and Young India. Even today, over sixty years after Gandhi's demise, his words remain relevant to our understanding of freedom. His correspondence, his statement at trial court, his provocative articles and speeches, all provide a portrait of a deeply principled and courageous man who spoke with an unparalleled moral force and believed that there were many causes worth dying for but none worth killing for. His unwavering belief in ahimsa, in the transformative quality of truth and his abiding humanity has created a special place for him in the annals of world history.

To celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the Indian Republic, the Words of Freedom series showcases the landmark speeches and writings of fourteen visionary leaders whose thought animated the Indian struggle for Independence and whose revolutionary ideas and actions forged the Republic of India as we know it today.

Contents

Introduction

ix

1. The Banaras Hindu University Speech

1

2. The Swadeshi Pledge

11

3. Non-cooperation and Self-sacrifice

21

4. Swaraj and Fearlessness

35

5. Tampering with Loyalty

43

6. A Puzzle and Its Solution

53

7. Shaking the Manes

61

8. Statement at Trial Court

69

9. Address to Congress Workers

75

10. On the Eve of the Dandi >March

79

11. Swaraj

87

12. I Give You a Mantra

95

13. Fearlessness Is Swaraj

103

14. Beyond Fear and Hatred

107

15. The Constitutent Assembly as Constructive Satyagraha

113

16. Independent India of My Dream

125

Words of Freedom Ideas of a Nation: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Item Code:
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Edition:
2010
Publisher:
Penguin Books India
ISBN:
9780143068860
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124
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A satyagrahi, whether free or incarcerated, is ever victorious. He is vanquished only when he forsakes truth and non-violence and turns a deaf ear to the inner voice

—MOHANDAS KARAMCHAND GANDHI

Abarrister by training, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi lived for over twenty years in South Africa and first employed his philosophy of satyagraha— non-violent passive resistance through mass civil disobedience—to fight the repressive legislative and executive measures of the South African authorities and claim political rights for the Indian community. Returning to India in 1915, Gandhi soon rose to the forefront of the nationalist politics and became the undisputed leader of the Indian National Congress and the struggle for independence. Gandhi spearheaded the nationwide non-cooperation movement and the adoption of swadeshi—self-reliance and the boycott of British-made goods—apart from stressing on non-violent satyagraha. He also undertook the famous Dandi march to personally break the salt law. In 1942, Gandhi announced the last call for Indian independence and, exhorting people to 'Do or Die', he launched the Quit India movement. His efforts came to fruition in 1947 with India's freedom from British rule but the celebration was marred by Partition, which Gandhi had opposed. Gandhi's views on the Partition of India and the events that took place thereafter drew criticism from extremist wings of Hindu and Muslim sectarian organizations. His perceived appeasement of Muslims led a young Hindu fanatic, Nathuram Godse, to assassinate Gandhi on 30 January 1948.

Even today, over sixty years after Gandhi's demise, his words remain relevant to our understanding of freedom and provide a portrait of a deeply principled and courageous man whose unwavering belief in ahimsa and the transformative quality of truth and whose abiding humanity has given him an unparalleled position in the annals of world history.

Introduction

A leader of his people, unsupported by any outward authority; a politician whose success rests not upon craft nor the mastery of technical devices, but simply on the convincing power of his personality; a victorious fighter who has always scorned the use of force; a man of wisdom and humility, armed with resolve and inflexible consistency, who has devoted all his strength to the uplifting of his people and the betterment of their lot; a man who has confronted the brutality of Europe with the dignity of the simple human being, and thus at all times risen superior.

—Albert Einstein

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 October 1869-30 January 1948), also called Mahatma (Great Soul) and Bapu, was the foremost political and spiritual leader of India's struggle for independence. A barrister by training, Gandhi accepted an offer from Dada Abdulla, an Indian businessman from Durban, to be his legal adviser. Gandhi lived for over twenty years in South Africa and it is this period that led to his political awakening. Confronted by the horrific racism faced by Indians in Natal, South Africa, Gandhi was moved to organize and lead the Indian community to agitate for its rights. Gandhi first employed his philosophy of satyagraha—non-violent passive resistance through mass civil disobedience—to fight the repressive legislative and executive measures of the South African authorities and claim political rights for the Indian community.

Returning to India in 1915, Gandhi's involvement in the Kheda and Champaran satyagrahas and in the dispute between mill workers and the management of textile mills in Ahmedabad established him as a major leader of the nationalist movement. Leading the opposition to the repressive Rowlatt Acts, he soon rose to the forefront of the nationalist politics and in 1921 became the president of the Indian National Congress.

Gandhi spearheaded the nationwide non-cooperation movement and the adoption of swadeshi—self-reliance and the boycott of British-made goods—apart from stressing on non-violent satyagraha. He also urged the boycott of educational institutions and law courts, returning of British titles and honours by the people upon whom they were conferred and mass resignations from government employment. Gandhi was arrested and tried for sedition on 10 March 1922. He was sentenced to six years imprisonment, though he ultimately served only two. His statement at the trial is considered a most scathing indictment of British rule in India.

In the Calcutta Congress of 1928, Gandhi initiated the resolution requesting the British government to grant dominion status to India or face a non-cooperation movement with purna swaraj, or complete independence, as its goal. On 31 December 1929, the flag of India was unfurled in Lahore and 26 January 1930 was celebrated as India's Independence Day by the INC. The salt satyagraha was launched soon after in March 1930 with Gandhi protesting against the tax on salt. Gandhi was joined by thousands as he undertook the famous Dandi march to personally break the salt law. Over 60,000 people were imprisoned by the British in response to the movement including Gandhi and most of the INC leadership. Subsequently Lord Irwin, the viceroy, and the British agreed to another Round Table Conference in London to negotiate the possibility of Indian independence. Although Gandhi attended the conference, it was ultimately unsuccessful and he spent the years following the conference on strengthening the cadres working for Indian independence and on addressing issues close to his heart like alleviating the plight of the Harijans or untouchables, integrating women into the freedom movement and promoting Hindu-Muslim unity.

In 1942, Gandhi announced the last call for Indian independence and asked every Indian to lay down their life, if necessary, for the cause of freedom. Exhorting people to 'Do or Die', he launched the Quit India movement for which he was imprisoned once again. As the movement to grant India independence gained momentum after the Second World War, the call for a separate country for Muslims, which Gandhi had always denounced, became a persistent demand and Hindu—Muslim unity that he had fought hard to preserve his whole life was disappearing. Declaring his moral opposition to the Partition of India, but giving his grudging support to the INC's decision, Gandhi dedicated himself to bringing succour and spreading peace in areas like Noakhali that had been ravaged by communal violence.

Gandhi's views on the Partition of India and the events that took place thereafter drew criticism from both fundamentalist Muslims and members of the Hindu Mahasabha. His perceived appeasement of Muslims led a young Hindu fanatic, Nathuram Godse, to assassinate Gandhi on 30 January 1948.

A prolific writer and master communicator, Gandhi wrote several books, including An Autobiography or My Experiments with Truth, Hind Swaraj and Satyagraha in South Africa and edited several newspapers for decades, including Harijan, Indian Opinion, in South Africa, and Young India. Even today, over sixty years after Gandhi's demise, his words remain relevant to our understanding of freedom. His correspondence, his statement at trial court, his provocative articles and speeches, all provide a portrait of a deeply principled and courageous man who spoke with an unparalleled moral force and believed that there were many causes worth dying for but none worth killing for. His unwavering belief in ahimsa, in the transformative quality of truth and his abiding humanity has created a special place for him in the annals of world history.

To celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the Indian Republic, the Words of Freedom series showcases the landmark speeches and writings of fourteen visionary leaders whose thought animated the Indian struggle for Independence and whose revolutionary ideas and actions forged the Republic of India as we know it today.

Contents

Introduction

ix

1. The Banaras Hindu University Speech

1

2. The Swadeshi Pledge

11

3. Non-cooperation and Self-sacrifice

21

4. Swaraj and Fearlessness

35

5. Tampering with Loyalty

43

6. A Puzzle and Its Solution

53

7. Shaking the Manes

61

8. Statement at Trial Court

69

9. Address to Congress Workers

75

10. On the Eve of the Dandi >March

79

11. Swaraj

87

12. I Give You a Mantra

95

13. Fearlessness Is Swaraj

103

14. Beyond Fear and Hatred

107

15. The Constitutent Assembly as Constructive Satyagraha

113

16. Independent India of My Dream

125

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