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In 1888, at the age of eighteen, Mohandas Gandhi sets out from his modest home in India. Shy, timid, and soft-spoken, he embarks on what he believes will be a new life abroad. Twenty-seven years later, at the age of forty-five, he returns—this time fearless, impassioned, and ready to lead his country to freedom. What transformed him? The law. M. K. Gandhi, Attorney at Law is the first biography of the Mahatma’s early years as a lawyer. It follows Gandhi as he embarks on a personal journey of self-discovery: from his education in Britain, through the failure of his first law practice in India, to his eventual migration to South Africa. Though he found initial success representing wealthy Indian merchants, events on the ground would come to change him. Relentless attacks by the white colonial establishment on Indian civil rights prompted Gandhi to give up his lucrative business in favor of representing the oppressed in court. Gandhi had originally hoped that the South African legal system could be relied upon for justice. But when the courts failed to respond, he had no choice but to shift tactics, developing what would ultimately become his lasting legacy—the philosophy and practice of nonviolent civil disobedience. As he took on the most powerful governmental, economic, and political forces of his day, Gandhi transformed himself from a modest civil rights lawyer into a tireless freedom fighter. Relying on never-before-seen archival materials, this book provides the reader with a front-row seat to the dramatic events that would alter Gandhi—and history—forever.
At the age of eighteen, a shy and timid Mohandas Gandhi leaves his home in Gujarat for a life on his own. At forty-five, a confident and fearless Gandhi, ready to boldly lead his country to freedom, returns to India. What transforms him? The law. The Man before the Mahatma is the first biography of Gandhi’s life in the law. It follows Gandhi on his journey of self-discovery during his law studies in Britain, his law practice in India and his enormous success representing wealthy Indian merchants in South Africa, where relentless attacks on Indian rights by the white colonial authorities cause him to give up his lucrative representation of private clients for public work—the representation of the besieged Indian community in South Africa. As he takes on the most powerful governmental, economic and political forces of his day, he learns two things: that unifying his professional work with his political and moral principles not only provides him with satisfaction, it also creates in him a strong, powerful voice. Using the courtrooms of South Africa as his laboratory for resistance, Gandhi learns something else so important that it will eventually have a lasting and worldwide impact: a determined people can bring repressive governments to heel by the principled use of civil disobedience. Using materials hidden away in archival vaults and brought to light for the first time, The Man before the Mahatma puts the reader inside dramatic experiences that changed Gandhi’s life forever and have never been written about—until now.
Here is the first volume of a magisterial biography of Mohandas Gandhi that gives us the most illuminating portrait we have had of the life, the work and the historical context of one of the most abidingly influential—and controversial—men in modern history. Ramachandra Guha—hailed by Time as “Indian democracy’s preeminent chronicler”—takes us from Gandhi’s birth in 1869 through his upbringing in Gujarat, his two years as a student in London and his two decades as a lawyer and community organizer in South Africa. Guha has uncovered myriad previously untapped documents, including private papers of Gandhi’s contemporaries and co-workers; contemporary newspapers and court documents; the writings of Gandhi’s children; and secret files kept by British Empire functionaries. Using this wealth of material in an exuberant, brilliantly nuanced and detailed narrative, Guha describes the social, political and personal worlds inside of which Gandhi began the journey that would earn him the honorific Mahatma: “Great Soul.” And, more clearly than ever before, he elucidates how Gandhi’s work in South Africa—far from being a mere prelude to his accomplishments in India—was profoundly influential in his evolution as a family man, political thinker, social reformer and, ultimately, beloved leader. In 1893, when Gandhi set sail for South Africa, he was a twenty-three-year-old lawyer who had failed to establish himself in India. In this remarkable biography, the author makes clear the fundamental ways in which Gandhi’s ideas were shaped before his return to India in 1915. It was during his years in England and South Africa, Guha shows us, that Gandhi came to understand the nature of imperialism and racism; and in South Africa that he forged the philosophy and techniques that would undermine and eventually overthrow the British Raj. Gandhi Before India gives us equally vivid portraits of the man and the world he lived in: a world of sharp contrasts among the coastal culture of his birthplace, High Victorian London, and colonial South Africa. It explores in abundant detail Gandhi’s experiments with dissident cults such as the Tolstoyans; his friendships with radical Jews, heterodox Christians and devout Muslims; his enmities and rivalries; and his often overlooked failures as a husband and father. It tells the dramatic, profoundly moving story of how Gandhi inspired the devotion of thousands of followers in South Africa as he mobilized a cross-class and inter-religious coalition, pledged to non-violence in their battle against a brutally racist regime. Researched with unequaled depth and breadth, and written with extraordinary grace and clarity, Gandhi Before India is, on every level, fully commensurate with its subject. It will radically alter our understanding and appreciation of twentieth-century India’s greatest man. From the Hardcover edition.
An analysis of Gandhi's accomplishments as a politician and civil rights advocate reveals his conflicted ideologies and feelings about his place in history, offering insight into his philosophies, social campaigns, and private disappointments.
Notwithstanding his contributions to religion, nonviolence, civil rights, and civil disobedience, among other areas, Gandhi's most significant contribution is that as a political philosopher. While he is not often treated as such, Gandhi was, as Anthony J. Parel argues, a political philosopher sui generis, both in his philosophical method of constant self-criticism and his framework of philosophical analysis. Gandhi wrote daily on politics, but he did so as an activist; political philosophy was to him not just a way of understanding truths of political phenomena but was directly related to understanding those truths in action. If realized in action these truths would give rise to new political institutions, which in turn would create a corresponding peaceful political and social order. Parel dubs this order Pax Gandhiana. The main contention of Pax Gandhiana is that peace cannot be achieved by politics alone. Peace requires the confluence of the canonical ends of life: politics and economics (artha), ethics (dharma), forms of pleasure (kama), and the pursuit of spiritual transcendence (moksha). Modern political philosophy isolates politics from the other three ends, but Gandhi's originality, according to Parel, lies in the way that he brings all four together. In fact Gandhi's political philosophy is relevant not only to India but also to the rest of the world: it is a new type of sovereignty that harmonizes the interest of individual states with the community of states. Arguing against scholars who dispute a theoretical unity in Gandhi's writings, Parel suggests that Gandhi is the preeminent non-western political philosopher, and in this book he seeks to identify the conceptual framework of Gandhi's political philosophy, the Pax Gandhiana.
A portrait of the great Indian leader seeks to uncover the personal and spiritual qualities which shaped Gandhi's life and made him the charismatic leader of millions. Original.
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