Advertisement

Introduction

  • Manfred B. Steger

Abstract

In their pursuit of political goals, adherents of a philosophy of nonviolence face significant constraints on their choice of means to turn their ideals into reality. As illustrated throughout this book, this problem is particularly relevant for advocates of nonviolence such as Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869–1948), for whom the notion of ahimsa (not harming, nonviolence) represents not merely a political tactic or a prudent means toward an end, but a moral way of life grounded in a metaphysical-religious view about the nature of reality. Reading Indian traditions of nonviolence through a lens colored by his Western education, Gandhi considered ahimsa a mode of being and action consistent with a deeper ontological “truth” that points to the unity of all beings. Adding a Christian-Tolstoyian notion of “active love” to his understanding of nonviolence, Gandhi departed significantly from orthodox Hindu interpretations: “Belief in nonviolence is based on the assumption that human nature in its essence is one and therefore unfailingly responds to the advance of love/’3 Consequently, he identified two basic expressions of nonviolence: “In its negative form, it [nonviolence] means not injuring any living being, whether by body or mind. I may not therefore hurt the person of a wrong-doer, or bear any ill will to him and so cause him mental suffering. … In its positive form, ahimsa means the largest love, the greatest charity.”4

Keywords

Moral Vision Civil Disobedience Political Idea National Liberation Mental Suffering 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Jawaharlal Nehru cited in K. P. Karunakaran, “Gandhi and the Nation-Building in India,” Gandhi Marg 2.5 (1980), p. 264.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Octavio Paz, In Light of India (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1997), p. 113.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    For an insightful discussion of Gandhi’s perspective on nonviolence, see Bhikhu Parekh, Colonalism, Tradition and Reform: An Analysis of Gandhi’s Political Discourse (New Delhi: Sage, 1989), pp. 107–38.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    See Dennis Dalton, Mahatma Gandhi: Nonviolent Power in Action (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), p. 42.Google Scholar
  5. For a discussion of Gandhi’s emphasis on nonviolent speech, see Robert A. Bode, “Gandhi’s Theory of Nonviolent Communication,” Gandhi Marg 16.1 (1994), pp. 5–30.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Joan V. Bondurant, Conquest of Violence. The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict, rev. ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), p. 25.Google Scholar
  7. See also J.T.F. Jordens, Gandhi’s Religion: A Homespun Shawl (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998), pp. 226, 253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. See Ronald Terchek, Gandhi: Struggling for Autonomy (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Little-field, 1998), p. 183.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    See Galtung, “Cultural Violence,” in Manfred B. Steger and Nancy S. Lind, eds., Violence and Its Alternatives: An Interdisciplinary Reader (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999), p. 51.Google Scholar
  10. For Gandhi’s claim that nonviolence was morally right in general, see William Borman, Gandhi and Non-Violence (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1986), pp. 120–4.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    Max Weber, “The Profession and Vocation of Politics,” in Peter Lassman and Ronald Speirs, eds., Max Weber: Political Writings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 359–61.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    See, for example, Peter Gay, The Dilemma of Democratic Socialism: Eduard Bernstein’s Challenge to Marx (New York: Columbia University Press, 1952);Google Scholar
  13. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition: A Study on the Central Dilemmas Facing Modern Man. 2nd ed. (New York: Doubleday, 1959);Google Scholar
  14. Michael Walzer, The Company of Critics: Social Criticism and Political Commitment in the Twentieth-Century (New York: Basic Books, 1988);Google Scholar
  15. Bernard Yack, The Longing for the Total Revolution: Philosophic Sources of Social Discontent from Rousseau to Marx and Nietzsche (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992);Google Scholar
  16. John Keane, Reflections on Violence (London: Verso, 1996);Google Scholar
  17. and Steven Eric Bronner, Ideas in Action: Political Tradition in the Twentieth Century (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1999).Google Scholar
  18. 14.
    See, for example, Peter Brock, The Mahatma and Mother India: Essays on Gandhi’s Non-Violence and Nationalism (Ahmedabad: Navajivan, 1983).Google Scholar
  19. However, I found only four studies that offer analytically more rewarding, but still limited, discussions of the relationship between his nationalism and his philosophy of nonviolence: Francis G. Hutchins, India’s Revolution: Gandhi and the Quit India Movement (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973);Google Scholar
  20. Partha Chat-terjee, “The Moment of Manoeuvre: Gandhi and the Critique of Civil Society,” in Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse? (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), pp. 85–130;Google Scholar
  21. Another brief but very useful exploration of the theme can be found in Anthony J. Parel, “Gandhi’s Idea of Nation in Hind Swaraj,” Gandhi Marg 13.3 (October–November 1991), pp. 261–81.Google Scholar
  22. 15.
    See, for example, Yogesh Chadha, Gandhi: A Life (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1997);Google Scholar
  23. Martin Green, Gandhi: Voice of a New Age Revolution (New York: Continuum, 1993);Google Scholar
  24. Judith M. Brown, Gandhi: Prisoner of Hope (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989);Google Scholar
  25. Robert Payne, The Life and Death of Mahatma Gandhi (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1969);Google Scholar
  26. Geoffrey Ashe, Gandhi (New York: Stein and Day, 1968);Google Scholar
  27. D. G.Tendulkar, Mahatma 8 vols. (Delhi: Government of India Publications Division, 1960);Google Scholar
  28. B. R. Nanda, Mahatma Gandhi (George Allen & Unwin, 1958);Google Scholar
  29. Louis Fischer, The Life of Mahatma Gandhi (New York: Harper, 1950).Google Scholar
  30. 19.
    See Bhikhu Parekh, Gandhi (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 48;Google Scholar
  31. and Raghavan Iyer, The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi, 2nd ed. (London: Concord Grove Press, 1983), pp. 40–3.Google Scholar
  32. 20.
    Bhikhu Parekh, Gandhi’s Political Philosophy: A Critical Examination (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1989), and Colonialism, Tradition and Reform; and Bondurant, Conquest of Violence.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 21.
    C.A.J. Coady, “The Idea ofViolence,” Journal of Applied Philosophy 3.1 (1986), p. 3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 22.
    See Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, ed. Garrett Barden and John Cumming, (New York: Seabury Press, 1975).Google Scholar
  35. 23.
    See also Terence Ball, Reappraising Political Theory: Revisionist Studies in the History of Political Thought (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), pp. 31–2.Google Scholar
  36. 24.
    See Jean Grondin, Introduction to Philosophical Hermeneutics (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994), p. 18.Google Scholar
  37. 26.
    Bruce Haddock, “State and Nation in Mazzini s Political Thought,” History of Political Thought 20.2 (Summer 1999), p. 313.Google Scholar
  38. 27.
    This question stands at the center of two recent studies on violence and nationalism: Regina M. Schwartz, The Curse of Cain: The Violent Legacy of Monotheism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997);Google Scholar
  39. and Sudhir Kakar, The Color of Violence (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  40. 28.
    Bhikhu Parekh, “Ethnocentricity of the nationalist discourse,” Nations and Nationalism 1.1 (1995), pp. 39–41;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ashis Nandy, The Illegitimacy of Nationalism: Rabindranath Tagore and the Politics of Self (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 3;Google Scholar
  42. Mool Chand, Nationalism and Internationalism of Gandhi, Nehru and Tagore (New Delhi: M. N. Publishers, 1989), pp. 91–124;Google Scholar
  43. and Nirmal Kumar Bose, Lectures on Gandhism (Ahmedabad: Navajivan, 1971), pp. 86–8.Google Scholar
  44. 31.
    For a discussion of the Tagore-Gandhi controversy, see Krishna Dutta and Andrew Robinson, Rabindranath Tagore. The Myriad-Minded Man (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995), pp. 260–65;Google Scholar
  45. Sibnarayan Ray, “Tagore-Gandhi Controversy,” in Sibnarayan Ray, ed., Gandhi India and the World, (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1970), pp. 119–141;Google Scholar
  46. and Ajai Singh and Shakuntala Singh, “The Tagore-Gandhi Controversy Revisited,” Indian Philosophical Quarterly 19.4 (October 1992), pp. 265–82.Google Scholar
  47. 33.
    Romain Rolland, Mahatma Gandhi. A Study in Indian Nationalism (Madras: S. Ganesan, 1923), p. 98.Google Scholar
  48. 34.
    Ainslee T. Embree, “Gandhi’s Role in Shaping an Indian Identity,” in Mark Juer-gensmeyer, ed., Imagining India: Essays in Indian History (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1989), p. 172.Google Scholar
  49. For a similar assessment, see Susanne Hoeber Rudolph and Lloyd I. Rudolph, Gandhi:The Traditional Roots of Charisma (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), pp. 64–5;Google Scholar
  50. 35.
    See Maurice R. O’Connell, Daniel O’Connell: The Man and His Politics (Dublin: Irish Academy Press, 1990), pp. 64–88;Google Scholar
  51. and Raymond Moley, Daniel O’Connell. Nationalism Without Violence (New York: Fordham University Press, 1974), pp. 187–92,211–36.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Manfred B. Steger 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manfred B. Steger

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations