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Thoreau—Tolstoy—Gandhi: The Origin of Satyagraha

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Abstract

In South Africa, M. K. Gandhi recollected the Indian philosophy of Truth as root of all emancipation from slavery and war. When searching active nonviolent resisters in history, Gandhi highlighted the abolitionist Henry David Thoreau, author of the 1849 essay “Resistance to Civil Government”, later: “Civil Disobedience”. Gandhi referred to Thoreau’s essay first in September 1907 when he wrote about the “Duty of Disobeying Laws”. Gandhi searched for an equivalent for “passive resistance” in the Gujarati language (December 1907) after he had launched a prize-winning essay competition on “The Ethics of Passive Resistance” in his magazine “Indian Opinion”. Gandhi explicitly referred to Socrates’ “Apology”, Jesus’ triumph over retaliation, and particularly to Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” (1849) and Tolstoy’s “The Kingdom of God is Within You” (1893).

Keywords

  • Gandhi
  • Jesus Christ
  • Daniel
  • Socrates
  • La Boétie
  • Thoreau
  • Ruskin
  • Tolstoy
  • King
  • Ossietzky
  • Satyagraha
  • Truth
  • Civil disobedience
  • Passive resistance
  • Nonviolence
  • Ethics
  • Prahlad
  • Hind Swaraj
  • Doukhobors

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Correspondence to Christian Bartolf .

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Bartolf, C., Miething, D., Varatharajan, V. (2021). Thoreau—Tolstoy—Gandhi: The Origin of Satyagraha. In: Giri, A.K. (eds) Roots, Routes and a New Awakening. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-7122-0_8

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