In Search of Gandhi..

Dr. Rubel Mittal

Several hundred books across India and the world came as a part of the exercise to understand Gandhi. Bringing uniqueness to the reading of him is to develop the way of converting Gandhi into some sort of school of thought that varies with concepts, ideologies, and ambivalences. Still, there is a scant possibility that you could get him right, as the chances of getting him wrong are high on cards. (Bilgrami,2006) 

Gandhi is not new in any way. Still, we know next to nothing about many of the preferential commitments and ideologies that would reflect the source of his standpoint. Although, we know much of the influence that had engineered Gandhi’s portrayal and his vision of life and thought. Gandhi himself wrote about the influences which he had, in the writing about his journey. But his interpersonal experiences and instinct had derived him to develop much of the practical idealism that could validate his inner feelings and thought system. 

In South Africa, only Gandhi came to realize that Satyagraha is none other than the search for truth. But the truth that he wanted to conceptualize, does not define and created within the process of the physical aspect of social being. Rather, it evolved straight from the inner conflict of inner beings that are best equipped.

 For Gandhi, the epistemological conflict between mind and heart has more appropriation of knowledge than many of the extraneous presence outside of this juncture. And this must be self-explored.

The problem I am posing is self-exploration. That of course did not come as an obvious disciplinary passion in anyone. Nor do we expect anyone to inherit it since birth. And Gandhi would have embraced the path of the course to his acknowledging with self and his soul with the learning of every significant thing that would help him to surrender his falsity and violence in all its form. 

Central to his learning were many interferences, that served as a synergist for refining his thoughts and ability to extract from the surrounding. In fact, one may ask how much Gandhi imbibed from the books, and how much extent he dwelled on the texts and writing to find coherence of his literal thoughts that were already in processing within the meanest of the reality of his environment. (Basham, 1971) 

Indeed, the practice of the religious doctrines was something that Gandhi did reinvent for himself. His general understanding of any text did not evade any of the guardianship of morality and ethics. To a large extent, he explained and reinterpreted his idea of religious pedagogy with the structured sphere of his comprehension and utilitarian variant. 

Bhikhu  Parekh embodied this inclination of Gandhi by stating that Gandhi, through his creative reflection, created his own form of Hinduism, that could enough coincide with his values ​​and practices. (Parekh, 1997)

The mere number of books that Gandhi specified indeed served as a basis of his making of distinctive extension of realism that laid on his pragmatic specification of ideas and experiences. But the original superiority of the actions was the product of Gandhi’s own ambivalence of complex form of allegiance towards morality and ethics.

This combination of transcendental boundaries of reading and experiencing the moral conclusions concretely “manufactured Gandhi’s emergence in the world of excelling boundaries where the world was trying to transform to a pacific ideal after reaching the marginalization of humanity in the post-first World War. Gandhi in his preface to Hind  Swaraj reaffirmed his depiction of inducting the ideas from the texts but giving greater authenticity to his assemblage of ideas within the practical sense of the subject, he attributed the persistence of indigeneity in the thought system of himself. 

He wrote 

“Whilst the views expressed in ‘Hind Swaraj’ are held by me, I have but endeavoured humbly to follow Tolstoy, Ruskin, Thoreau, Emerson and other writers, besides the masters of Indian philosophy. (Gandhi 1997:6)”

This might be the very conflicting pattern of description where the internal duel did not absolutely evolve with any coherent guide of possibilities that would have framed Gandhi’s idea of virtues in political and personal life. By contrast, Gandhi himself projected the idea of ambivalence that could be located within the serious study of his influences into the big ocean of much deeper surfaces. It has to be delved deeper to read the impacts on Gandhi without any assumptions of prior prejudices about him.

While considering the powerful and concrete logical methodological text, which would have structured the phenomenology of truth and ahimsa, Gandhi found not only one text and tradition to functionalize accordingly with his ideals. The praxis which he developed came or evolved with the parallel discourse of theory and practice which involved multiple ways of observing the world and self. Gandhi knew this. And this had to motivate him to make an empiricist paradigm for himself, where he could have judiciously incorporated the doubtful advantage of his own position for being a not spiritual and learned benefactor. 

Gandhi took advantage of his position, where he would have been seen outside of any prejudicial grown-up environment of Indian society owing to his 21 years long residential period in South Africa. 

He surely understood the inherent importance associated with this interpretative view about him. Taking the advantage of this naive position in Indian society where he would be seen not as any linage of reformer or revolutionary, he did establish himself as a successful activist who had changed the lives of impoverished people in South Africa. In his very early days in India, his many picture and stories of miracle creating persona spread from one to another where people had manufactured their own picture of Gandhi, who was very capable to furnish them the solution of their difficulties while acknowledging their considerable pity and agony. (Sarkar, 1984)

In response to the dilemmas which he met both in South Africa and India, he knew it beforehand that most of the difficulties were due to the ruptured image of self of both in the power and those who became the subject of it.

For Gandhi, this broken self of the oppressed, as well as oppressors, were to be mended by realizing their most eminent apex of human gentleness. And once this so much negatively universalized unreachable ideal would be reached, no one would consider their self more prominent than others.

For me, and others this confrontation of the spiritual energies with the heteronomous society of our living produces the idea of utopia where the critical and reasoned sense would have to be subverted before the affirmation of philosophizing things in a theological manner. But for Gandhi, this reciprocalisation was not limited to any kind of divinity that counter any kind of reasoning. For him, the highest form of spiritualizing things in the daily lives was to organize the ideal of spirituality within the consciousness of every human, where every man would have been arbiter the full master of himself. 

According to him, this master would not have been the manifestation of any autonomy. In fact, it would be characteristics of the transformative aspect of mankind where both the two communicative actors would have better known the position of others as both have contextualized nature in a reflexive manner. For him, this would not accomplish from plainly knowing the text and solely cramming it, it would be developed with the rationality that could arise with eliminating the hierarchy among men and his society. And by raising, and exemplifying the stature of a human being that could do anything but not conceiving harm to another.


  • Akeel Bilgrami, ‘Gandhi’s Integrity :The Philosophy behind the Politics’, Postcolonial Studies, Vol.5(1),2002, pp.79-93.
  • A.L.Basham. ‘Traditional Influences on the Thought of Mahatma Gandhi’, in Ravindra Kumar (ed.), Essays on Gandhian Politics: The Rowlatt Satyagraha of 1919, Oxford: Clarendon Press,1971, pp.17-42.
  • Bhikhu Parekh, Gandhi: A very short Introduction (New York: Oxford University Press,1997)
  •  Gandhi, M.K., Hind Swaraj and Other Writings, Anthony J.Parel ed.,(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1997)
  • Sumit Sarkar, Modern India 1885-1947(New Delhi: MacMillan India Limited,1984)

Dr. Rubel Mittal is an independent researcher, focussing on Gandhi and his philosophy. She received her PhD from Centre for West Asian Studies, the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi