Ramachandra Guha on ‘Gandhi Before India’

Historians in the News
tags: India, Mahatma Gandhi

...Mr. Guha, who lives in Bangalore, spoke to India Real Time about the people who influenced Gandhi’s thinking while he was away from India, what being in the diaspora taught Gandhi about his homeland, and how Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are better Gandhians than many of India’s current politicians.

The Wall Street Journal: You’ve researched Gandhi throughout your career, was there anything you discovered while working for this book that was a revelation to you?

Ramachandra Guha: How formative [Gandhi’s] years in London and South Africa were, and how much he gained from these forgotten associates and collaborators. They are a fascinating cast of characters. There’s a couple — he was Jewish, she was Christian — they shared a household with the Gandhis in Johannesburg in 1905. It was truly revolutionary, an interracial household whose members befriended one another, influenced one another.

Then there was a Baptist minister. The established church was Anglican and they supported the racist regime, but the dissidents like the Baptists and the Methodists and the Wesleyans saw Gandhi’s struggle as a kind of born-again Christian kind of a struggle for justice.

So this kind of group of eccentrics and dissidents around him, including some Indians, shaped him and really made him Mahatma.

They have been written out of the scene.  We just focus on his Indian phase, we don’t really look at the two decades where he elaborated all his core ideas on interfaith harmony, ending caste discrimination, his philosophy of non-violence, all were forged then....

Read entire article at Wall Street Journal

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