Gandhi Before India by Ramachandra Guha: A Biography of the Young Mahatma
Gandhi Before India is a 2013 book by the Indian historian Ramachandra Guha, the first part of a planned two-volume biography of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The book deals with Gandhi's life up to his return to India following a 21-year period as a lawyer and civil-rights activist in South Africa.
The book explores how Gandhi's experiences in South Africa shaped his political and moral views, his methods of nonviolent resistance, and his vision for India's independence. Guha draws on a wealth of sources, including Gandhi's own writings, letters, speeches, and newspaper articles, as well as memoirs and testimonies of his contemporaries and associates.
The book reveals Gandhi's struggles and achievements as a young man who faced racial discrimination, cultural alienation, religious diversity, and political oppression. It also shows how Gandhi developed his ideas on truth, nonviolence, self-reliance, civil disobedience, and social justice. The book portrays Gandhi as a complex and contradictory figure, who was influenced by various traditions and movements, such as Hinduism, Jainism, Christianity, Theosophy, Tolstoyism, and Fabian socialism.
Gandhi Before India is a comprehensive and engaging biography of one of the most influential and inspiring leaders of the 20th century. It is also a fascinating account of the history and politics of South Africa and India at the turn of the century. The book has received critical acclaim from reviewers and scholars, who have praised Guha's research, writing, and insight.Some of the major themes that Guha explores in his book are:
The formation of Gandhi's identity as an Indian and a Hindu in a multicultural and multireligious context.
The evolution of Gandhi's political philosophy and strategy of nonviolent resistance, influenced by various sources such as Hindu scriptures, Jain ethics, Christian teachings, Theosophy, Tolstoy, and Thoreau.
The impact of Gandhi's leadership and activism on the Indian diaspora in South Africa, especially on their civil rights, social welfare, and cultural identity.
The challenges and contradictions that Gandhi faced in his personal and public life, such as his experiments with celibacy, diet, and clothing, his relations with his family and friends, and his role in the conflicts between different ethnic and religious groups.
The legacy of Gandhi's South African years on his later career in India and on the global history of anti-colonialism and human rights.
Guha argues that Gandhi's South African experience was crucial for his transformation from a timid and conventional lawyer to a charismatic and visionary leader. He also shows how Gandhi's ideas and actions were shaped by his interactions with a diverse range of people, from British officials and Boer farmers to Indian merchants and indentured labourers. He also highlights the relevance of Gandhi's message for the contemporary world, especially in terms of tolerance, pluralism, and nonviolence. ec8f644aee