Gandhiji, Religion and Indian Nationalism

Gandhi, Religion And
Indian Nationalism
The Gandhi anniversary this year has been very special (2007). With UN declaring 2nd October as the International Day for Non-Violence, with the renewed interest in Gandhi all over the globe one needs to revisit the Father of Indian Nation and his yeomen contribution in the articulation of the concepts of non-violence and nationalism in Indian context. At another level his own unique definitions and practice of religion and definition of God as truth and non-violence have their own matchless place in the history of human thought.
Even before coming to India, the Mahatma had sharpened his philosophy and political methods. When he returned from South Africa, India was in the grip of religiosity and broad masses were part of the churning process due to the on going social changes. Broadly they were not yet major part of freedom movement. Gandhi on one hand had the exposure to liberal British political system and on the other had experienced the repressive South African regime, which was practicing apartheid. In India the social changes were slow to come by. The elite through different political formations dominated political process at that point of time. We had Indian National Congress, mainly espousing Indian nationalism, where the elite were the main participants. In Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha, the landlords and princes were the core participants, later they were joined in by those few who came from the background of modern education. They were not from the landed gentry but they did develop political ideologies suiting the interests of feudal classes. Gandhi's decision, to launch non-cooperation movement, and to involve broad layers of society, alienated some of elites from within Congress. Those from communal organizations were not concerned about freedom movement anyway. Some from the Congress left in due course of time to join the communal formations. Gandhi was firm on the involvement of whole nation in the...