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Gandhi and his Critics$
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B. R. Nanda

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780195633634

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195633634.001.0001

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The Making of the Mahatma

The Making of the Mahatma

(p.8) Chapter 3 The Making of the Mahatma
Gandhi and his Critics

B. R. Nanda

Oxford University Press

In his late 1920s and early 1930s, Mahatma Gandhi embarked on a religious quest in South Africa. This radically transformed his life. From the Hindu scripture, the Gita, he had imbibed two ideals: ‘non-possession’ and ‘selfless action’. The first set him on the road to voluntary poverty, while the second equipped him with an extraordinary stamina for public life. These changes in Gandhi’s mode of life had been difficult for his wife, Kasturba. Gandhi was also the object of ridicule and contempt because of his concept of brahmacharya (self-control). Gandhi was married at the age of thirteen, a custom that was almost universal among Hindus in the nineteenth century. He came to view marriage as a sacrament in which sex was the least important factor. Moreover, Gandhi regarded women as the incarnation of ahimsa (non-violence).

Keywords:   South Africa, non-possession, selfless action, Kasturba, brahmacharya, marriage, ahimsa

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