Cover image for Gandhi's passion : the life and legacy of Mahatma Gandhi
Gandhi's passion : the life and legacy of Mahatma Gandhi
Wolpert, Stanley A., 1927-
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Publication Information:
Oxford [England] ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
xii, 308 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
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DS481.G3 W64 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Mahatma Gandhi, through his indomitable will and selfless determination, transformed himself into a model of courage and integrity for India's people to emulate in their nonviolent struggle for political power. More than half a century after his death, Gandhi continues to inspire millionsthroughout the world. Yet modern India seems to have abandoned much of his nonviolent vision, joining the nuclear arms race. Inspired by recent events in India, Stanley Wolpert offers this subtle and profound biography of India's "Great Soul." Wolpert compellingly chronicles the life of Mahatma Gandhi from his early days as a child of privilege to his humble rise to power and his assassination at the hands of a man of his own faith. This trajectory, like that of Christ, was the result of Gandhi's passion: his conscious courting ofsuffering as the means of reaching divine truth. From his early campaigns to end discrimination in South Africa to his leadership of a people's revolution to end the British imperial domination of India, Gandhi emerges as a man of inner conflicts conquered by his political genius and moral vision.Early influenced by nonviolent teachings in Hinduism, Jainism, Christianity, and Buddhism, he came to insist on the primacy of love for one's adversary in any conflict as the invincible power for change. He fearlessly courted suffering and imprisonment in pursuit of his moral vision. The sweetreasonableness of his "Great Soul," combined with the steel of his unyielding opposition to intolerance and oppression, would inspire India like no leader since the Buddha--creating a legacy that would encourage Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, and other global leaders to demand a betterworld through peaceful civil disobedience. Gandhi's Passion is a remarkable tribute by a historian at the height of his narrative and analytical powers. Wolpert boldly considers Gandhi the man, rather than the living god depicted by his disciples. He thus provides an unprecedented representation of Gandhi's passionate personality andthe profound complexities that compelled his actions and brought freedom to India.

Author Notes

Stanley Wolpert is Distinguished Professor of South Asian History Emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The fruit of more than 50 years of reflection by a distinguished Asian scholar, Wolpert's biography cuts through the misconceptions surrounding the father of modern India, untangling the complex relationship between his personal spirituality and his public influence. Gandhi's ceaseless struggle for personal purity thus emerges as the source of a radiance that guided an entire nation to freedom. From his pampered childhood to his ascetic final years, the text follows the Mahatma ("Great Soul") on a paradoxical pilgrimage in which the deliberate acceptance of suffering endowed him with the power he needed to challenge the leading politicians of Europe, Africa, and Asia. We see how Gandhi wielded that power first to bring justice to Indians living in South Africa and, later, as the culmination of a tireless crusade for national redemption, in winning India's independence from Britain. But Wolpert resists the temptation toward hagiography, showing us not only the selfless mystic, but also the unapproachable father, the unpredictable partisan, and the frustrated visionary. Still, in recounting Gandhi's terrible agony at his failure to transform independent India into a land of religious harmony and social unity, Wolpert humanizes rather than discredits the ideals for which he fought. As a legacy invoked by Martin Luther King, by Nelson Mandela, and by many others, those ideals continue to shape the world's horizon of hopes. A book to remind us of a politics beyond self-interest and cynicism. --Bryce Christensen

Publisher's Weekly Review

Wolpert, a professor emeritus in South Asian history at UCLA, is well versed in the politics of India and has written numerous books on that country and its neighbor Pakistan. His new work is not so much a book on how Gandhi came to be the Mahatma, or India's "Great Soul," but a chronicle of India's independence movement after WWI and the communal violence that led to the 1947 partition along religious lines. The most absorbing part of the book shows how Gandhi's legal training at Inner Temple in London and his work to protect the rights of Indians in South Africa at the turn of the century led to his agitation for Home Rule in India. Wolpert skillfully uses Gandhi's own writings there are 90 volumes of his collected works and descriptions of meetings and travels to organize mass passive resistance, including boycotts and marches, to explain how Gandhi's nonviolent resistance, or Satyagraha, essentially forced the British to grant dominion status to 300 million Indians. However, Wolpert does not convincingly illustrate how Gandhi came to believe in nonviolence and how he transformed himself from a rich Anglophile and lawyer into a near-godlike figure who valued equality, self-control, celibacy and the relinquishing of wealth and desires. Wolpert touches on the fact that Gandhi's transformation alienated his children and wife (whom he married at age 11) even while he expressed an "intensely personal passion" for various Western missionaries and forced some ashram devotees to sleep by him naked. By supplying more detail than useful analysis, Wolpert's effort is ultimately disappointing, and, in the end, Gandhi remains a recognizable but cryptic figure. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Wolpert (South Asian history, emeritus, UCLA) has written biographies of Indian freedom fighters Jinnah (Jinnah of Pakistan) and Nehru (Nehru: A Tryst with Destiny). While his life of Gandhi is well written, one has to ask why yet another biography of the Father of India? There is no burning issue or question that he raises, nor a great new insight into Gandhi that has not already been discussed in previous biographies. In the introduction, Wolpert notes that the news of the nuclear explosions in India in 1998 prompted him to undertake this book on the apostle of nonviolence. What he has produced, however, is yet another general biography of one of the most remarkable men of the 20th century. Only libraries collecting in depth on India need consider this title, which does not supplant Gandhi studies by Erik Ericsson, Louis Fischer, or B.R. Nanda. Donald Clay Johnson, Univ. of Minnesota Lib., Minneapolis (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
Introductionp. 3
1 Midnight in Calcuttap. 7
2 Dawn in Gujaratp. 13
3 The Impact of Victorian Londonp. 20
4 Brief Interlude at Homep. 28
5 Early Traumas and Triumphs in South Africap. 34
6 Between Two Worldsp. 42
7 Satyagraha in South Africap. 50
8 Victory through Sufferingp. 67
9 The Impact of World War Ip. 82
10 Postwar Carnage and Nationwide Satyagrahap. 99
11 Cotton Spinningp. 115
12 Rising of the Poisonp. 127
13 The Road Back to Satyagrahap. 135
14 The Salt March and Prison Aftermathp. 144
15 From Prison to London and Backp. 152
16 Imprisoned Soul of Indiap. 165
17 Return to Rural Uplift Workp. 174
18 Prelude to War and Partitionp. 182
19 War and Peaceful Resistancep. 191
20 War behind Barsp. 205
21 No Peacep. 213
22 Walking Alonep. 224
23 Freedom's Wooden Loafp. 237
24 Great Soul's Death in Delhip. 243
25 His Indian Legacyp. 257
26 His Global Legacyp. 264
Notesp. 269
Select Bibliographyp. 299
Indexp. 303