Gandhi on War and Peace

Gandhi on War and Peace

Gandhi on War and Peace

Gandhi on War and Peace

Synopsis

"Mohandus K. Gandi coined the term nonviolence, pioneered new modes of nonviolent resistance (satygraha), and evolved a coherent political philosophy that unconditionally repudiated any rationalization of war or ethical justification of systematic violence. Here his policies and precepts in relation to war and peace throughout his long and eventful career in South Africa and India are carefully examined. There are valuable insights into the shaping of the Mahatma's thinking (in particular, the influence of America's Thoreau and Russia's Tolstoy). Puri carefully analyzes Gandhi's views concerning a wide variety of factors and events that molded the course of history during the interwar years: the unfairness of the Varsailles Treaty; the inadequacies of the League of Nations; the continued oppression of colonial peoples and blacks in the US; the militancy of Mussolini's fascism and his shamefull conquest of Ethiopia; and the Nazi persecution of Jews.... Puri's work is judicious, lucid, well documented, objective, and scholarly. It is a landmark study, a fine addition to the prolific literature on Gandhi."- Choice

Excerpt

Mahatma Gandhi coined the term nonviolence and championed the cause of peace in an age that has shamelessly surpassed earlier centuries in its slavish addiction to war, cruelty, and bloodshed. While he pioneered new modes of nonviolent resistance and profited by his traumatic experience of ambulance work in three wars, Gandhi evolved a coherent political philosophy that unconditionally repudiated any rationalization of war or any ethical justification of systematic violence. His theoretical standpoint was sufficiently subtle and complex to be misunderstood by many, but even more puzzling to his myriad admirers was his lifelong insistence on the rightness of his indirect participation in the Boer War, the Zulu Rebellion, and World War I. The latter theme deserves consideration, which is now available in this careful and conscientious study by Dr. Rashmi-Sudha Puri.

Dr. Puri conducts her investigation with the clear recognition that Gandhi never wavered in holding the issue of war to be supremely important, posing hard questions for all those concerned with the morality, feasibility, and corrupting consequences of violence as an instrument of conflict resolution. She has provided an accurate, well-documented survey of Gandhi's policies and precepts in relation to war and peace throughout his long and eventful career in South Africa and India. After examining his direct involvement in the Boer War and the Zulu Rebellion, she considers the difficult choices Gandhi had to make on the advent of World War I and even more in launching satyagraha (nonviolent resistance) amid British preoccupations with World War II. By juxtaposing Gandhi's unorthodox reflections on war with his shrewd observations on the problem of peacemaking, and stressing his global perspective on self-determination and mutual cooperation, Dr. Puri presents a balanced and convincing account of Gandhi's varying applications and formulations of an essentially consistent, though constantly evolving, standpoint.

Dr. Puri's historical and sociological assessment does not fall prey to the familiar temptation of explaining away an exacting ethical and political creed by absolutizing a specific social context or by confounding tactical constraints with theoretical limitations. To do so is to diminish the impact of a daring thinker and doer without in any way enlightening the reader. Dr. Puri does not attempt a rigorous analysis of concepts or a definitive interpretation of events . . .

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