AS a boy living in Durban, South Africa, in the 1940s, Arun
Gandhi was bullied from all quarters. White kids beat him up
because he was nonwhite. Black youths assaulted him because he
wasn't black. The thing he most wanted, he recalls, was "to grow
up and be strong and beat everybody back again."
But his parents had a different idea about how to deal with
their son's adolescent rage. They sent him to India to live with
his grandfather for a time. And those 18 formative months at the
side of the man who personified nonviolent resistance to oppression
changed Arun Gandhi forever.
Today, the grandson of the man called "Mahatma" by his
followers is walking in his footsteps. He works with schools,
businesses, and government agencies in the United States to address
the passive violence that he says inevitably causes the anger that
leads to active violence between individuals, within families, and
"We'll never be able to get rid of physical violence until we
address passive violence ... anger, hate, and prejudice," he told
a packed lecture at Southern Oregon State College recently.
Mr. Gandhi is a soft-spoken man who rouses audiences with the
power of ideas rather than the force of rhetoric.
George Elder, headmaster of the Lausanne Collegiate School in
Memphis, Tenn., heard Gandhi speak and says, "I just fell in love
with the guy and wanted to make him part of our faculty."
Arun Gandhi now conducts a for-credit course on nonviolence for
high school students at Lausanne, a highly academic school with an
enrollment of 560. He has also led workshops for a hotel-management
company, for recovering drug and alcohol addicts supervised by the
Shelby County (Tenn.) Correctional Center, and for counselors with
the Youth Services Department in Memphis.
At the request of the US Information Agency, Gandhi held
workshops in conflict-resolution for rival youth gangs in South
Africa. And as a scholar-in-residence at Ball State University, he
works with students and police in Muncie, Ind.
Although he had become a world figure and was in the midst of
negotiating Indian independence with British colonial leaders, the
elder Gandhi kept his grandson close at hand and set aside an hour
every day to be alone with the boy.
Gently but persistently, Mohandas Gandhi taught Arun to
recognize his anger and turn it to constructive uses. And also to
appreciate the "violence to humanity" and the "violence to
nature" caused by wasting something even as insignificant as a
The last time Arun saw his grandfather, the old man slipped the
boy a piece of paper with a list of what have come to be known as
Gandhi's "Seven Blunders of the World" that lead to violence.
(See item below.)
ARUN GANDHI rejoined his parents in South Africa before his
grandfather was assassinated in 1948. He returned to India a few
years later to begin a 28-year career as a journalist, writing four
books and becoming a senior editor with the Times of India in
During this period he and his wife, Sunanda, began working to
improve the lives of poor villagers, including India's lowest-caste
"untouchables." Over the years, the Gandhis and a group of
like-minded friends established India's Center for Social Change,
helping to fund programs (including a cooperative bank) to help
farmers and textile workers in more than 300 villages. …