Mahatma as an intercultural Indian

  • IASbaba
  • October 3, 2020
  • 0
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Topic: General Studies 2:

  • The Freedom Struggle —important contributors 
  • Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world. 

Mahatma as an intercultural Indian

Context: There is a tendency in today’s world to think that Gandhi’s ideal of non-violence is a noble idea but impractical and unrealistic. The odd thing about this thought is that it tends to sanctify Gandhi while rejecting his principles.

Gandhi’s Idea of non-violence

  • Gandhi’s idea of non-violence was not a dream; it was a realistic hope, armed with a dose of practical idealism; that of the global welcoming of the law of love.
  • With Gandhi, the philosophy of non-violence turned into an instrument of public dissent and a pragmatic tool of the powerless against the powerful.
  • While being an instrument of conflict resolution and universal harmony, non-violence was also an essentially moral exercise.
  • He viewed non-violence essentially as an ethical commitment and a constructive political action. 
  • For Gandhi, the ethical and the political were the same. Therefore, for him, the struggle against violence and fanaticism was at the same moral level as disobeying unjust laws.

What was Gandhiji’s vision of Democracy?

  • Gandhi said that it would not be possible to understand the concept of democracy without having some understanding of the philosophical tradition of a critique of violence in which it is nurtured. Therefore, democracy and non-violence as two sides of the same reality
  • Gandhi’s idea of democracy also hinges on moral growth in humankind, where an undisciplined and unrestrained individualism gives its place to an empathetic humanism
  • Gandhi considered democracy as a dynamic element in the ethical becoming of human civilisation.
  • The entire Gandhian thought in the realm of citizenship and democracy revolves around the establishment of a just society
  • Gandhi’s repeated emphasis on service to all human beings from all traditions of thought was the essence of his non-violent democratic theory.

How was Gandhiji’s approach ahead of his time?

  • His non-violent democratic theory as a philosophy of inter-cultural dialogue is still far ahead of our time, several generations after his death. 
  • Gandhi was not a dogmatic nationalist but essentially a pathfinder towards a common ground among different cultures and diverse mentalities. 
  • Therefore, his philosophy of democracy remains neither mono-cultural nor essentialist. It is essentially pluralistic and empathetic.
  • More importantly, his attachment to politics is more ethical than religious. Consequently, religion for him is identified with ethics rather than theology.

What was Gandhiji’s idea of Indianness?

  • Gandhiji was well aware of the fact that politics is a fragile concept and is vulnerable to nationalist justifications of violence and war. 
  • That is the reason why he refused to define India in terms of ethnic purity or linguistic unity or some other unifying religious attribute.
  • More than rallying Indians to combat various “others,” Gandhi’s philosophy of democracy introduced an anti-monistic and pluralistic dimension into a primarily territorial rootedness of Indianness. 
  • For Gandhi, there was no sentiment of loving one’s country (namely India) without loving the culture of the other. 
  • Gandhi’s appeal to fraternity was based on an inclusive and dialogical idea of living together which disapproved all forms of national or religious self-centredness.


Gandhiji believed profoundly in the possibility of introducing humanity to the principle of non-violence. In this era of Nationalistic rivalries and impending Cold war-II, it is all the more necessary to follow Gandhi’s ideal in spirit.

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