Brown, Judith M. and Parel, Anthony J., Eds. The Cambridge Companion to Gandhi. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2011.
Since Gandhi’s death in 1948, a wide range of perspectives have been expressed concerning his personal, political and socio-cultural influence both in India and on the international stage. A varied collection of these appear in the Brown and Parel compilation, writings that offer both a personal view of the Mahatma’s life and an examination of his impact on modern history. The compilation is divided into two parts, the first being concerned with Gandhi’s early life and personal and professional development. The second part focuses on Gandhi’s personal philosophy as expressed through his writings and teachings. As such, the Cambridge Companion provides for my paper a solid basis from which to consider Gandhi as an inspirational figure.
Fields, Rona M. Martyrdom: The Psychology, Theology, and Politics of Self Sacrifice. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing, 2004.
An important part of Gandhi’s impact as an inspiring figure is his status as martyr. Martyrdom can be a powerfully affecting status among famous individuals because it certifies the figure as a sacrifice for some important cause or belief. Gandhi has become something of a legendary figure in the decades since his death, and the view of him as a martyr lies at the heart of this image of him. The Fields book contemplates the nature of martyrdom from psychological, political and theological standpoints, and it is in this sense that Gandhi is approached in my paper.
Gonsalves, Peter. “’Half-Naked Fakir:’ The Story of Gandhi’s Personal Search for Sartorial Integrity.” Gandhi Marg, 31(1), 2010, pp. 5-30.
Gonsalves’ article provides a source from which to consider Gandhi as a public figure, as a skilled manipulator of opinion and a man who created a persona aimed at reaching Indians on a visceral level. Wrapped in little more than a loin cloth, Gandhi appeared as a wizened, bent figure leaning on a staff. That such a seemingly wan and vulnerable figure should take on the British Empire and lead the effort to create a new nation only attracted more attention to the causes for which he struggled. Gonsalves writes that Gandhi, who had been trained as a lawyer at British university, sought authenticity and credibility as well as political power. This article addresses an important theme in my paper, the idea that Gandhi was as much political realist as he was philosopher and idealist.
Johnson, Richard L., Ed. Gandhi’s Experiments With Truth. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2006.
Perhaps the most important element in my paper, Johnson’s volume is an intelligent compendium containing interpretations of Gandhi’s writings, including his autobiography, pamphlets, journals and a range of other sources. This source traces the development of Gandhi’s personal philosophy, offers insights into his personal ideology and serves also as a chronicle of his achievements and struggles. As such, Gandhi’s Experiments With Truth is
indispensable to the development of my thesis positing Gandhi as a uniquely inspirational figure, and helps present him as both human being and courageous father of Indian nationhood.
Nair, Keshavan. A Higher Standard of Leadership: Lessons from the Life of Gandhi. Barrett-Koehler Publishers, 1994.
Nair’s book offers another important resource in that it uses Gandhi’s life as an example of what it means to be a leader. It is this aspect of Gandhi’s personality, his unique leadership qualities, that have inspired so many others. In our time, leadership is a somewhat vague term that has been spun and altered based on personal expediency and the need of politicians and businessmen to portray themselves as great leaders in the public eye. The fact that Gandhi provides a desirable example of leadership in contemporary times adds considerably to his quality as an inspirational historical figure and lends an important element to my paper.
Terchek, Ronald. Gandhi: Struggling for Autonomy. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998.
Gandhi the political philosopher was concerned with the legal complexities of national sovereignty and the responsible exercise of power. It is as though, having worked so hard for Indian freedom from Great Britain, he was especially concerned that the nation he helped create should embody and promote the high-minded principles he had accused the British of having betrayed. Terchek concentrates on Gandhi’s beliefs concerning individual autonomy and civil rights within the nation state. As such, it is a valuable resource in that it provided me with an important, introspective view of Gandhi as a political leader.