Gandhi: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780192854575

Bhikhu Parekh
160 Pages
113 x 179 mm
Pub date
Feb 2001
Very Short Introductions


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  • Gandhi's life and thought have been immensely influential, and his strategy of non-violent opposition to unjust laws forms the core of contemporary protest movements
  • Bhikhu Parekh is a leading authority on Gandhi and on Indian politics
  • Concentrates on Gandhi's role as a thinker, and the influence of his ideas — in particular his spiritual view of politics, and his theories of oppression, non-violent action, and active citizenship

Gandhi (1869-1948) was one of the few men in history to fight simultaneously on moral, religious, political, social, economic, and cultural fronts. During his time as a lawyer in South Africa he developed his strategy of non-violence: the idea of opposing unjust laws by non-violent protest, which he made the basis of his successful struggle against British rule in India.

In this Very Short Introduction to Gandhi's life and thought, Bhikhu Parekh outlines both Gandhi's major philosophical insights and the limitations of his thought. He looks at Gandhi's cosmocentric anthropology, his spiritual view of politics, his unique form of liberal communitarianism, and his theories of oppression, non-violent action, and active citizenship. He also considers how the success of Gandhi's principles was limited by his lack of coherent theories of evil, and of state and power, and how his hostility to modern civilization impeded his appreciation of its complexity.

Gandhi's life and thought has had an enormous impact both within and outside India, and he continues to be widely revered, as one of the greatest moral and political leaders of the twentieth century.


List of Illustrations
1: Life and Work
2: Religious thought
3: Human Nature
4: Satyagraha
5: The Critique of Modernity
6: The Vision of a Non-Violent Society
7: Critical Appreciation
Further Reading

About the author: 

Bhikhu Parekh is Professor of Political Theory at the University of Hull. His publications include Ghandhi's Political Philosophy, Crisis and Change in Contemporary India, The Decolonization of Imagination, and Critical Assessments of Jeremy Bentham (4 volumes).

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