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Genealogy

Genealogy of the Mahatma

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Thesis
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1
CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION

    In discussing Gandhi, too much emphasis is often placed on his being instrumental in freeing India from British rule. Is this perception valid? When Gandhi appeared on the Indian political scene, the movements for political reform and freedom had already been progressing for almost three decades. Even without him, the constitutional approach followed by the Indian National Congress would have continued, with tangible results. Notwithstanding Gandhi's success in taking the Congress from the classes to the masses, and his dominant political leadership, he cannot be acclaimed as the author of India's freedom - though the extraordinary manner in which it was achieved can be ascribed to him. Gandhi was essentially a humanist, more interested in individuals than institutions. However, the politician in him cannot be underestimated. The combination of Gandhi the politician and Gandhi the humanist was remarkable indeed. However, to call him a saint, which is implicit in his title of Mahatma (Great Soul) does not reflect his true personality. While his goodness was of an unusual variety, there was no mystery about his faults. "It is imperative that Gandhi is reclaimed as a human being out of the many myths surrounding him. He had his failings and favourites, but to suppress these weaknesses would be to undermine his strengths."1
    Gandhi is indeed perceived by a vast majority of the world's population as a saint. Most of the literature inspired by his life and work, even Richard Attenborough's

1) Yogesh Chadha, Gandhi - A Life (New York, 1997), pp. xiii-ix.

 
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