Mahatma Gandhi

What was the religion of Jinnah?

While Gandhi's idea of satyagraha as a political means attracted a widespread following among Indians, the support was not universal. For example, Muslim leaders such as Jinnah opposed the satyagraha idea, accused Gandhi to be reviving Hinduism through political activism, and began effort to counter Gandhi with Muslim nationalism and a demand for Muslim homeland. The untouchability leader Ambedkar, in June 1945, after his decision to convert to Buddhism and a key architect of the Constitution of modern India, dismissed Gandhi's ideas as loved by "blind Hindu devotees", primitive, influenced by spurious brew of Tolstoy and Ruskin, and "there is always some simpleton to preach them". Winston Churchill caricatured Gandhi as a "cunning huckster" seeking selfish gain, an "aspiring dictator", and an "atavistic spokesman of a pagan Hinduism". Churchill stated that the civil disobedience movement spectacle of Gandhi only increased "the danger to which white people there [British India] are exposed".


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  • After World War II engulfed Britain, Gandhi actively campaigned to oppose any help to the British war effort and any Indian participation in the war. According to Arthur Herman, Gandhi believed that his campaign would strike a blow to imperialism. Gandhi's position was not supported by many Indian leaders, and his campaign against the British war effort was a failure. The Hindu leader, Tej Bahadur Sapru, declared in 1941, states Herman, "A good many Congress leaders are fed up with the barren program of the Mahatma". Over 2.5¬†million Indians ignored Gandhi, volunteered and joined on the British side. They fought and died as a part of the Allied forces in Europe, North Africa and various fronts of the World War II.

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  • Along with the book mentioned above, in 1908 Leo Tolstoy wrote A Letter to a Hindu, which said that only by using love as a weapon through passive resistance could the Indian people overthrow colonial rule. In 1909, Gandhi wrote to Tolstoy seeking advice and permission to republish A Letter to a Hindu in Gujarati. Tolstoy responded and the two continued a correspondence until Tolstoy's death in 1910 (Tolstoy's last letter was to Gandhi). The letters concern practical and theological applications of nonviolence. Gandhi saw himself a disciple of Tolstoy, for they agreed regarding opposition to state authority and colonialism; both hated violence and preached non-resistance. However, they differed sharply on political strategy. Gandhi called for political involvement; he was a nationalist and was prepared to use nonviolent force. He was also willing to compromise. It was at Tolstoy Farm where Gandhi and Hermann Kallenbach systematically trained their disciples in the philosophy of nonviolence.

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  • According to Atlury Murali, Indian Congress in the 1920s appealed to Andhra Pradesh peasants by creating Telugu language plays that combined Indian mythology and legends, linked them to Gandhi's ideas, and portrayed Gandhi as a messiah, a reincarnation of ancient and medieval Indian nationalist leaders and saints. The plays built support among peasants steeped in traditional Hindu culture, according to Murali, and this effort made Gandhi a folk hero in Telugu speaking villages, a sacred messiah-like figure.

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  • Gandhi wrote: "There must be no impatience, no barbarity, no insolence, no undue pressure. If we want to cultivate a true spirit of democracy, we cannot afford to be intolerant. Intolerance betrays want of faith in one's cause." Civil disobedience and non-co-operation as practised under Satyagraha are based on the "law of suffering", a doctrine that the endurance of suffering is a means to an end. This end usually implies a moral upliftment or progress of an individual or society. Therefore, non-co-operation in Satyagraha is in fact a means to secure the co-operation of the opponent consistently with truth and justice.

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  • Godse, a Hindu nationalist with links to the extremist Hindu Mahasabha, made no attempt to escape; several other conspirators were soon arrested as well. They were tried in court at Delhi's Red Fort. At his trial, Godse did not deny the charges nor express any remorse. According to Claude Markovits, a French historian noted for his studies of colonial India, Godse stated that he killed Gandhi because of his complacence towards Muslims, holding Gandhi responsible for the frenzy of violence and sufferings during the subcontinent's partition into Pakistan and India. Godse accused Gandhi of subjectivism and of acting as if only he had a monopoly of the truth. Godse was found guilty and executed in 1949.

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