Religion and Politics

B. R. Nanda

in Gandhi and his Critics

Published in print January 1994 | ISBN: 9780195633634
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081332 | DOI:

Series: Oxford India Paperbacks

Religion and Politics

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Some of Mahatma Gandhi’s own colleagues and followers complained that he had a tendency to mix religion with politics. The confusion stemmed in large part from the fact that Gandhi’s concept of religion was radically different from the traditional notion of organized religion: dogmas, rituals, superstition, and bigotry. Gandhi’s religion was simply an ethical framework for the conduct of daily life. Tilak, India’s most influential nationalist leader at the time, told Gandhi in 1918 that politics is not for sadhus (holy men). Gandhi considered Gokhale, the Moderate leader, as his ‘political mentor’. Gokale first talked of ‘spiritualising politics’, of evoking abnegation and self-denial for secular causes, which inspired him to establish the Servants of India Society. The idea of ‘spiritualising politics’ also appealed to Gandhi, who applied it to satyagraha, his method of resolving conflicts. Moreover, he used fasting, which played an important role in the religious life of the Hindus for centuries, as a tool for social action.

Keywords: Gandhi’s religion; Tilak; fasting; Gokhale; Servants of India Society; spiritualising politics; satyagraha

Chapter.  1975 words. 

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