From Imperial Justice to Transcendental Freedom

Mithi Mukherjee

in India in the Shadows of Empire

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780198062509
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080151 | DOI:
From Imperial Justice to Transcendental Freedom

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This chapter explores the process through which the enunciative persona of the lawyer as the quintessential political representative in the Indian National Congress gave way to the persona of the samnyasin or renouncer as the new figure of the leader in the movement for independence from British colonial rule. It argues that this change in the mode of leadership was symptomatic of the displacement of the discourse of imperial justice that had framed the political goals of the early Indian National Congress and also determined its mode of politics as pleading and petitioning. With this displacement began the ascendance of a new discourse of transcendental freedom and a mass movement under the new persona of the renouncer as the leader. While independence from British colonial rule was the primary objective of the Gandhian movement, the Gandhian discourse of freedom on which the practice of non-violence was grounded was not derivative of Western notions of legislative and judicial freedom, but rather was genealogically connected with traditional Indian spiritual discourses of transcendental or renunciative freedom.

Keywords: Indian National Congress; lawyers; samnyasin; imperial justice; Gandhian movement; renunciative freedom; British colonial rule

Chapter.  12482 words. 

Subjects: History of Law

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