Gandhi's Truth: On the Origins of Militant Nonviolence Info

Check out books about Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and get your questions answered fast. Take a look at hundreds of reviews and ratings for each book related to Religion & Spirituality. Want to see what people say about Erik H. Erikson and find the best shops to download Gandhi's Truth: On the Origins of Militant Nonviolence? This is the right place to be. Read&Download Gandhi's Truth: On the Origins of Militant Nonviolence by Erik H. Erikson Online


In this study of Mahatma Gandhi, psychoanalyst Erik
H. Erikson explores how Gandhi succeeded in mobilizing the Indian people
both spiritually and politically as he became the revolutionary
innovator of militant non-violence and India became the motherland of
large-scale civil disobedience.


Average Ratings and Reviews
review-bg

3.98

222 Ratings

5

4

3

2

1


Ratings and Reviews From Market


client-img 4
6
1
1
0
2
client-img 4
0
0
0
2
0
client-img 3.93
75
76
49
1
1

Reviews for Gandhi's Truth: On the Origins of Militant Nonviolence:

4

Sep 17, 2019

Gandhi’s Truth

This biography and psychoanalysis of Mahatma Gandhi, published in 1970, garnered the author Erik H. Erikson both the Pulitzer and National Book Awards for Non-fiction. In addition to extensive analysis of Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography, Erikson interviewed many of Gandhi’s closest associates and confidantes some twenty years after the peace activist’s assassination in 1947.

Based on Erikson’s research we get a more well rounded picture of Gandhi including his flaws. For those who Gandhi’s Truth

This biography and psychoanalysis of Mahatma Gandhi, published in 1970, garnered the author Erik H. Erikson both the Pulitzer and National Book Awards for Non-fiction. In addition to extensive analysis of Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography, Erikson interviewed many of Gandhi’s closest associates and confidantes some twenty years after the peace activist’s assassination in 1947.

Based on Erikson’s research we get a more well rounded picture of Gandhi including his flaws. For those who like to engage in hero worship, this book is not for them. I am reminded of other famous leaders of the past who also become more human to me when I learned of their flaws such as:

1. George Washington - was present and in command when the French Jumonville and others were in his custody and then when they were murdered at the outset of the French and Indian War. Washington signed an affidavit to the cold blooded murder but later denied his culpability saying he didn’t understand what he was signing. Washington also, unsuccessfully, tried to reclaim his escaped slaves who defected to the British during the Revolutionary War. He was reportedly apoplectic when he heard they were sent to safe harbor in Nova Scotia.
2. Thomas Jefferson - never provided freedom to his slaves in his lifetime despite saying he would do so. Some were his own children through Sally Hemings, his slave and mother to many of his children.
3. John Kennedy was involved in many extra-marital relationships as was Martin Luther King Jr.

I do not wish to draw false equivalencies between murder or owning slaves vs. infidelity but simply point out that these were all great men by most measures and definitely not saints.

The author of this book posits a similar “great man but no saint” thesis about Gandhi. Gandhi clearly harbored some cognitive dissonance in his beliefs. Areas that he kept returning to were chastity and poverty as bedrocks of resistance. “After a great deal of experience it seems to me that those who want to become passive resisters for the service of the country have to observe perfect chastity and adopt poverty.” What of his wife? How did she feel about this? There seemed little consideration for her feelings. On the continued topic of chastity, Gandhi ran a farm better envisioned as a commune. He encouraged the young teenage boys and girls to bathe naked together and when reports came back that the boys were teasing the girls in an inappropriate manner he had the girls heads shaved to make them appear less sexual. This idea that everyone should strive to be chaste because Gandhi deems it so, seems to me to be a symptom of megalomania.

There were some other philosophies where Gandhi was not completely off base but once again was impractical. He was against modernization first and foremost, “Machinery is the chief symbol of modern civilization; I am convinced that it represents a great sin.” Symbolically he reintroduced the spinning wheel and could be seen at the loom himself.

I bring these issues up not to impugn Gandhi’s character but because this is largely the thesis of the book. Gandhi was an extraordinarily determined and self-sacrificing individual but some of his motivations and ideas were not saintly.

Let’s remember Gandhi experienced deep institutional racism at the hands of the British in India, England and in South Africa where he first plied his trade as a lawyer and activist. The author goes beyond Gandhi’s dual motivations of vengeance and love of his countrymen to discuss the role that fame played in Gandhi’s many protests including his hunger strikes.

Gandhi’s ambition did conflict him. He did desperately want to be accepted by the English establishment and waited nearly forty years to break ranks. Through the Boer War and Zulu rebellion in South Africa at the turn of the century he became known as the “people’s representative”. But he was reluctant to agitate against the British as he said he would likely be killed if he tried to rebel. So in the Boer War he volunteered for the ambulance corps while knowing what the British were doing to the Boers was unethical. The British had even employed the modern world’s first concentration camps in which tens of thousands of South Africans starved to death. A few years later however when the British instituted the “black laws” stripping people of color of many of basic rights and requiring registration and fingerprinting, Gandhi who was now approaching forty shifted to overt activism. This was the moment of his break. He even developed a correspondence with Leo Tolstoy. Although Gandhi was the de facto leader of Indians in the Transvaal he wasn’t even a minor celebrity outside South Africa but he was a prolific corresponder and the idea of passive resistance which he called “Satyagraha” had taken permanent root at that moment in his head and heart.

Shortly after hosting a meeting of leading Indian protesters he was ordered out of South Africa by the British and upon refusing to leave was thrown in jail. He was soon released by the Governor when he said he could get the Indians to voluntarily register. He did succeed but a more radical Indian protestor beat him up for making such a promise. Gandhi required stitches to close up his head wound. He was proud of this moment and later befriended the man.

Over the next several years Gandhi organized many marches, tried to introduce new legislation for Indian rights for which he was jailed numerous times. Gandhi finally left South Africa in 1914. He called his twenty one years in South Africa “sweet and bitter”.

The remaining thirty years of Gandhi’s life following his return to India, including his ascendency to become the most famous prophet in the world, is the better known period of his life. This book only covers his time up to 1930 however. This time included his hunger strikes, the Salt Act Protest and march to the sea. The author recounts episodes of Gandhi’s self doubt and troubled relationships with his family since he was gone so often.

4 stars. The writing and analyses in this classic are exceptional but this read does require some familiarity with Gandhi’s life. Most topics are discussed without benefit of historical background. The author recommends Gandhi’s own autobiography as a pre-requisite and the book follows the autobiography very closely. While it is almost certain that Gandhi’s story was better known to the lay reader of 1970 than the average reader today, nonetheless I would have liked to have seen the final seventeen years of his life covered for completeness. ...more
5

Feb 27, 2011

All the way into graduate school I had been torn by ethical confusion. It started as a self-conscious problem at the very beginning of high school when a growing awareness of the realities of U.S. foreign policy caused me to doubt the secular faith in the goodness of America we'd been inculcated with in the public schools. Clearly, we were hurting people, millions of them, and much of our good fortune was predicated upon their misfortune. This awareness grew as I learned more and, sadly, All the way into graduate school I had been torn by ethical confusion. It started as a self-conscious problem at the very beginning of high school when a growing awareness of the realities of U.S. foreign policy caused me to doubt the secular faith in the goodness of America we'd been inculcated with in the public schools. Clearly, we were hurting people, millions of them, and much of our good fortune was predicated upon their misfortune. This awareness grew as I learned more and, sadly, continues to grow.

There was a personal dimension to this dilemma as well. Starting at the age of ten when the family moved from the country to the suburbs of Chicago, I was not a happy kid. Out in the country I'd had lots of friends. In the new place, Park Ridge, I had none. The move had occurred in mid-year. The other kids were integrated to their fifth grade class. Indeed, they'd been, most of them, in the same school for five years already. My welcome consisted of being forced to fight with a complete stranger in the playground during recess, a reluctant endeavor which I lost in front of an audience of shouting classmates. Thereafter, I was a target of this kid and other bullies, a social condition which continued into the beginning of high school.

Prior to the move I hadn't ever really thought about ethics. I'd just absorbed the values and norms of the broader society, starting, of course, with my own family. The unhappiness that extended from age ten to age fifteen made the matter of right behavior problematic, raising ethical issues to consciousness. I tried to be "good" but good things didn't follow. However, "bad" kids, the ones who hit me, seemed relatively popular and happy. They even had girlfriends.

Thus the received knowledge of my upbringing was confounded. The wicked appeared to prosper while the good suffered. Unschooled in religion, I had nowhere to turn.

The old truths, however, die hard. I never lost a sense of what was right and what wrong, I just started intellectually doubting these truths and my ethical sense. What if this strong sense of the distinction was no more than a matter of conditioning, of taste? My sympathy with underdogs may simply have been because I was one myself--a fact with no ethical implication.

In the public sphere this self-doubt was raised again and again in political discourse. I was strongly opposed to the violent U.S. invasions of Laos, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Cuba. Most of the citizens of Park Ridge, Illinois, a very conservative town, either supported these actions or were indifferent to them. I also opposed racial segregation, another, more generally heated, ground for contention in our entirely white neighborhood. Indeed, I was even seen to have lunch with a flagrantly gay boy in the school cafeteria--this raising issues virtually beyond the pale of possible discussion. "Homos", like him, were taboo, persons to be shunned or, if dealt with at all, beaten. I was commonly adjudged to be a homo.

With knowledge obtained through the media, books and the classroom, I was increasingly able to confound political opponents. I simply knew more than many of them. Besides, I was learning, through argument, debator's tricks and was getting better and better at worsting adversaries. In the meantime, as we all grew older, fighting became less cool than it had been. By high school it was becoming apparent that the bullies were troubled people. Except in gym class, intellectual accomplishments were more applauded than physical ones.
Although the high school administration persecuted me for my politics, my teachers and the more bookish of my classmates generally approved of me. I was beginning to make some friends, albeit in a very adversarial enviroment.

Given my antipathy towards violence and inequalities, my sympathy for underdogs and my interests in history and politics, Gandhi, once I became introduced to him, held a strong appeal. Here, right down the line, I found someone of world historical importance who challenged me from an angle others didn't. While most everyone I argued with (some of them even allies insofar as opposing imperialist aggression was concerned) supported violence, he was radically against it. While most everyone I argued with (again, even allies, as I had come to know some Black Panthers) saw vital distinctions obtaining between the races, he was a universalist. Futher, while my usual sphere of discourse was confined to the West, to Europe and North America and their traditions, he was a third-worlder, educated to my culture, but rooted in another.

Gandhi did not solve my ethical dilemmas. He heightened them, offering as he did "my" position in starkest contrast to what I perceived as prevailing ills. Indeed, the search for an ethical ground continued for me well into graduate school and was only resolved upon becoming immersed in Kant.

By the time I read Erikson's psychobiography of Gandhi I'd already read some of Gandhi and much other pacifist literature. What Erikson offered was a more well-rounded treatment of "the great man", a treatment which revealed his origins, weaknesses and flaws, a treatment which helped humanize him for me.

...more
4

Mar 29, 2011

Erikson was a freudian psychoanalist and wrote this book in 1965 when he could interview many of the principal participants of a 1918 lockout and strike of textile workers. Erikson had already written about the early life of Martin Luther and wanted this book to focus on the middle years of a great world leader. As a freudian, Erikson looked for the roots of motivation in earlier life experiences, so it is a very personal journey that makes me wonder if there is really any use in revealing such Erikson was a freudian psychoanalist and wrote this book in 1965 when he could interview many of the principal participants of a 1918 lockout and strike of textile workers. Erikson had already written about the early life of Martin Luther and wanted this book to focus on the middle years of a great world leader. As a freudian, Erikson looked for the roots of motivation in earlier life experiences, so it is a very personal journey that makes me wonder if there is really any use in revealing such personal triumphs and tragedies. Gandhi had always been the apple of his father's eye. When an adolescent he stole a small piece of gold to use the proceeds to pay a debt for his brother. When he told his father of this "sin", instead of being punished, Gandhi's complete honesty brought tears to his father's eye. Erikson places great weight on the fact that Gandhi left his dying father's bedside to sleep with his young wife whom he married at age 13. Despite spending many days nursing his father, his dad ended up dying in the arms of Gandhi's uncle while Gandhi spent the night with his young wife. Gandhi supposedly experienced such waves of guilt from this event that he eventually adopted an almost maternal concern for all the oppressed. He came to feel that overcoming personal temptation was bound up with overcoming the control and might of external oppressors. Though not certain if I'm with Erikson on this insight, it is interesting to ponder what might be a necessary if not sufficient condition for successful conflict resolution.

It was fascinating to learn about Gandhi's early battles in South Africa amongst the Indian diaspora. After going to England to study to become a successful barrister, Gandhi eventually set aside his barrister's robe to organize nonviolent resistance to a tax on Indian immigrants who had worked long enough to serve the terms of their indentured servitude. He organized Indians in South Africa to work in ambulances during the Boer War between the British and the Afrikaners. He returned to India very much transformed from his early aspiration of being a lawyer and householder. He formed an ashram and eventually participated in a textile strike for a 35% rise in wages. Later on he led a fight to end the salt tax. Eventually the goal of the struggle became nothing less than independence from British rule. In every battle, the turn of events had unintended consequences, such as horrible violence perpetrated by the police or by fringe elements not directly won over to the Mahatma's pledge of nonviolence.

The book describes many of the social and personal conflicts in Gandhi's life, with climactic focus on a textile strike in 1918. Gandhi's method required close contact with both sides of the conflict. He practiced and taught something called Satyagraha which meant that the oppressed side should make sure of the justness of their cause and then be willing to commit to it "even unto death". Rather than villifying the oppressor, the goal was to act in such a way that the public and oppressor's consciences would be touched by the sacrifice of the oppressed. Gandhi would often resort to the tactic of fasting to force the mill owners or government to come to terms. The choice of a realizable goal and profound sensitivity towards the current zeitgeist was essential for the successful outcome of struggle through strictly nonviolent means. When a follower asked him whether fasting would be useful in another struggle, Gandhi replied by asking the friend to send him ten reasons why fasting would lead to a reasonable outcome. Gandhi promised to sign-off on the ten reasons without even reading them. The friend thought it through and found another way to forward the fight without fasting.

My "companion book" (I always like to choose one!) to "Gandhi's Truth" is "Revolution in Cuba" by H.L. Mathews. How similar and yet distinct are Gandhi's Satyagraha and Guevara's "patria o muerte - venceremos!" ("country or death - we shall overcome!")? A first order contrast is that Guevara took up struggles against dictators with so much blood on their hands that they were beyond the pale of human solicitude. Gandhi always held out hope that the oppressor would see that compromise was in their own best interest. Through direct experience with the Boer War in South Africa and distant observation of the Great War "to end all wars", Gandhi nurtured high hope that the British empire was on the wane and that it would be possible to help the oppressor loosen his grip through nonviolent means. Che and Fidel as well as Ho Chi Minh had a younger more virulent opponent in the rise of american imperialism in the years following WW II. Despite these differences, the dance of conflict and resolution is between members of what we think of as "humanity". If we are to survive as a civilization, there must be some means of learning to live together, without shedding blood and by sharing resources in a way which is fair to all, both the living and those yet to be born. ...more
4

Mar 05, 2008

I love this book in that it takes one of the revered non-violent activist of our time and reveals what an egocentric, chauvinistic, twisted human he is at heart.
4

May 11, 2017

"This book describes a Westerner's and a psychoanalyst's search for the historical presence of Mahatma Gandhi and for the meaning of what he called Truth."
1

Nov 10, 2018

Not what the title suggests it would be about. Unlike other books by Erikson, very poorly written.
0

Dec 20, 2010

What a challenge! This book was extremely difficult to get through, as I started it about 2 months ago and finally finished it last night. This book is difficult to describe because it was written about one of history's most extraordinary people by a monumentally important psychologist. It was given the pulitzer prize, which is a testament to its genre bending elements. However, what I find hard to believe that this book was even written at all. Let me explain.

The book is about Gandhi as he What a challenge! This book was extremely difficult to get through, as I started it about 2 months ago and finally finished it last night. This book is difficult to describe because it was written about one of history's most extraordinary people by a monumentally important psychologist. It was given the pulitzer prize, which is a testament to its genre bending elements. However, what I find hard to believe that this book was even written at all. Let me explain.

The book is about Gandhi as he moves from his early years into his fast at Ahmebadad. It was an incredible journey to this point for Gandhi, from landed gentry to British wannabe to South African bannister to subcontinent hero.

But the previous was a historical understanding of Gandhi. Erikson's goal is to navigate the psychological development of Gandhi in a narrative form to the time of the strike in the Indian manufacturing city. Reading this book is more like reading a textbook than it is a historical tome. Still, I had a hard time compartmentalizing that and struggled to read this book with any alacrity. Finally, I haven't retained much from this book, which I cannot blame the book for, but I certainly can't credit it with helping me remember. This book just doesn't make sense. For instance, in the waning pages, Erikson begins a diatribe on the instincts of animals and their ritualization of annihilation. It just didn't jive with me and I don't suggest this book to anyone I know. ...more
5

Nov 20, 2014

Gandhi's Truth is a psychoanalytical investigation of Gandhi's life and evolving methods to achieve militant nonviolent political change. It centers on the strike in Ahmedabad in 1919, which Erikson asserts is the critical moment that propelled Gandhi to national and international prominence, even though the event itself was largely ignored. Erikson does provide a rather sweeping look at Gandhi's life from childhood to his assassination.

If you have no idea what Satyagraha means, this is the book Gandhi's Truth is a psychoanalytical investigation of Gandhi's life and evolving methods to achieve militant nonviolent political change. It centers on the strike in Ahmedabad in 1919, which Erikson asserts is the critical moment that propelled Gandhi to national and international prominence, even though the event itself was largely ignored. Erikson does provide a rather sweeping look at Gandhi's life from childhood to his assassination.

If you have no idea what Satyagraha means, this is the book for you. If you have no interest in what Satyagraha means, then your ignorance, and your choice to remain so, speaks for itself.

Last, since Erikson, arguably, is a proponent of Freudian psychoanalysis, there are many parallels he draws from both Freud and Gandhi, especially since both were relative contemporaries. Though, at times the book does drag with some clinical terminology, it still is a fascinating read into the mind, heart, and devotion of one man who changed the entire world picture wearing mere "rags" and shunned virtually everything of a "respectable" leadership position.

If you care (and you may not - such is your legitimate choice) I have this book on my desk for reference as I write my latest novel. ...more
2

Sep 13, 2009

The descriptions on this site and on the book-cover itself are terribly misleading. This is much less an examination of the rise of militant non-violence as a social phenomenon than it is a Freudian examination of Gandhi himself. It offers some interesting reflexions on Gandhi's motivations, and I like the focus of the book on a seemingly minor strike in Amedhabad. Erikson's writing style is also a plus, as he is very conversational and humble while otherwise strongly criticizing one of The descriptions on this site and on the book-cover itself are terribly misleading. This is much less an examination of the rise of militant non-violence as a social phenomenon than it is a Freudian examination of Gandhi himself. It offers some interesting reflexions on Gandhi's motivations, and I like the focus of the book on a seemingly minor strike in Amedhabad. Erikson's writing style is also a plus, as he is very conversational and humble while otherwise strongly criticizing one of history's most beloved figures. Unfortunately, most of the book is so steeped in Freudian psycho-babble as to be not only significantly dated, but also really boring.

@blakerosser1 ...more
4

Jan 03, 2012

Great book overall.

Erikson wasn't as good a writer as Freud or Jung, but you can tell how much work he put into the book.

He offers an extremely clear, elaborate portrait leading up to "the event" and once you get there, the reading of the leaflets is simply awesome.

Although it has been criticized for being highly westernized in its portrayal of Gandhi as a human being overall... I don't find it so, seeing that Erikson makes it a prime objective to include actual writing or speech from Mohandas.

Great book overall.

Erikson wasn't as good a writer as Freud or Jung, but you can tell how much work he put into the book.

He offers an extremely clear, elaborate portrait leading up to "the event" and once you get there, the reading of the leaflets is simply awesome.

Although it has been criticized for being highly westernized in its portrayal of Gandhi as a human being overall... I don't find it so, seeing that Erikson makes it a prime objective to include actual writing or speech from Mohandas.

Now I will likely get Gandhi's autobiography so I can decide for myself if Erikson's analysis was merely psychoanalytic commentary or truly representative of what Gandhi himself believed... ...more
4

Jun 02, 2008

Erickson has always been a hero of mine. my dad's a neofreudian shrink, and character developement has always been somehting I've been interested in. well, this guy literally wrote the book, or books, on developemental psychology. I've read his other books. they are all very academic, as you may expect. but in this one, part of the facination for me was simply to find out that the author is a cool guy! Ghandi has never appealed to me in more than enigmatic way, and I would even mention that Erickson has always been a hero of mine. my dad's a neofreudian shrink, and character developement has always been somehting I've been interested in. well, this guy literally wrote the book, or books, on developemental psychology. I've read his other books. they are all very academic, as you may expect. but in this one, part of the facination for me was simply to find out that the author is a cool guy! Ghandi has never appealed to me in more than enigmatic way, and I would even mention that while he is bound to non-violence for all of history, he was actually the most psychologically violent person to ever live. this book touches on that. ...more
0

Jul 04, 2013

"...on this score, they were ready to kill-and it was now gandhi's job to convince them that to kill and to be killed was relatively easy: to know how to die without killing and to make one's death count for life-that was the question." The analysis of the human condition, that is the impermanence of life. From Gandhi's punctilious, sexual, abstinence spawned a deep consciousness of life and death. And from this came the beginnings of Satyagraha.

**Remember the Mahatma's intent on removing his "...on this score, they were ready to kill-and it was now gandhi's job to convince them that to kill and to be killed was relatively easy: to know how to die without killing and to make one's death count for life-that was the question." The analysis of the human condition, that is the impermanence of life. From Gandhi's punctilious, sexual, abstinence spawned a deep consciousness of life and death. And from this came the beginnings of Satyagraha.

**Remember the Mahatma's intent on removing his pyschoevolutionary prejudices against skin color. ...more
0

Nov 03, 2009

I have to admit I didn't finish this. I had to return it to the library, and haven't come across a copy since.

Erikson invented the concept of the identity crisis, which is pretty nearly irrelevant, in this book, but I just thought I'd mention it. The book might've been more riveting if I hadn't been trying to read it in a frozen parking lot in an unheated car. Probably I should try it again in better conditions.
2

Feb 12, 2016

Oh how I wanted to love this book! However, I can not tell a lie, I found it so incredibly boring. Perhaps my lack of training in psychology is at fault, perhaps I have no tolerance for repetitive verbiage, perhaps my life is too busy right now to appreciate it. Whatever the reason, I gave up on page 152. Give me a reason to finish it and I will try again but at this point I am done. Life is too short.
4

Feb 28, 2012

Erikson'e excellent analysis of how Gandhi understood his role in engineering India's release from colonial control is worth a read. It's also a discussion of how groups of people form national identities and how those identities relate to other groups/nations, with all the psychological perceptions of submission and conflict, and the struggle to overcome these perceptions.
0

Dec 05, 2016

Putting this on my "to read" shelf because this is cited by Carol Gilligan, chapter 3, In A Different Voice.
0

Jan 25, 2011

Mentioned in The Princessa: Machiavelli for Women by Harriet Rubin.
4

Sep 09, 2012

Read it 25+ years ago as a teenager, and enjoyed it. Good review at: http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/08/22...
3

Jan 29, 2013

I found this book is dated. I question whether a white American can psychoanalyze the life of this great Indian.
3

Jun 18, 2009

Highly insightful, Erikson did a lot of very thorough research to give us a penetrating and multidimensional portrait of Gandhi. Definitely worth the time.
2

The descriptions on this site and on the book-cover itself are terribly misleading. This is much less an examination of the rise of militant non-violence as a social phenomenon than it is a Freudian ...Full Review

Best Books from your Favorite Authors & Publishers

compare-icon compare-icon
Thousands of books

Take your time and choose the perfect book.

review-icon review-icon
Read Reviews

Read ratings and reviews to make sure you are on the right path.

vendor-icon vendor-icon
Multiple Stores

Check price from multiple stores for a better shopping experience.

gift-icon

Enjoy Result