Mahatma Gandhi's Life and Legacy

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pulitzer Prize–winner Joseph Lelyveld discusses the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi—his legacy in India’s imagination and in shaping its struggle for independence as a mass movement. Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India shows how Gandhi’s sense of mission, social values, and philosophy of nonviolent resistance were shaped in South Africa. Gandhi emerges as one of history’s most remarkable self-creations: a prosperous lawyer who became an ascetic in a loincloth, and was wholly dedicated to political and social action.


Joseph Lelyveld

Comments [8]


Not the only author to explore Gandhi's legacy critically minus the Gandhi propagandists. Gandhi was racist and Indians knew it all along. One needs to read Ambedkar(leader of Indian low casts) and his views on Gandhi. Another recent good book is GB Singh's Gandhi: Behind the mask of divinity.

Mar. 31 2011 05:38 PM
cynt from los angeles

Gandhi was not a God or a Demigod he was a leader who united his people to fight against the crooked colonial British in a new way shaming them peacefully to leave India. He was a man just like Lelyveld who knows what are his shortcomings are so also Hitchens who spews out words, in comparison to Gandhi these two writers life amounts to zero in their contributions to improving the society and its people. They enjoy writing like masturbation!. Martin Luther King Jr was influenced by Gandhi he was also a great man with his own shortcomings and his contribution to improving the conditions of oppressed is as good as Gandhi's efforts. In the end that is what counts not Lelyveld and Hitchens writings.

Mar. 31 2011 03:08 PM
Walter from New York, NY

The hysterical reaction to even the suggestion that Gandhi may have, at one time, had a homosexual relationship is an indication of how uneducated and backward we still are about understanding human sexuality. Human sexual behavior is a continuum -- people behave and react to different situations at different times in their lives. If we could remove the religious nonsense attached to sexual behavior and not insist on putting definitive labels on everything, perhaps we could be more natural about how we develop and live. Whoever coined the phrase "homosexual panic" certainly hit the nail on the head!

Mar. 31 2011 09:43 AM
Henry from Manhattan


I can’t exactly recall where I read it. Perhaps a paragraph or two in God Is Not Great? Basically Hitchens felt that Ghandhi was too much of an eccentric religious kook to heap much historical credit on.

From some of the analysis in this interview, I get the feeling it’s not that far off.

I don’t know. I still really like the “idea” of Ghandi so while I won’t forget the negatives, I’ll strive to perpetuate the idealized qualities of The Great Soul.

Mar. 30 2011 02:16 PM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

Well at least they touched briefly on Gandhi's racism, I thought they would gloss over it as is usually the case.

I'll have to read Hitchens' writings about Gandhi, thanks for mentioning it.

Mar. 30 2011 01:38 PM
Bob from Brooklyn from Brooklyn (still)

Hello, and thank you. I know that Tolstoy admired Thoreau, and am wondering how Mr. Lelyveld sees Thoreau's influence on Ghandi. Thanks again,

Mar. 30 2011 01:37 PM
mpoppins from manhattan

We know that Gandhi walked great distances barefoot; lesser know is that he had bad breath. He was considered a super-calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

Mar. 30 2011 01:35 PM
Henry from Manhattan

Christopher Hitchens has written prose that is highly critical of Mahatma Gandhi while otherwise praising figures like Martin Luther King Jr.

I'd like to think Hitchens isn't simply being a contrarian, but maybe there is some substance to his critique.

If only to better flesh out Gandhi as a human being, faults and all, I'd like to ask Joseph Lelyveld what he would consider to be some of Gandhi's shortcomings?

Mar. 30 2011 12:59 PM

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