ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Seeking Truth and Practising Satyagraha

Tracing Gandhi: Satyarthi to Satyagrahi by Samir Banerjee, Routledge, Oxon and New York and Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, 2020; pp ix + 205, 995.

There are many books on Mohandas Gandhi ranging from the historical to the analytical. Given this range as also the simplicity of Gandhi’s own words, it is difficult to produce works with new perspectives on Gandhi. The book in review manages to do this in an interesting way by tracing how Gandhi evolved from being a satyarthi (seeker of truth) to a satyagrahi (practitioner of satyagraha). In doing this through the framework of the shift from the personal to the social, Banerjee offers a socio-philosophical reading of Gandhi. While these core concepts of Gandhi have been written about in great detail, the author’s understanding of Hinduism, and in particular its philosophical traditions, adds value to his reflections.

By tracing the path Gandhi’s ideas took him from being a satyarthi to satyagrahi, Banerjee argues that Gandhi traversed a path from the personal to the social. It is a book filled with very important insights about the influence on Gandhi as well as on fresh interpretation of some common Gandhian terms. At a time when Gandhi is both reviled and appropriated (including by those who have always been inimical to him), it is extremely important to understand the conceptual implications of certain core Gandhian concepts. Gandhi’s use of these terms comes from a deep sadhana, a ­reflection borne out of rigorous practice. In this sense, it is not easy to appropriate Gandhi without doing sufficient work—both at a personal as well as a social level.

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Updated On : 28th Jul, 2020
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