- Hardcover: 356 pages
- Publisher: Prometheus Books (1 April 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1573929980
- ISBN-13: 978-1573929981
- Product Dimensions: 16 x 3.1 x 23.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,36,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Gandhi: Behind the Mask of Divinity Hardcover – 1 Apr 2004
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"Col. Singh...presents his facts in a compelling way." -- Bookviews.com, December 2004
From the Inside Flap
Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948) is regarded as one of the greatest leaders of the twentieth century. In addition to being hailed as the leader of India's movement toward independence from British colonial rule using the methods of nonviolent resistance (Satyagraha), his popularity crosses all the boundaries of political, religious, ethical, moral, spiritual, social, and national systems. In fact, he is seen as so ventral to human rights that various societies, both Eastern and Western, have come to view him as an icon of nonviolence, rather than as a fallible human. Societies require icons of virtuous behavior to provide an ideal toward which to strive; Jesus Christ and Martin Luther King Jr. are similar examples (the latter deriving his own philosophy from that of the Gandhi icon). However, from a historical perspective, it is important to look beyond these icons to gain an objective viewpoint of a person's life. Only in this informed manner can we reach our own conclusions about the meaning of a person's contributions to society. Unfortunately, the body of literature about Gandhi is of such immense proportion that to wade through it to find the real Gandhi - the man in his own words, as well as in the words of those closest to him - is an almost impossible task.
However, Col. G.B. Singh has undertaken just such a task. His research into Gandhi's beliefs started in 1983 after the release of the film GANDHI. He recognized that the popular image of Gandhi is, more often than not, misrepresented and misleading. The Gandhi legend has been presented as if it were the truth and treated as an unquestioned fact. In an unending expansion of Gandhian literature, the reality behind the "mask" of divinity has been so skillfully submerged as not to allow critical evaluation. This mask both helped Gandhi in his time and has assisted those who have supported his ideology to achieve their ends without having to account for the morally ambiguous attitudes and events of his life.
Gandhi lived in South Africa from 1893 to 1914, where he designed and perfected his techniques of Satyagraha. But to date, no one has asked the critical question about the genesis of Satyagraha, and only a handful of scholars have delved into the murky areas of Gandhi's "relationship" with black people. Similarly, only a few scholars have cast a critical eye on Gandhi's life in India from 1915 to his death in 1948. During this time he gained worldwide prestige, and yet nobody asked. What personal attitudes did his politics belie regarding the British, other whites, and India's own Untouchables? Did Gandhi truly believe in abolishing the caste system, as the rest of the world has been led to believe? GANDHI: BEHIND THE MASK OF DIVINITY is the first investigative book to analyze the Mahatma's own writings. In this highly critical, intriguing, and provocative investigation, Singh presents the personal side of Gandhi often underrepresented by the vast majority of Gandhian literature. Readers will find particularly interesting the case of William Francis Doherty, a white American whose murder at the hands of Gandhi's followers was subsequently covered up by Gandhi himself. What does this say about Gandhi the man, and what does it mean for our modern understanding of his beliefs?
Naturally, a critical analysis of Gandhi's life has implications for our understanding of modern India, a Hindu state that has already manufactured nuclear weapons and will likely produce more. Why are the followers of "nonviolent" Gandhi bent upon manufacturing weapons of mass destruction, in addition to building huge military and paramilitary forces? The while tenor of contemporary Indian military strategy seems not to correspond to the prevalent depiction of Gandhian philosophy. The post-September 11 world is radically different, and it compels is to critically investigate India's politics, its leaders, and their brand of ideology - starting with the ideas of the man who led India to modern statehood.See all Product description
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With respect to the Zulus, Gandhi was portrayed as disrespectful toward them. He volunteered to be a stretcher bearer for the British to put down a Zulu uprising in 1906 and when he was imprisoned in that country, he requested separate bathroom facilities for Indians as opposed to using the facilities with the blacks. He also advocated for equal rights for Indians, but not for the blacks. In India, he practiced non-violence. However, Singh contends that many of his followers were not so disposed to follow his example; they agitated constantly during British rule which resulted in the death of many Europeans, Parsees and Muslims.
As for the Untouchables, the book tells us that Gandhi looked down on them and stated that they should be content to remain in the social condition where they were situated. The rest of the book showed Gandhi's inconsistencies like telling the Jews not to resist Nazi atrocities committed on them, telling Poland not to fight Germany, but telling the Czechs to resist.
This book consists of 312 pages, an appendix, bibliography and an index. As for the book, the contents was heavily footnoted and persuasive. One big problem I had with the book was that the author took almost a third of the book to talk about Gandhi's conduct in the Zulu rebellion. I thought that it could have been stated more briefly. A good book nonetheless. Four Stars.