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M.K. Gandhi and Travel Narratives


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Title: M.K. Gandhi and Travel Narratives

M.K. Gandhi and Travel Narratives
  • "If we Indians could only spit in unison, we
    would form a puddle big enough to drown 300,000
  • M.K. Gandhi

Vinayak ChaturvediDepartment of History UC
  • Ideas I introduce in every class
  • a. Our historical contexts as historians
  • b. Historians are actors and narrators
  • c. The concepts we use are not fixed
  • d. History doesnt necessarily have a happy

M.K. Gandhi
  • 1869 Born in Porbandar, Gujarat
  • 1888-1891 England
  • 1893-1915 South Africa (25 years)
  • 1917-1918 Leads 3 Local Satyagrahas
  • 1919 First All-India Satyagraha
  • 1920-1922 Adopts non-cooperation
  • 1930 Salt March
  • 1942 Quit India Movement
  • 1947 Independence/Partition
  • January 30, 1948 Assassinated

Map of British IndiaPinkBritish controlled
territoryYellowPrincely States
Context of Travel in 19th Century
  • 30 million Indians traveled outside of India in
    the 19th century
  • Links to British Empire
  • 1. Army
  • 2. Labor
  • 3. Merchants
  • 4. Education
  • Britain, British Guyana, East Africa, South
    Africa, Burma, Southeast Asia, Fiji

What did travel mean for Gandhi?
  • A Question of Caste
  • (kala paniblack water)
  • Education and Class
  • Vegetarianism
  • Religion
  • Empire and Racism
  • Politics and Nationalism

Gandhis Writings(Travel Writings/Writings about
  • Letters
  • Newspaper Articles
  • Books
  • Petitions
  • Legal Documents
  • Autobiography My Experiments with Truth
  • Hind Swaraj, or Indian Home Rule

AutobiographyMy Experiments with Truth
  • Written in prison (1925)
  • Anti-autobiography
  • gt2/3 of text on experiences outside of India
  • Book ends in 1921
  • TruthGod
  • Public vs. Private

Hind Swaraj (HS)
  • Perhaps the most important text written by Gandhi
  • Original English title Indian Home Rule
  • Only book Gandhi translates into English
  • Provides an introduction to Gandhis ideas
  • Articulates his positions on non-violence,
    passive resistance, and satyagraha
  • He fine tunes this text throughout his lifetime
  • If you are going to read one text by Gandhi, this
    is it!

Some details about HS
  • Written in Gujarati in 1909 while returning to
    S.Africa from England
  • Originally published in the
  • Indian Opinion
  • Gujarati text banned in India

The Form of HSQ. What do I mean by form?A.
The shape and structure of an object the
design, structure, or pattern of work.
  • HS is a dialogue between 2 individuals
  • Newspaper EditorGandhi
  • Newspaper ReaderUnknown figure or a composite of
    several individuals
  • Why did Gandhi choose this form?
  • To make it easy reading, the chapters are
    written in the form of a dialogue between the
    reader and the editor. (p. 11) Also, see his
    comments on pages li, 6

More on Dialogue
  • These views are mine, and yet not mine. (see
    full quote on p. 10)
  • If the readerswho may see the following
    chapters will pass their criticism on to me, I
    shall feel obliged. (11)
  • The only motive is to serve my country, to find
    out the Truth, and to follow it. (11)

Why has HS been written according to Gandhi?
  • My countrymen believe that they should adopt
    modern civilisation and modern methods of
    violence to drive out the English. HS has been
    written to show that they are following a
    suicidal policy, and that, if they would but
    revert to their own glorious civilisation, either
    the English would adopt the latter and become
    Indianised or find their occupation in India
    gone. ( 7)
  • (Also see xv I have written because I could not
    restrain myself.)

The Historical Context in which HS was written
  • 1. Modern Civilization
  • 2. Politics of South Africa
  • 3. The Politics of Expatriate Indians
  • 4. The Indian Nationalist Movement
  • Consider Gandhis definition of civilization
    that mode of conduct which points out to man the
    path of duty. (p. xix)

A bit about the title
  • HindIndia in this context
  • Hind the root for Hindu and India
  • All of the above derived from Indus River
  • Swaraj (swaself) (rajrule)
  • The root swa is translated as home by Gandhi
  • The title Hind Swaraj becomes Indian Home Rule

More on swaraj
  • A purpose of the book was to clarify the meaning
    of swaraj
  • (swaself) (rajrule) self-rule
  • (swahome) (rajrule)home-rule
  • (swaself) (rajgovernment)self-government
  • Here is the tricky part Gandhi adds
    improvement to the understanding of raj.
    Hence, swaraj also means self-improvement!!
  • Indian Self Rule Indian Home Rule
  • Indian Self Government Indian Self-Improvement

Brute Force
  • the force of love and pity is greater than the
    force of arms. (84)
  • One of the aims of non-violence is the moral
    regeneration of the pertpetrator/oppressor

Passive Resistance (Satyagraha)
  • (SatTruth/God/Soul) (agrahaforce)
  • Sacrifice of self (90) vs. sacrifice of others
  • Real home rule is possible only where passive
    resistance is the guiding force of the people.
    Any other rule is foreign rule. (96)

Passive Resistance, continued
  • Those who want to become passive resisters for
    the country have to observe (see 96-99)
  • Perfect chastity (Celebacy)
  • Adopt poverty (Simplicity)
  • Follow truth (God)
  • Cultivate fearlessness

  • Reader This is a large order. When will all
    carry it out? (118)
  • Editor You make a mistake. You and I have
    nothing to do with the others. Let each do his
    duty. If I do my duty, that is, serve myself, I
    shall be able to serve others.
  • Editor I bear no enmity towards the English, but
    I do towards their civilization.
  • Gandhis definition of true civilization
    Civilization is that mode of conduct which points
    out to man the path of duty.

Some Web Sites
  • Digital South Asia Library dsal.uchicago.edu
  • M.K. Gandhi www.gandhiserve.org
  • B.R. Ambedkar www.ambedkar.org
  • Google Video www.video.google.com
  • Voice of the Shuttle vos.ucsb.edu
  • Maps Linked through VOS
  • Maps II www.worldatlas.com
  • Centers for South Asia
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