When asked about his message to the world, the Mahatma famously said, ‘My life is my message,’ In him there was no room for contradiction between thought and action. His life in its totality is a series of experiments to convert dharma, moral principles, into karma, practices in action.
Gandhi believed that development is a dialectical process stemming from the antinomy of two aspects latent within everyindividual – the brute and the divine. While the former represents instinct-driven behaviour, the latter is one’s true self, which is altruistic. Gandhi described this process different fields, most of which are relevant even today.
Gandhi’s Dharma is an overview of Mahatma Gandhi – his person philosophy, and practices. The author asserts that basic principles governing Gandhi’s thoughts – satya, ahimsa, and sarvodaya – are not relics of the past. Nor are his thoughts an obsolete list of rules, Gandhi’s ideas are dynamic principles perpetually in the making, perfectly adaptable to contemporary life.
My interest in Mahatma Gandhi goes back to my school days. This is in part due to the influence of my father. In high school, I was a kind of student leader and was associated with a number of functions relating to Gandhi. Gandhi's image was so strongly imprinted in my mind even then that the news of his death left me bereaved. On that day I cried as if I had lost a parent.
The childhood interest grew stronger with my educational advancement. Gandhi was the subject of my PhD dissertation. Gandhi has since been an important source of inspiration. Whether it was my involvement in para-psychological research or the study of yoga or consciousness, the backdrop was Gandhian thought. Even now, as the Chancellor of GITAM University, I am involved in promoting Gandhian studies and I am truly glad to function as the Chairman of its School of Gandhian Studies.
Currently, my interests in Gandhi and yoga are intertwined. The result is the development of a hybrid concept—the 'Yoga of Nonviolence. This, in my view, is the kind of yoga that needs to be promoted around the world. Our prime minister, Narendra Modi, has been involved in accelerating worldwide interest in yoga. Thanks to his effort, the United Nations declared 21 June as the International Yoga Day. However, it would not be correct to equate yoga with the popular physical exercises, which constitute only the preliminary steps. The essence of yoga is the control of the mind. In the context of the yoga of non-violence, this would mean controlling of the mind to refrain from violence in all its forms and inculcating in it the spirit of non-violence. This, in turn, involves developing a mindset of altruism, refraining from exploiting others, and not abusing the environment.
My most recent scholarly efforts are focused on writing about yoga and Gandhi. The results include this book and another titled Foundations of Yoga Psychology (forthcoming). In my continuing academic involvement in and contributions to these subjects, I received much assistance from a number of people, some of whom I know personally and a few only professionally. Among those around me from whom I received significant help are my colleagues at GITAM's School of Gandhian Studies—Rosetta Joseph in particular meticulously went through every word of the manuscript and did valuable copy-editing. My secretary, Prasanna, is always there assisting me. I also received significant help from Ramalakshmi who is in charge of the library at the GITAM School of Gandhian Studies. Among those whom I do not personally know, but who have been a great help, are members of the team at Oxford University Press. I am thankful to all of them.
I received all kinds of help and support from M. V. V. S. Murthi, President of GITAM University. He continues to be a source of encouragement in my academic activities in general and Gandhian studies in particular. Dedicating this book to him is, in a significant sense, an inadequate tribute.
My acknowledgements would be incomplete without mentioning my caring wife, Sarojini Devi. She has been a source of personal joy and domestic happiness that enables me to be active at the age of eighty-five.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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