The Making of a True Patriot: Background of Gandhiji’s Hind SwarajThe Making of a True Patriot: Background of Gandhiji’s Hind Swaraj
on Dec 30, 2020 Mahatma Gandhi was perhaps the “greatest Hindu patriot of our times”, says a new book, The Making of a True Patriot: Background of Gandhiji’s Hind Swaraj, which is scheduled to be released by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on 1 January.
The over 1,000-page book — based largely on extracts from Gandhi’s own writings from 1891 to 1909, including from his handwritten manuscript in Gujarati, Hind Swaraj — has been authored by J.K. Bajaj and M.D. Srinivas, founder-director and founder-chairman of the Centre for Policy Studies, respectively.The book tells the story of Gandhi’s evolution as a ‘Hindu patriot’ — starting from his early days through his travel to Africa and England and his return to India in 1915; his “dislike” for Christian missionaries; the “extreme difficulty” in achieving Hindu-Muslim unity; treating Satyagraha as a religion; his “disillusionment” with the Western civilisation; and how associating education with English-education was a grave error.
‘Satyagraha was a religious instrument’According to the book, Mahatma Gandhi was convinced that “no one who does not know his religion can have true patriotism in him”. “The struggle of the Indians in South Africa was, for him and for the Satyagrahis he led, not merely a struggle to gain some particular privilege or concession. It was a struggle carried out with God as witness to preserve the sacred dignity of the religious person,” read excerpts from the book, accessed by ThePrint. Religion, according to Gandhi, was at the core of Indian civilisation, while the Western civilisation was based in irreligion, the authors write. “The instrument of Satyagraha that he forged for this struggle was a religious instrument; and the cause towards which he used it was a religious cause,” the book says. Speaking to ThePrint, Bajaj said, “We have tried to tell the story of the evolution of Hind Swaraj as a text of religious patriotism and of the parallel evolution of Gandhiji as the greatest Hindu patriot of our times.” According to the book, at the peak of his struggle in South Africa, this religious patriotism of Gandhi had begun to shine through and become apparent to perceptive observers. “(Russian writer Leo) Tolstoy noticed it; and, for him, with his Christian universalist concerns, it ‘spoiled everything’ in an otherwise admirable and kindred personality,” reads the book.
On his ‘dislike’ for ChristianityAccording to the book, while Mahatma Gandhi described the spirit of tolerance of diverse religious beliefs in his home and town in Gujarat, he developed, at an early age, a dislike for missionary activities at the same time.
“…many things combined to inculcate in me a toleration for all faiths. Only Christianity was at the time an exception. I developed a sort of dislike for it. And for a reason. In those days Christian missionaries used to stand in a corner near the high school and hold forth, pouring abuse on Hindus and their gods. I could not endure this…” the authors quote extracts from Gandhi’s writings.The authors say both the tolerance for diverse faiths and the dislike for proselytising of any kind, especially by the Christian missionaries, remained with Gandhi throughout his life.