Gandhi by Arnold David Book Review

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South Asia

Gandhi: A Saint Not Without Stains, A Critical review of David Arnold’s Gandhi.

Arnold, David. Gandhi: Profiles in Power. Harlow, England: Longman, 2001.

Gandhi, by David Arnold is a well-written book covering the different aspects of Gandhi’s life in a rather neutral and at the same time critical manner. The author gives the reader an understanding of the actions of Gandhi, his impact, and how the events of his time and upbringing influenced him. Arnold does this without putting Gandhi on a pedestal or presenting him as flawless. The book is more of a study of Gandhi’s life rather than the typical biography.

Arnold analyses and gives an overview of the most common titles given to Gandhi such as a “saint in politics”, “father or maker of India” and a “traditionalist or revolutionary” (5-8) in the introduction and throughout the remainder of the book. The second chapter gives a background of the town or city Gandhi grew up in, and notes that he was born in an area that was “most politically fragmented in India” between British India and Indian princely states (15). He was born in Porbandar a town in Gujarat or Kathiawar apart from the rest of India on October 21, 1869 (15). Gandhi grew up “in an atmosphere of politics”, for his family served the rulers of his town as diwans, or held other political positions. Growing up in such an environment, he learned to embrace the idea of Indians, ruling “their own states” and lands, even though they were slightly under British supervision. He had an arranged marriage at the age of 13, and both of his parents died while he was young.

Many other factors influenced his childhood such as growing up in “the middle caste or middle class” (21), only having 14% Muslims in Kathiawar and majority Hindu, his religious mother, and father’s death during sexual activity. These factors would help shape his ideas on celibacy, fasting and views on Hindu-Muslim differences. He drew concepts...
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