The Gandhian Moment

Ramin Jahanbegloo. Harvard Univ., $24.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-674-06595-6
In this brief book, Jahanbegloo, a professor of Islamic Studies at York University, explains and elaborates on some of Gandhi’s basic ideas, including satyagraha (truth force in civil disobedience), a belief in cultural and religious pluralism, and a commitment to Indian independence based on Hindu-Muslim unity. He also discusses two of Gandhi’s influential Muslim ideological allies and his influence on political and religious leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Desmond Tutu. However, Jahanbegloo hews too closely to Gandhi’s published writings and draws only occasionally on his political polemics or policies. In part because of this, and perhaps influenced by Gandhi’s highly idealistic rhetoric, the author’s language can sound ethereal while making grandiose claims on Gandhi’s behalf, as when he writes that his subject’s “political journey” involved “a search under the umbrella of truth toward a new agenda of global transformation.” In explicating Gandhi’s thought, Jahanbegloo fails to critique it or cite others to discuss its limits. Attempts to apply Gandhi’s thought in a largely unmediated way diminish the book’s political applicability. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/10/2012
Release date: 03/01/2013
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