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Embodying Nonviolence: Mahātma Gandhi’s Jain Influences

Course Number: 1005
Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948) is well known as the leader of India’s nonviolent struggle for independence from the British Empire. What is less well known is the great variety of traditions that went into making up Gandhi’s philosophy. These traditions include the Vaiṣṇava Hindu tradition in which he was born and raised, as well as the Jain tradition, a prominent tradition of his native state of Gujarat, which had a profound impact on his worldview and his advocacy of ahiṃsā–non-violence in thought, word, and action–in all aspects of life. This course will explore the considerable impact of Jain thought and practice on Mohandas Gandhi, and the role of the Jain tradition in his path to becoming the Mahātma: the great soul who has inspired generations not only of Indians, but of people around the world who yearn for the nonviolent transformation of global society. Of particular interest will be the teachings of Gandhiji’s Jain guru, Sri Rajchandra Mehta (1867-1901).

Learning Area

Jain Philosophy, History and Anthropology