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The Apostle and the Human Being

Rohini Mokashi Punekar

Edited by V. Geetha
Tara Publications, Delhi, India, 2004, pp. 464, £ 6.99


Soul Force is a brilliantly luminous book in more senses than one. It captures the voice and being of Gandhi in some of the most lucid and persuasive of his writings, and more significantly, it maps these writings in an unobtrusive structure that allows the reader to chart them as a development, a moral and spiritual journey, corresponding to the political journey of India to her Independence. In an introduction that is charged and awake to the humane power and the magnificence of this apostle of nonviolence and peace, V. Geetha yet manages to be open to and reflective about the lacunae, the gaps in his thought, which proved the basis of critiques from the socialists, as well as from anti-caste intellectual-activists like B.R. Ambedkar and E.V. Ramaswamy to whose modern liberal notions of legality and rights, and the urgency of their lived experiences of injustice, much of Gandhi’s moral and political philosophy appeared inimical.   Soul Force is a book of extracts from Gandhi’s writings on nonviolence and peace. These extracts are framed by editorial notes and annotations wherever necessary: the attempt is to anchor the writings in their historical context. The reader is offered therefore not only the lived experience from which many of Gandhi’s major ideas arose, but also the relevant social and political history of the period. ‘The intent’, says the editor, ‘is not to merely deconstruct a great life, or offer a new scholarly reading of Gandhi. Rather, the book seeks to restore him to history and by the same token to the living present. From a life that was so richly led, it seeks a sign for the times.’   The book is divided into eight chapters, which follow each other in a chronological fashion. Each chapter begins with a useful background note and is further divided into sections, centred on a key incident, event or argument from that particular period of Gandhi’s life. Each section too has its own introduction. The result is a lucidly guided survey and understanding of Gandhi’s debates, insights and the growing clarity of his major conceptions on issues related to nonviolence and peace, in troubled times of colossal historical upheavals. These reflections have been extracted from the nearly hundred volumes of his complete writings, speeches and letters; Gandhi’s reflections on interlinked subjects of sexuality, violence, health and female freedom and autonomy have ...

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