This talk will address research into the history and philosophy of non-violence in Indian religious traditions, including Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. It will ask whether the stress on ahimsa in the Indian philosophical tradition is something worth preserving, even in the face of terrorist attacks such as most recently in Mumbai, and if so, how can that be done? The proposal to launch an Indian Union Mediation Service will be presented as one intelligent way to square this ethical circle of idealism versus realpolitik.
Dr Thomas C. Daffern is a specialist in peace studies, comparative
The third lecture is on the “Sanatani” Mahatma. Sanatani here may be taken as both the perennial Gandhi, but also the Hindu, in the sense of Sanatana Dharma, Gandhi. This lecture, thus, attempts to ask what aspects of Gandhi outlive him, but also in what ways he was the quintessential, perhaps the greatest, Hindu of his times. Such questions, understandably, assume greater urgency in a post-Hindutva India. If we closely examine his life, we notice not just how radically Gandhi modified and reformed the Hinduism that he had inherited, but also how deeply he renewed and burnished it.
These four, interrelated talks on Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1969-1948) may be considered as an attempt to understand and articulate the coherence of an exemplary life. Given how he regarded it himself—“My life is my message”—Gandhi invites to be read in terms of a consistency in his anubhav (original experience), vichar (thought and ideas), and achaar (conduct and action). To that extent, his is a life which sets itself up almost in opposition to modernity—almost, because it might be reductive to see Gandhi merely as an opponent of modernity.