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Understanding Gandhi

Understanding Gandhi
Gandhians in Conversation with Fred J Blum

First Edition
  • Usha Thakkar - Institute of Research on Gandhian Thought and Rural Development
  • Jayshree Mehta - Vice Chancellor, Sumandeep Vidyapeeth University, Vadodara
Critical Acclaim

January 2011 | 572 pages | SAGE India

Understanding Gandhi is a collection of interviews of six of Mahatma Gandhi's closest associates—J.B. Kriplani, Raihana Tyabji, Dada Dharmadhikari, Sushila Nayar, Jhaver Patel and Sucheta Kripalani. The interviewees reflect on Gandhi's ideas in the light of changes that took place in India after Independence.

These interviews have been conducted by Fred J. Blum (1914–1990), an academician and consultant to the US Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, whose lifelong commitment was to understand Gandhi's approach to social, economic and spiritual issues.

The book provides glimpses of Gandhi's ideas and working relationship with his colleagues who came from a wide range of backgrounds, professions and geographical regions. It also brings out the thoughts of Gandhi and his followers on several important issues such as Satyagraha, non-violence, Brahmacharya, spirituality, and fasting. This blend of an intimate knowledge of Gandhi and the reflective hindsight gives the book a unique vantage point that promotes a holistic understanding of Gandhian thought and philosophy.

Fred J Blum: 1914-1990

J B Kripalani - In Conversation

Raihana Tyabji - In Conversation

Dada Dharmadhikari - In Conversation

Sushila Nayar - In Conversation

Jhaver Patel - In Conversation

Sucheta Kripalani - In Conversation


This excellent volume fills a gap in the extensive literature on Gandhi. It provides valuable information and insights and assists a balanced and just critical assessment of him. As the editors show, Gandhi still has much to offer to contemporary India`s struggle to create a just society and a healthy and self-critical political culture

Prof Lord Bhikhu Parekh
University of Westminster

There is no single Gandhi, and Usha Thakkar and Jayshree Mehta`s book compellingly captures the multifaceted aspects of Gandhi`s life, work, and writings. [This book] convincingly shows us the many different, creative interpretations of some of the people who were the closest to him. This is an exciting and well-grounded contribution to the Gandhi literature.

Prof Ronald Terchek
Emeritus Professor, University of Maryland

Understanding Gandhi captures that bit of history which can assist readers and researchers in drawing their version of Gandhi. Without doubt, it is a valuable addition to the Gandhi literature.

Understanding Gandhi is a collection of interviews of six of Mahatma Gandhi`s close associates… Insights from these interviews are enriching… Blum`s interviews present an enormously powerful tool to understand Gandhi`s ideas and their interpretation… Before each interview, the editors have given a brief life-sketch of the interviewee and this is certainly helpful for readers not familiar with these Gandhian leaders to place them in the right context. The editors also must be commended for giving an extremely readable and informative introduction, summarising the views of the interviewee, helping the reader to benefit from the interviews. Should the reader be inspired to read more on Gandhi, the editors of the volume have given a fairly exhaustive bibliography at the end of the book…. A very interesting book.

The Financial Express

The book points out that Gandhi developed rich and complex language of discourse to focus on key concepts—satyagraha, non-violence, brahmcharya, fasting, spirituality and others. This blend of an intimate knowledge of Gandhi gives the book unique vantage. Fred J Blum has adopted a different genre of interviewing Gandhi`s closest associates who saw him in different conditions and circumstances. The interviews promote the holistic understanding of the Gandhian thought and come out with kaleidoscopic picture of Gandhi`s dynamic philosophy that is deeply rooted in action for the emancipation of the subaltern poor people.

The Tribune

This book gives an exceptional insight into the circumstances that combined to make Gandhism irrelevant after independence… The interviews are so nicely done that they cover the entire gamut of Gandhian thought in a seamless manner. The chatty style of narratives makes it comprehensible to even the casual reader unaccustomed to the rigour of academic writing.


Usha Thakkar

Usha Thakkar is Honorary Director, Institute of Research on Gandhian Thought and Rural Development; and Honorary Secretary, Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya, Mumbai. She retired as Professor and Head, Department of Political Science, SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai. She has done postdoctoral research at the University of Chicago on Fulbright Fellowship, at Cornell University on Sr. Fulbright Fellowship and at York University (Canada) on WID Fellowship from the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute. Her research areas are Women’s Studies, Gandhian Studies and Indian Politics. Her publications include Politics in Maharashtra (co-editor, 1995);... More About Author

Jayshree Mehta

Jayshree Mehta is Vice Chancellor, Sumandeep Vidyapeeth University, Piparia, Vadodara. Earlier she was Professor and Head of Surgery in the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. She is a Fellow of the International College of Surgeons and past-President of Gujarat Surgeons’ Association. She was awarded the best Consultant of the year award in 2008–09 by Indian Medical Association, Gujarat Branch. She has published many articles in national and international journals. She has special interest in Breast Cancer and is currently doing research on its incidence among rural and urban women of Gujarat. Hailing from Porbandar she has been... More About Author

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ISBN: 9788132105572

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