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  Gandhianism is a term derived from the life and teaching of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, which has become institutionalized in India, because every ‘serious’ politician feels obliged to appear in khadi (hand-woven cotton) and to support such Gandhian causes as handloom industries. Publication of Gandhi\'s works is subsidized, as the works of Marx used to be in Eastern Europe. In the 1970s his name was used to endorse birth control policies, when he insisted on continence as the only remedy. Nevertheless, the Gandhi Peace Foundations near Delhi and Gandhigram, Tamil Nadu, were involved in supporting civil rights issues to the irritation of the governments of Indira Gandhi (no relation) and her sons. Both institutions emphasize rural reconstruction and experimentation with ways of working with the poor, as Gandhi did.

Gandhi saw himself essentially as a religious reformer. He was a man of great personal piety as well as charisma. He belonged to the Vaishya class (see caste) and while his strict vegetarianism, abhorrence of sex, pursuit of self-control and personal asceticism may derive from the mores of his caste, he was also greatly influenced by local Jain priests near his home, for example in his doctrine of nonviolence, and by Christians who befriended him when he studied law in London and then went to work in South Africa. Despite such eclecticism, Gandhi was always a thoroughgoing Hindu, deeply opposed to conversion. He claimed that God is truth and truth is God. He followed dharma (see Dharmic religion) as a force based on nonviolence, truth, renunciation and absence of passion. This approach made it possible for those who loved India to join his movement regardless of their religion. He came to represent a moral force, to which the British had no answer, and the death knell of conservative Brahmanic religion. EMJ

Further reading Percival Spear, A History of India, vol. 2.



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