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By Dr Glenville AshbyIn this seminal work, Pulitzer Prize winner Joseph Lelyveld reintroduces the inimitable icon, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to a new generation of readers.And for those who think they know this figure – inside out -a surprise awaits. In many ways, ‘Great Soul’ is a psychological journey – a detailed but incomplete one – if only because Gandhi was a complex figure riddled with ambivalence. Sure, he epitomized human resplendence and altruism. We are well aware of his satyagraha (forceful truth), and ahimsa (non-violent struggle). But Lleyveld begs the question: Should exaltation of any kind go unchecked? Lelyveld’s surgical account of Gandhi in South Africa reveals a troubled and irreverent individual. Gandhi apologists may vilify Lelyveld as a revisionist. Be that it may, one can hardly question the sound research of this work. He probes, questions and analyses.The book cover of great soulHis research is exhaustive,Cheap Jerseys From China, and by the end of this bildungsroman, the reader encounters a far more human and fallible figure – far removed from the lionized, monumental image projected in hagiographic films and books.The author sensibly avoids didactics, leaving readers to ponder and draw their own conclusions. But he raises serious issues. We Gandhi, who, like the black civil rights notable Rosa Parks, refused to or surrender his seat to a white man. But Gandhi was far from a revolutionary defender of the untouchables – unlettered, uncivilised and indentured Indians.He was a lawyer of the privileged Modh Banias subcaste, who was quick to educate whites (in the Transavaal Advertiser) on the difference between a coolie and an Indian.Gandhi, it seemed was caught up in a vortex of caste, subcaste, colour and class, that he both accepted, and rejected.In his gestational years in South Africa, Gandhi wore Western suites and socialised with those of his intellectual ilk. He was a defender of the polished Indian, be they Hindu or Muslim. To suggest otherwise is to be guilty of what the author calls “heritage myth-making.”In a racially charged South Africa, Gandhi sided with the British in as they were blacks or “kaffirs,Wholesale Jerseys,” bloody crackdown on Zulus. In fact, Lelyveld writes: “No reprisals his concern, derogatorily called, were hardly materialised,Cheap Jerseys For Wholesale, but signs of Zulu resentment over Gandhi’s decision to side with the whites were not lacking.”He quotes the Zulu newspaper Izwi Labantu: “African would not forget that Indians had volunteered to serve with the English savages in Natal who massacred thousands of Zulus in order to steal their land.”To this day, many in Africa and the Diaspora are weary of the torrent of praise that showers on Gandhi.Interestingly, it took Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi (then Nehru) – not the “Mahatma”- to state that “Indians and Africans must act together…”Through these provocative revelations, Lelyveld’s style is engaging. He is persistent. There is more to Gandhi that meets the eye. The author cites Gandhi himself: “I was tremendously attracted to Christianity but eventually I came to the conclusion that there was nothing really in your scriptures that we had not got in ours…”Is the author suggesting that Gandhi was viewing Christianity as a means to social mobility and acceptance in a brutally unjust society? Did Gandhi’s populist fervour emerge when a new reality dawned on him? That, as much as he tried, he was no better than an untouchable in the eyes of white South Africa? To what extent was the “new” Gandhi influenced by Leo Tolstoy and John Ruskin?Indeed, Gandhi is enigmatic and unnerving as the circumstances of his time. On a personal level,NFL Jerseys Cheap, he remains a paragon of irony – “many-sided.”And finally, amid his vow of brahmacharya (celibacy), we are ushered into Gandhi’s world of homo-eroticism with German born Hermann Kallenbach, and his strange fascination with his relative Manu Gandhi.In the end, though, Gandhi’s historical stature isn’t seriously threatened, but the reader is well counselled that he was very flawed.Yes, ‘Great Soul’ soars – a literary gem. It is written with virtuoso and forces us to confront imagination. Provocative. Lelyveld’s masterpiece – The Sword of Damocles – caste, racism, sexism,China NFL Jerseys, and socio-economic inequality.In this cesspool of misguided values, Gandhi emerged – a philosopher and with all his shortcomings, he somehow managed, as “master political alchemist”, to awaken the conscience of a stained nation – if not the world. ([email protected])Dr Glenville Ashby,China Jerseys, literary critic – Caribbean Book ReviewGreat Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India by Joseph LelyveldAlfred A Knopf, New York, 2011 ISBN 978-0-307-26958-4.Ratings: ****: Highly Recommended
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