Indian Influences on Gandhi

Indian Influences on Gandhi:

In his family, he was influenced very much by his parents. His mother, Putlibai, a lady of devout temperament, influenced his religious thoughts. She was a deeply religious woman who taught the young boy the lessons of saintliness. Gandhi learnt the alpha of religion from his mother which formed the foundation of his religious ideas. Gandhi, having been born in a Vaishnava family, drew much from it. In a Vaishnava family, God is conceived of like a Supreme Being endowed with all qualities.

Gandhi was also influenced by the teachings of Jainism in his early life. Jainism had been a greater living force in Gujarat than in any other part of India. Jainism preaches the well known extreme view of non-violence which impressed Gandhi very much. Edwin Arnold’s The Light of Asia gave him a good idea of Buddha’s teachings. In addition to these sources of influence, many religious books also influenced Gandhi’s thoughts and ideas. Of the books which moulded him, Gita can be ranked as the foremost. Gandhi also went through other religious epics and sacred works like the Ramayana of Tulsidas, the Mahabharata of Vyasa, the Manusmriti of Manu, the translations of the Upanishads, and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. The influence of the Ramayana of Tulsidas on Gandhi was next only to that of the Gita.

Gandhi was also greatly influenced by the life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda. Vivekananda’s conception of Daridranarayan (the poor as God) was adopted, elaborated and practised by Gandhi himself. He was also influenced by two men in particular. They were Dadabhai Naoroji and G.K. Gokhale. He accepted Gokhale as his ‘Political Guru’. The other great Indian who stimulated the young mind of Gandhi was Sir Pherozeshah Mehta and Lokmanya Tilak.


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