Impact of Leo Tolstoy on Mahatma Gandhi

Impact of Leo Tolstoy

Gandhi was greatly influenced by Leo Tolstoy, through his book ‘The Kingdom of God is Within You’ and his essay on ‘Christianity and Patriotism’. Tolstoy’s ideal of “simplicity of life and purity of purpose” influenced Gandhi deeply. The “love as law of life” and principles of non-violence, that is based on love for the entire mankind, were deeply embedded in the writings of Tolstoy. Both Gandhi and Tolstoy adopted the idea of love to solve problems of life. Gandhi has written that reading the ‘The Kingdom of God is Within You’ had cured him of skepticism and made him a firm believer of Ahimsa. For both of them, non-violence could cure all social maladies, eradicate political ills and establish peace on earth.

  • In summary, it was Tolstoy’s ‘The Kingdom Of God Is Within You’ which made Gandhi speak of his “inner voice” and live a life of “simplicity”.

Celibacy and the Controversial side of Sex Life

Gandhi’s life of celibacy and brahamcharya has many aspects and includes some controversial, abnormal and unusual facets also. Gandhi has constantly spoken of sex and chastity. Most of the material regarding this side of his life has been distorted and suppressed in the course of elevating him to the “Father of the Nation”.

Gandhi is famous and often controversial for his famed chastity that also included sleeping naked next to nubile, naked women to test his restraint. It has been said that his was the personal vision of the Indian Brahamcharya in which mind dominates the body. Since, self control is paramount, his testing to see whether that control is truly in place or not was his logic, that made him having a bizarre sexual history.

Satyagraha & Tolstoy Farm

  • Against the Asiatic Law Amendment Ordinance, or Black law, Gandhi started using Non-violent way of protest known as Satyagraha, which really means Truth Force but mistaken as Passive Resistance.

    They started breaking laws and the Government started arresting the law breakers. In 1908, Gandhi was given two months imprisonment.

    Tolstoy Farm

    In 1910, the provinces of Southern Africa joined and created the Union of South Africa with Louis Botha its prime Minister. In 1910, Gandhi established another cooperative colony near Johannesburg, called Tolstoy Farm, having been inspired by Tolstoy’s ideas. Tolstoy Farm became Gandhi’s cradle of the Satyagraha activities.

    In the Tolstoy Farm and Phoenix Farm the disciplined cadres were trained about the peaceful violation of the specific laws, mass courting of arrests and occasional strike offs.

    • In 1914, Gandhi was awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind Gold Medal by the government for raising the Indian ambulance unit during the second Boer war.

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