Students of Gandhi have long recognized that there exists a significant gap in
the Gandhi scholarship. None of Gandhi’s many biographers has focused on Gandhi’s
extensive practice of law. Similarly, scholars have not examined Gandhi’s experience
in the law as a critical factor contributing to the development of his philosophy
and practice of nonviolence. This book takes up those tasks. Using previously unexamined
archival materials, it brings to light for the first time Gandhi’s ultimately unsuccessful
attempt to use the courts to defend Indian rights. It argues that Gandhi’s subsequent
disillusionment with litigation as a tool for justice and social change led him
to experiment with a new approach—nonviolent civil disobedience.
The book does not conclude that Gandhi abandoned his faith in the rule of law. Rather, it concludes that he discovered within the law the grand dynamic that converts disobedience to change—change even in the law itself.
As it makes this argument, the book does not ignore the person of Gandhi. It demonstrates that it was the practice of law that allowed Gandhi to transform himself from a shy and awkward youth into the competent and confident public person who would later lead India to freedom.
Video: Gandhi vs. Gandhi
Panel Discussion with Faisal Devji, Richard Sorabji, Ananya Vajpeyi, and Charles DiSalvo
Jaipur Literature Festival
Jaipur, India—January 26, 2013
(See the 2:15 session; click on “watch session video”.)