…Fasting was a weapon- non-violent, of course- to control primarily oneself and one’s followers, and only secondarily one’s opponents. Gandhi, unlike Lenin, aimed first at truth and God. Only when these were attained, inside himself, could he have spiritual power over others.
Fasting was just one of Gandhi’s spiritual weapons. Purification was another. And so was Gandhi’s compulsion for self-cleanliness. This, too, he turned to political uses. At an annual meeting of the Indian Congress party, Gandhi writes in his Autobiography:
“There was no limit to insanitation. Pools of water were everywhere. There were only a few latrines, and the recollection of their stink still oppresses me. I pointed it out to the volunteers. They said pointblank: ‘That is not our work, it is the scavenger’s work.’ I asked for a broom. The man stared at me in wonder. I procured one and cleaned the latrine. But that was for myself. The rush was so great, and the latrines were so few, that they needed frequent cleaning; but that was more than I could do. So I had to content myself with simply ministering to myself. And the others did not seem to mind the stench and the dirt.”
In this incident Gandhi’s own compulsion is symbolically linked to the theme of “cleaning up” the corrupt political mess; it is tied to the destruction of caste lines, for scavenger’s work was restricted to the untouchables; and it is connected to the modernizing of India, for cleanliness is essential to modern civilization.
This then, can serve as a prototype for the way in which ascetism can be turned to revolutionary purposes. Gandhi’s control over himself- his fasting, his denial of sexual impulses, his repression of libidinal attachments to people- gave him a spiritual power over his followers, and together they exerted a moral superiority over the British that eventually brought about freedom for India. This was Gandhi’s revolution. Its nature is well summed up in the motto he offered his disciples: “Home Rule equals Self Rule and Self Rule equals Self Control.” Needless to say, operationally it was self-control that came first.
(see link at end)…After the birth of their fourth son, Gandhi suggested to his wife that they sleep in separate beds. Gandhi’s one-sided decision and sexual abstinence caused Kasturbai for a long time much stress. In search for spiritual development Gandhi studied the Bible, the Koran, and memorized the Bhagavad Gita. Also Leo Tolstoy influenced him deeply. Gandhi saw that his methods were in harmony with Hindu doctrines of ahimsa and that “the strongest physical force bends before moral force when it is used in the defense of truth.” In his middle thirties, Gandhi took the vow of bramahcharya, which means not only complete chastity but the elimination of sexual desire. To test his self-control Gandhi slept naked with young women. On his return trip from England to South Africa, he composed Hind swaraj, an updated glimpse of dharma, on the stationery of RMS Kildonian Castle. This product of feverish writing, which first appeared in two instalments in Indian Opinion, has remained a key to the understanding of Gandhi’s political philosophy.
Written in a the form of a dialogue between an Editor and Reader, and addressing a mixed audience, Gandhi attempted to convince his readers, that to drive out the English from India by modern methods of violence was a suicidal policy and that “modern civilization” was a greater threat than colonialism. Read More:http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/gandhi.htm