The Making of the Mahatma
Chandran D. S. Devanesen
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

First published over 50 years ago, The Making of the Mahatma was an important contribution to the literature on the life and thought of M. K. Gandhi. It was the first scholarly work to identify the forces that moulded the young boy from nineteenth-century Kathiawar into a force that sealed the fate of colonialism in the next century. This seminal volume details the first 40 years of Gandhi’s life as a late Victorian youngster in a native princely state, as a tentative student in London, and as an inexperienced but determined lawyer in South Africa. Through its insights into Gandhi’s early reading, influences and social life, it provides a critical study of the formative years that led to the writing of his statement of beliefs—the Hind Swaraj.

The author argues that Gandhi was influenced not just by Indian history and culture, but also by the intellectual and spiritual environment of more than one great civilisation. We have to move beyond the beliefs and legends that have grown around the Mahatma to more objectively understand him as a great man produced by the historical forces of his time.

This engaging narrative is now reissued with a Foreword by Rajmohan Gandhi. As a well-known, influential work, this book will interest students of history, Gandhian thought and peace studies.

Chandran D. S. Devanesen (1917–82) was the first Indian principal of Madras Christian College (MCC), Tambaram. He also served as Professor and Head, Department of History, MCC, and was the founder Vice-Chancellor of North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong.

List of illustrations

Foreword by Rajmohan Gandhi


1. The Power of Tradition: Gandhi’s Kathiawadi Heritage

         Gandhi as a Kathiawadi

         The Holy Land of Western India

         An Outline of Kathiawad History

         The Ancient and Medieval Period

         The Maratha Period

         Gandhi’s Bania Heritage

         The Influence of Jainism

         Gandhi and the Vallabhacharya Sampradaya

2. Whirlwinds of Change: Kathiawad in the Nineteenth Century

         Christian Influences in Kathiawad

         India After the Mutiny

         Keatinge’s Reforms, 1863–1867

         The Rajasthanik Court

         Kathiawad and The American Civil War

3. The Gandhis of Porbandar

         The Wave of Reform

         The Sin of Machinery

         The Birth of a Conservative Radical 

4. Portrait of A Young Indian as a Late-Victorian: A Young Man at Sea


         Playing the English Gentleman

         The Perfect Way in Diet

         Cleansing the Heart of Passions

         The Religion of the British Middle-Class

         The Key to Theosophy

         “… dear London”

5. The Birth of A Fighter


         Barrister Gandhi

         The Anti-Indian Demonstration Crisis of 1897

         Gandhi and Colour Prejudice

         The Imperial Angle


6. The Manifesto of the Gandhian Revolution: The Writing of Hind Swaraj

         The Contents of Hind Swaraj

         The Significance of Hind Swaraj

         The Style of Hind Swaraj

         The Cultural Conflict in Hind Swaraj



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