A regular stream of new works explores the seemingly inexhaustible complexities surrounding Gandhi’s life and times. Writers inside and outside of academia continue to find new meaning to Gandhism. They are too numerous to discuss in a book that seeks mainly to explore a new context for Gandhi’s South African years from 1893 to 1914.1 The focus of the book is the religious and cultural orientation of his compatriots, which has received little or no attention by scholars; and, given that almost every account on Gandhi considers the South African years as being crucially important to his later development, this new dimension seeks to add to our understanding of the making of a social reformer.  

The vast majority of the earlier works tended to see Gandhi’s South African years as an extension of traditions in India. One example of this approach is the work of Pyarelal Nayar, his one-time secretary, who became one of his most prolific biographers.  He began a multi-volume project that placed Gandhi within the context of other significant political and social reformers in nineteenth-century India from Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Swami Vivekananda to swadeshi (patriotic self-reliance) protagonists like Mahadeo Govind Ranade (1842-1901), Bal Gangadar Tilak (1856-1920), and Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915) reacting to British imperial rule.2 D.G. Tendulkar’s eight-volume work also falls in that category.3 A more recent example is the work of Bhiku Parekh which made Gandhi the heir to the ecumenical concept of yugadharma within the Hindu philosophical and religious traditions in India.4

 Maureen Swan’s Gandhi: The South African Experience virtually ignored Gandhi’s Indian background to place him in the South African context and to present him as being ever mindful of opportunities to break into the Indian political scene. Swan denied Gandhi’s centrality as she argued that politics in Natal and the Transvaal were “crucially shaped by the social and economic stratification of the Indian population.” Stressing their materialist interests, she argued that the Indian merchants, petty traders, and educated white-collar workers dictated to Gandhi a conservative approach in the 1890s and early 1900s. Swan maintains that the early Gandhi had become a mere hired representative of the merchants who needed a full-time organizer. His legal training, his fluency in Gujarati and English, and his political views rendered him suitable. Gandhi was at best “cautiously and selectively reformist.” Later he became a revolutionary “only to the extent that the technique of mass passive resistance implied elements of a revolutionary style.” It was only in 1913 that Gandhi became a mass leader. Swan is critical of Gandhi’s failure to even consider including in his political movement the African masses whose oppressive conditions were worse than those of Indians.5  

While Swan’s work was influenced by Marxist scholarship and the antiapartheid movement of the 1970s and 1980s, others sought to find meaning in the wake of the apartheid regime’s demise in the 1990s. As India reestablished diplomatic ties with post apartheid South Africa, Gandhi was being re-appropriated for cementing the foundation of the relationship between the two countries. The second high commissioner to South Africa, Gopalkrishna Gandhi who is a direct descendant of Gandhi,  paid tribute to “the roles of Mahatma and Madiba” in creating “transcontinental mutuality” when he presented his credentials in August 1996. Mandela in turn praised M.K. Gandhi for laying “the foundations of a modern liberation movement.”

E.S. Reddy’s Gandhiji’s Vision of a Free South Africa pointed to the symbolically important role Gandhi played in India after leaving South Africa.6  Rajmohan Gandhi had a whole chapter on South Africa’s race relations in his book on Gandhi.7 Most significantly, The South African Gandhi: An Abstract of Speeches and Writings of M. K. Gandhi, 1893-1914 edited by Fatima Meer reproduced documents with commentaries by leaders across the new political, social, and economic spectrum, including Mandela, in an attempt to reassess Gandhi’s historical role and its relevance for the new South Africa.8

Gandhi in South Africa: Principles and Politics was intended to show the significance of Gandhi’s South Africa experience in his later political life in India. A seminal essay by A.J. Parel argues that Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj (1909) would not have been possible without the historical and intellectual contexts provided by South Africa.9 Parel reproduced Hind Swaraj with a detailed introduction and illuminating footnotes.10

This is the historiographical context within which this book seeks to expand the understanding of the South African Gandhi. It examines the cultural and religious traditions Indians brought with them to South Africa in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the extent to which Gandhian politics interfaced with them. It is not surprising that religion and culture should be significant among the early Indians. They articulated their world through culture, which broadly is defined as an ensemble of shared values and practices. There is close connection between culture and religion. Thus, Muslims debated about the best way that they could transmit ilm through their madressas to ensure that their children grew up with proper knowledge of Islam. Members of a caste organization, to take another example, talked among themselves about a code of conduct to ensure cohesion within the narrow confines of their cultural legacies and assimilated as much of the outside world as they needed to survive. Progressive-minded Hindus established Bhagavad Gita study groups so that they could gain a deeper understanding of its spiritual message beyond popular forms of religious rituals. We searched for activities that signified values transplanted from India. Migration studies are replete with instances where immigrant communities recreated the worlds they left behind in their new environments.11 This study is ethnographic in nature, but our sources did not allow for thick descriptions of cultural and religious explanations. Rather, it points to the existence of practices that show how important they were in defining Indian identities and determining behavior in the early years. Indeed, many of these practices have persisted among succeeding generations of Indians as segregation and apartheid further racialized citizenship and heightened a sense of ethnic separateness.   

Racial attitudes emerged around transformations in Natal colony’s political economy. In pursuing many forms of livelihood, Indians came into conflict and competition with Whites and Africans over land, labour, and commerce in the public and private sectors. It is in this three-way relationship that identities of all the groups were shaped. Zuluness was being defined even as the Indians began arriving, and White rule was coming into sharper focus as laws were passed in the 1890s and 1900s to restrict the trade, immigration, and political rights of Indian immigrants. The process spawned racial animosities. When the Natal Mercury responded editorially to a printed circular by Gandhi in which he defended Indians, it argued self-servingly that there was good reason to dislike the Indian presence in the colony. This dislike, it continued, was shared by the African; the “contempt of the coolie was even greater [among the Africans] than the Europeans.”

This study will explore some of the sources of differences and conflict around Indian communal activities. By 1910, Indians numbered 147,000, which, while it was only one-tenth of the total White South African population, had grown from 30,000 in 1890. It was under these circumstances that “Indianness” as a basis of transmigrational politics came into being. Gandhi was its chief promoter responding to the way White rule determined the place and role of subordinate groups. He founded the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) in 1894 to unite the Indians. Gandhi pointed out that as “Indians” they should seek protection in the imperial doctrine of legal equality.

Gandhi’s strategy connected South Africa to India as both were part of the British Empire. While his Indianness had wider imperial application, it denoted otherness and separateness in the South African context. Fully aware that White rulers intended to exclude from the system the indigenous peoples, Gandhi argued that “Indians” could indeed claim greater affinity because of their illustrious historical past. By contrast, the indigenous populations, referred to variously as “Natives” and “Kaffirs,” displayed no such advanced levels of development. Indianness at the very least implied that it was therefore unfair to lump the Indians with the “Kaffirs.” Gandhian politics helped to embed Indianness into the racialized ethos of emergent White supremacy in South Africa.12

The fact is that Indianness concealed a multitude of identities extant among the Indian migrants who settled in South Africa, and the important question is how Gandhi negotiated the differences and in turn was influenced by them. There are various strands of that identity as Indians were divided in terms of class, religion, language, and caste.  They were either Hindus or Muslims, spoke Bhojpuri if they came from the Ganges valley, Tamil and Telugu if they came from the southern parts of India, or Gujarati if they came from the western part of India.13 Hundreds of bodies emerged around caste, culture, religion, and language. Appendix 1 lists close to 140 bodies organized around culture and religion in contrast with about 25 that were secular in nature. Groups that incorporated culture in its broadest sense determined the ethnic dimensions of the Indian experience and shaped Gandhi’s world view. 

Religion was the strongest base around which Indian migrants organized their lives. Old world institutions and images were recreated. Indians built shrines, temples, and mosques. Among the earliest were the traditional Hindu temples that dotted the Natal coastline. In their Hindu world, gods were everywhere, and Indians constructed visual images to remind them that they are part of everyday life. They afforded them darshan—that is, the seeing eyes of the gods they worshiped were always upon them for protection. Seeing and being seen by the gods was indeed an act of worship among the Hindus. Rituals such as mantra-chanting, bell-ringing, conch-blowing, and fire-lighting became essential ingredients of religious worship. The outside of the temple articulated for them the plenum of life; and the inside directed them to the source of all life. So, Hindu migrants to Natal created these images and formed temple and cultural organizations to give them direction.

Muslims and Christian Indians, the other two important religious groups, were equally active in organizing themselves around mosques and churches. Most of the Muslims were Sunnis, yet in time, the Shi-ites would also come to play a role. All of them observed eight festivals fundamental to Islam. Muslim devotional music known in the Sufi tradition as qawwali (devotional songs) was sung in praise of God, Prophet Mahomed, and the Fourth Caliph, Ali. As for the Christian Indian community, Anglican and Catholic organizations were likely active as well, although we did not uncover evidence to show this. They used the networks of relations with Chennai (Madras) to help build communities in South Africa. These bodies often brought out educated Christian Indians from the southern parts of India, where Christianity had made an early introduction, to help in running state and church schools. In the 1890s and 1900s, Christian Indians produced an educated elite that was to play a substantial role in Natal public life. 

Indians maintained contact and communication with their ancestral homeland. Friends and family were remembered. The Makanjee brothers in Durban requested donations for road paving for villages like Karadi, Matvad, Samapur, Dandi, Kothamadi, and Pethan in the Jalalpur district. Morar Dalla in Cape Town appealed for funds to help the library in Khadsupa in the same district.  The Durban darjees decided in 1909 to write to the panch (council of elders) in Navsari for guidelines about expenses at social functions like weddings. Sometimes disputes were resolved through institutions with which the Indians were familiar. In Verulam, a dispute between husband and wife over money matters was resolved by a panch organized by Babu Talwantsingh and others. In appreciation of its role, the husband and wife donated over £7 to Verulam “dharmastan.” Another such dispute in Malvern was resolved between two quarreling Indians. The panch met on September 4, 1910, with Ambaram Maharaj as chairman.14 

Concern for those in India showed up most particularly in times of natural disasters. Such was the case in 1900 when famine struck Northern and Western India affecting 5.5 million people. The Indian Famine Relief Fund in Natal collected £4886, contributed in the following way: £3022 by Whites, £1760 by Indians, and £103 by “natives.” 

South Africa’s Indians identified with movements in India. One example of this was the swadeshi movement.  P.A. Moodaly headed this movement, which had branches in Durban and other major cities. There are numerous instances when others expressed support for the movement. In his talk to the Sanathan Dharma Society in Pietermaritzburg, Satyendrakumar Bannerjee linked swadeshi to education and unity. Various other individuals also addressed the issue in Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg, Stanger, Tongaat, and Kimberley.15 Of particular importance is that such appeals were being made before Gandhi wrote Hind Swaraj in which swadeshi values are at the core of the pamphlet. By 1910, there were many instances when Vande Materam, the patriotic song that was composed by Bankimchandra Chattopadhyaya and later adopted as India’s national anthem, was sung at the start and end of meetings.

This India-connected orientation is to be found in the remittances that Natal Indians regularly made to their families. The Protector’s Office, established in the early 1870s to monitor the activities of indentured Indians, kept careful records of money sent through this official channel. Money was sent also through the Post Office, and from the figures available for the 1900s, the amounts were substantially larger than those remitted through the Protector’s Office. In 1877, £97 was remitted through the Protector’s Office. Since then it steadily rose to £280 in 1880, £754 in 1883, and £901 in 1884. There was a decline over the next six years but steady increase thereafter. In 1901, the amount was £2060. The fluctuations were connected with the state of the economy in Natal, and of course, the number of people who availed themselves of the Protector’s Office for this service. A total of over £37,000 was remitted from 1863 to 1910.16 Money sent through the Post Office was quite substantial in the years for which we have information. The total remitted for four years between 1907 and 1910 was £249,340.  Much of this was “Arab” (Indian merchant) money. In 1901, for example, the amount of £105,889 was made up substantially of money remitted by wealthy merchants.17

Returning Indians also took with them large sums of money and jewels. For example, the Protector recorded that in 1908, £22,016 cash and £8696 in jewels was taken out by Indians. In one case, a man and his wife had so many jewels that an inquest was ordered. Sewsaran Kahar and his wife Suhodree possessed jewels worth £256. In question was a diamond in their possession. Depositions were taken from people who knew them, including the jeweller in Natal who had made many of the pieces. While nobody could say where the diamond came from, goldsmith Mody Sonar itemized all the pieces of jewellery that he had made. In the end, they were cleared of any wrong-doing. Protector L.H. Mason, who conducted the investigation, summed up, “It is no uncommon thing to see Indian woman parading almost daily dressed in velvets and most expensive silks, adorned (particularly on special occasions) with jewels of very considerable value, and there are at present time Indian women in this town possessing jewels over the value of £500 each.”18

The connectedness with India is well illustrated in a twenty-one-part story written in Gujarati in 1911 in the Indian Opinion. The story is in the form of a dialogue between accountant Udayshanker who had been in Durban for six years, and his school friend, Manharam, who came from the same village as he, and who had just arrived in Durban as a new immigrant. The dialogue raises contemporary issues in India and South Africa and provides useful incidental information. One of the more important details to emerge from the story is the extent to which networking was used in immigration and jobs. So, not only did Manharam come on the advice of Udayshanker, but he was carefully guided every step as he made his way to Natal. Once in Natal, Udayshanker helped him to find a job as a bookkeeper with an established trader, namely Hoosen Mahomed Company, an importer of cloth from Madras and elsewhere. The salary that Udayshanker helped to negotiate was £50 per year.

Udayshanker had left behind a wife, daughter, and an aging father. He had resisted bringing them out to Natal, but was overcome by guilt and remorse when he received a letter from his father and his wife who reminded him of his duty, and he decided to return to India. When Udayshanker departed, those who came to see him off included kolis, dhobis, darjees, Brahmins, and Muslims. His friends gave him gifts for their relatives in India.19

While Indian migrants were strongly tied to their ancestral land, they also engaged in making a new home for themselves. Indians were adapting as they made Natal and South Africa their home. There are several indicators for this. Indians began investing money in the Natal Government Savings Bank. In 1885, there were 172 depositors with a total savings of £2,819, and this number steadily increased in the next two decades. In 1900, there were 936 depositors with £23,362 to their names, and in 1908 they numbered 2,043 with £41,760 in deposits.20 Sports is another indicator of adaptation. The annual general meeting of the Griqualand Football Club in Kimberley reported the club’s participation in the interstate Sam China Cup competition which had started in 1904.21 The Mayville Indian Football Club in Durban was founded in 1904.22 There were reports of the activities of other sporting bodies: Overport Cricket Club, Malvern and Seaview Cricket Club, Durban Stella Football Club, Pietermaritzburg Natal Railway Football Club, Rander Anjuman Roshan Achhta Cricket Club, Rising Star Cricket Club, Rander Mehfil Sultania Cricket Club in Ladysmith, Ladysmith Indian Football, Durban Hindu Cricket Club, and Hamidia Cricket Club in Johannesburg. A deputation raised the issue of the lack of sporting facilities for Indians with the mayor of Pietermaritzburg.23 Indians followed other sports such as boxing and cycling.24

Education significantly factored in transformations that were shaping the world of immigrant children. They were being schooled through a system that was essentially South African. The syllabi required reading in English from standard texts.   

While Indians built their own schools and ran them, they also demanded the creation of government schools. Government schools built to cater for White children generally opposed accepting Indians. The Natal Prime Minister said in 1897, “There was great difficulty in defining colour, but the government would as far as possible keep the separate races in separate schools.”25 

In 1884, children made up less than 25 per cent of the Natal Indian population, while in 1906 the percentage had jumped to 37 per cent of the total.  Formal education developed slowly. Indians were scattered far and wide across the colony so that schools were not within easy reach of all who were eligible. In 1877 there were only 8 pupils.  In 1880, there were eight schools with 196 pupils. Three years later, the numbers stood at eighteen schools and 1011 pupils. In 1884, there were twenty-four schools and 1371 pupils. In 1885 there were three Board Schools catering for 295 pupils, and twenty-two Aided Schools serving 1275 pupils. Of the total of twenty-five schools, five were run by groups affiliated to the church. There were thirty-three teachers, most of whom were educated in Chennai. The average salary for teachers was £60 per year, and the salary of teacher assistants with sixteen years of experience was raised from £24 to £50. In 1899, the Natal government spent over twelve shillings for an Indian child as opposed to over seventy-nine shillings for the White child.26

Despite the steady growth of schools, the children of indentured Indians were still being neglected. One of the individuals who spoke on their behalf at an official educational commission hearing in 1909 was Swami Shankeranand, an advocate of reform Hinduism then visiting South Africa. He argued for “free and compulsory” education with primary education in the vernacular and English to be used in the fourth standard.27 Many others argued for the inclusion of vernacular education. When the government schools did not respond, they decided to organize it through their respective communities.28 The emphasis on vernacular languages is also apparent from the items kept by various libraries established and run by Indians. The Durban Indian Public Library made available seventy-five newspapers in English for its readers at the beginning of 1907; there were also forty to fifty in Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil, and Urdu.29

These, then, are some of the parameters within which Gandhi acted. Much has been said about the impact of his forceful personality on others.30 He spoke English with great clarity of thought and command of details. When he used Gujarati, he was totally at home in the idiom of his native tongue. He was given to using adages which native speakers knew and understood. The passion of his convictions often led him to ignore the points raised by his critics, and he was selective in what he chose to write or not write about them. He declined to reproduce the testimony presented by M.C. Anglia at the 1914 Solomon Commission in Indian Opinion after he received an angry letter from the NIC secretary requesting him to do so. Satyagraha in South Africa records in detail his activities in South Africa, but there are few references by name to the people who disagreed with him. Gandhi was a phenomenal collector of newspaper cuttings—all of them are to be found in the SN series at Sabarmati in Ahmedabad. He was therefore well informed and chose to ignore those persons he believed irrelevant to his own convictions.    

There is a remarkable transformation in Gandhi between 1906 and 1909, and this was to play an important role in the strategies he would use in 1913 and 1914. He carried out his tasks with “great skill and finesse” in his 1906 visit to London as one of the two members of the delegation.  He met and talked with militants like V.D. Savarkar (1883-1966), read William Mcintyre’s Ethical Religion which deeply influenced him, and took great interest in the passive resistance campaign waged by the Nonconformist churches in England and Wales to the Education Act of 1902. By the time of his second visit in 1909, he had little faith in the imperial government and questioned the value of modern civilization. He admired the ideas expressed by Edward Carpenter in Civilization: Its Cause and Consequence. Gandhi shared a platform in 1909 with Savarkar on the occasion of the Dussera festival celebrating the victory of Rama over demon Ravana. Gandhi spoke of Sita as embodying virtue, patience, and nonviolence as he reaffirmed his belief in passive resistance, while Savarkar stressed Durga’s violent slaying of Ravana and physical force.31

On his return voyage, he wrote Hind Swaraj, which Anthony J. Parel correctly describes as “an indispensable tool for the study of Gandhi.” It is worth quoting Parel in full, “… by 1909, Gandhi had integrated all the essential ingredients of his political philosophy into a coherent whole, ingredients that were derived from East and West. He had by then acquired a definite philosophical vision which enabled him to assess the relative significance of things that concerned him—the problem of the self, of the Indian praja, the nature of Indian nationalism, the modern industrial civilisation, colonialism, the extreme selfishness of the Indian middle class, racialism, the spectre of rising violence in India and the legitimation of terroristic violence by extreme nationalists. It is from that vision that the basic argument of Hind Swaraj emerges.” Swaraj was the rule of the self by the self. Self-rule could be acquired through self-control: temperance, chastity, truthfulness, freedom from possessiveness and greed, courage or the capacity to overcome fear, including the fear of death. “Such inner experience of self-rule enables the citizens to reinforce their political ethics by their aesthetic feelings, their political action by political symbols.”32 

These are the values he sought to inculcate at the Phoenix Settlement and Tolstoy Farm. In Hind Sawaraj he said, “If everyone will try to understand the core of his own religion and adhere to it, and will not allow false teachers to dictate to him, there will be no room left for quarreling.”  By 1912, he had developed a strong bio-moral dimension to his thinking. He wrote a series of articles in 1913 covering everything from proper diets to remedies for burns and scorpion bites to the control of sexual lust. He prescribed remedies for many ailments, but addressed one central question, namely, how people in search of freedom should cope with bodily “inadequacies.” If one learned to control the senses, one prepared oneself for political independence. He hoped to teach Indians the value of self-control as a test that they were indeed masters of their own destiny and thus deserving of the respect of alien rulers who lorded over them, and thus also of political freedom. In essence, Gandhi argued that those who were chaste and in control of their bodies had the potential to be their own masters.33 Joseph S. Alter’s Gandhi’s Body argues that Gandhi melded “together lessons from the Gita, Bible, Koran, teachings of Christ, Krishna, and Buddha. Cosmology, biology, theology are connected with filth, faith, and food. Diet reform is connected to his vision of politics, that is village democracy.” For him, “the ashram [was] a kind of staging ground and local laboratory for experimentation in large-scale sociopolitical reform.”34   

While many scholarly works examine the sources of Gandhi’s satyagraha in South Africa, none has carefully examined the religious and cultural makeup of South Africa’s Indians as a factor. Gandhi says little about it in his own writings, and yet he was intimately connected with the community of Indians who shared values that helped to shape his ideas. Gandhi may have articulated the broad outlines of his ideas, but they also sprang from the communities themselves. If India was ever at the center of Gandhi’s thinking, it was also so for his compatriots. The South African Indians were intimately connected to India in a variety of ways. Of particular interest in this study is how he drew from the cultural and religious diversity of the people.

Given the focus of this study, it draws heavily from two newspaper sources, namely Indian Opinion and African Chronicle. In Satyagraha in South Africa, Gandhi said that at its height around 1906 to 1908, the Indian Opinion had 3500 subscribers. But the newspaper was passed around, and his estimate was that as many as 20,000 readers had access to its contents. Indian Opinion reported widely on cultural and religious activities, and this study has drawn freely on them in chapters 3 and 4.

The columns in Indian Opinion reflect the context Gandhi helped to create. Between April 1910 and October 1912, for example, the newspaper used the cultural medium of poems in Gujarati and Urdu. It published twenty poems that were either religious or heroic. Ambaram Maharaj’s refined poetry drew heavily upon Hindu religious symbols. In one of the poems, he sang the praises of those who had been to Mecca, stressing the essential oneness of the message in the scriptures of Hindus and Muslims. He was seeking to build bridges between the two, and in that way served Gandhi, even if, as one suspects, the learned Brahmin did not agree with Gandhi’s interpretation of Hinduism. Sheik Mehtab recited popular verses in praise of people in the satyagraha movement even though he never joined the NIC. He wrote a ninety-two-line ghazal paying tribute to over twenty individuals involved in the movement.

The other newspaper, the African Chronicle, consisted of four pages in English and eight pages in Tamil around 1908. A year later, the ratio was eight to eight. It reported on organizations such as Hindu Young Men’s Association and Hindu Young Men’s Society. It was particularly strong on reporting on cultural events relating to Tamil-speaking immigrants and promoted the study of Tamil as a language. The Tamil Panchangam appeared regularly after the Tamil New Year in April 1910. In addition, African Chronicle focused on education, indentured conditions, and religious festivals like the Mohurram and Thai Poosum (Kavady). Occasionally, it reproduced guest articles by Swami Shankeranand. Like the Indian Opinion, it also focused on patriotic events and nationalist leaders in India. But unlike Gandhi’s paper, it gave space to the debate of those who held extremist views regarding British rule in India, as was the case in the June 1909 issue. V. Chattopadhyaya’s criticism of Leo Tolstoy was published in its April 2 and 4, 1910, issues. It also reported in March 5, 1910, the arrest of Professor Parmanand who had visited South Africa in 1905 for his alleged connections with a militant Shyam Krishnavarma (1857-1930) who was critical of Gandhi’s passive resistance.  In chapter 2, we examine the imperial setting specifically with reference to Africans. While Gandhi’s earlier attitudes toward Africans are filled with prejudices, it is his strong identification with the British and the action he took in South Africa to show his support that was open to misperception. Gandhi did not create racial divisions. Natal’s political economy played a significant role in shaping racial attitudes and identities.  In chapters 3 and 4, we turn to a detailed examination of the cultural and religious dimensions of the Indian experience. They reflect strongly a point of connectedness with things Indian, thus defining a unique form of South African Indianness. Under those conditions, how should one see Gandhi’s South African experience? How much did those conditions shape Gandhi’s politics in South Africa? These are some of the issues in which we see Gandhi emerge as a social reformer in chapter 5. In chapter 6, we explore the last phase of passive resistance in which he had to deal with dissension even as he used his creative energies to mobilize masses of Indian supporters. The important point of this study, as we say in the concluding chapter, is that Gandhi’s ideas matured within the culturally and religiously diverse makeup of his compatriots. In India, Gandhi would simply expand on what he learned and experienced on his road to mahatmaship.      


  1. Some recent works: Gandhi and South Africa, edited by Shanti Sadiq Ali, New Delhi: Hind Pocket Books, 1994; Joseph S. Alter, Gandhi’s Body: Sex, Diet, and the Politics of Nationalism, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000;  Burnett Britton, Gandhi Comes to South Africa, Canton, Maine: Greenleaf Books, 1999; Yogesh Chada, Gandhi: A Life, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1997; Margaret Chatterjee, Gandhi and His Jewish Friends, London: Macmillan, 1992;  Dennis Dalton, Mahatma Gandhi: Nonviolent Power in Action, New York: Columbia University Press, 1993; T.G. Ramamurthi, Nonviolence and Nationalism: A Study of Gandhian Mass Resistance in South Africa, New Delhi, 1993; Ronald Tercheck, Gandhi: Struggling for Autonomy, Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998; and J.N. Uppal, Gandhi: Ordained in South Africa, New Delhi: Publication Division of Ministry of Information, Government of India, 1995.

  2. Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi: The Early Phase, Vol. 1, Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House, 1965, xxiv+854 pages. Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi: The Discovery of Satyagraha—On the Threshold, Vol. 2, Mumbai: Sevak Prakashan, 1980, xxii+525 pages. Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi: The Birth of Satyagraha: From Petitioning to Passive Resistance, Vol. 3, Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House, 1986.

  3. Mahatma: Life of Mohandas Kramachand Gandhi, New Delhi: Government of India, 1960.

  4. Parekh, Bhiku, Colonialism, Tradition, and Reform: An Analysis of Gandhi’s Political Discourse, New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1989. See also his other works: Gandhi’s Political Philosophy: A Critical Examination, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame, 1989; and Gandhi, Oxford University Press, 1997.

  5. Maureen Swan, Gandhi: The South African Experience, Johannesburg: Ravan Press, 1985.

  6. New Delhi: Sanchar, 1995. Gandhi and South Africa, 1914-1948, edited by E.S. Reddy and Goplakrishna Gandhi, Ahmedabad, Navajivan Publishing House, 1993.

  7. Rajmohan Gandhi, The Good Boatman: A Portrait of Gandhi, New Delhi: Viking, 1995. See chapter 7, "The Colour Line," pp. 207-224.

  8. Durban: Madiba Publishers, 1996.  Professor Meer has been an anti-apartheid activist from the 1940s. She produced a popular account of Gandhi in Apprenticeship of a Mahatma, first published by the Phoenix Settlement Trust in 1970. The revised second edition was published by the Institute for Black Research/Madiba Publishers in 1994; and the first Indian edition was published by Dr. Ramesh Bharadwaj for the Gandhi Hindustani Sahitya Sabha, New Delhi, 1997. A film with the title, The Making of the Mahatma, was based on this book and made by Shaym Benegal in 1996.

  9. Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 1996, edited by Judith Brown and Martin Prozesky.

  10. M.K. Gandhi, Hind Swaraj and Other Writings, edited by A.J. Parel, Cambridge University Press, 1997.

  11. Scholars differ widely in their definition and understanding of culture. UNESCO’s 1997 definition is: “Culture is a dynamic value system of learned elements, with assumptions, conventions, beliefs and rules permitting members of a group to relate to each other and to the world, to communicate and to develop their creative potential,” International Encyclopedia Of Social & Behavioral Sciences, 5(2001):3116. See also the pp. 3-30 in The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays by Clifford Geertz, New York: Basic Books, 1973. Two studies on transnationalism are Peter van der Veer, editor, Nations and Migration: The Politics of Space in the South Asian Diaspora, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylavia Press, 1995, and Linda-Basch, Nina G. Schiller, and Cristina S. Blanc, Nations Unbound: Transnational Projects, Postcolonial Predicaments, and Deterritorialized Nation-States, Langhorne, Penn.: Gordon and Breach, 1993.

  12. Surendra Bhana, Gandhi's Legacy: The Natal Indian Congress, 1894-1994, Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 1997.

  13. Surendra Bhana and J.B. Brain, Setting Down Roots: Indian Migrants in South Africa, 1860-1911, Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 1990.

  14. Indian Opinion (IO), June 13, 1908 (6/13/1908), 11/21/1908, 10/2/1909, 8/27/1910, 9/10/1910.

  15. Ibid., 8/24/1907, 5/30/1908.  

  16. Protector’s Reports from 1863 to 1910.  

  17. Ibid 

  18. I 183/1890, 3282/1890, NAR, Pietermaritzburg.    

  19. IO 7/29/1911, 8/5/1911, 8/12/1911, 8/19/1911, 8/28/1911, 9/2/1911, 9/9/1911, 9/16/1911, 9/23/1911, 9/30/1911, 10/7/1911, 10/14/1911, 10/21/1911, 10/28/1911, 11/4/1911, 11/11/1911, 11/25/1911, 12/2/1911, 12/9/1911, 12/16/1911, 12/23/1911. 

  20. Protector's Reports, 1890 to 1910.  

  21. IO 4/9/1904. 

  22. The first annual banquet was held in 1905. IO 11/11/1905. 

  23. At the second AGM, the officials of the Ladysmith Indian Footbaal Club were B. Raghoonath Singh, T.G. Thomas, Soloman, and Syed Hassen. The captain was F.M. Samuel and the vice captain was M. Peters. IO 1/19/1906, 9/7/1907, 10/19/1907, 11/2/1907, 4/29/1907, 12/5/1908, 7/9/1910.  See also a recently published book on cricket: Ashwin Desai, Vishnu Padayachee, Krish Reddy, and Goolam Vahed, Blacks in Whites: A Century of Cricket Struggles in KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 2002.   

  24. The cycle race was from Bridge Hotel in Queen Street to Mt Edgecombe. IO 9/19/1908, 7/4/1908, 8/27/1910, 5/21/1910, 12/3/1910.  

  25. Protector’s Reports for 1883, 1884, 1885; IRD 357/1911; I 778/1907; I 1005/1908, I 2426/1909, NAR, Pietermaritzburg; SN 2976, 2977, Newspaper Cuttings, 9 and 13 February 1896; SN 885, 22 April, 1896, Newspaper Cuttings; SN 2256, Newspaper Cuttings, April 9, 1897,  SN 553,  Newspaper Cuttings, October 7, 1895,  Sabarmati, Ahmedabad. 

  26. The NIC had as one of its goals the promotion of education for Indians, but its role in direct assistance was minimal, and critics were not slow to point this out. John L. Roberts who wrote to Gandhi in March 1901 charged that education had become a "dead principle" for the Congress, and challenged it to offer scholarship funds instead of making "empty promises" and "unfulfilled pledges." The Indian Opinion criticized the NIC for its do-nothing attitude on education. SN 3488, 3485, Newspaper Cuttings, September 10, and September 10, 1900; SN 2494, 10 August 1897, and SN 3786, 12 March, 1901, SN 3077, 7 March, 1899, Sabarmati, Ahmedabad; IO 6/10/1905, 10/28/1905.   

  27. IO 8/7/1909.  

  28. Ibid., 6/18/1910, 7/2/1910, 7/9/1910; I 962/1900; I 868/1895; CSO 674/1910; I 1784/1908, NAR, Pietermaritzburg. 

  29. IO 2/23/1907. 

  30. Ibid., 8/24/1907, 1/25/1913; Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (CWMG), Vol. 12, p. 481. 

  31. Some relevant sources are: James D. Hunt's two books, Gandhi and the Nonconformists: Encounters in South Africa, New Delhi: Promilla & Co., 1986, and Gandhi in London, revised edition, Springfield, VA: Nataraj Books, 1993; Sushila Nayar, Mahatma Gandhi: Satyagraha At Work, Vol. 4, Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House, 1989. 

  32. M.K. Gandhi, Hind Swaraj and Other Writings, edited by Anthony J. Parel, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997, pp. L, LXI. See also the main points given in Hunt’s Gandhi in London, pp. 151-52, and in Sushila Nayar's Mahatma Gandhi: Satyagraha At Work, Vol. 4, Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House, 1989.  Other useful sources are: Parel, Anthony J., “Gandhi’s Idea of Nation in Hind Swaraj,” Gandhi Marg 13 (1991):261-82; and  Hind Swaraj: A Fresh Look, edited by Nageshwar Prasad, New Delhi: Gandhi Peace Foundation, 1985.  

  33. The first of the 33 articles appeared in January 1913, and continued until 16 August 1913. IO 1/4/1913, 1/18/1913, 1/25/1913, 1/26/1913, 2/8/1913, 3/22/1912, 2/15/1913, 2/22/1913, 3/1/1913, 3/15/1913, 4/5/1913, 4/12/1913, 4/19/1913, 5/3/1913, 5/10/1913, 5/17/1913, 5/24/1913, 5/31/1913, 6/7/1913, 6/14/1913, 6/24/1913, 6/28/1913,  7/5/1913, 7/12/1913, 7/19/1913,  7/26/1913, 8/2/1913, 8/9/1913. Gandhi created a bio-moral imperative of public life. His Key to Health (1948) was a shortened version of his essays in the Indian Opinion on "General Knowledge About Health" in 1913 which was reproduced in a book form in 1913, and reprinted in 1965 as The Health Guide.  

  34. The full title is Sex, Diet, and the Politics of Nationalism, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000, pp. 19, 22, 38, 84.