Lectures Presented at Salisbury University:
"Non-Violence in the Age of Terrorism" - Nov. 12, 2007
Born in 1934 in Durban, South Africa, Arun Gandhi is the fifth grandson of India's late spiritual leader, Mohandas Karamchand "Mahatma Gandhi". Growing up under South Africa's apartheid for someone of Eastern heritage was difficult, humiliating, and often dangerous. Enduring bigoted attacks from European-African youths for not being "White" and from Native Africans for not being "Black" served to increase the anger that Arun Gandhi bore as a young man. Hoping that time with his grandfather would help the twelve-year-old Arun control his rage and deal with prejudice through nonviolent means, his parents took him to India to live with "The Mahatma" (or "great soul") in 1946.
Arun's stay with his grandfather coincided with the most tumultuous period in India's struggle to free itself from British rule. His grandfather showed Arun firsthand the effects of a national campaign for liberation carried out through both violent and nonviolent means. For eighteen months, while Gandhi imparted lessons to his grandson, the young man was also witnessing world history unfold before his eyes: this combination set Arun on a course for life. His journey was strengthened by the resolve of his parents Sushila and Manilal, Gandhi's second son, to raise their children according to the principles of nonviolence--including loving discipline (not punishment) shared by child and parent, and lifelong commitment to social progress through nonviolence. Arun's father, Manilal, spent over fourteen years in prisons as he was repeatedly jailed for his efforts to change South African apartheid nonviolently. Arun's mother, Sushila, spent fifty-four years at Gandhi's ashram, Phoenix, outside Durban. After the deaths of Gandhiji and Manilal, Sushila was the ashram's driving force. She greatly lamented the ashram's physical destruction in 1985 although she asserted the indestructibility of the spirit that had created and sustained the community for over eighty years.
At twenty-three Arun returned to India and worked as journalist and reporter for The Times of India. He, his wife Sunanda, and several colleagues started the successful economic initiative, India's Center for Social unity, whose mission is to alleviate poverty and caste discrimination. The Center's success has now spread to over 300 villages, improving the lives of more than 500,000 rural Indians.
Having written eight books and hundreds of articles, Dr. Gandhi is an accomplished author and journalist. He published the Suburban Echo, a weekly, in Bombay from 1985 through 1987. Recently Arun envisioned and edited World Without Violence: Can Gandhi's Dream Become Reality?, a collection of essays and poetry from noted international scientists, artists, and political and social leaders on the ideals of nonviolence. This popular volume was published in October 1994 for the celebration of the 125th anniversary of Gandhiji's birth.
Arun and Sunanda came to the United States in 1987 to compare race issues in the American South, color discrimination in South Africa, and the caste system in India. In October of 1991 the Gandhis founded the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence. Its mission is to examine, promote, and apply the principles of nonviolence thought and action through research, workshops, seminars, and community service. Arun can be found lecturing worldwide at collages and institutes and addressing community and professional organizations.