Gandhi’s Moral Authority

Gandhi had a clear distinction between being a leader with moral authority compared to being a leader just possessing political power.  In his eyes political power can easily lead to corruption, unlike moral authority that prevents the corruption of political power.  The foundations of the beginning of Gandhi’s support for moral authority began from Gandhi’s connection between brahamacharya and satyagrahaBrahamacharya suggests self control and satyagraha promotes the power of politics being exercised by love and nonviolent methods.  This connection between self-control and power shaped Gandhi’s ideology and epitomized his moral authority.
Over the next fifty years Gandhi was able to develop his ideology and condense his beliefs into three main beliefs.  Firstly he believed in a real swaraj, meaning self-rule.  Secondly, in order to achieve self-rule one must use means of satyagraha.  And lastly, in order for one to assert this force of satyagraha, swadeshi, or home production was necessary.  Gandhi’s definition of swaraj was more complex that earlier ideas of self-rule and individual freedom.  In Gandhi’s eyes, to achieve self control and individual freedom people must rid themselves of their passions that blind them from the truth.  People who possessed real swaraj were free from human’s limited viewpoints that cause a relativity of truth.  In addition to promoting self rule, Gandhi used the idea of satyagraha as a moral comparison to war.  This comparison is shown as he says, “we are at war against the Government, the Satyagrahi general has to obey his inner voice.”  These are just a few examples of the comparisons Gandhi made between war and his satyagraha campaigns.  One can infer that Gandhi was using these comparisons not to promote war, but to promote values that are associated with military life such as perseverance, obedience, courage, and self discipline.  Lastly, Gandhi’s belief in swadeshi was more than just boycotting British goods.  His intent was to promote nationalism and rebuild the nation from within.  The steps he took towards this goal was to boycott foreign and factory made textiles and only wear his khadi.  Additionally, his want for swadeshi began the spinning wheel movement.  He saw the spinning wheel as a symbol of self help and other step towards Indians achieving a true swaraj.
Based on the ideologies Gandhi promoted as well as his strict adherence to moral authority, it is no surprise that he was India’s most influential and powerful leader.


Dalton, Dennis. “Gandhi: Ideology and Authority.” Modern Asian Studies 3.4
(1969): 377-93. JSTOR. Web. 1 Apr. 2013. <

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