Playing Back ‘the Voice of Gandhi’ 70 Years after His Passing

2018-03-16 Academic

Widely recognized as the ‘Father of India’ and ‘Pioneer of Non-Violent Resistance,’ it has been 70 years since Gandhi’s passing. But, his voice visits Korea once more.

Gandhi’s voice has come back in the form of an anthology that has compiled his broad works and ideas. The collection is alive with his hand-written letters, columns, and speeches. It also symbolizes a “new beginning,” as Professor Woo-Sung Huh of the Department of Philosophy has extensively revised the initial edition.

Thirteen years after the initial publication in 2004, Professor Huh has re-translated ‘Mahatma Gandhi’s Ethical and Political Ideas’ (hereafter ‘Gandhi Anthology’) by Nanam Publishing House. Great attention was paid to translate every part of the original text, including specialized terminologies related to law and textile weaving, and to ensure no single adjective or adverb was overlooked, making this an ambitious undertaking. However, Professor Huh stresses that what proved to be most challenging was “the need to see and interpret Gandhi’s life and written work for what they really represented.”

The new anthology contains an excerpt of most essential pieces from the full edition of ‘Gandhi’s Complete Collection.’ The full series was compiled and published by the Indian government in 1999; it is a massive effort, comprised of over 50,000 pages in 98 volumes. Raghvan Iyer (1930 - 1995), an Indian scholar of political science who taught at universities in the U.S. and the U.K., then oversaw the careful abridgement of the massive work into the 3-volume edition.

‘Practical Scripture’ that applies religious teachings to various social problems
An interview was arranged to hear more from Professor Huh, who underlines that “anyone who wishes to realize the truth, and to fix what is broken in this world, must read Gandhi.” Huh refers to the Gandhi Anthology as a ‘practical scripture,’ which also served as his driving motivation to publish this new revised edition. He believes that the significance of this compilation lies in that fact that it is the collection of empirical practices that apply religious discipline to today’s political and historical issues.

Professor Huh also expressed his wish about how the collection could best serve its readers: “Whether it is through the pieces related to Bhagavad Gita, or the interpretations of the mountaintop sermons, or through any of the wide variety of other examples compiled in this collection, readers should be able to examine how Gandhi approached problems and situations similar to those experienced by the readers.”

So, who is the Gandhi that Professor Huh sees? “Gandhi was an individual who had incredibly high ideals,” Huh explains, adding that Gandhi believed that the way of life trekked by Jesus or Buddha was not exclusive to the few saints but was open to all humans.

“Non-violence is an expansion of family principles into communities, nation states, and to the world”
Huh explains, “While Gandhi flung himself into the world of politics unwavering in his belief in basic human morality, he was met with much disappointment and despair, and the enormity of his despair was proportional with his belief in human goodness. He was especially heart-broken to see the Hindu-Islam conflict and resulting separation. Nevertheless, Gandhi never gave up on the pursuit of truth and non-violence.” Gandhi’s non-violence denotes love, mercy, and forgiveness that naturally reside in the family; hence, through non-violence familial moral values were extended to village communities, nation states, and to the world, expanding its boundaries even to the relationship between humans and non-humans.

Professor Huh admitted to a new discovery made during this second compilation. “While re-translating, I began to notice emotions, such as abhorrence, rage and hatred,” which led him to believe that “Gandhi, too, was sensitive to emotions.” Huh was deeply influenced by this realization, and resolved to focus his future studies on human emotions. He expressed his wish to study human emotions in the polarized states of excess and deprivation, in order to help “to create a world where emotions and rationality can be moderated.”

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