Homework Help

What makes Mahatma Gandhi a "mahatma?"

user profile pic

anushree29 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 1, 2011 at 8:10 PM via web

dislike 2 like

What makes Mahatma Gandhi a "mahatma?"

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 2, 2011 at 10:21 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

For many Indians, this answer resides in Gandhi's role as both a social activist that sought to reform more than mere society and politics.  For many Indians, the answer lies in how Gandhi sought to make changes in both politics and society through reformation of the individual soul.  The idea of a "mahatma" means a "great soul."  Implied in the word is the idea of "atman" or "true essence."  The conferring of this title onto Gandhi means that many Indians saw him as representation of the pure essence towards which all humanity should strive.  In the fact that he argued that social and political liberation starts with the self, such a title makes sense.  Gandhi believed that the moral purity of the individual will allow them to transcend beyond their adversary, and in the process, allow their battle to become a moral one where truth and justice "shall always win."  In his role as the "Mahatma," Gandhi was able to progress with a political and social form of liberation that never strayed that far from the idea that the human soul is the first and most essential bastion that requires remediation.  In this and in these lessons, Gandhi's title is one that seems worthy of his efforts.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes