The Death and Afterlife of Mahatma Gandhi
Routledge – 2014 – 240 pages
Series: Routledge Hindu Studies Series
Who is responsible for the Mahatma’s death? Just one single fanatic, the whole ideology of Hindu nationalism, the ruling Congress-led Government who failed to protect him, or a vast majority of Indians and their descendants who considered Gandhi irrelevant? Such questions mean that Gandhi, even after his tragic and brutal death, continued to haunt India – perhaps more effectively in his afterlife than when he lived.
The Death and Afterlife of Mahatma Gandhi is a groundbreaking and profound analysis of the assassination of the ‘father of the nation’ and its after-effects. Paranjape argues that such a catastrophic event during the very birth pangs of a new nation placed a huge burden of Oedipal guilt on India, and that this is the reason for the massive repression of the murder in India’s political psyche. The enduring influence of Gandhi is analysed, including the spectral presence of his portrayal in Indian cinema. The book culminates in Paranjape’s reading of Gandhi’s last six months in Delhi, where from the very edge of the grave he wrought what was perhaps his greatest miracle, the saving of Delhi and thus of India itself from internecine bloodshed.
This evocative and moving meditation into the meaning of the Mahatma’s death will be relevant to scholars of Political and Cultural History in India, as well as those with an interest in studies on Gandhi.
"A remarkable work of research and analysis. … it is obvious that you have come up with a most valuable text."
Rajmohan Gandhi, Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, former member of the Indian Parliament, and a grandson of the Mahatma.
"…New, creative, and daring interpretations…. little patience with the Gandhi hagiography and with devotees and critics simply recycling the same tired interpretations for decades. … the lively engaging writing style and the challenging creative interpretations are definite strengths."
"…fascinating and thought-provoking sections getting at the patricide, Oedipus Complex…your central interpretation is daring and challenging…."
Douglas Allen, University of Maine
"You have made your readers understand Gandhi’s life in a new way--by understanding the meaning and the manner of his death. This is an original approach to Gandhi and you make a most welcome addition to the Gandhi literature."
Professor Anthony J. Parel, Calgary University
Birth Traumas of the Nation
I: Who Killed Gandhi?
II: The Event
III: The Post-Mortem
IV: The Memorialization
V: The Repression
VI: The Unbearability of Patricide
VII: Oedipus in India
VIII: The Pollution
XIX: The Haunting
X: The Guilt
XI: The Modernity of Patricide
XII: The Mahatma’s Endgame
XIII: Gandhism vs. Gandhigiri: The Life and Afterlife of the Mahatma
XIV: Beyond the Monument: Remembering the Mahatma
XV: Gandhi and Anti-Oedipus
‘My Death is My Message’: Mahatma, the Last 133 Days
I: Arrival in Delhi
II: ‘Do or Die’: An Old Formula in the Capital of New India
III: The Final Yajna
IV: Partitioning Women
V: Gandhi at an RSS Rally
VI: Saving India
VII: Ahimsa: ‘Softer than a flower and harder than a stone?’
VIII: Hindu-Muslim Amity
IX: The Art of Dying
Makarand R. Paranjape is Professor of English at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Among his latest monographs is Making India: Colonialism, National Culture, and the Afterlife of Indian English Authority (2012). His previous work on Gandhi includes Decolonization and Development: Hind Svaraj Revisioned (1993).