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Atonement in Politics; Perspectives from Mahatma Gandhi

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The Nehru Centre

8 South Audley Street

London

W1K 1HF

United Kingdom

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This Year Gandhi Foundation is delighted and honoured to welcome the Mahatma's grandson, Gopalkrishna, to deliver their annual lecture. Guests are requested to make a donation to offset the Foundation's expenses at https://gandhifoundation.org/

Abstract:

The Emperor Asoka ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from c. 268 to 232 BCE. He would have been forgotten in the reams of history and the scrolls of monarchs but for an act of atonement – public and widely disseminated through ‘edicts’ carved on stone. This self-chastisement was over a war of conquest he had waged on a kingdom – Kalinga – that neighboured his own, resulting in the death, by his own estimation, of 100,000 and the dislocation of 150,000. Asoka’s remorse – anusochana as he called it in the language he used – was influenced by the teachings of Gautama, the Buddha, specifically, that which related to the concept of dukkha (sorrow) and of ahimsa (non-violence).

War has continued to dominate human affairs, conflict to mark political relations between countries and within societies. But every now and then, an Asokan moment arises when leaders, strong enough morally to do so, speak in terms of their error. Gandhi and the self-owning of guilt are inextricably mixed together, with his term ‘Himalayan blunder’ having acquired the status of an aphorism.

This lecture will deal with the arcs of owning and acknowledging such mistakes, in other words, of atonement through history and with the scope of honest self-appraisal, self-criticism and self-correction in our fraught and fractious times.

Enquiries to william@gandhifoundation.org

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The Nehru Centre

8 South Audley Street

London

W1K 1HF

United Kingdom

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