Since its Western economic, political, military, and educational systems.

Since the 17th century, Britain had been established on the Indian subcontinent along with the influence of its Western economic, political, military, and educational systems. In Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule, Gandhi repudiates Britain’s Western civilization as essentially secular, failing to embody morality and religion and instead indulging in materialism. In contrast, the morally superior Indian civilization is anchored in the belief of God. Therefore, he argues that India must achieve “Swaraj” or self-rule from Britain to preserve and embrace the true India created by its ancestors. Successful passive resistance against the British Raj, through individual swaraj or complete control over one’s own physical body and soul, will enable India to cure the “disease” of civilization. Gandhi begins his critique of Western civilization by listing its symptoms, most importantly, industrialization. The development of machinery has transformed everyday life in Europe and has attempted to promote overall well-being of individuals and society. However, Gandhi differentiates this means of progress as strictly superficial, believing these developments only promote “bodily happiness” and self-indulgence. In the past, for example, men were required to manually plow land, but this long process evolved with the invention of the steam engine so that a single man can plow significantly more land and thereby gain the monetary rewards for the machine’s efficiency. By contrasting previous ways of life to reality, Gandhi emphasizes the changes brought about by civilization and the newfound reliance on superfluous wealth to buy superfluities for the means of physical comfort. Money, Gandhi argues, is England’s god and guides the pathway of Britain’s goal to “convert the whole world into a vast market for their goods” (Gandhi 1909, 37). Western civilization induces moral weakness, allowing people to give in to their earthly desires, making “bodily welfare the object of life” (Gandhi 1909, 31). The illusion of wealth as the means to happiness is the focal point of civilization and will ultimately lead to its own destruction. Conclusively, Gandhi upholds that Britain’s persistent, yet remediable disease of Western civilization is a grossly incompetent model for India. True civilization lies solely in an India that is independent of foreign influences. Gandhi exemplifies the unsuccessful ancient civilizations of Rome, Greece, Japan, and China to showcase that like an anchor, “India remains immovable and that is her glory” (Gandhi 1909, 56). Western civilization maintains the idea that wealth, a vacuous substance, equates to happiness. The distortion in this belief was realized by India’s ancestors who addressed the issue accordingly by setting limits to indulgences that would otherwise accelerate decadence. A moral high ground is inherent in Indian civilization which seeks to control passions and other physical desires. Western civilization’s preoccupation of increasing bodily comfort is largely inaccessible to the lower class due to the fact it is based on wealth. Therefore, neither the poor who are unable to achieve wealth nor the wealthy will ever be truly happy. Pure Indian civilization is untouched by the corruption of modern civilization and continues to exist in some parts of India. In these areas, akin to ancient India, people continue to live in “true Home Rule” (Gandhi 1909, 58). Gandhi argues that the rejection of industrial civilization in favor of traditional cultivation, humble cottages, small villages, indigenous education, manual labor, and preservation of ethics through religion “elevates the moral being” while Western civilization inclines to “propagate immorality” (Gandhi 1909, 59). The concept that India upholds a higher moral being further translates to how Gandhi perceives the issues that currently plague India including the marriage of 2-year-olds, prostitution, and animal sacrifice. Gandhi emphasizes that the solution to these evils does not lie in “godless” Western civilization but exclusively in India. Religion is a central aspect of native Indian civilization, and the common belief in God will subsequently elevate the moral being and enable it to “purge” Indian society of these evil practices (Gandhi 1909, 58). India is voluntarily enslaved to Britain and its civilization. Trade began with the entrance of the Company Bahadur, which India blindy “welcomed… with open arms” (Gandhi 1909, 35). Britain retains India to sell English goods, while India remains under their control to benefit from the wealth generated through selling its goods. Veiled under the false premises of a mutualistic relationship, Britain’s involvement in India continues to corrupt Indian civilization. India becomes further blinded by wealth, a mere illusion of happiness, and strays further from the moral superiority of true civilization. If the cause of India’s slavery to Britain is removed, Gandhi believes, India can become free just as the “removal of the cause of a disease results in the removal of the disease itself” (Gandhi 1909, 60). Individual realization of Swaraj or self-rule will prevail the temptation of wealth and other worldly desires that that have long enslaved India. Once a man succeeds in governing his own body and mind, he will liberate himself from the oppression caused by materialistic Western civilization. However, Gandhi warns that “Hind Swaraj” or Indian self-rule is achieved only when “passive resistance is the guiding force of the people” and this “soul-force is an indestructible force in comparison to violence (Gandhi 1909, 79). The British will begin to falter when men find the strength to disobey laws that are visibly unjust, therefore achieving self-rule and preventing any foreign influence to enslave their bodies and minds. Therefore, true home-rule involves both the liberation of India from Britain and of the individual. Civilization is a disease with a wide variety of adverse symptoms, but can be cured through the use of Swaraj. Gandhi asserts that Western civilization has caused the Indian people to abandon their their own civilization and fall under the temptations of wealth and physical comfort, both of which fail to foster true happiness. He believes Indians must first regain control of themselves through Swaraj, rejecting the evils of modern civilization and Hind Swaraj will subsequently follow. India’s pure civilization stands tall in moral superiority in the face of Western civilization and is the ideal model to follow after all of India gains independence. Works CitedGandhi, M. K. 1909. Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule. Ahmedabad, India: Navajivan Publishing House.

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