Psycho-Historical Perceptions of Gandhi

  • Vijayalakshmi KS Bangalore University, Bengaluru, India
Keywords: Mahatma Gandhi, PSychohistory, Historiography


The literature on leadership has its roots in the “Great Man” Theory of Thomas Carlyle, who declared that “The history of the world is but the biography of great men”. These works which emphasised only political, economic, and social motivations for events, gave way to Erikson‟s, “Gandhi‟s Truth: On the Origins of Militant Nonviolence”, is an attempt at understanding Gandhi through a Psycho-biographical study. Psycho-history analyses the incidents that left a deep impression on Gandhi and examines these experiences that Gandhi used on his techniques such as fasting, Ahimsa and Satyagraha later on. The present paper is a historiographical account of the psycho-historical writings on Gandhi. Erikson‟s seminal work which actually gained for Psychohistory its recognition, forms the major source of this paper and also includes some more recently published works such as Wolpert, Richards and Lelyveld. These narratives have explored the varied facets of his personality and his identity which had blurred between myth and history. Gandhi in most writings is raised to the stature of the Mahatma, but psycho-history has done justice to his character as it brings out the human side of the leader with all his frailties.


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