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Mahatma ( Mohandas) Gandhi - Philosophy and LeadershipMahatama ( Mohandas) Gandhi - Philosophy and Leadership


Mahatma ( Mohandas) Gandhi (1869-1948)


Successfully ended British rule in India through non-violent action(pictured right).

Much respected worldwide and inspired Martin Luther King’s (pictured right below) non-violent fight against racism in America.

Born Mohandas, Gandhi  was re-named Mahatma, meaning the great soul.Mahatama ( Mohandas) Gandhi - Philosophy and Leadership

Killed by a Hindu fanatic.


Why was he a great leader?


1. Non-violent, civil resistance (satyagraha)

He change people's hearts by:


a) peacefully and selflessly disobeying unjust laws

(like racism and British rule in India) .

 Mahatama ( Mohandas) Gandhi - Philosophy and Leadership

b) fighting violence with love

Because violence leads to more violence. Or, as Gandhi put it:

“An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind”.



2. Self-improvement

He was always trying to become a better person through:

 Mahatama ( Mohandas) Gandhi - Philosophy and Leadership

a) self-examination

“Turn the spotlight inward”, he advised i.e. look inside yourself and find wisdom.


  • admitted his weaknesses.
  • tried to overcome them.

His biggest weakness was his domination (sometimes cruel)  of others, including his wife and children.


b) self-discipline

He never did something wrong again, particularly after seeing how upset his father was after confessing to helping steal gold from his brother’s armlet.

 Mahatama ( Mohandas) Gandhi - Philosophy and Leadership

c) sacrifice

He gave selfless devotion to others, particularly the poor and disadvantaged.

His aim was “desirelessless”, resisting temptation and the love of material possessions.

After the birth of his children, he chose to be celibate.


d) equanimity

He treated success and failure the same.

 Mahatama ( Mohandas) Gandhi - Philosophy and Leadership

e) reflection and tranquillity

He did nothing without prayer and criticized the speed of modern life.

He span wool to

  • give him time to reflect.
  • learn patience and hard work.


f) love

He lived for others and fought hatred with love (see point 1).


g) honesty

He hated telling lies.


Mahatama ( Mohandas) Gandhi - Philosophy and Leadership

3. Devotion to truth, wisdom and learning

Why was he so wise?


a) great love of learning and wisdom

His life’s ambition was to:

  • wipe away every tear from every eye.
  • seek God face to face.

His Hindu religion came first, even before India.


b) open to other people’s ideas

He accepted other people’s religions like Christianity, and learned from them.Mahatama ( Mohandas) Gandhi - Philosophy and Leadership

He was inspired by:

  • Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount (particularly the principle of turning the other cheek).
  • the Hindu holy poem, the Bhagavad Gita, (particularly about the destructiveness of desire). Mahatama ( Mohandas) Gandhi - Philosophy and Leadership
  • John Ruskin, pictured right (about love and the importance of physical work).


c) action after reflection

He thought about solutions to people’s problems and then put them into action.


d) duty

“Rights that do not flow from duty well performed are not worth having”, Gandhi said.

Mahatama ( Mohandas) Gandhi - Philosophy and Leadership 

e) love of God

He believed that God isn’t a person but represents the eternal principles of truth, love and purity of heart.



4. Courage

He was extremely courageous, successfully using non-violent resistance against


a) racism in South Africa

(where in 1894 he was beaten up by the white driver of a stagecoach, because he wouldn’t give up his seat for a white passenger, as the law then required).

 Mahatama ( Mohandas) Gandhi - Philosophy and Leadership

b) British rule in India

For example, he organized:

  • a boycott of British manufactured goods

  • the Salt March in 1930 (pictured right with Gandhi in the middle) - mass opposition to a tax on salt (which was particularly important for the poor)  


5. InspirationMahatama ( Mohandas) Gandhi - Philosophy and Leadership

He inspired people by

  • his integrity and character (see point 3).
  • listening to and responding to their needs.

He believed that change will only happen, if people change their attitudes.



6. Respect and reconciliation

He encouraged Indians to:

  • love each other.
  • hate prejudice (particularly against the Untouchables, the lowest and segregated social class).
  • practise non-violent resistance (despite the killing of nearly 400 Indians by the British at a protest meeting in 1919).

His biggest disappointment was his failure to unite India’s Hindus and Muslims (who left to form Pakistan).

 Mahatama ( Mohandas) Gandhi - Philosophy and Leadership

7. Humility and integrity

Gandhi's humility and integrity won people’s respect, including his political opponents like:

  • Lord Mountbatten (the British leader in India, pictured right).
  • Jan Smuts, (the South African leader, pictured right below). Mahatama ( Mohandas) Gandhi - Philosophy and Leadership

In prison he made Smuts a pair of sandals which he wore with great affection.


8. Purpose

He dedicated his life to:

  • his principles (justice, freedom, love and non-violence).
  • independence from the British. Mahatama ( Mohandas) Gandhi - Philosophy and Leadership
  • peace between all Indians.
  • protection of the environment (from greed and profit)
  • ethical government.

He wanted to destroy what he described as the seven social sins:

“Politics without principle, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity and worship without sacrifice”.

Mahatama ( Mohandas) Gandhi - Philosophy and Leadership
9. Support

He received great support from:

  • his wife, Kasturba, (pictured right in 1902 next to Gandhi) and parents.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru (India’s first prime minister, pictured together below in 1946)

 Mahatama ( Mohandas) Gandhi - Philosophy and Leadership

Key quote on change

We need to be the change we wish to see in the world.


Key quote on success

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.


Key quote on leadership and management

Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than power derived from fear of punishment.


Key quotes on love

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.


Key quote on customers

A customer...is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it.


Key quote on nature and climate change

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not every man’s greed.


Key quote on God and religion

God is conscience.


Key quote on business ethics

Organizations, like men, if they are to command respect and grow, must have a sense of honour and must fulfil their promises.


Key quote on society

A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.


Key quote on fear and anxiety

Fear kills the soul.


Key quote on influencing people

Truth never damages a cause that is just.


Key quote on careers

A burning passion coupled with absolute detachment is the key to all success.


Key quotes on ethics

Rights that do not flow from duty well performed are not worth having.

Non-co-operation with evil is as much a duty as is co-operation with good.


Key quote on stress and peace of mind

There is more to life than increasing its speed.


Key quote on peace of mind

Turn the spotlight inward.

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