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Now in a 25th Anniversary Edition!

Gandhi Today

A Report on India’s Gandhi Movement and Its Experiments in Nonviolence and Small Scale Alternatives

Book cover photos

By Mark Shepard

Starred review, American Library Association Booklist

“January Pick” by Small Press Review

What became of the Gandhian tradition in India following the death of Mahatma Gandhi? Did it quietly die away? Or were there still Indians who believed in his philosophy and methods, committed to continuing his work?

These were the questions that sent independent journalist Mark Shepard to India in 1978–79. There he found that the tradition begun by Gandhi was very much alive, in such individuals, groups, and movements as:

Learn about all these and more in this engaging report on the legacy of the twentieth century’s greatest peacemaker and revolutionary.

Mark Shepard is the author of Mahatma Gandhi and His Myths, The Community of the Ark, and Gandhi Today, called by the American Library Association’s Booklist “a masterpiece of committed reporting.” His writings on social alternatives have appeared in over 30 publications in the United States, Canada, England, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan, and India.

Simple Productions

Hardcover ~ 1987

Paperback, 25th Anniversary Edition ~ 2012

Ebook ~ 2012

Seven Locks Press

Paperback ~ 1987

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Book cover

Reviews and Comments

“A masterpiece of committed reporting. . . . History that needs to be better known, told in clear, compelling, common language.”—American Library Association Booklist, Feb. 1, 1987 (starred review)

“Shepard has done a marvelous job describing individuals and groups keeping the spirit of Gandhi alive in India and throughout the world. His book presents living proof the ideals of the Mahatma will never die.”—Cesar Chavez, founder and President, United Farm Workers of America

“This lively book fills a critical gap in our understanding of Gandhi’s way. . . . A source of hope and inspiration.”—Joanna Macy, author/activist

“A remarkable job of introducing the contemporary Gandhian movement—readable, honest, challenging.”—Jim Forest, General Secretary, International Fellowship of Reconciliation

“A fascinating study. . . . As useful as it is encouraging.”—Michael Nagler, founder, Peace and Conflict Studies Program, University of California at Berkeley, and author, America Without Violence

“A fast-moving account of a living tradition. . . . Full of good ideas for peacemakers.”—Virginia Baron, Editor, Fellowship

“The author is a committed partisan of Gandhian thought and methods, but he is also a reporter who makes a case that Gandhi is an important figure who keeps on marching. . . . Among [the successful experiments he visited] are some remarkable ones.”—United Press International (UPI), Jan. 18, 1988

“Stunning, original. . . . An in‑depth look at the people who carry on the philosophies and teachings of the Mahatma.”—India West

“Highly recommended. . . . Will provide encouragement and inspiration to those working for a better world.”—Peace Magazine (Canada), Dec. 1987–Jan. 1988

“Finally there is a small, readable book on the Gandhian legacy. . . . Encouraging and positive.”—Thomas Weber, Legal Studies, La Trobe University (Australia)

“May prove to be the most important book of 1987.”—Green Letter, Spring 1987

“The seeds of civilization are sown in this short work.”—Northcoast View, Aug. 1987

“An excellent introduction. . . . Shepard uses a clear and popular style to convey his basic message: Gandhi’s legacy is alive in India and may inspire those who know about it.”—Fellowship, Sept. 1987

“Remarkable. . . . Everyone should have this book for its sheer inspiration. . . . Anyone interested in helping others or in helping make the world a better place should have this book.”—Henry O. Thompson, General Secretary, International Association of Gandhian Studies

“Delightfully uplifting and positive. . . . Presents strong, living examples of ideas and actions that work.”—Community Service Newsletter, July–Aug. 1987

“Probably the best book to bring oneself up to date on the historic change set in India by Gandhi. . . . Both reliable and inspiring.”—MANAS, May 27, 1987

“Hopeful idealism based in living experience.”—In Context, Summer 1987

“Mark Shepard has brought Gandhi out of the realms of myth and history. . . . Upbeat, enjoyable reading.”—Eco‑News, Apr. 1987

“Very fair and remarkably complete in his concise treatment. . . . I recommend this book highly.”—Michael Sonnleitner, Asst. Professor of Political Science, University of Northern Iowa

“Clear-headed, comprehensive. . . . I will have many uses for it.”—Mark Juergensmeyer, Coordinator of Religious Studies, University of California at Berkeley, and Professor of Ethics and Comparative Religion, Graduate Theological Union

“Important and heartening.”—Shalom (Jewish Peace Fellowship), Spring–Summer 1987

“A good reference book, a useful addition to undergraduate libraries, and a good supplemental text for a course that deals with Gandhi, contemporary South Asia, or self‑help movements.”—South Asia in Review, Jan. 1988

“Inspiring.”—Wilmington College Peace Resource Center Newsletter, Summer 1987

“A gem. . . . Buy two, one to put in a strategic place.”—Peace Brigades, Mar.–Apr. 1987

“Should be bought, read, and handed on by all who value Gandhi’s contribution. . . . An excellent gift book.”—Gandhi Foundation Newsletter (England), Autumn 1987

“A delight.”—Harmony

“Reminds us how far the ripples of Gandhi’s legacy have spread.”—Friends Journal, May 1988

“Sure to be the source of stimulating new ideas to those who are treading or want to tread the Gandhian way.”—Vigil (India), Sept. 1, 1988

“A useful introduction to the wide variety of people influenced by Mahatma Gandhi.”—Transnational Perspectives (Switzerland), Vol. 14, No. 3

“Clearly and compellingly written. . . . Should be read by everyone seeking a vision of a new movement and leadership in social life, and especially by high school students. . . . Inspiring.”—The Acorn: A Gandhian Review, Sept. 1988–Mar. 1989

“Highly readable. . . . More than conviction, Shepard brings perspective and understanding to an essential movement that remains alive today.”—Small Press

Adopted for classroom use at University of California at Los Angeles, Institute of Integral Studies (Berkeley), University of Hawaii at Manoa, American University (Washington, D.C.), University of Alabama at Birmingham, and McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario).


Prologue: The Legacy

The Saint and the Socialist
(Vinoba Bhave, Jayaprakash Narayan, Bhoodan, Gramdan, the JP Movement)

Soldier of Peace
(Narayan Desai, Shanti Sena, peace brigades)

“Hug the Trees!”
(Chandi Prasad Bhatt, the Chipko Movement)

The People’s Court
(Harivallabh Parikh, Anand Niketan)

New Dawn Gift-Village
(Radhakrishna Menon, Danagram)

Five Villages and Four Hundred
(Prem Bhai, Agrindus Institute)

Postscript: Other Lands

Sample Text

What had become of the Gandhian tradition in India? Had it quietly died away? What about the “army” of constructive workers Gandhi sent to the villages?

Were there still Indians who believed in his philosophy and methods, committed to finishing the work he began?

If so, what were they doing now?

I was inspired to seek answers to these questions when, in late 1977 in San Francisco, I met a modern‑day Gandhian named K. Krishnan Nair.

“The Indian revolution has two aspects,” Nair told me. “The first phase we have achieved—that is, liberating our country from foreign domination. The second phase is the complete restructuring of our society.

“Until we complete this work, we’ll not be sitting quiet.”

Nair urged me to come to India to see for myself the current work of the Gandhians. Taking up this challenge, I traveled to India in October 1978, to spend the next five months visiting and living with Gandhians, learning about their projects, their ideas, their lives.

I found that the tradition begun by Gandhi is very much alive. In fact, it has grown much since Gandhi’s time, with new faces, new issues, new ideas, new techniques, new failures, and new successes. Though in some ways it may have fallen back from the standard Gandhi set, in other ways it has gone beyond him.

I offer what I found, in the hope that others too may discover in it signposts along the road to a more just and peaceful society—a society for the welfare of all.

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