Gandhi and deep ecology : experiencing the nonhuman environment
The present study concentrates on the experience of nature in the life of Mohandas K. Gandhi. This detailed environmental biography of Gandhi follows him from the early years in India, through his years in England as a young man and on to South Africa where his beliefs about humanity's proper relationship with the nonhuman world were shaped. There is also a detailed examination of his dietary and nature-cure experiments which date from his years in England, 1888 - 1891, with a discussion of the original works that he cites in his own writings. Diet involves a most intimate relationship with the nonhuman environment. Gandhi sought a diet which involved the least unavoidable violence and which the poor could afford. Health for Gandhi was a state of total well-being - social, physical and spiritual. Gandhi established communities of workers dedicated to service, first in South Africa at Phoenix Settlement and Tolstoy Farm, and then in India at Sabarmati Ashram and Sevagram. Here his respect for the integrity of other living beings was tested by experience. Rabid dogs, the threat of venomous snakes to both livestock and humans, and the nuisance of monkeys pilfering from the ashram's fruit trees and vegetables were situations that had to be resolved. Since its inception in 1972 the Deep Ecology movement has been linked with the name of the Norwegian ecophilosopher Arne Naess, who has also devoted many years to an analysis of Gandhi's philosophy. The experience of nature and reflection on humanity's right relationship with the nonhuman environment is brought up to the present-day via a consideration of some of the individuals and indigenous people that deep ecology acknowledges as part of its background, such as Henry Thoreau, John Muir, Mary Austin, Aldo Leopold and Richard St. Barbe Baker.