Analysis of Gandhi’s Philosophy of Nonviolent Resistance

Directions: Add your responses to the question below next to your name. Please use complete sentences. What benefits and/or limitations do you see with Gandhi's strategies for nonviolent change?


A non violent approach to equality works. But it works with a fairly hefty toll. They were imprisoned, beaten, and even killed. Not to respond to the death of your own people with violence gets attention and makes for an effective way to get what you want. It was done also during the USA civil rights movement in the 50's and 60's. A violent approach also has its ups as a way to get what you want. But with a violent approach you have to inflict fear into everyone I think if the British did a better job of scaring the Indi people they may have continued their occupation of India.

Nick R- Michael I agree with your statement that nonviolence works but it has a "hefty toll." People might be beaten and killed to help the greater good but, it was worth it in the long run. Without these nonviolent acts of protesting nothing would have been accomplished. This is the only way to get rid of a empire like the British.

Brandon M- Mike this is a very thoughtful response. I had not thought about it from the position of violence causing fear to the people, leading to an overturn of the people to un-throne the terror of their leader. Violence works but not as well as co-operation and I think your response shows this and helps back up this theory.


Strategies of violence can appear to be a superior technique, but Gandhi’s tactics are a reinforcing example of how nonviolence is a morally embracing system that can’t be ignored. The inspiring, goal was to bring about a “change of heart”. His method was also based on (non)cooperation, honesty and peace. This is what put the governing authority on the spot, making the offense of the general public an unavoidable hindrance. This then benefits Gandhi’s peaceful, just statement. He made it clear that he was willing to take on any legal penalties and to surrender his freedom in order to prove the extent of his dedication and concern. All these approaches benefit the integrity of the cause, the power of their message and the people’s determination for home rule. A notable limitation of nonviolent protest is the cruciality of internal cooperation. If one person breaks into violence, the whole rally could easily take a turn for corruption and aggression. But, despite temporary problems that may arise, moral protest creates a public awareness of the issue that needs attention. It may have needed some improvement, but ultimately, Gandhi’s nonviolent methods are more beneficial because effectively replacing one system with another is made more possible.

Teag- While I agree with your statement that Gandhi's method was based on honesty and peace, it also drew heavily on noncooperation. I think it's easy to think that "going with the flow" is basically cooperating, but his reason for accepting the consequences was from the concept of noncooperation, which meant a direct refusal of compliance with unjust laws. Cooperating would mean abiding by those laws.

Nonviolent action is usually useful to express ideas and thoughts better because in the view you are the peaceful and constitutive side. Thats what Gandhi has thought and made. To make the world know about unfair British mandate on India. It worked well because England was one of the European countries which has a good reputation of human rights even they made horrible things, and they felt a responsibility about that issue. But if you ask me that if nonviolent action would work anytime, anywhere I would say no. Because some countries and people doesn't feel that responsible about the rights of people or their peaceful protests. Violence is usually ugly, sometimes necessary.

First off if one were to use force and violence it would only add fuel to the conflict because the opposing or receiving side of the violence would have justification to use violence as well. This would create an everlasting hatred as more men died between the two sides. Also if violent methods are used by a leader in a dominating country, then those leaders would ultimately resort to marshal law and dictatorial rule cause more suffering and violence in the end. Ultimately, because Ghandi did not accept violent methods he made his cause more powerful and did not give justification to the opposing side to create marshal law or full blown massacres. By willing to give up his freedom and go to jail when necessary, Ghandi rallied even more support and national recognition putting pressure on administrators. This tactic only worked since the British leaders were civilized and reasonable. If Ghandi had used such tactics against someone sick like Hitler, then the results would have been much like the Holocaust. If this is the case, this situation is the only time when violence must be used in order to rid a country of a tyrannical psychopathic leader.

Gage: I think the connection to Hitler was a very smart and interesting idea, Sam. It's true that the more violent Gandhi and his followers would become, the more likely those with power would retaliate. Your connection between the nonviolence to prevent violence and a dictatorial rule similar to that under the power of Hitler during the Holocaust makes me think more about the potential repercussions. It also makes it much easier to understand and analyze, because World War II is much more familiar to students than the British-Indian conflict we are no studying today.

Gandhi used the tactic known as nonviolence action, which was highly effective. This is when you stand up for something you believe in without using violence to get your point across. The difference between nonviolence and passive resistance is that passive resistance is when someone takes a backseat and doesn't voice their opinions apposed to expressing them and fighting for them without violence. Gandhi achieved much by using this strategy and got his points across but it also had its limitations. Gandhi although fighting with nonviolence was willing to die for his rights which almost contradicts what he is fighting for. He and his people were willing to starve and die for their beliefs which is not safe for Gandhi and his people.

First, I think Gandhis non-violent ways and techniques to change the way India was are very productive. I think he makes a really good point about being "passive" as in watching everything go on but not doing anything to try and help the problem. Gandhi and his followers are using nonviolence actions to make a change during the british empire. Gandhi believed that imprisonment was not a bad thing, he believed that it was showing how much he really cared about his people and the problems going on in india. The ways that Gandhi dealt with things were very peaceful and wise. I think the reason why his ways were so productive was being he did not stand for violence because he knew if there was violence then things would never get solved.

First of all, Gandhi's acts of nonviolence was for the greater good of the people in India. Although these non violent acts might have caused Gandhi to get incarcerated he was looking out for the people of India. If this means being put in prison, or participating in a hunger strike to get the rights the people of India deserve. He did what he could to help people in need even if this means limitations for himself. In the long run he helped India become free from the Brittan.

Mike C.- Nick I agree with your point that Gandhi's nonviolent approach to the British occupation of India helped free India and sacrificing himself for the freedom of the people but this approach took a very long time due to amount of time's he was incarcerated so yes he helped in the long run but his approach just dragged out the revolution. The Indian people out numbered the British I believe if they wanted too they could have forced the British out of India a lot sooner with a more violent approach.

Gandhi's strategies for nonviolent change present both benefits and limitations. One example of a limitation that his philosophy might yield relates his rule concerning disobeying unjust laws. According to Gandhi, it would only be effective if the people who truly cared to change unjust laws broke them. As Mark Shepard says, "No one thinks much of it when the law is broken by those who care nothing for it anyway". It's possible that other people would take advantage of the situation and disobey the law not to show disapproval but to profit from the circumstances. However, this would be difficult to avoid no matter what. One strong benefit that Gandhi's strategies provides is the inclusivity. Gandhi made it for simple for the layman to voice his or her objection; all he or she must do is not follow a law and not fight the consequences. This is very different than finding a person of power and making your case to them. Gandhi's methods were accessible and thus popular.

Amy- Previously, I had not thought about the way people may use the resistance of lawbreaking as a way to disregard rules and government altogether. During protesting, it is hard to distinguish whether or not people are acting out of genuine care for what they feel is right. However, there is also strength in numbers, and it would be hard to resist taking any help in the hopes of opposing a large power. Is it important to discourage these people from joining the resistance, or would it be acceptable to allow them to continue assisting despite their insincere intentions?

Gage: After reading this essay about Gandhi, the overall biggest benefit of his nonviolent, passive resistance towards the former British Empire was that he cared with such passion for the cause. Although he practiced nonviolence, he did not avoid any violence aimed at himself of his followers. Gandhi was not afraid having his possessions taken, imprisoned, or even physically beaten and harmed as a part of his noncooperation philosophy of Satyagraha. However, he was methodical with his protests that would eventually create a more harmonic society as an end result. He set guidelines for himself and his followers pertaining this practice of civil disobedience, mostly for the purpose of self-bettering that would end up changing the thoughts and opinions of his opponents. Gandhi would create an environment were the British Commonwealth would be subdued into acting nonviolently. This would cause them to eventually leave the country closer allies with the Indian people.
I agree when you make note of Gandhi and all the passion he had for the Indian people. I think the drive he had must of been very strong. I think if Gandhi did not care as much as he did, it would be impossible to allow someone to beat on you and your people and not throw a single punch. Gandhi was motivated by the teachings of Jesus who said that people should love everyone, even one’s enemies.

Erin, wasn't Ghandi a hindu? He may have embraced all religions, but I don't think he worshiped Jesus. I believe he worshipped the supreme powers of
Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva, or Shakti depending on the sect of Hinduism they believed in.

Ms. Sanders
Sam, you're correct that Gandhi's religious roots are in Hinduism, but listen carefully to his thoughts on religion toward the end of the film. Erin, I agree that Gandhi was passionate that Gandhi wanted Indians to be unified and to care about everyone in Indian society - Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and Buddhists. He even advocated caring for the British, believing that if the British departed as friends that everyone would benefit.

Lindsay - Gandhi had a few full proof strategies for nonviolent change. He believed that violence did not have to be the voice of authority. Ultimately, his strategies were intended to convert his opponent, and compel them to a change of heart. Instead of using violence, Gandhi broke the law, got arrested, and accepted his punishment. (with some followers) In return, the public leader gave in to public pressure and he decided to negotiate with Gandhi. Another strategy he used was noncooperation. This is just another way of saying a refusal to cooperate with the opponent; strikes, economic boycotts, and tax refusals. (I.e. “Refusing to submit to the unjustice being fought.”) Although, Gandhi’s followers had to face beating, imprisonment, and confiscation of their property. Nonviolence left the British and Indians as friends, and partners in the British Commonwealth. Gandhi believed that violent revolutions ended in repressive dictatorships, with many bitter enemies in the country. His main goal was to make people see that power resides in obedience, not in prison or in the barrel of a gun.


The immediate limitation of nonviolence is that one opponent relinquishes all tangible power to defend. It dangerously means that one side has all power to simply eliminate the other, thus providing an end to the conflict. The benefit is more of a desperate hope than something to bank on: it should increase foreign sympathy to that cause. After all, think people sitting in comfortable living rooms, why would anyone want to hurt someone that's just walking to the ocean? Consequently, pressure is put on the aggressor to end their violence.

Gandhi relied on moral principles rather than physical fact to achieve his goal. Though not explicitly his motto, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" was at the root of many of his policies. His followers could not use hostile language against the British nor could they destroy property. These acts would simply give the British more excuses to use against them. By being nice, the British lost the validity of their statement of Indians being aggressive or even simply being opponents. That validity was added to the Indian cause.

Lindsay: Teag, I like how you picked apart Gandhi's methods and really got to the core of his ideas. I think what you say is very true because ultimately, he relied solely on his moral principles to speak louder than the violence. I definitely do not agree with how the British were so brutal to innocent people, but sometimes I wonder how the Indians were able to suppress their anger and not fight back. Would you be able to withstand the British killing people you know and love, destroying your property, and taking control over you without fighting back? I know he states, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind," but I'm curious as to how the Indians had the ability to let the British take advantage of them like that.

Amy- Ghandi’s method of nonviolence, although seemingly far-fetched, is beneficial to society as a whole. People argue about how effective it actually is when during India’s opposition against the British, it left India in much better condition than it would have been in if the opposition had used violence. There is no hostility, or at least very little, between the two sides when this method is used. These two nations are now about to effectively work together to benefit both economies and continue progressing positively. Even though India is still seen as a country where the people are suffering from injustice, they have successfully maintained a democracy. If many different sides are fighting violently, people inside the country are not going to be able to agree on how to progress politically. However, Ghandi’s principles left the country in a more stable condition. One limitation that his beliefs lead to is that the side the nonviolent resisters are opposing will not always be led to change their goals. It seems likely that some of the more hostile leaders would not be inclined to change their ways based on some increase in public support for the resistance. However, this method has not been used enough to show whether or not this is true. In general, though, nonviolence allows people to better progress after a conflict has been resolved.

Amy, what a good analysis. I agree that India is in a much better place today because of Gandhi's influence. Even though it may seem like India is moving slowly towards something like equality or security, I believe it is only going slow and steady. As other countries in the area have demonstrated, cutting corners will only have a negative effect.

Danielle- Amy, I think you make a really good point when you say that using violence makes the people's forces ineffective in progressing politically. I also agree that Gandhi's method left India in a better condition compared to what India could have turned into after the use of violence. The effectiveness of nonviolent protest is sometimes questioned since public support for the resistance can only go so far and since hostile leaders may not always care as much about who the public is rooting for. However, I think that if these hostil leaders were to ignore the public, the cause could become even stronger (with the support and frustration of the public) and harder for the leaders to ignore.