Lessons on peace: Gandhi’s grandson to present at TTUArun Gandhi, the fifth grandson of Mohandas K. "Mahatma" Gandhi, is scheduled to speak at Tennessee Tech University at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 4, in Derryberry Hall Auditorium.
His Center Stage presentation is entitled "Arun Gandhi: Lessons I learned from Grandfather." In it, he discusses the core teachings and lessons passed to him by his grandfather, with peace being a central theme.
"We want to create world peace, but peace is not merely the absence of war," said Arun. "There is so much internal strife and that prejudice feeds into the national aspect. We have to change ourselves if we want to change the world."
Julia Baker, assistant professor of German, proposed the event after attending one of Arun's previous lectures.
"I listened to Mr. Gandhi speak two years ago in Nashville and was very impressed with him. I walked away feeling so peaceful, so I decided to invite him to Tech," said Baker, Gandhi's campus host. "What he talks about is the time he spent with his grandfather in India and what he learned about non-violence. I thought it was a great message to bring to our students."
Arun was born in 1934 in Durban, South Africa. Growing up under the discriminatory apartheid laws of South Africa, he was beaten by white South Africans for being too black and black South Africans for being too white. His parents and grandparents sought to teach him that justice did not mean revenge, but transforming the opponent through love and suffering.
Mahatma taught his grandson to understand nonviolence by understanding violence: "If we know how much passive violence we perpetrate against one another we will understand why there is so much physical violence plaguing societies and the world," Mahatma said.
Arun shares these lessons all around the world. For the past five years, he has participated in the Renaissance Weekend deliberations with former President Clinton and other well-respected Rhodes Scholars. This year, some of his engagements included speaking at the Chicago Children's Museum and the Women's Justice Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Sometimes his journeys take him even farther. Arun has spoken in Croatia, France, Ireland, Holland, Lithuania, Nicaragua, China, Scotland and Japan. Also, he is a popular speaker on college campuses. In the past year he spoke at North Dakota State University, Concordia College, Baker University, Morehouse College, Marquette University and the University of San Diego.
In 1987, Arun Gandhi moved to the United States along with his wife, Sunanda, to work on a study at the University of Mississippi. This study examined and contrasted the sorts of prejudices that existed in India, the United States and South Africa.
Afterward, the couple moved to Memphis and founded the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence hosted by Christian Brothers University, a Catholic academic institution. This institute was dedicated to applying the principles of nonviolence at both local and global scales. In 2007, after the passing of his wife, the institute moved to Rochester, N.Y., and is currently located on the University of Rochester River Campus.
Shortly after Arun married his wife, they were informed the South African government would not allow her to accompany him there. They decided to live in India and Arun worked for 30 years as a journalist for The Times of India. Together, Arun and Sunanda started projects for the social and economic uplifting of the oppressed using constructive programs, the backbone of Mahatma's philosophy of nonviolence. The programs affected more than half a million people in over 300 villages and are still growing.
Arun is also the author of several books, all of which discuss topics relating to his grandfather's teachings.