Studies on the national movement and the movements for social reform during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have often dwelt on the influence of western liberal thought on Indian leaders who spearheaded those movements. As most of those leaders were educated in the western tradition, it has commonly been held that they drew inspiration from the West and that exposure to western education was crucial in shaping their outlook. Cenkner disputes this familiar view. He contends that the principle of interiority, a rediscovery of the spiritual within life, which served as the basis of regeneration in all the past golden ages, brought forth the renaissance.
Cenkner tries to substantiate his contention through a study of the educational philosophies of three leaders of the Indian renaissance, namely, Tagore, Gandhi and Aurobindo. The choice of these three personalities, argues Cenkner, was governed by the fact that they shared certain similarities. First, they had been strongly influenced by religion which shaped not only their philosophy of life but also their actions.