Ever since his emergence on the political canvas in the early decades of the twentieth century, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948), Father of the Indian Nation, has dominated politico-philosophical ideas and socio-cultural formations across space and time. Gandhi had become a legend in his own lifetime; his figure sparked popular imagination, and hundreds of folksongs that circulated in different parts of India during the peak of the nationalist movement presented him in different personas. He inspired poets and writers in almost all Indian languages. Printmakers and cartoonists in the British and Indian press were never tired of engaging with his political, cultural, and philosophical ideas. This book engages with the socio-cultural imaginings of Gandhi in literature, history, visual and popular culture. It explores multiple iterations of his ideas, myths, and philosophies, which have inspired the work of filmmakers, playwrights, cartoonists, and artists for generations.
At a time when one thought that Gandhi was no more than a hollow symbol and a series of empty platitudes, his wide-ranging presence in print and digital cultures in the twenty-first century has proven otherwise. Gandhi’s sustained representation, adaptation and consumption within popular culture suggest that Gandhi is now part of our folklorist imagination.