Prayer as Politics: Gandhi’s Relationship with Music and Nationalism
Abhik Majumdar
Singing Gandhi’s India: Music and Sonic Nationalism by By Lakshmi Subramanian Roli Books, 2020, 240 pp., INR 495.00
July 2024, volume 48, No 7

Mohandas Gandhi was no musician. Subramanian herself acknowledges (p. 188) he was ‘neither a patron nor a connoisseur of music’, and that he was attracted to it solely for its ‘power as a medium of affect’. His engagement with music was correspondingly restricted to employing its powers of affect for his larger political and social reform goals. More significantly, he spent only limited time and energy on thinking out his music-related choices and preferences: as long they served his purpose he did not delve too deeply on what they stood for in musical terms. This means that the material available on his involvement with music is also limited. Which raises the question: how does one undertake to research a man’s engagement with music when music comprised for him a matter of at best secondary significance? Is the theme of the book as unrewarding as it appears at first sight?

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