This presentation explores Gandhi’s unique interpretation of yogic disciplines as expounded in the Yoga Sutra, including truth, nonviolence, celibacy, and non-possession, to transform his personal life and instigate social change.
Traditionally, these yogic disciplines are observed to purify the mind and prepare the practitioner for attaining higher states of spiritual awareness and freedom. The Yoga Sutra also ascribes powers (siddhis) to each of these yogic disciplines. Gandhi experimented with them to attain personal inner strength and to create a program to secure political justice and social harmony for people of India. I will analyze how Gandhi interpreted these yogic disciplines as methods of nonviolence (ahimsa) and truth (satyagraha) to be wielded as weapons against the forces of colonialism, racism, and all forms of social and economic violence. Gandhi’s embodied practices of self-restraint enabled him to bring about ground-shaking social, economic, and political change.