Mahatma Gandhi (Mohandas K. Gandhi) trained in England, practiced in South Africa as a lawyer, returned to India as a journalist, then as activist. He had a brief exchange of letters with Leo Tolstoy, who had distilled Jesus' message to five commandments, one of which was "resist not evil." Gandhi absorbed that thought and evolved the doctrine of satyagraha as a political strategy, a strategy that eventually won India's independence from Britain. Gandhi himself was assassinated shortly after independence, just as India was splitting in two - into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan, with great turmoil.
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Gandhi used his time in prison corresponding with followers. One asked about the ethical questions in the Bhagavad Gita, and Gandhi replied to this, and to other questions. Finally, he put together his comments and analysis of the lessons that Krishna was sharing with Arjuna in a little book, his most concise expression of this Hindu holy book as he understood it. After his autobiography, this may be the closest record of Gandhi's spiritual understanding. A sample chapter is available at www.bandannabooks.com/free/gandhisample.zip.
For a different view on the Indian subcontinent, you might like Ghazals of Ghalib, a 19th-century poet who wrote in Persian and Urdu. His ghazals are witty, self-revealing, thoughtful. He lived through the Sepoy Mutiny and the British Raj, asking Queen Victoria to support poetry as the rajahs had done, by direct donation.
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