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Gandhi grandson to speak on “Nonviolence in the Age of Terrorism”

Arun Gandhi, grandson of the legendary peace activist and spiritual leader known as Mahatma Gandhi, will bring a message of nonviolence and understanding when he speaks at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 20 in Packard Lab Auditorium.

The talk is titled “Nonviolence in the Age of Terrorism” and is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Chaplain’s Office with the Department of Religion Studies, the Humanities Center, the Visiting Lectures Committee, East Asian Studies, and the Progressive Student Alliance.

“The legacy of peacemaking and nonviolence Arun Gandhi carries with him is to be found not only in his family name, but in his spirit and in his life’s work,” says Lloyd Steffen, University Chaplain and Professor of Religion Studies, who has been involved in helping to organize Gandhi’s visit to Lehigh.

“We live in a violent world in unsettled and difficult times, but Arun Gandhi, a tireless advocate for economic justice and social change, continues to remind people of good will that nonviolence is still an effective means for engaging in the world politically and spiritually. We are pleased that this world-renowned advocate for nonviolent social change will be able to bring his message of hope for peaceful cooperation to the Lehigh community.”

Studied with his grandfather

Growing up in apartheid South Africa as a person of Indian heritage meant racial confrontations with both blacks and whites. As a young boy, Arun was beaten up by black youths for not being black and by white youths because he was not white.

Filled with rage and plotting to avenge his beatings, he subscribed to Charles Atlas bodybuilding magazines so he would have the strength to fight back. When his parents discovered the reason for their 12-year-old son’s sudden fascination with exercise, they decided that a visit to his grandfather in India was in order.

What followed was an 18-month stay with one of the world’s great leaders that would give him the keys to the powerful philosophy of nonviolence and help shape the foundation for his life’s work. It was a dangerous and exciting time as Mahatma Gandhi was leading the people of India in their revolutionary, nonviolent struggle for independence from British rule.

After leading successful projects for economic and social reform in India, Arun Gandhi came to the United States in 1988 to complete research for a comparative study on racism in America. In 1991, Arun and his wife, Sunanda, founded the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, headquartered at Christian Brothers University in Memphis. The institute’s mission is to foster understanding of nonviolence and to put that philosophy to practical use through workshops, lectures, and community outreach programs.

A speaker of international acclaim, Arun has spoken before hundreds of colleges and universities, corporate, and civic organizations. His unique talents and cross-cultural experiences have brought him before governmental, social, and educational audiences in countries all over the world including Croatia, France, Ireland, Holland, Lithuania, and Nicaragua.

For more information about the talk, please contact The Chaplain’s Office at Lehigh University, (610) 758-3877.

--Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Wednesday, April 13, 2005

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