Arun Gandhi was born in 1934 in Durban, South Africa, and is the fifth grandson of India’s legendary leader, Mohandas K. “Mahatma” Gandhi.
Growing up under the discriminatory apartheid laws of South Africa, Arun Gandhi was beaten by “white” South Africans for being too black and “black” South Africans for being too white; so, Arun sought eye-for-an-eye justice. However, he learned from his parents and grandparents that justice does not mean revenge, it means transforming the opponent through love and suffering.
His Grandfather taught Arun to understand nonviolence through understanding violence. “If we know how much passive violence we perpetrate against one another, we will understand why there is so much physical violence plaguing societies and the world,” Gandhi said. Through daily lessons, Arun says, he learned about violence and about anger.
Arun shares these lessons all around the world. For the past five years, he has participated in the Renaissance Weekend deliberations with President Clinton and other well-respected Rhodes Scholars. Recent speaking engagements have included speaking at the Chicago Children’s Museum and the Women’s Justice Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He also delivered talks at the Young President’s Organization in Mexico, the Trade Union Leaders’ Meeting in Milan, Italy, as well as the Peace and Justice Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Sometimes, his journeys take him even further. Arun has spoken in Croatia, France, Ireland, Holland, Lithuania, Nicaragua, China, Scotland and Japan.
Arun Gandhi is very involved in social programs and writing, as well. Shortly after Arun married his wife Sunanda, they were informed the South African government would not allow her to accompany him there. Sunanda and Arun decided to live in India, and Arun worked for 30 years as a journalist for The Times of India. Together, Arun and Sunanda started projects for the social and economic uplifting of the oppressed using constructive programs, the backbone of Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence. The programs changed the lives of more than half a million people in over 300 villages and they still continue to grow. Sunanda died in February of 2007 and the family is working to establish a school in poorest rural India in her name.
Arun is the author of several books. The first, A Patch of White (1949), is about life in prejudiced South Africa; then, he wrote two books on poverty and politics in India; followed by a compilation of M.K. Gandhi’s Wit & Wisdom. He also edited a book of essays on World Without Violence: Can Gandhi’s Vision Become Reality? and, more recently, wrote The Forgotten Woman: The Untold Story of Kastur, the Wife of Mahatma Gandhi, jointly with his late wife Sunanda.
As a speaker, Arun Gandhi can address Ethical Leadership and look to other motivational approaches from a ‘be the change’ perspective. Arun’s Grandfather coined the phrase ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’ and now we can see a growing climate for such an approach to personal and global transformation. Any talk given by Arun will always include the first hand experiences of the time he lived with Mahatma Gandhi and what he learnt from his grandfather during that time in the ashram. These principles guide Arun Gandhi’s life day and he now travels extensively passing on the message and principles of one of the World’s greatest men.