The problem of the relation of the individual to society and to the state was central to Gandhi's political thought and action. It has been said that Gandhi's “deliberate onslaught on the creed of individualism as it has been in operation during the last two or three centuries gave it a mortal blow.” How are statements like this to be reconciled with the fact that Gandhi appealed to individual conviction in his campaigns?

In analyzing this problem we should look at the main concepts of social and political philosophy which had an impact on Gandhi's life and thought. Indian philosophy is of special importance in this context and therefore a major part of this paper is devoted to the discussion of Indian concepts and ideas as they were understood and interpreted by Gandhi. Much of Gandhi's thought and action can be explained only in terms of the historical situation and the social setting of his day and age. But Gandhi's campaigns and his contribution to the Indian freedom movement have been described by many authors and therefore no attempt is made in this paper to outline the course of events.

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