Leo Tostoy is widely known as a great writer, Mahatma Gandhi is widely known as a great freedom fighter, the only one so far who could inspire people for the non-violence fights and made them win.
Little is known however about the connection between the two. Let me show you the missing link!
A couple of years before the death of Leo Tostoy, there was a highly interesting letter exchange between the two, please read here.
Gandhi mentioned several times in his life that Tolstoy was his true inspiration for the nonviolence fight.
A detailed text on relationship between Tostoy and Gandhi is here.
Further quoting the article “Tolstoy and Gandhi’s Law of Love” By Thomas Weber
When Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi started to practice law in South Africa as a young barrister in the 1890s, he was confronted with glaring racial discrimination as well as various other injustices. It was then that he began to develop his satyagraha philosophy of nonviolence, through which he would later lead India to independence. Perhaps the most profound influence on Gandhi at this time were the ideas and living example of the Russian author Leo Tolstoy who, in the last year of his life, became Gandhi’s mentor on nonviolence.
During an interview in London with Evelyn Wrench, the editor of The Spectator, Gandhi was asked, “Did any book ever affect you supremely and was there any turning point in your life?” Gandhi replied that he changed the whole plan of his life after reading Ruskin’s Unto This Last, adding that “Tolstoy I had read much earlier. He affected the inner being.” Gandhi’s chief biographer and secretary in later life, Pyarelal, claims that so deeply was Gandhi’s thinking “impregnated with Tolstoy’s that the changes that took place in his way of life and thinking in the years that followed [his reading of Tolstoy] can be correctly understood and appreciated only in the context of the master’s life and philosophy.”
When, late in his life, his inner conflicts became unbearable, Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, the great Russian novelist, gave his estate to his family, disposed of much of his personal belongings and attempted to live the life of a poor and celibate peasant. In this attempt to put his personal philosophy into practice, he denounced authority and all violence, and became a vegetarian. His Christian anarchist life and moral and religious writings were to influence many people–not least of whom was the young Gandhi. (more…)