In 1920, Sri Aurobindo said that Mahatma Gandhi’s political method, founded on Tolstoy’s ideas, could lead to the imposition of Indianised Tolstoyism or Bolshevism on India. In a letter (written in April 1920) to his brother Barin Ghose, Sri Aurobindo wrote:
“People now want to spiritualise politics – Gandhi, for instance – but they can’t get hold of the right way. What is Gandhi doing? Making a hodge-podge called satyagraha out of ahimsa paramo dharmah [non-violence is the highest law], Jainism, hartal, passive resistance, etc.; bringing a sort of Indianised Tolstoyism into the country. The result – if there is any lasting result – will be a sort of Indianised Bolshevism.”
Sri Aurobindo was probably right in caricaturing Gandhian politics as Indianised Bolshevism. After independence, India became a soft-Bolshevik state. Nehruvian socialism and Indira Gandhi’s personality-cult socialism were the manifestations of Bolshevism.
In a talk in July 1923, Sri Aurobindo said, “Gandhi’s position is that he does not care to remove violence from others; he wants to observe non-violence himself.” On the linkage between Gandhi and Tolstoy, Sri Aurobindo said in June 1926, “Gandhi is a European – truly, a Russian Christian in an Indian body. And there are some Indians in European bodies?”
(Quotations in this article are from India’s Rebirth, by Sri Aurobindo)