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A Meeting of Two Great Minds

Have you heard of the correspondence between Leo Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi? Apparently, they never met, but both advocated for peace, non-violence for all beings, and passive resistance. They also avoided meat and most dairy products, and championed plant based diets for a variety of reasons. Mahatma Gandhi credited Leo Tolstoy for being an inspiration, and influencing his thinking.  

“Love is the only way to rescue humanity from all ills” – Leo Tolstoy

Here is an excerpt from Maria Popova’s article on Tolstoy’s letters to Gandhi on love, violence, and the truth of the human spirit:

In 1908, Indian revolutionary Taraknath Das wrote to Leo Tolstoy, by then one of the most famous public figures in the world, asking for the author’s support in India’s independence from British colonial rule. On December 14, Tolstoy, who had spent the last twenty years seeking the answers to life’s greatest moral questions, was moved to reply in a long letter, which Das published in the Indian newspaper Free Hindustan. Passed from hand to hand, the missive finally made its way to the young Mahatma Gandhi, whose career as a peace leader was just beginning in South Africa. He wrote to Tolstoy asking for permission to republish it in his own South African newspaper, Indian Opinion. Tolstoy’s letter was later published in English under the title A Letter to a Hindu (free download | public library).

The exchange sparked an ongoing correspondence between the two that lasted until Tolstoy’s death, a meeting of two great minds and spirits, eventually collected in Letters from One: Correspondence (and more) of Leo Tolstoy and Mohandas Gandhi and rivaled only by Einstein’s correspondence with Freud on violence and human nature.

Click here to learn more.

Click here to learn about the documentary “Leo Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi: a Double Portrait in the Interior of the Age.”

Click here for 1.5 minute Vimeo video.

Source: Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

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