Book Review: ‘Indian Ideas of Freedom’ by Dennis Dalton

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Book Title: Indian Ideas of Freedom
Author: Dennis Dalton
Publisher: HarperCollins India
Number of Pages: 528
ISBN: 978-9356290020
Date Published: May 25, 2023
Price: INR 454

Indian Ideas of Freedom by Dennis Dalton Book Cover

Book Review

Dennis Dalton’s book “Indian Ideas of Freedom” provides readers with a fascinating look inside the thoughts of notable Indian Thinkers like Swami Vivekananda, Aurobindo Ghose, Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, B.R. Ambedkar, M.N. Roy, and Jayaprakash Narayan. This big book reveals the junction of their private and political pursuits while exploring their unique viewpoints on freedom.

The unique features of the book “Indian Ideas of Freedom” are highlighted in Dalton’s work. It focuses on the essential role that freedom plays in the ideologies of all seven thinkers. These ideas, which extend beyond the simple acquisition of political power, range from Gandhi’s concept of “swaraj” and his experiments with truth to Vivekananda’s practical Vedanta, Tagore’s poetic universalism, Ambedkar’s involvement with Buddhism, Aurobindo’s quest for human ascendance, Roy’s radical humanism, and Narayan’s communitarian democracy. Dalton explains how these philosophies serve a higher good, encouraging readers to delve deeply into their relevance.

The book’s 10 clear, reflective, and intellectually rich chapters make it a thorough resource for students or people looking to comprehend Indian political thinking better. With researchers like Nirmal Kumar Bose, Mirabehn, and VM Tarkunde, who offer insightful perspectives into the lives and ideologies of visionary thinkers, Dalton’s research shows through as he describes these interactions. James Tully and Ramachandra Guha, who provide an illuminating preface and an afterword, are the two well-known scholars who have praised this detailed study and endorsed the book for its contents.

Dalton’s assessment of these Indian visionaries’ lengthy writings and speeches perfectly balances critical critique and sympathetic empathy. He actively engages in the debate these philosophers begin, helping readers fully comprehend their ideas and views. His book digs into their distinct ideas on liberty, demonstrating the interplay of personal and political factors in their quest.

Their arguments and ideas were firmly anchored in indigenous cultural resources, unlike simple imitations, making them unique and distinctive. The book demonstrates their vital contributions to an intellectual heritage that significantly impacted the nationalist movement via this investigation. This book also shows the comparable beliefs and shared values of these seven personalities, which frequently go unrecognized despite the fact that each demonstrated considerable variances.

According to Dalton’s distinctive methodology, he “participates in the dialogue” and offers a system for researching a political theory as novel as the history of freedom. This method adds depth and richness to the study of Indian political thinking, making the book a model piece for academics and anybody interested in politics and history.

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This insightful book, “Indian Ideas of Freedom“, sheds light on the perspective that significant Indian intellectuals used to see freedom. Vivekananda, Ghose, Gandhi, Tagore, Ambedkar, Roy, and Narayan made substantial contributions to an intellectual heritage that influenced the nationalist movement in India, according to Dalton’s view. Dalton illustrates the parallel pathways these intellectuals took in search of freedom by showing the parallels and distinctions between them. For those interested in learning more about Indian political theory and its influence on history and politics, this book is a must-read.

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