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Gandhi’s relationship with music

Content for Mains Enrichment


Source: IE

 Context: Gandhi strategically used music to convey his messages and foster unity, spirituality, peace, and nationalism among the Indian population during the struggle for freedom.


Aspect How Gandhi Used Music Examples
Convey Messages Gandhi used music to convey messages of spirituality, peace, and nationalism by selecting hymns and bhajans that promoted these values. He chose bhajans like “Vaishnava Jana toh” and “Ishwar Allah tero naam” to emphasize unity and spirituality
He used music to soothe agitated minds and promote peace during communal tensions.
Communication Music served as a means of communication during the freedom struggle, rallying people together and summoning them to the call of duty. Music played a significant role in the Dandi Yatra and prabhat pheris (musical processions) to convey patriotic sentiments
Unity Music was instrumental in fostering unity among people from different communities, creating a sense of community and consonance. Hymns and bhajans were sung collectively during prayer services in ashrams, promoting a sense of oneness
Nationalism Gandhi believed that music could instil nationalism and pride in people, making them feel connected to the freedom movement. Patriotic songs and prayers sung during prabhat pheris became symbols of resistance against British rule
Selection of Music Gandhi preferred simple, devotional music that could be easily hummed and sung by the common man. Classical music was not his preference; he valued the message over the artistry.
Notable Musician Gandhi was impressed by vocalists like MS Subbulakshmi, who sang with such depth and devotion that it deeply moved him. Subbulakshmi’s rendition of the Ramdhun and other bhajans was seen as a source of inspiration and fundraising for the Kasturba Memorial Fund.


Usage: The examples can be used in Essay/ Ethics/ Indian history to show how Gandhi used music to spread social and nationalistic messages