Gandhi's Debt: Family Obligation and the Greater Good
By Thomas Weber
There is often a dilemma is deciding where an obligation to assist others should be directed. Many insist that “charity begins at home”, while others may agree that it should be aimed at most needy. Gandhi was a member of a joint family who saw their future prosperity linked with his success as a lawyer. Yet eventually Gandhi ceased contributing to the family coffers and put his income at the disposal of the Indian community in South Africa, to the great displeasure of his immediate family. Gandhi justified his actions by adopting a broader than usual definition of family. This came at the cost of alienation from his siblings but it was also at least partially responsible for creating the Mahatma.