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Nonviolent Soldier of Islam: Badshah Khan: A Man to Match His Mountains Paperback – November 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Abdul Ghaffar Khan didn't have to struggle. Having been born into wealth and privilege, he could have cooperated with the British colonialists and lived the good life. But the violence endemic to his Pathan society, in which honor demanded that no wrong go unavenged, drove him to seek an alternative that could express the true spirit of Islam. Ghaffar Khan found this path in Gandhi's movement of nonviolence, and in one of the most remarkable social transformations in history, he turned a people known for their fierceness into the largest army of nonviolent soldiers the world has every seen. The Khudai Khitmatgar (servants of God, or Red Shirts, as the British called them) united in the cause of nonviolent revolution, fighting the British with passive resistance and noncooperation. Although the price they paid under savage British suppression was enormous, they never buckled. They won the honor of all India, and Ghaffar Khan became known as the Frontier Gandhi. Ghaffar Khan also paid an enormous personal price, ultimately spending over half of his life in prison, first under the British and then under the Pakistanis, who squelched his call for a free Pathan homeland. Nonviolent Soldier of Islam a biography by the great spiritual teacher Eknath Easwaran, keeps Ghaffar Khan's spirit alive, a beacon for all who believe in freedom, dignity, and peace. --Brian Bruya

From Library Journal

Realizing that Westerners tend to associate Islam with terrorism and nonviolence with Hinduism, Easwaran (Gandhi, the Man) set out to write a tribute to a Muslim who embodied the nonviolent tradition within Islam. Badshah Khan, a Pathan of the former Northwest Frontier Province of India (today, the Taliban of Afghanistan), raised an army of 100,000 unarmed "Servants of God" and later became one of Gandhi's closest companions. Khan and his followers endured a great deal of persecution and imprisonment under the oppressive British rule, thus challenging the myth that passive resistance always works for those who are already peaceful. Though Khan was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, far too few people are aware of the man who was known as the "Frontier Gandhi." The publication of this book coincides with the UN General Assembly's proclamation of the beginning of the millennium as the Year and Decade of Nonviolence. Recommended for all libraries.AMichael W. Ellis, Ellenville P.L., NY
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Nilgiri Press; 2nd edition (November 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1888314001
  • ISBN-13: 978-1888314007
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #215,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Eknath Easwaran (1910-1999) is respected around the world as one of the twentieth century's great spiritual teachers and an authentic guide to timeless wisdom. Although he did not travel or seek large audiences, his books on meditation, spiritual living, and the classics of world mysticism have been translated into twenty-six languages. More than 1.5 million copies of Easwaran's books are in print.

His book Meditation, now titled Passage Meditation, has sold over 200,000 copies since it was first published in 1978. His Classics of Indian Spirituality - translations of The Bhagavad Gita, The Dhammapada, and The Upanishads - have been warmly praised by Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions, and all three books are bestsellers in their field.

A gifted teacher who lived for many years in the West, Easwaran lived what he taught, giving him enduring appeal as a teacher and author of deep insight and warmth.

Easwaran's mission was to extend to everyone the spiritual disciplines that had brought such rich benefits to his own life. For forty years he devoted his life to teaching the practical essentials of the spiritual life as found in every religion. He taught a universal message that although the body is mortal, within every creature there is a spark of divinity that can never die. And he taught and lived a method that any man or woman can use to reach that inborn divinity and draw on it for love and wisdom in everyday life.

Whenever asked what religion he followed, Easwaran would reply that he belonged to all religions. His teachings reached people in every faith. He often quoted the words of Mahatma Gandhi, who influenced him deeply: "I have not the shadow of a doubt that every man or woman can achieve what I have, if he or she would make the same effort and cultivate the same hope and faith."

Eknath Easwaran (1910-1999) was born into an ancient matrilineal family in Kerala state, South India. There he grew up under the close guidance of his mother's mother, whom he honored throughout his life as his spiritual teacher. From her he learned the traditional wisdom of India's ancient scriptures. An unlettered village woman, she taught him through her daily life, which was permeated by her continuous awareness of God, that spiritual practice is something to be lived out each day in the midst of family and community.

Growing up in British India, Easwaran first learned English in his village high school, where the doors were opened to the treasure-house of English literature. At sixteen, he left his village to attend a nearby Catholic college. There his passionate love of English literature intensified and he acquired a deep appreciation of the Christian tradition.

Later, contact with the YMCA and close friendships within the Muslim and Christian communities enriched his sense of the universality of spiritual truths. Easwaran often recalled with pride that he grew up in "Gandhi's India" - the historic years when Mahatma Gandhi was leading the Indian people to freedom from British rule through nonviolence. As a young man, Easwaran met Gandhi and the experience of sitting near him at his evening prayer meetings left a lasting impression. The lesson he learned from Gandhi was the power of the individual: the immense resources that emerge into life when a seemingly ordinary person transforms himself completely.

After graduate work at the University of Nagpur in Central India, where he took first-class degrees in literature and in law, Easwaran entered the teaching profession, eventually returning to Nagpur to become a full professor and head of the department of English. By this time he had acquired a reputation as a writer and speaker, contributing regularly to the Times of India and giving talks on English literature for All-India Radio.

At this juncture, he would recall, "All my success turned to ashes." The death of his grandmother in the same year as Gandhi's assassination prompted him to turn inward.

Following Gandhi's inspiration, he became deeply absorbed in the Bhagavad Gita, India's best-known scripture. Meditation on passages from the Gita and other world scriptures quickly developed into the method of meditation that today is associated with his name.

Eknath Easwaran was Professor of English Literature at the University of Nagpur when he came to the United States on the Fulbright exchange program in 1959. Soon he was giving talks on India's spiritual tradition throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. At one such talk he met his future wife, Christine, with whom he established the organization that became the vehicle for his life's work. The mission of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, founded in 1961, is to change lives and build a better world by publishing Sri Eknath Easwaran's timeless words, preserving his legacy, and teaching his Eight Point Program of passage meditation.

After a return to India, Easwaran came back to California in 1965. He lived in the San Francisco Bay Area the rest of his life, dedicating himself to the responsive American audiences that began flowing into his classes in the turbulent Berkeley of the late 1960s, when meditation was suddenly "in the air." His quiet yet impassioned voice reached many hundreds of students in those turbulent years.

Always a writer, Easwaran started a small press in Berkeley to serve as the publishing branch of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation. Nilgiri Press was named after the Nilgiris or "Blue Mountains" in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where Easwaran had maintained a home for some years.

In thousands of talks and his many books Easwaran taught passage meditation and his eight-point program to an audience that now extends around the world. Rather than travel and attract large crowds, he chose to remain in one place and teach in small groups - a preference that was his hallmark as a teacher even in India. "I am still an educator," he liked to say. "But formerly it was education for degrees; now it is education for living." His work is being carried forward by the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation.

If you would like to find out more about Easwaran's teachings and the Center that he founded please visit us at www.easwaran.org, and read our blog www.easwaran.org/blog

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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Zarak S. Khan on March 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
I request customers and other visitors to read the article by Arif H. Akhunzada titled "Bacha Khan legacy is Questionable" with caution because in Pakistan objective interpretation and description of history is mostly marred by the official stand on history enshrined in the so-called "Pakistan Ideology".

Pakistan Ideology i.e. the Idea that sparked the struggle for Pakistan is a highly communal, theocratic, and Pan-Islamist view of history that considers the people of the Subcontinent to be divided into two religious communities-Hindus and Muslims-with entirely different ways of life and very little in common to live in a single state or society. According to this ideology, the Idea of Pakistan was born when the first Arab Muslim invader i.e. Mohammad Bin Qasim invaded India (Sindh) and converted some of its inhabitants to Islam.

This divisive and jingoistic philosophy very well serves the interests of the military bureaucracy that has been ruling Pakistan since inception and the allied religious and fudal classess.

As Abdul Ghaffar Khan aka Bacha Khan espoused a non-communal approach to life in which the highest spiritual act and worship was the "service of humanity" irrespective of religious affiliation and practically upheld what he thought as the true purpose of life ( evident from his personal life and joint struggle with Hindus, Sikhs, etc. for freedom), he, therefore, is an anathema to Pakistani national elite. This elite, through a systematic campaign, has tried its best to malign Abdul Ghaffar Khan, mispresent him to the world and his own people i.e. Pashtuns, make him controversial, and permanently erase him from history and the memories of the successive generation of Pashtuns. These elite want Pashtun society to evolve the Taleban way.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Thomas Balistrieri on April 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
Courage has to do with "big heartedness." I have read about many courageous people but few as courageous as this man. If you are a seeking a role model, a template for bringing meaning to life, then read this book. It made me realize the essence of non-violent living, gave me a clearer picture of Gandhi, helped me to see how little wisdom is exhibited in our leaders today.....and offered a hope for a new way of being. A way for bringing deep meaning to life. This is an important book and an important man. I intend to use it as a text in the class I teach at WPI.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By C. Martin on October 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is an awesome book. I read it before 9/11/2000. I have always been interested in non-violence, and revere Gandhi and MLK Jr. We need the message of this book now, more than ever. This is "must reading" for Americans, westerners and Christians. Islam means peace. Here is a man who put his life on the line to LIVE his faith. Like Gandhi, his teacher, he suffered persecution and imprisonment for his efforts to bring a peaceful interpretation of Islam to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is a saint who should be revered by all the people of the book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Carl F. Reynolds on January 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
No where in my rather extensive trips through history did I have inkling that a close friend and ally of Mahatma Gandhi, in his non-violent quest for liberation from the British Empire would be a Muslim Pathan, Badsha Khan, who led his own people in their own non-violent quest and were severely repressed, oppressed and slaughtered by the British rule. The biggest surprise is who was the British commander in that operation... which is why this true story has itself been repressed.
A must and easy read for anyone on a quest to better understand the history of the middle east and the ongoing need for non-violent opposition to oppression.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A. Khan on August 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a sweeping portrait of Badshah Khan, a courageous Muslim figure. I felt inspired as I read this touching work, though I wanted more.

I wish that Khan's autobiography, My Life and Struggles would be more readily available. Also, a more detailed biography would be helpful. This book is wonderful as an overview but one who wants to dive deeper should investigate further.

This book is an excellent introduction to Badshah Khan. It shows how one can use the bismillah (in the name of God the infinitly compassionate and merciful) as a means to internalize compassion and mercy in ourselves. This is the core of Islam and of the utmost importance today.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Will Jerom on September 21, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Abdul Ghaffar Khan, or "Badshah Khan" as he was known, was inspired to follow the non-violent movement of Mohandas K. Gandhi, and himself came to be known as the "Frontier Gandhi." Eknath Easwaran has done a very effective job in capturing the essential character of the man, and his nonviolent dedication to Islam. Because Islam is so pervasively characterized as violent, it is essential to read and understand this work, to illustrate that Muslims themselves can be thoroughly dedicated to nonviolence. The life and accomplishments of Khan are contained herein, and it is a good starting point for the beginning reader. Khan's legacy may be ambiguous. He may not have had the political wisdom or the impact of his mentor, Mohandas Gandhi, but certainly his legacy must be remembered and his voice recalled as a counter-cultural alternative to the radical jihadism that the West has known since 9/11. Good work, Easwaran, we should know more about this man.
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