Every Indian knows this great leader – Mahatma Gandhi, who is fondly known as the “Father of the Nation”. Needless to say, his autobiography is deemed an immortal book and one which is a must-read for every Indian. Every Indian has their own perception of this great man and reading about his life, his thoughts, and his feelings will help them know him better.
The original script was written by M K Gandhi as 105 essays in Gujrati language and was published in Navajivan magazine. Later, it was translated into English by Mahadev Desai and the first edition was printed in two volumes. Volume 1 was published in 1927 and volume 2 was published in 1929. According to Mahadev Desai, the name of the book ‘The Story of My experiments with Truth’ and its sub-title Autobiography, was given by Gandhiji himself. The book has since been translated into 15 other Indian languages.
Gandhi has always been well known for his non-violence, principles of truth, celibacy, spiritualism, etc. and these are what he has portrayed in his book. It has been his way of guiding individuals to follow his path and conduct experiments as he has done in their quest for truth.
The Inside Story
The book which is an autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi, has been divided into five parts which begin with his birth in 1869 and goes on to narrate his life experiences till 1921. In Part 1, Gandhiji introduced his family to the readers and talked about his birth, his childhood, and his student life. He wrote in an interesting way mentioning anecdotes from his school life. He mentioned about two plays – Shravana Pitribhakti Nataka and Satyaharischandra, which were major influences in shaping his character. This part also mentions his marriage to Kasturba, his father’s death, his law degree course in England where he faced a cultural difference for being a vegetarian and others.
As the reader finishes Part 1 and enters Part 2, they will read about his journey to South Africa where he had to face a racial discrimination incident in a first-class coach. This incident moved him and made him emerge as a confident and strong leader. Part 3 will find him deciding to dedicate his life to human service in South Africa. This is when he came up with the concepts of Non-violence, Satyagraha and Brahmacharya. These concepts later helped him in the battle against the British rulers in India. Finally, his South African mission was met with success and Gandhiji emerged as the winner for the first time. Later he returned back to India.
The highlights of Part 4 were about Gandhiji’s increased interest in experimenting with truth, satyagraha, practicing vegetarianism, Naturopathy in treating diseases, fasting – as a method of self-restraining, and spiritual training. This part also narrates about his interactions with Gopal Krishna Gokhale, a political leader whose group he had joined. Gandhi regarded Gokhale as his political mentor and even wrote a book on him in Gujrati. Finally in the last section, Part 5, readers will read about how he travelled through India which made him realise the poor conditions of Indians and how he embarked on a mission to set India free from the British. The book has narrated his life experiences till 1921, after which he became a public figure and his life became open to the public and did not require him to write anymore.
Really worth a Read
There are several reasons that made the book really worth a read. The Story of My experiments with Truth has been noted for its clear, simple and informal language and had earned much praise for its transparently honest narration. Gandhi narrated his life incidences in his own words and in a narrative style, making it interesting to read and giving the readers an insight into his personal life. Reading his book, the readers will also get a glimpse of the various incidences during the independence struggle. While reading, they will get first-hand information about the history of the Indian independence struggle from a man who was leading the entire movement from the front. They will also learn about his personal struggles and the experiments that have helped him on this mission.
The book has also shown the humane side of this great leader. While many believe a great leader is someone who is above everything, Gandhi, in his narratives, has shown that in spite of being a leader, he too had made mistakes and he has freely admitted to them in the book without hiding any information. This also reflects the honesty and sincerity of this great leader and has helped enhance the value of the book.
During their journey through this book, readers will also be able to experience Gandhiji’s values of truthfulness, self-realization, spiritualism, non-violence, and others from the illustrations that he has made in this book. Right from his experiences in South Africa, to the experiments on the truth that Gandhiji carried throughout his life, has lessons, that they will be able to learn from. The book will also prove to them the reason why this great leader is admired by millions of people from around the world.
The Story of My experiments with Truth has gained popularity with readers because Gandhiji led his life as a live example of the principles that he believed in instead of simply preaching them to others. Reading this book has made people realize the importance of principles and values and many have accorded it with the same value as a Bible or Gita, giving importance to the fact that the book has been written from the depth of truth. This is what has made the book a best seller and the most popular book of this century.
The book is highly recommended for every Indian and especially the ones who are interested to learn the true version of the history of India’s struggle for independence and want to know this great leader. It will also be helpful for those who want to have an in-depth understanding of the values and principles which were practiced by Gandhiji and want to learn from them would be much benefitted from reading this book.
The Stories of “My experiments with Truth” are such that every proud Indian would want to possess and read at least once in their lifetime.