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Gandhi: An Autobiography

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Mohandas K. Gandhi is one of the most inspiring figures of our time. In his classic autobiography he recounts the story of his life and how he developed his concept of active nonviolent resistance, which propelled the Indian struggle for independence and countless other nonviolent struggles of the twentieth century.

In a new foreword, noted peace expert and teacher Sissela Bok urges us to adopt Gandhi's "attitude of experimenting, of testing what will and will not bear close scrutiny, what can and cannot be adapted to new circumstances," in order to bring about change in our own lives and communities.

All royalties earned on this book are paid to the Navajivan Trust, founded by Gandhi, for use in carrying on his work.

528 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1927

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About the author

Mahatma Gandhi

595 books6,319 followers
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, commonly known as Mahatma Gandhi, was the preeminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India. Employing non-violent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for non-violence, civil rights and freedom across the world.

The son of a senior government official, Gandhi was born and raised in a Hindu Bania community in coastal Gujarat, and trained in law in London. Gandhi became famous by fighting for the civil rights of Muslim and Hindu Indians in South Africa, using new techniques of non-violent civil disobedience that he developed. Returning to India in 1915, he set about organizing peasants to protest excessive land-taxes. A lifelong opponent of "communalism" (i.e. basing politics on religion) he reached out widely to all religious groups. He became a leader of Muslims protesting the declining status of the Caliphate. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women's rights, building religious and ethnic amity, ending untouchability, increasing economic self-reliance, and above all for achieving Swaraj—the independence of India from British domination. His spiritual teacher was the Jain philosopher/poet Shrimad Rajchandra.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,319 reviews
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan .
944 reviews1,893 followers
August 6, 2022

Of all the books I have read so far, this one will be undeniably in the top five.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Albert Einstein
Aung San Suu Kyi
Barack Obama
Nelson Mandela
Dalai Lama
John Lennon
Steve Jobs
Rabindranath Tagore
Pearl S Buck
Ho Chi Minh
George Bernard Shaw

and many more great personalities cited Mahatma Gandhi as their role model.

There is no need to write a review for this book because almost everyone worldwide knows that this is one of the best autobiographies ever written. If you are the very few who haven't come across this book yet, I have just one thing to say. Don't think twice. Please grab a copy of this book and start reading to inspire yourself and see your life transformed.
Profile Image for Tharindu Dissanayake.
275 reviews455 followers
August 16, 2021
"Man takes in vice far more readily than virtue."
"Service without humility is selfishness and egotism."

My Experiments with Truth, the widely acclaimed autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi marks my next stop in the list of autobiographies. This one took a lot longer than I had anticipated, but it was a nice change of pace.

"All training without culture of the spirit was of no use, and might be even harmful."
"It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honored by the humiliation of their fellow-beings."

Very little introduction is required as to who Mahatma Gandhi was: Born in 1869, he was a leading character in India's struggle for independence, who employed a most remarkable approach to resolve all conflicts. Even though I had already known certain aspects on his non-violence campaigns, the experiences described here delivered a far deeper understanding on the basis of his principles. Just like with most autobiographies, a significant portion of the book is devoted to the author's inner battles and overcoming them, but there was something very special here: when it comes to drawing the line with regard to morals, he was one of the most consistent leaders of all time. It is remarkable how well he sticks to whatever course he is passionate about, with very little regard to external difficulties, but still without violating a single moral, and also leading by example each time. I'm sure most would argue such a passive approach might not be the most effective, but he never wavers from any of the virtues that had been ingrained in his personality.

"How heavy is the toll of sins and wrongs that wealth, power and prestige exact from man!"
��Renunciation of objects, without the renunciation of desires, is short-lived, however hard you may try.”
"Have I not told you times without number that ultimately a deceiver only deceives himself?”

I originally gave a 5-star rating for this book after finishing the book, but then, did notice there were certain shortcomings, mainly regarding the flow and immersiveness. As much as I found the teachings to be enlightening in many ways, I did feel the length of the book. But given the author was not a professional writer, the reader must empathize with that, and try to understand the underlying teaching as much as possible.

"Children wrapped up in cotton wool are not always proof against all temptation or contamination."
"Proneness to exaggerate, to suppress or modify the truth, wittingly or unwittingly, is a natural weakness of man and silence is necessary in order to surmount it."
"The brute by nature knows no self-restraint. Man is man because he is capable of, and only in-so-far as he exercises, self-restraint."
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,099 reviews44.1k followers
July 21, 2019
Gandhi has no energy whatsoever. I think the main problem with him writing his own autobiography is his complete lack of ego. He is too modest. He is too accommodating. And he is too good.

Wonderful characteristics for sure; they clearly served him well in his role as a civil rights leader, though they make him rather ill-equipped to write his own story. There is absolutely no passion within his writing, no fire, no strength and certainly no sense of long term goals or aspirations within the first few hundred pages. He begins with telling the tale of his youth, a rather non-descript and ordinary upbringing. It’s mundane, full of far too much monotony and everyday trifles to warrant any remark.

It’s almost like he is detached from his own experiences. Gandhi the leader, Gandhi the man who has inspired thousands, did not come across in much of the writing here. He is narrating his life retrospectively, from a position of success and influence, yet this Gandhi does not appear in the pages. There is no sense of an older, wiser, Gandhi looking at the actions of his youth and appraising or criticising his own actions. He does not evaluate the past, but tells it a bland impersonal manner with little emotion. All in all, I found it extremely hard to connect with on any level.

To compare this to the compelling, convincing and rather extraordinary Autobiography of Malcolm X, Gandhi’s words are unengaging. There is no rhetoric or argument to any actual effect. Certainly, he speaks of following a pure and truthful life, though after reading his words I was never convinced with the reasons he puts forth. The merits of such a life speak for themselves, but Gandhi did not convey it here. There’s also no sense of the human struggle, of a man trying to overcome his own daemons and become a better person. There is a certain lack of emotion within the entire work. It feels cold.

It is, of course, worth mentioning that I greatly admire Gandhi. His approach to life was benevolent and inspiring. Humanity has a lot to learn from him; he was an exemplifier of human values we all ought to strive for. Yet, for all his leadership skills, he couldn’t write for shit.
Profile Image for Riku Sayuj.
653 reviews6,927 followers
February 28, 2015
fundamentally changed my view of the world...

Oft In My Thought

Ah, how often I have sought in my days,

To emulate the great leaders, and be gently led,

By their virtuous actions and well-laid plans.

How often I charted the best courses to take

To reach those heights of thought and action;

And thought evermore of what best will portray

Their everlasting influence on this humble self,

That will make this world to be as they always saw,

In their lofty wishes and their fanciful dreams.

But all those thoughts, alas, they too crumble and dry,

And serve no more the masters that send them forth,

Who are now but ashes or just food to now dead worms,

And so are their thoughts but food to a few blind men.

And this world that lets the best of it die,

And leaves not even a soul or a smile behind,

For what I should try, what lasting effect,

When in showing the virtues, I forget them more?

How to pass that time of the night,

When all too familiar shame shows its head:

Have you forgotten all your virtues,

It asks with the malevolent sweet smiles,

The dead might banish sins and conquer great heights,

But will the living learn, it sneers and slips away.

To what profit we move, to what end we sing,

Praises of these men, and put their faces in public places?

The most good, most fair and most just of men;

They no longer walk this realm, what omen there?

And when the young can no longer dare imagine

That their footsteps once hallowed these very ruins…
Profile Image for Janet.
11 reviews47 followers
November 1, 2007
This was a fascinating read. Gandhi's writing is oddly simple, even almast naive in places. He faithfully records small personal struggles, giving them the same wieght as major political battles. Gandhi's zeal and idealism comes across powerfully, as does his lifelong concern with self-discipline and purity (bramacharya).

I was especially interested in his evolving understanding of satyagraha and his increasingly strict vegetarianism. His ascetism increased in direct proportion to his growing political power.

The autobiography ends in 1920, right around the time Gandhi became an international figure. The major historical events leading up to Independence are outside the scope of the book, but it's fascinating to watch Gandhi become Gandhi during the first half of his life.

Like all autobiographies, this one leaves out much helpful background information about people, places, and evets, so I frequently put down the book to Googgle. Next I would love to read a third person biography to fill in some more of the gaps.
Profile Image for Tyler Jones.
1,490 reviews73 followers
July 23, 2011
Excuse the ramblings of a mind coping to understand...this really is a book review...of sorts.

Yesterday, a man in Oslo set off a bomb that killed seven people then went to a kid's camp and killed eighty four young people. The world is sickened. Why do these things happen? Details are still coming out. At first I heard an Islamic militant group had claimed responsibility. Now it seems that the killer may be an extreme anti-islamic; a christian fundamentalist. What is clear is that somehow he was able to justify his actions because human life was less valuable to him than his ideals.

Societies sometimes justify violence (war, torture, capital punishment...) by saying they are protecting certain ideals. When violence is justified on such large levels, it can not be too surprising when an individual finds ways to justify violence as well. It could be a single man in Oslo. It could be a million men who beat their wives and children.

Violence is violence. In its most extreme and violent manifestations, we can plainly see that it is senseless, but in its more commonplace variations it can be tolerated or ignored. It seems that to many of us there is some line between acceptable and unacceptable violence and maybe this is part of the problem; we can compartmentalize and label the violence we do not like as the work of the evil or insane.

Back in university I read this book by Gandhi. Those who think that they cannot defend or promote ideals without the use of violence are either ignorant or (more likely) lazy, because the non-violent path is much, much harder to walk than the violent one. Violence is easy. Revenge is natural. But Gandhi was able to lead an entire nation to freedom without bombing police stations. The writing of Gandhi is all about the individual having dignity and independence - that self respect comes from respecting others. Gandhi's writing is a roadmap to a better world. I think that those who have not read Gandhi have an overly simplified vision of the man; that he was simply a pacifist or an unrealistic dreamer. I know that's what I used to think. But he was primarily concerned with erasing social injustice; non-violence was simply the best means to his ends. The best and most difficult.

It is time for us to reject "by any means necessary" and revenge seeking and punishing and all the eye-for-an-eye bullshit. All this generally condoned social violence just seeps into individuals where it collects as pure hate.
Profile Image for Jeff Lanter.
684 reviews9 followers
November 13, 2009
After seeing the movie biopic, I knew I needed to find out more about Gandhi so I picked this up. Don't let the width of the book fool you, it isn't a thousand pages like it appears. The translation of the book is actually pretty good and it reads easily. For the most part, Gandhi spends time talking about the little details in his life before he became famous. That is sort of the opposite of what you would expect in an autobiography, but as he says, his life was well known by then. This may lead some people to feel like the book is meandering. I can understand this feeling, but I think his sincerity and honesty outweighs that. While this book does not talk a lot about his theories on non-violence or his time in South Africa (I believe there is a separate book for that), it is impossible not to walk away from reading this book and feel inspired. Gandhi's humility has changed my outlook on many things and his passion for finding life's truths is infectious. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, you'll appreciate his details and struggles about this as well. Ultimately, I think this book can make you a better person if you have an interest in Gandhi's life and philosophies and approach with an open mind and persist through the small amount of less relevant information.
Profile Image for طَيْف.
387 reviews446 followers
June 27, 2013
وتحطمت الأسطورة!!!0

ما يلي هو وجهة نظر شخصية بحتة معرضة للنقص والقصور...مع احترامي لجميع وجهات النظر الأخرى

ما الذي كنت أعرفه عن غاندي قبل قراءة هذه السيرة؟؟وما الذي أضافته لي قراءتها؟؟؟

قرأت سابقا عن الظروف التي ظهر فيها غاندي في الهند، وعن الأسباب الحقيقية التي جعلت منه أسطورة الهند وروحها، وعن الأهداف التي مهدت لظهوره، وعن علاقته ببريطانيا وتعاونه معهم من خلال الحاكم البريطاني "ريدينج" لكسر شوكة المسلمين في الهند، من أجل ضمان تسلم الهندوس لمقاليد الحكم فيها...غاندي الذي دعا للرجوع إلى الحضارة الهندية حربا على الحضارة الإسلامية التي عاشت على أرض الهند أربعة عشر قرنا...وهو يمثل دورا مهما فيما سماه المقاومة السلمية أو اللاعنف

أما المبادئ التي ادعى أنه توصل إليها وتبناها فهي الدعوة للاعنف، ولمقاومة الظلم سلميا، وللاعتماد على الذات اقتصاديا، وللمعاناة الجسدية كوسيلة لتطهير الروح...وللعيش وفق نمط حياة بسيط يعتمد على الطعام النباتي...وللبحث الدائم عن الحقيقة

دعوني أكون على الأقل مثله باحثة عن الحقيقة وهو أقل ما تعلمني إياه هذه السيرة

أين تكمن الحقيقة؟؟

وجدت غاندي بناء على كلماته يتبنى مجموعة من الأفكار الغريبة...فبينما يدعي أنه لا يكتب سيرة ذاتية وإنما قصة بحث عن الحقيقة، لم أجد إلا سيرة ذاتية تقليدية بكثير من التفاصيل التي تبعث على الملل...وبقليل من التفاصيل المهمة عن توجهاته وأفكاره السياسية.

وعلى الرغم من ادعائه الدائم أن هدفه في الحياة الوصول لله، فلم يبذل جهدا في الممارسة الحقيقية لأي ديانة، بل يبتدع "الساتياجراها"!!0

وحين أراد تقديم نفسه كقدوة ومثل أخلاقي أعلى ونموذج هندوسي يمثل الديانة الهندوسية ومبادئها...ابتعد بالكثير من مبادئه عن الفطرة الإنسانية بل ناقضها...بدءا من علاقته بزوجته والتي تعد حكاية لوحدها، فهو يعتقد بأن الجنس يفسد الحب، ويتخذ كل القرارات نيابة عنها، ويحرمها من أبسط وسائل العيش المريحة في سبيل أمته ووطنه!!!!!!بس فهموني العلاقة بينهم!!!!!!!0

أو حتى تجاربه الغذائية المقتصرة على تناول الأطعمة النباتية، وتجاربه الطبية في المعالجة الذاتية التي لم تث��ت كفاءتها واعتبرها من بين الحقائق التي اقتنع بجدواها!! وحتى تجاربه مع أبنائه في قضية تعليمهم...تراه يشيد بالخط الجيد وأثر التعليم فيه، مع إصراره على حرمان أبنائه من التعليم الرسمي...حتى قال عنه أحد أبنائه: "إنه الأب الأعظم للأمة الهندية ولكن أيضاً الأب الذي لم أكن أتمناه"...وقال له: "في مختبرك للتجارب لسوء الحظ أنا الحقيقة الوحيدة التي بدت خطأ"!!0

لو أردت أن أحكم على غاندي من خلال كلماته، فلن أقول إلا أنه إنسان يمنح الفقر تقديسا ويظهر مثالية عالية لا تتسق مع الواقع أو الطبيعة السليمة للبشر، ورغم ذلك يدعي امتلاكه للحقيقة وتوصله إليها

ولا في لحظة شعرت بتواضعه الحقيقي...بل بغطرسته وهو يلقي حقائقه علينا وكأنها تعليمات مقدسة، رأى أنها تستحق أن تتحول لقواعد حياتية في الـ "ساتياجراها"!!0

عذرا غاندي...ما استطعت إقناعي باقترابك في هذه السيرة من الحقيقة.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,568 reviews55.6k followers
August 8, 2019
‏Satyanā Prayogo Athavā ātmakathā = The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Mahatma Gandhi
The Story of My Experiments with Truth is the autobiography of Mohandas K. Gandhi, covering his life from early childhood through to 1921. It was written in weekly installments and published in his journal Navjivan from 1925 to 1929. Its English translation also appeared in installments in his other journal Young India. It was initiated at the insistence of Swami Anand and other close co-workers of Gandhi, who encouraged him to explain the background of his public campaigns. In 1999, the book was designated as one of the "100 Best Spiritual Books of the 20th Century" by a committee of global spiritual and religious authorities.
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال 1976 میلادی
عنوان: سرگذشت من؛ نویسنده: مهاتما (ماهاتما) گاندی؛ مترجم: مسعود برزین؛ تهران، بهجت، 1335، در شانزده و 520 ص؛ چاپ دوم 1354؛ چاپ سوم 1355؛ چاپ پنجم: 1363؛ چاپ ششم 1366؛ موضوع: سرگذشتنامه و زیستنامه مهاتما (ماهتما) گاندی از سال 1869 میلادی تا سال 1948 میلادی از نویسندگان هندی - سده 20 م
عنوان: گاندی؛ نویسنده: مهاتما (ماهاتما) گاندی؛ مترجم: مسعود برزین؛ تهران، ثالث، 1393؛ در 533 ص؛ شابک: 9789643808549؛
مهانداس کارامچاند گاندی (زادهٔ روز دوم ماه اکتبر سال 1869 میلادی - درگذشتهٔ ماه ژانویهٔ سال 1948 میلادی) رهبر سیاسی و معنوی هندی‌ها بودند که ملت هند را در راه آزادی از استعمار امپراتوری بریتانیا رهبری کردند. ایشان در طول زندگی‌ خویش استفاده از هر نوع ترور و خشونت برای رسیدن به خواسته را رد می‌کردند. فلسفهٔ بی‌خشونتی «گاندی» که خود نام «ساتیاگراها» (در زبان سانسکریت: تلاش و کوشش برای رسیدن به حقیقت) روی بسیاری از جنبش‌های مقاومت بدون خشونت در سراسر جهان و تا امروز تأثیرگذار بوده‌ است. ا. شربیانی
50 reviews
February 13, 2015
Intended for a very limited audience

My copy of the book had torn spine, small print, dog-eared cover and the quality of paper so inferior, that it set a new precedent for me -- but I shouldn't complain because a friend of mine had lent it to me.

Let me first clarify something about this book's genre. Gandhi says in the foreword that this book was a memoir of 'his experiments with truth', thus the subtitle; but he particularly says that this was not an autobiography. He gives his reasons for this. First, he did not like this 'Western' genre: There was a general prejudice against West during his time. Second, he thought that the idea of a man writing his own life was conceited.

So you might ask, Is it not an autobiography? It is. It is a straight-forward, old-school autobiography that begins with birth and leads up to the moment the author is writing the book.

My own dislike for the book is rooted in the fact that I am not the audience Gandhi had in mind. In the book you realize that he wants to present himself as an ideal for the kids in India, particularly the Hindus, of that era. The reason I say this is that the book was originally published in Gandhi's native language and most of the book's content is about moral teachings. Moral from his perspective. His morality is deeply rooted in Indian culture and Hindu religion.

But some of his principles are plain weird. Here's an example. He doesn't fight (out of timidity I think because he started doing this quite early); he praises good handwriting; renounces tea (apparently, doctors then had evidence against it); praises unworthy teachers. Furthermore, he never quite justifies, or may be he didn't even understand, his superstitious nature.

There is nothing wrong, per say, with this approach. But, this mode of writing becomes trite: everything has ethical overtone. Most of what he writes is judged through the prism of right and wrong. And after a point, it just sounds stupid. We are taught from childhood to follow a rigid set of rules; parents have their own ideas of ethics, teachers theirs, and if you're affiliated with any religion then it's a whole new level of rules you have to follow. But as humans, we all have individuality: we live our unique lives. But not Gandhi. He chose to follow whatever his parents, teachers, or anyone he considered worthy enough to be placed on a peddle, tells him. He followed these rules to the T.

Honestly, if you want me to judge Gandhi from this book, I'll say he is like a lonely person who lacked self-esteem; someone without an iota of individuality. That, ofcourse, is the impression from the book. Now I know that Gandhi was more than this. But he had to appear an idealist.

About the English -- It was archaic, with structures and words that I could not help laugh at! The English could have been simpler, more direct and less cumbersome. It could have used Strunk and White.

These days the autobiography genre is written as creative non-fiction, and not as a linear chronology of life, as was the case with this book. So I can't complain about it being slightly boring. You know how it is: Starting from childhood all the way upto the moment you're penning the very book.

Now I know that some people will revere this book. This may be because they're the kind of audience Gandhi was writing for. I am not one of them. So I am critiquing this book from my perspective, which is what we always do, which is what anyone can do. Selling this translated edition to the world when its intended audience was a India of a particular epoch is a mistake.
Profile Image for Francisco.
Author 20 books54.9k followers
November 11, 2016
One of those books that needs to be read periodically if only to remind yourself that someone out there sometime thought that transformation, liberation, hell just plain living, without violence was possible. It's not the violence that scares me personally as much as the anger. There's still some restrictions on the use of violence but anger's got the world's green light. Be angry even as you defend peace. Be angry on behalf of goodness and beauty. Be angry or you don't care. So you read about Gandhi's spiritual journey which began with, of all things, anger at the injustice he perceived, and gradually the anger was transformed into another much more powerful energy. The energy of ahimsa, an inner force he discovered in the discipline of self denial. Ahimsa: It is not enough not to strike another person but something much, much harder- the elimination of all the hostility in your heart. A way of life, really, that encompassed all you did. And this is what the man Gandhi believed: that unless that hostility disappeared and was replaced by this other power, any social good you could achieve would not be lasting, would not even be worth it. These thoughts seem so old fashioned, don't they? Like when your mother told you that you needed to wait three hours after eating before swimming. No one believes these kind of ideas anymore. Is the truth of nonviolence that Gandhi lived, not believed but lived - is that truth not believable or livable anymore? Where do people like Gandhi and Martin Luther King and so many others get the notion that the only response to hatred is love? Look around you? Do you think this is still possible? In this world? Some biographies inspire but the good ones challenge. What would it be like for you and me to fight the biggest battle, the one Gandhi fought, the one that takes place inside of you, the one between your Self and the anger that fills you? And what would it take for you to believe that that's the one battle that will truly make this world a better place?
Profile Image for Iris.
23 reviews2 followers
April 16, 2018
One of the most influential people to have ever lived.
This book should be essential reading for anyone working in the legal sector, in social justice and human rights, and anyone remotely interested in contemporary history and the great men and women of our time.
Profile Image for Bettie.
9,988 reviews15 followers
September 10, 2015
Description: In 1999, this book was designated as one of the ''100 Most Important Spiritual Books of the Twentieth Century'' by HarperCollins Publishers.

''When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall -- think of it, always.'' -- Gandhi

A holy man to Hindus, a hero to Muslims, and a criminal to the British, Mohandas K. Gandhi was an inspiring figure of the twentieth century, a man whose quest to live in accord with God's highest truth led him to initiate massive campaigns against racism, violence, and colonialism.

From his youthful rebellion against vegetarianism, to his successful law practice in South Africa, his struggle with his own sexual excesses, and his leadership of the movement to free India from British rule, Gandhi describes the story of his life as a series of spiritual ''experiments'' and explains how he developed his concept of active nonviolent resistance, which propelled the Indian struggle for independence and inspired countless other nonviolent struggles.

(Translated from the original in Gujarati by Mahadev Desai.)

Narrator - Bill Wallace

Gasp! And there he was, meeting teh Blavatsky and Annie Besant...

I picked this up primarily wanting to know the reverse of Letter To A Hindu, not particularly wishing to find the spiritual but not willing to diss that aspect out of hand when faced full-on. This is wonderful, we get to find that the man was, as a youngster, a thief, a liar, and a con artist. From such humble beginnings came a great human being.

Blinking marvellous read. We were only given the snippiest snippet of his pernickety character/early life in the Attenborough film so it was lovely to acquaint myself with his version of events.
Fully recommended.
Profile Image for Erik Graff.
4,984 reviews1,084 followers
January 11, 2013
Having read Fischer's biography of him in high school led to reading a whole lot of Gandhi's own writing in college--until, that is, hitting his commentaries on the Gita--starting with his early autobiographical My Experiments with Truth.

My primary interest in Gandhi was his pacifism and his reasons for it. The United States' invasion of the south of Vietnam had been going on since my childhood and I had become a draft counselor in college and, ultimately, a draft resister after I'd started filling out the conscientious objector forms and found that I certainly didn't qualify by governmental criteria. This, of course, raised questions. The C.O. status was only granted then for persons subscribing to a theistic faith tradition opposed to violence. I was no theist in their sense, nor was Gandhi. What would he have to say?

Well, on that score Gandhi was a disappointment. His pacifism appeared rooted in his character and in his emotional feeling for such traditions and behavior. I shared the emotion and found Gandhi a kindred soul, but I failed to find an intellectually satisfying argument which could hold up against, say, a sociopath's or a politician's reasonings.

What I did find was a very engaging fellow, conversant with the West and their traditions, as well as with his own culture, a cosmopolitan from the other side of the world who conveys a sense of utter guilelessness yet whom you know was a practical and very successful politician on terms substantially of his own choosing.

In this light, an anecdote: When Gandhi, in 1931, stopped for an audience with Italy's head of state, he was met by Mussolini and his family. As ever, Gandhi was scantily attired and accompanied by his goat. Mussolini's sons sniggered. After the audience the Duce is reported to have glared at them, saying "that man and his goat are shaking the British Empire."
Profile Image for Hajer Fahad.
3 reviews11 followers
March 10, 2010
أحب قراءة السيّر لأنها تمنحنا حياة آخرى و تجارب أكثر ,
و سيرة غاندي من أروع السير الحياتيه.
Profile Image for Sidharth Vardhan.
Author 23 books681 followers
October 28, 2018
A ridiculously long essay about a man I think is overrated:

Gandhi is hands down one of the most overrated people in the world. It might be true for most people tagged as 'great' but the way people in India obsesses for Gandhi either considering him really great or awesome on one hand or calling him wicked on other without being willing to see any shades of grey in him is really too much.

To be honest there are two Gandhis - one is the real Gandhi and the other is the idea of him that is attached to an almost ridiculous faithfulness to non-violence and truth which features in movies like 'Lage Raho Munna Bhai'. The idea Gandhis more popular ofcourse, I wonder how many of us have ever imagined Gandhi as a young man, This later idea Gandhi is something I like because it doesn't have to suffer from limitations of the original person who is, after all, a human.

Gandhi the god

The problem is that, even in his own time, this idea Gandhi raised him to the level of God who was frequently troubled by 'darshan seekers'. The stupid habits Indians have of making people into Gods is something Mr. Ambedkar warned the country against it in his famous speech while presenting Constitution of India and Bhagat Singh warned against in his essay 'Why I am an atheist?' , both to no advantage as it different times Indians have raised Indira Gandhi, Sachin, and Modi to level of god besides a long and ever-widening of saints to the level of God. Calling someone a God, of course, means that you put him or her beyond all criticism (which was Bhagat Singh's main objection). Rama is the best example in this context. He is God and so incapable of mistakes.

Gandhi himself hated God-like status. Those like Bhagat Singh, S. C. Bose, B.R. Ambedkar and Jinnah (and to comparatively less extent Vallabhbhai Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru) who had a bit of personal intelligence of their own soon grew to oppose Gandhi but most of the country still carried that blind devotion in them.

And speaking of a Gandhi capable of mistakes, most of his loved values can be traced to a single incidence of his childhood. The time he secretly from his father and (shock! Shock!!) ate meat and his father punished him by being in pain. His strong conscience must have traumatized him and thus born are an inclination towards three things that he later justified as values driven from his 'experiments' and study of religious literature - truth (he confessed his crime), non-violence (his father punished him by being in pain himself) and vegetarianism.

Vegetarianism and Brahmacharya

There are more chapters devoted to vegetarianism than to other two values. We get chapters on chapters on how he experimented with his diets, how his wife and one of the four children almost died because of how they share his obsession for vegetarianism.

Later his obsession for vegetarianism got attached to his love for self-help (which might as well be defined as opposite of 'division of labor' - to quote an example, he thinks that instead of engaging domestic help and putting their time to more productive use, the lawyers should wash their own clothes), distaste for sexuality (this might seem hypocritical given that how he abused his child-bride during their adolescence, but remember people change) and cleanliness (a value I admire. Refer Modi for more details, though unlike him, Gandhi wasn't just pulling a political stunt) to result in his obsession for brahmacharya.

I don't get the appeal of this brahmacharya thing - you give up food, sex and almost everything sweet, sexy and beautiful to get a few more years of life. I mean why would you need them? What is the fun of such a life anyway? Both Gandhi and his prose seem so dry of life. He has no love for books (other than self-help or religion) and art, the rare chapters where he talks about his family, it is either a confession to something he did and now considers wrong or in relation to his 'experiments', there are never any stories where a kid was just so cute and he couldn't help mentioning it through the book is alternatively titled 'an autobiography'.

One of his last 'experiments' with Brahamchariya that happened too long after the book was finished is something getting a lot of ridicule. It involved sleeping (figurtively ) in same room with girls to test whether he feels sexual instincts - not caring about how traumatic the experience might for these girls. Of course, the girls afterward declared that there was nothing sexual between them Gandhi and them, but one wonders if Gandhi considered the possiblty that his experiment might actually fail?


He somehow derived his love for non-violence from Geeta which was, really, a very long justification of the bloodiest war of its time. But really those religious justifications for ideas of vegetarianism and non-violence are redundant, he just couldn't stand the idea of violence, even against animals ..... or rather, couldn't stand aggression - because that is what he really meant by 'non-violence'. He would probably call an act done in self-defense violence too when even Buddhists who are similarly obsessed with non-violence have developed self-defense arts. Like any other ideal, it suffers from many practical disadvantages.

Of course, this love for non-violence doesn't stop him from asking youth of the country to fight for Britain in World War I. What else can an imperial government ask? You won't get any aggressive revolts, but you get soldiers ready to die for you. Gandhi's argument that it is wrong to betray empire in the hour of its need is foolish in the fact that first world war was just a wrestling match among European Imperial powers who turned on each other because there were no other territories left to conquer.

His letter to Hitler is the childish thing the idealist goody two shoes are prone to do seeing the world in their own image. It is cute but his advice to Jews in concentration camps to commit suicide in protest against cruelties done to them is plain disgusting.


What I can't understand is why he called his methods of non-violence 'Satyagraha' (thus confusing Satya or truth with non-violence). He does have a ridiculous obsession for truth too though. One of those values you can admire. But the methods that go by name of Satyagrahas of his, despite having a poetical name is nothing more than methods a stubborn child would use to gets its demands fulfilled by its parents (I won't eat till my demands are fulfilled, I won't cooperate or listen to you till my demands are fulfilled and so on).

It is only at the time of civil disobedience movement that his methods appealed a little to me and the time of independence when he was able to prevent a lot of bloodshed in riots to a great extent by making tours to Bengal and asking people to give up arms (which they did) but the book was written several years before those times. One of the arguments against aggressive methods is that it can often be a slippery slope but the same seems to be true for Gandhi's non-violent tools. The strikes, fasts etc continue to be popular among Indians even when more democratic methods are available - another thing Ambedkar warned against in speech mentioned above. (The third and last warning, if you are interested, was to make India a social democracy and not just settle for political equality - something else ignored by Indians to their own disadvantage)

A man of boxes

To me personally, Gandhi lived in certain kind of box (or boxes) which he couldn't think out of despite his having traveled three continents. He couldn't think beyond religions (he learned much from religions. Christ's quote 'turn the other cheek' is often attributed to Gandhi in India') - in fact, he believed that everyone should have his or her thinking confined to box of religion he or she were born in and respect other boxes.

Much of what is intellectual in him is limited to the range defined by Hinduism. He is untouched from writers like Dostoevsky or political philosophers like Marx, the only famous writer he refers to is Tolstoy (and again it is the later religious parables of Tolstoy that Gandhi is interested in and not Anna Karenina or War and Peace).

The other box he takes a lot of time to break is probably created by the education system he was raised in - which made him believe that British rule is overall for good of colonies. No obviousness of racism in South Africa, the famines of India, the drain of wealth from India would make him see the truth of British rule for most of his life. He demanded domainian staus not seeing that it was sort of respect British government gave to only those countries that had a white population in far more significant percentage of the population than ever could be the case with India. When he withdrew non-cooperation, he argued India was not ready for independence - as British were ever ready to rule India.

There is the box of traditionalism. His go-to tools like Charkha and handicrafts are pre-industrialisation. And he seems to show no interest in industrialization. The schools need not care much about textbooks. All his philosophy about studies while focusing much on the study of languages, religion, moral values, and physical exercises has little to tell about teaching sciences and arts (a craft which can be useful is different and gets attention).

There is also focus of his own circles in as far as the South African part is concerned (more than half of book is devoted to his life in South Africa), there is almost no mention of black Africans.

Consistency of Politicians

None of us is same forever - same as we were years ago, at least no one who is constantly learning can be. Yet we assume that politicians should be the same. A politician who says something different from what he/she said in past is subjected to ridicule and called a hypocrite. That might be why politicians are least willing to admit their mistakes and wish to be thought of perfect. Maybe it is because whole people have to pay for mistakes of politicians

The idea-Gandhi, whom most of the westerns and politicians love, supposedly had this consistency - he was always nonviolent and was always wise about right and wrong. The real Gandhi was more vulnerable to mistakes. In fact, that is why the book is called 'experiments'.


He was successful in uniting India in a single national movement because of that idea-Gandhi who appealed to a people that had for centuries been devoted to saints - but still, it was a great achievement and probably wouldn't have been achieved easily otherwise. Before his arrival, Congress was a just a party of lawyers with no Pan-national appeal. But after Indians got that national consciousness, he was more of an obstacle. Indians might easily much earlier have got freedom of it wasn't for his decision to take non-cooperation movement in 1919. I don't think he really helped India's case after that, Orwell was of this opinion too. And if India got in 1947, it wasn't because of Gandhi. The British government had put a good Vs evil script on second world war and the British rule over India wasn't consistent with the value of 'good' Britain was supposed to have - democracy, liberality, and co; something they could no longer hide from their own people (politicians and consistency, right?). Moreover, there wasn't much wealth left in India to drain.
Profile Image for Elliot Ratzman.
516 reviews66 followers
September 2, 2016
Orwell: “Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proven innocent.” Gandhi may be a saint, but he is one fussy holy man. His autobiography only takes us to 1927, before the campaign to free India of British rule. He had become famous for leading a civil rights movement for Indians in South Africa where he lived for years before taking the “satyagraha” movement back to India. On the way, he is a young anglophile who admires the Empire, studies law in London and sides with the colonial powers during the Boer wars and WWI. The autobio is important because it narrates his “experiments” in diet, fasting, simple living, and back-to-the-land projects. He falls in with all sorts of vegetarian quacks in Victorian London and learns about world religions, including his own, from Western sources: Max Muller, Tolstoy, Ruskin, and Madame Blavatsky! We find a Gandhi who is as cruel and controlling to his wife and children as he is kind and subordinate to strangers, the poor and the sick.
Profile Image for Nawal Al-Qussyer.
167 reviews2,080 followers
July 6, 2011
كتاب ضخم ان صح التعبير.. يحتوي علي تفاصيل دقيقة عن حياة المهاتما غاندي وسيرته الذاتية في حقل المحاماة وتجارب الدراسة في بريطانيا و العمل في جنوب افريقيا والبقية تأتي. بدت في البداية ممتعة، وممتعة جدا حتى أني تجاوزت المائة صفحة في مدة وجيزة، سرني أن أتعرف عن قرب على جزء من المجتمع الهندي وهم الهندوس وبعض عاداتهم في القرن الماضي..
الجزء الأول تحدث عن طفولته وصباه بشكل مركز ودقيق. وعن شعوره وبعض مغامراته.. ودراسته وزواجه المبكر جدا والذي أحززني كما أحزنه.. ومن ثم انطلاقه للحياة في بداية التجربة للدراسة بالخارج وتدبر اموره والعهد الذي قطعه بأن لايأكل اللحوم ولا يلمس النساء ولا يشرب المسكرات.

ثم بدأت تصبح مملة ومحشوة كثيرا بأحداث و مقاطع غير ضرورية . إضافة إلي التكرار الكثير في مجمل كلامه وبعض المواقف. مما جعلني اشعر بالملل والفتور.. وكنت أقفز بعض المقاطع من شدة الملل. الأسلوب في الترجمة لم يكن كما تمنيت. شعرت أنه ينقصه من السلاسة الشيء الكثير.. لا أعلم لم لكني فعلا وأنا أقرأ أشعر أن في الجمل شيء من عدم السهولة او الوضوح او المباشرة، في حين كان بامكان المترجم أن يكون أكثر سلاسة.. ربما لأني سمعت عن ترجمات منير بعلبكي المحترفة فتوقعت شيئا أكثر.. لكن لم يسعني الا ان الاحظ ان الترجمة كانت احد انتقاداتي للكتاب. طباعة النسخة غير جيدة و وغير واضحة مع ان نسختي جديدة وبتغليفها البلاستيكي لكن وجدت الكثير من الصفحات علي وشك التمزق.. وبعض النقط الغير واضح مكانها..

المهم كانت سيرة محملة بالمواقف والعبر والدروس.. عرفت ان الذي لايستسلم هو الذي ينتصر . وان الثبات على المبدأ بحد ذاته انجاز.. هالني ما رأيته منه في حين كانت زوجته - هو - اولاده أقرب للموت لكنه يرفض التداوي بمرق اللحم او قطع الدجاج . بسبب مبدأه الديني. على الرغم من اني لا اوافقه طبعا لكن ثباته على المبدأ مذهل حقيقة.. بدا لي ان المهاتما جدا متسامح مع الاديان ومنفتح، كان خلوقا جدا ويظهر ذلك جليا في تبنيه لللاعنف والذي انقذ الهند من الاحتلال البريطاني.. أعجبني جدا أنه لم يأبه كثيرا بكلام طائفته حين قرر السفر للدراسة في حين انهم قاطعوه واعتبروه منبوذا..

في هذه السيرة الكثير من الاشياء المحفزة والمملة والعظيمة والعادية. والاشياء التي تجعلك جدا سعيد لان العظماء او الذين فعلوا شيئا عظيما بدأوا حياة عادية لهم نقائص وشكوك وماضي. هم بشر قبل أي شيء اخر..

وجدت انه جدا جدا صريح بخصوص عيوبه. مثل كثرة الشهوة وعلاقته الزوجية وتربيته لابنائه الذي يعتقد انه قصر في الجانب الادبي خصوصا، وحين تركهم لمدة طويلة.. لا أظن أني سأعود لقرائتها مرة أخرى.. كانت عملية مرهقة مع هذه الطباعة. لكني علمت الكثير من المقاطع للرجوع لها منفردة

Profile Image for Gorab.
599 reviews92 followers
July 18, 2017
First thing - This rating and review is not for Gandhiji and his persona, albeit the way this autobiography is written.

Its not very easy to describe conflicting thoughts and dilemmas. And yet Gandhiji has described his concepts of life in a lucid way.
"Experiments" is the highlight, and the content does justice to the title. He has captured in details the experiments on food, treatment with mud and water, way of life, thought process on indulgence and abstinence.
Also commendable are the details on the way he instils leadership by demonstration of his own actions.

- The book structure - Division in five apt parts
- Numerous small chapters with titles for each of them
- Frank and honest. Thrashes self without hesitation.
- Descriptions about falling for lust, visiting prostitutes, giving in to drinking and smoking, eating meat ... etc are uninhibited.
- Moral dilemmas, and how he coped with them.
- The evolution of Satyagraha ideology.

- Egotist narration. (Duh! Its an autobiography!)
- Could be better if there are more encounters about his relation with wife and kids (which appears neglected)
- Lagged in some parts of South Africa where it turned to only factual descriptions and no insights.

A prized and cherishable read.
Profile Image for Nasser Moh'd.
207 reviews131 followers
June 19, 2013
غاندي والحقيقة
أُعجبت بشخصية غاندي الفذة ، الصبوره ، المثابرة ، الذكيه ، الصلبة بمبادئها ،
(ولو اني كنت ارى بان هذه المباديء تشكل عائقاً امامه ، لكن بوجهة نظر غاندي ان المباديء ما هي الا حقائق تشكل إلهٌ واحد)
ومن هنا يجب علينا ان ننظر بأن غاندي معذور ان ضحى بنفسه من اجل مبدأ واحد

وبما ان الكتاب أشبه بالسيره الذاتيه فانا ساحاول جاهداً ان اكتب فقط عن شخص غاندي لا غير ....ب
غاندي الرجل الطيب ، المتواضع، المحب والواثق للاخرين، الصادق ، المؤمن ، الزاهد بالدنيا ، ، المحب والغيور على وطنه،
كل هذه الصفات تجتمع بشخص ذكي .
وأنا اعتقد من اسباب نجاح غاندي هو بياض قلبة وصفاء نيته كل هذه الصفات الجميله سرت الي من قلبي من خلال كتاباته،
غاندي يقدم التضحيات للاخرين ويحبهم ويتمنى لهم الخير ، وكل ذلك يعود عليه بالخير
مبدأ العطاء لدى غاندي عالي القيمة فهو يعطي من روحه ولا يتعب بل يتلذذ
واعتقد ايضاً من اسباب النجاح التي يجب ان اكشفها
هو ان غاندي يمتلك عقل نقدي ( تحليلي) وهذه النظرة النقديه
لا تكون إلا بالشخص الهائم بالحقائق ، المصر على تحقيقها ، فهو يكره الراحه ويعشق القلق
يقلق الى ان تنكشف له الحقيقه من غشاوتها، فيهيب للانقضاض عليها ، كمن انقض على صناديق الذهب والمجوهرات، وان أدى ذلك إلى زجة في السجون
فهو امتع وألذ إليه ، من بقاءه عاله على الحقيقه ، زائداً على الحياة

وفعلاً غاندي كان من الناجحين ، حقق لنفسه شعبيه من غير سعي وراء مال وسلطه ، اشترط على الظروف ان يكون صادقاً زاهداً محب لناس
فخارت قوى الظروف امامه ليحقق اهدافه،.
غاندي مثال حي لشخص المؤمن بمبادئه والمثابر والمصر من اجل تحقيقها مستخدماً طريق الشرف و النباله ..

ويستحق غاندي ان يكون قدوة لكل شخص وكل انسان اراد المثابرة في الحياه، وبطرق نزيهه وسلميه ، وناصعة البياض

***واجهت ملل في بعض احداث السيرة علاوةً على صعوبة الاسماء الهنديه
Profile Image for Jeremy.
714 reviews43 followers
April 14, 2016
I am impressed Gandhi was able to take his own remarkable life story, and turn it into one of the least interesting books I have ever read. He is like a reverse alchemist, turning the gold of his life into base metals.

Gandhi skimps on just about anything you might want to know about his life, but provides plenty of details about fasting (seriously, there has got to be about 50 chapters in the book that talk about his diet, and I SWEAR I am not exaggerating). Just when you think you are going to get some juicy details about his various campaigns, or some descriptions of major figures in his life (perhaps even insight into the man himself) Gandhi will swerve off and spend 3 chapters talking about this time his anal cavity was painfully tender.

In terms of his experiments with truth, we find out that Gandhi prizes medical quackery, the importance of good penmanship, never drinking milk, never having sex with one's wife (unless for procreation), and he is going to tell you all about these virtues in a very labored, didactic manner.

Gandhi seems incapable of any sort of description or flair. He just recites tedious events in his life in an extremely factual manner. I would recommend literally any OTHER book about Gandhi, if you must read about him at all.
Profile Image for Dimple.
18 reviews1 follower
January 31, 2013
"My experiments with truth" describes perfectly the stoic life of Gandhiji! How he developed himself through 'good company', 'good books' and 'self-will'.
This writing is an Apotheosis for showing,"Winners are not born, they are made!"

I thought this book will be more about British East India and our Freedom struggle but its basically about "experiments" of Gandhiji in his journey and it's remarkable how he sticked to his beliefs!
Though many of his beliefs or rules I didn't find right(or orthodox, sometimes too rigid and impractical), it does not deter my respect for him in any way!

He is the man who has truly devoted his life for society with his philosophy,"Simple living high thinking!"
He has bequeathed us with two most powerful instruments for peaceful life: Truth and Ahimsa; and his conviction in them is inspiring.

One thing I learned is "trial and error" method is not only for Maths questions but also for Life Questions!
"To err is human."
Profile Image for لونا.
363 reviews471 followers
July 18, 2012

قد يستغرب البعض لما سأقوله هنا أنا "لست" من المعجبين بشخصية غاندي .. .. وخلال قراءة هذا الكتاب تأكدت من ذلك

شخصيته الانطوائية، شديدة الخجل وسأكون جريئة وأقول سلبية حققت ما لم يحققه الكثير وخلقت مفهوم جديد للمقاومة

لماذا إذا منحت الكتاب 4 نجوم؟! لأن الكتاب يندرج تحت تصنيف الكتب التي تتربع على عرش نوعيتي المفضلة "السيرة الذاتية" وأيضاً الكتاب مكتوب بطريقة جميلة .. .. والأهم من ذلك أن تأثير غاندي الإيجابي في العالم بمقاومته السلبية أمر يدعو للإعجاب سواء شئت أم أبيت
Profile Image for C.
25 reviews4 followers
September 13, 2016
Struggled through this as I found it overly obsessed with what-one-should/shouldn't-eat-when, and who gives the best advice on the matter. A way too simplistic account, considering the divine light posterity ensured to cast around this man.
What I got from Gandhi's own accounts:
1. he was in favor of never drinking milk and completely prevented his son and wife to do so despite them being in a condition of serious illness ... and yet when sickness fell upon him ...:
"I might [=could] not take cow's or buffalo's milk, as I was bound by a vow. The vow of course meant the giving up of all milks, but as I had mother cow's and mother buffalo's only in mind when I took the vow, and as I wanted to live, I somehow beguiled myself into emphasizing the letter of the vow, and decided to take goat's milk"

2. he received the best education possible at the time ... and yet when the question of educating his children or wife arised ...
"I will not say that I was indifferent to their literary education, but I certainly did not hesitate to sacrifice it. My sons have therefore some reason for a grievance against me. Indeed they have occasionally given expression to it, and I must plead guilty to a certain extent."

3. he did not succesfully educate his own children, and yet he did not hesitate to claim the role of Educator/Father/Transference object for others.
"Only this much I knew--that under ideal conditions, true education could be imparted only by the parents, and that then there should be the minimum of outside help; that Tolstoy Farm was a family, in which I occupied the place of the father; and that I should so far as possible shoulder the responsibility for the training of the young."

In all of these cases he finds a justification to help him deal with the obvious conflicts, for instance 'moral fibre' being far more important than 'literary qualifications'), or lack of time or his must-be in another place to attend to matters of greater importance.
"I succumbed. My intense eagerness to take up the Satyagraha fight had created in me a strong desire to live, and so I contented myself with adhering to the letter of my vow only, and sacrificed its spirit.[...] The will to live proved stronger than the devotion to truth, and for once the votary of truth compromised his sacred ideal by his eagerness to take up the Satyagraha fight."

One can only conclude with the help of Benjamin Franklin's words:
"So convenient a thing is it to be a reasonable creature , since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do."

Perhaps it was the calling for public service that made him sacrifice other things. And yet again, perhaps he was only a simple man.

Transference objects must be perfect. If they are not, men's imagination helps to re-cast these objects into a target mold. If they are not, their life stories are re-told over and over again , so that they reach the exact pitch men need them to have.
Profile Image for Michael Scott.
724 reviews130 followers
May 27, 2010
Gandhi's autobiography is one of those books that you just have to read, a story of developing oneself and raising the conscience of a people. The Mahatma (Great Soul, name apparently first used in relation with Gandhi by the great Indian poet Tagore) presents with a great deal of detail his life and development of beliefs such as vegetarianism (then fruitarianism), simplicity, brahmacharya (abstinence), non-violence, and pursuit of truth; there are also slight mentions of swaraj (right of self governance) and the related Indian uprisings. On the negative side, the autobiography is very difficult to read---the writing is long, often boring, with a curious structure, full of incomplete and/or incomprehensible references to Gandhi's previous writings, argumentative, and sometimes plain contradictory (to previous chapters). Moreover, for this reader the presentation managed to abscond most of the message, and in particular its political aspect. Overall, a must read but don't expect an easy read.
Profile Image for James.
Author 13 books1,199 followers
March 13, 2012
Self-revealing and fascinating to read alongside Erik Erikson's at-a-distance psychoanalysis of the saint, Gandhi's Truth (1960). The autobiography is full of surprises: At one point in his youth, Gandhi became convinced that India was behind the times because of vegetarianism, so he vowed to convert all of his homeland to carnivorious wisdom. Perhaps the only vow he did not keep.

Would that his teachings on non-violent resistance (satyagraha) were more widely applied. Detractors argue, however, that this strategy could really work only in India, where it appeals to such deeply ingrained cultural foundations as Patanjali's ahimsa (non-violence), itself a Hindu appropriation of a Jainist principle.

If, for a just cause, one goes on a hunger strike in India, one is appealing to a long tradition of fasting associated with saintlyness and right action. In some other cultures, where those associations do not exist, nobody would much notice or care.
Profile Image for Ti Emme Rock.
85 reviews13 followers
August 27, 2019
La vita di Gandhi, pubblica e privata, la resistenza passiva, la lotta non violenta e soprattutto la ricerca della verità. Tutto ciò è Satyagraha, che attraverso le parole semplici, eppure tanto forti del Mahatma, è l'unica arma che gli uomini onesti possono usare. Una Grande Anima davvero 🙏
Profile Image for Cassandra Kay Silva.
704 reviews277 followers
March 18, 2017
The complexity of Mahatma Gandhi as a person astounds me. An autobiography gives the reader a chance to see really deeply into the ideas and suppositions that create the self. When we think of a person we often think of a character, like that in a story. Sometimes authors write characters that are consistent in their actions. These type of characters often have a certain personality type or ethical vantage point from which they view the world and their actions are constant and understandable within that framework. Other authors write characters that are complex and show multidimensional personalities and depth in the different decisions they make throughout a work.

I think that how these characters are viewed depends strongly on the reader. Does the reader believe that people are as they are deep down? Or does the reader believe that people can change? If the reader believes that a person possesses a genuine core that is unchangeable then a complex characters actions will be labeled as "not fitting with the personality type" or untrue to the nature of that character. On the other hand if the reader believes that people genuinely change then they can accept even strong opposing actions and behavior throughout a work. People who see the world in this way will often view the first type as "predictable or flat" and people who view the world through the eyes of the first type will question the believability of a character with too many facets, or with widely juxtaposed responses to similar situations.

When we look at Gandhis life through his own eyes we see the absolute complexity of him as a person despite his desire for consistency and his search for what he calls "truth". We watch a man who begins his life as a British educated lawyer and still carries with him an ego despite his constant debasement of it and we see him metamorphose into the epitome of stoicism and Buddhist acceptance through the various courses that his life takes. We watch him genuinely change as he strives for meaning and understanding of self. We watch him inconsistently make actions such as supporting the combatants in World War 1 after previously speaking strongly about approaching issues through a path of non violence. We watch him wrestle with his vegan beliefs as his wife battles against death and the doctor prescribes milk as the answer. We watch him become deified and hated by various populations. We watch him go from supporting the rule of the white British to then actively fighting against racism not only between the light and dark but also between different caste systems.

It seems then to me that Gandhi will either be seen as a man who constantly strove for his "true self" and who was fighting against his baser nature to find that deeper person within. Or he will be seen as being the one who through his own choices and actions created the self and lived a life of complexity through his strivings and through his seeking against striving until the end.

The autobiography is told from the vantage point of an ultimate truth that he is consistently seeking. A truth that he believes transcends self and transcends religion but we are not told if he feels that he has found this in the end.

Its impossible to read without feeling that he had hit upon something very strongly throughout his life and that it grew with him as each of his life's choices further shaped him as a person. Though whether that person already lived within him or whether that person was of his own creating it can not be known. Thinking of his assassination and jailings and his hardships when he gave so much to humanity is beyond heartbreaking. May you rest in peace Gandhi traveler you inspire us all both through your journey and path. May you have found your truth.
128 reviews6 followers
May 2, 2011

This is the first post I am writing on my blog where I want to write about the books that I have read and how they have changed my life or sometimes just given me moments of happiness in otherwise stressed life.
There cannot be a better book than “My Experiments with Truth” to start this journey. A book that helped me 20 years ago when I had read it for the first time and now again when I read it last month. The author of the book “Mahatma Gandhi” is probably one person whom I have admired more than anybody else. There have been many other people whom I have admired and looked up to but then all of them have failed in my eyes at some time or other but not Mahatma Gandhi. This does not mean that he has not made mistakes in life. There are parts of his biography where I do not agree with him, where he has made mistakes. But at no point I find him going against his conviction. He is always the first to admit his mistakes. His whole character has an integrity which is flawless. He is doing what he is preaching and he is preaching only what he firmly believes in. There are no two faces to him.
The book which is his autobiography brings out this aspect in such an inspiring way that you feel wonder at his frankness.
Last time when I read his book, I was at a stage in life where my confidence was at all time low. I was shy, introvert, could not speak in groups. I used to feel that all my friends are much ahead of me in life and I have lost all hope in life and I will never be able to catch up with them in the race of life and I was 16 years old. I guess lot of people at that stage suffer from this. The life when it is just starting looks as ending already. This book brought in me that confidence and faith which I needed at that time. The fact that the person who being a lawyer could not speak facing a judge could move 30 crore Indians with his speach later in life told me that life is not over for me. What is important is to follow your convictions and desires and the results will come out some day. I have seen this change happenning in me over the years. I have found that in the end it is my faith and conviction which has seen me through the darkest times.
I know there are lot of people out there who do not agree for what he has written in this book and in fact criticize him for his experiments on education, medicine, celibacy, religion, freedom struggle. But he still did those experiments with courage that is unparallel. He was the biggest scientist in that sense doing his experiments. Many of his experiments did not give results. But who says that a person has to be right all the time. Yes, he must have failed and in some cases even if he succeeded there were no followers for those results but that is what makes him a human being, a scientist. He is not saying that he is telling sacred words which have to be followed like words of God. All he is telling is about his experiments. The idea that they are experiments mean that they can be wrong or may not give results. But the fact remains Satya and Ahimsa did bear the results for India and its people.
In the end, I would say it is a great book by a great human being and I thank him for giving us this gift.
Till next time
342 reviews20 followers
November 8, 2009
I had trouble deciding whether to give this four stars or five. This book poses major problems for a contemporary western audience. It frequently alludes to another volume (Satyagraha in South Africa) which I have been unable to procure as a necessary companion volume. The final part (of five) assumes a more thorough knowledge of the birth of India as an independent nation and the events and persons that were involved in it than I possess. It becomes clear in this section that Gandhi was writing for the benefit of the people in his own day, and so assumes that they are already intimately acquainted with things that were distant and obscure to me.

However, I'm going to let my admiration for Gandhi and my appreciation for what has been accomplished in this work override my sense of its shortcomings. This is a wonderful book, detailing as it does the progression of a man from a youth of uncertainty and insecurity to a maturity of discipline, rigor and tremendous emotional strength. Whether one agrees with Gandhi's views is beside the point when considering the power and accomplishment of self-creation that is Gandhi's life. An honest autobiography by such a person is a treasure of literature.

As I mentioned before, the work is divided into five parts, each of which presents a remarkably contained statement of a stage on Gandhi's way, especially given the rather loose chronological treatment. To wit, the first part deals with Gandhi's personal origins and weaknesses. The second with the formative experiences that would define his social and political worldview. The third finds him defining himself as a part of this society, injecting discipline and rigor into a life that becomes centered on his duty. In the fourth, Gandhi is a leader in the struggles of South African Indians and is actively changing the social and political orders which he has embraced so thoroughly. Part five details his attempts to generalize the lessons of the South Africa experience in India.

The first four sections are quick and engaging reads (though the fourth was frustrating given the lack of the aforementioned companion volume). However, the fifth section was hard going. This was due in part to my lack of contextual familiarity, but I think the section also suffers from an uncertainty in how the story ends, as if Gandhi felt that Part 5 was being written prematurely because the fruits of the struggle had not been realized. Many of his attempts at Satyagraha in India are unsuccessful or unsatisfying to him, and there's an underlying uncertainty of how the masses can be taught to be "firm in truth" without sacrificing non-violence. As such, part five adheres closely to the subtitle of the book: these could almost be the lab notes of a social experimenter.

However, all complaints that I might level are dwarfed by the pleasure and satisfaction I have in getting to know Gandhi better through his autobiography. He was a great man, and this work is a wonderfully candid account of what a great man works on, struggles with and thinks about.
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