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Gandhi An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth (edition 1993)

by Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi

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Member:Kanhaiya_Arora
Title:Gandhi An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth
Authors:Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi
Info:Beacon Press (1993), Paperback, 560 pages
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An Autobiography: the Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi

20th century (13) ahimsa (11) Asia (12) autobiography (230) biography (199) ebook (7) Gandhi (94) Hindu (7) Hinduism (29) history (82) India (164) Indian (13) Indian History (15) Mahatma Gandhi (29) memoir (51) non-fiction (103) nonviolence (52) own (15) pacifism (17) peace (20) philosophy (36) politics (33) read (8) religion (37) satyagraha (10) South Africa (17) spirituality (23) to-read (24) truth (11) unread (16)
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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
I simply gave up around page 300.

I didn't know much about Gandhi except that he was a pacifist and helped free India. So I wanted to find out more about him. What better way than to read the man's own words about his life? So I went in with vim and vigor, ready to learn.

I got bogged down in details that didn't mean anything to me [he wrote about current Indian authority figures like I might toss off a comment about Britney Spears].

He routinely came across as a complete prick, ie, he would almost scold the reader to do, or not do, some particular line of action simply because he, Gandhi, recommended it.[this is/was a time period thing. I've read several other pieces of non-fiction by like people from that time and it is just how they write. Still pisses me off though]. He also had no problems denying people the same benefits that he had had[college, job opportunities, etc] if the alternative was an "experiential" growing thing-ie, he denied formal education to his children because he thought they would be better off simply "knowing" people and how life worked.

He routinely acted like an authority on a subject that he had an interest in, based upon 1 or 2 instances-ie, he decries doctors, and then goes on to talk about a plague that he helped deal with and how he used some alternative medicine [doctors and him were both ineffective in that case]. It was not a case of "I found X to work for me and if you feel like it, you can try it", it really came across more as "I like X, you should use X too. It might work, it might not, but it is better than anything else".

False humility? This one I'm not sure of to be honest. He comes across as very humble in many instances, but there are flashes of extreme arrogance or ignoring certain facts that made me really wonder just how much his writing hid. Given, we all self-deceive to one degree or another [and in most cases, it isn't purposeful, we humans are simply blind to our own faults], but for a self-professed "seeker of truth" to say some of the things he did, it did not jive with humility.
But that is the kind of thing you cannot accurately judge unless you've met the person.

His wife. His poor, poor, wife. I don't know if she should be considered a saint for putting up with Gandhi, or what. Abandoned for months or years at a time while he pursues social equality in South Africa [for Indians], constantly told that material possessions are meaningless, that sex has no part in love, and in a nutshell, told that anything she wants must be subsumed to the greater good of the Indian Cause.

And that is the main reason I stopped reading. Gandhi seems to advocate the collective over the individual. And he was a prick and wicked boring. Now I am completely disillusioned with him.

I predict it will be years before I attempt another autobiography of anyone after this. ( )
  Bookstooge | Sep 26, 2013 |
Extremely interesting view of the growth and spiritual development of one of the most illuminating figures of the last century. Covers a wide variety of topics. A shame that it only ends in the 1920s (but what autobiography could ever be called complete?), but it is still a fascinating portrait of the man. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 29, 2013 |
I started reading this because some one Facebook was posting a statement that Gandhi would have supported gun ownership rights in the US after the latest school shooting. I found this so outrageous that I got into a debate where the guy was posting quotes from his autobiography that meant that I couldn't adequately respond without first having read the book. I'm not sure I found the relevant quote but I'm very glad I read the book. I'm sorry to say that until I read this the only knowledge I had of Gandhi was from Richard Attenborough's 1982 bio pic. This was a great film but it leaves so much out.

I had no idea how much time he had spent in both England and South Africa. The film started in South Africa but gives you the impression that this was a brief visit, however the book makes it clear that his last time in South Africa was for something like ten years. Before that he's been to South Africa on a number of occasions fighting for racial equality and he spent three years in London studying for his law degree.

There is a lot in here about his development of ideas such as non violence and passive resistance as well as his thoughts on vegetarianism and health issues. You get a really good idea of him as a political campaigner both as a lawyer and running newspapers. There is also a lot about his efforts to set up various communes and communities.

The only weakness of the book is that it's quite hard to follow the names of people and places as well as the non English terms. Someone has made an attempt to add clarification the text but it's simply not possible with every non English term. It is possible to look them us as you go (most of them have useful pages on Wikipedia that explain them) but after a while it's a bit difficult to keep track of.

Having said that it's still a good read and very enlightening, giving a real insight into the man and his values. The book only goes up to the mid twenties and so doesn't cover the last twenty years of his life but I'd recommend it all the same. ( )
  JackBarrow | Mar 10, 2013 |
He would have had trouble adjusting to the modern movement for women's rights!! ( )
  smith54a | Feb 7, 2012 |
Gandhi had a profound effect on history. As such, I thought reading his autobiography a must. I knew I had a lot of disagreements with what he believed, big and small, but his attitude as alluded to in his title disarmed me at first. He writes that "far from claiming finality or infallibility" truth is something he believes we seek and learn by testing. At first I found him likeable and admirable. I felt for his struggles with shyness and public speaking. But my respect for his views and my liking for him eroded over the course of his autobiography. I felt his family and especially his wife had a lot to put up with by his own account. And so much of the autobiography was taken up with frankly crackpot notions. Even he calls himself a "crank" at one point and refers to his practice of "quack medicine." That may have been meant ironically but I thought it fit. Long, dull stretches of the narrative were taken up with details of diet and hygiene.

You're not going to get a complete overview of his life and thinking from this work, since he stops the account at 1921 and he lived until 1948. Too often key events would be glossed over and he'd refer the reader to other writings to fill the gap. But having seen the famous film based on his life, it was interesting to read material not covered there from his childhood in India and his time in England as a young man. I was surprised at how accepted he seemed to be studying in England--he didn't relate encountering much color prejudice there--more the opposite--and this was in the late 1880s. It was a very different story in South Africa where he gained his first experience of law practice and political activism. At one time he was literally kicked to the curb as Indians weren't allowed on the pavement. I would have liked to read more about his development of Satyagraha (active non-violent resistance), particularly his use of Civil Disobedience, especially since I know it greatly influenced Martin Luther King. It was interesting to find out Ghandi himself was greatly influenced by Tolstoy's non-violent principles in The Kingdom of God Is Within You. He even called his ashram in South Africa "Tolstoy Farm" and I can see a lot of commonality between the two men. I could wish this was annotated, or at least a glossary provided. There were a lot of Hindu/Indian terms I had to jot down to look up later: ashram, darbar, darshan, dhoti, haveli, vakils, Khilafat, Madras, Parsi, Swaraj, Vaishnavas. Maps would have been nice too. But I found there was value enough in getting a feel for the man that on the whole I found it worth the read. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Jan 23, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bok, SisselaForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Desai, Mahadev H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The Gandhis belong to the Bania caste and seem to have been originally grocers.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0807059099, Paperback)

Gandhi's nonviolent struggles in South Africa and India had already brought him to such a level of notoriety, adulation, and controversy that when asked to write an autobiography midway through his career, he took it as an opportunity to explain himself. Although accepting of his status as a great innovator in the struggle against racism, violence, and, just then, colonialism, Gandhi feared that enthusiasm for his ideas tended to exceed a deeper understanding. He says that he was after truth rooted in devotion to God and attributed the turning points, successes, and challenges in his life to the will of God. His attempts to get closer to this divine power led him to seek purity through simple living, dietary practices (he called himself a fruitarian), celibacy, and ahimsa, a life without violence. It is in this sense that he calls his book The Story of My Experiments with Truth, offering it also as a reference for those who would follow in his footsteps. A reader expecting a complete accounting of his actions, however, will be sorely disappointed.

Although Gandhi presents his episodes chronologically, he happily leaves wide gaps, such as the entire satyagraha struggle in South Africa, for which he refers the reader to another of his books. And writing for his contemporaries, he takes it for granted that the reader is familiar with the major events of his life and of the political milieu of early 20th-century India. For the objective story, try Yogesh Chadha's Gandhi: A Life. For the inner world of a man held as a criminal by the British, a hero by Muslims, and a holy man by Hindus, look no further than these experiments. --Brian Bruya

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:33 -0400)

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Ghandi was the pre-eminent political and spiritual leader of India during the movement to free India from British rule. He was the pioneer of satyagraha, resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience, a philosophy founded upon total nonviolence, which led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.… (more)

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