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An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth

by Mahatma Gandhi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,995363,234 (3.98)33
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in Western India in 1869. He was educated in London and later travelled to South Africa, where he experienced racism and took up the rights of Indians, instituting his first campaign of passive resistance. In 1915 he returned to British-controlled India, bringing to a country in the throes of independence his commitment to non-violent change, and his belief always in the power of truth. Under Gandhi's lead, millions of protesters would engage in mass campaigns of civil disobedience, seeking change through ahimsa or non-violence. For Gandhi, the long path towards Indian independence would lead to imprisonment and hardship, yet he never once forgot the principles of truth and non-violence so dear to him. Written in the 1920s, Gandhi's autobiography tells of his struggles and his inspirations; a powerful and enduring statement of an extraordinary life.… (more)
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» See also 33 mentions

English (34)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (36)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
Thoughtful and influential account of personal journey ( )
  brianstagner | Sep 19, 2020 |
Gandhi’s name sticks out in bold in twentieth-century history. Words associated with this great include India, non-violence, independence, integrity, and freedom. Yet those (like me) who have been schooled in a different religious tradition (for me, Protestant Christianity) might not be aware of the depth of Gandhi’s greatness because of differing idioms. That’s why I originally picked up this book, and that’s why I suggest that your reading of this book is important, too.

Gandhi is by no means perfect in my eyes. He writes about his exposure to Christianity while in England and why he saw no need to convert to it from the Hinduism of his upbringing. Further, he describes why he spent much of his life as an adamant vegetarian and refused even taking milk for the sake of his health. Finally, Gandhi’s family life seems arranged around patriarchy, and Gandhi never seems to wrestle with this inequality. While still disagreeing in reading this work, I found evident respect for his reasons as to why.

Even more, I found respect for how he overcame discrimination in South Africa and in India under the British Empire. He did so with an optimistic view of the law – that the law, at its best, is a chronicle of humans struggling with each other. He holds an unwavering faith in the eventual triumph of justice in human affairs on earth, and it seems that this faith is rooted in the very nature of the universe’s life as being sustained by God.

This autobiography describes Gandhi’s life from its earliest days (including an arranged marriage at age 13!), to his youth as a student, and to his adult years as a lawyer in South Africa and India. It covers his role in Indian independence and ceases with the assumption of his public role. Like most memoirs (and this book could certainly be categorized as a memoir), this work elucidates the formative events in his life and describes these events from the inside out.

Any reader will have to grow comfortable with the mixing of words from many languages. Many non-English words, when pertaining to specific concepts rooted in culture, are not translated in this edition. This can serve as a good introduction to the subcontinent, however, and as a pericope into the linguistic challenges present in Indian life. These challenges persist today.

Gandhi does not come off as a self-absorbed narcissist. Rather, as the subtitle implies, Gandhi sees this story as “experiments with truth,” as a scientific, objective approach to human affairs. Although readers will be struck by Gandhi’s high view of justice, he does not seem particularly hung up on his ego needs. Rather, he seems genuinely concerned with speaking up with integrity for his fellow humans – particularly those who are not from a privileged background. That ethical excellence, combined with wide-ranging experience, is why this work is a classic and should continue to be read as a treasure by all. ( )
  scottjpearson | Aug 26, 2020 |
Written in instalments from 1925 to 1929, Gandhi's autobiography charts his train of thought throughout his time in Africa and the beginnings of Satyagraha in India. Some of the ideas here about simple living, while not revolutionary to Indian culture, are admirable. His experiments with diet, medicine and education leave much to be desired. He habitually believes his physical ailments are caused by moral failings rather than an inadequate diet. Science and medicine do not exist as rigorous disciplines.

One still has to marvel at Gandhi's tact and ability, even if only for a while, to bring together communities across locations, languages and creeds. Gandhi takes Truth to another level: to say as you think and to do as you say. He shows how to practise such noble precepts in journalism, law and politics. A vow taken is important to fulfil just as much in order not to break one's word as for its desired purpose.

For a more factual biography, and one which delves deeper into his early influences and followers, I recommend Ramachandra Guha's Gandhi Before India. ( )
  jigarpatel | Feb 22, 2020 |
2006-11-11 15:59:00
Surprised by Ghandi's ideas...
"Though violence is not lawful, when it is offered in self-defence or for the defence of the defenseless, it is an act of bravery far better than cowardly submission. The latter befits neither man nor woman. Under violence, there are many stages and varieties of bravery. Every man must judge this for himself. No other person can or has the right. (H, 27-10-1946, pp369-70)"
de: http://www.mkgandhi.org/momgandhi/momindex.htm

"Exploitation of the poor can be extinguished not by effecting the destruction of a few millionaires, but by removing the ignorance of the poor and teaching them to non-co-operate with their exploiters. That will convert the exploiters also. I have even suggested that ultimately it will lead to both being equal partners. Capital as such is not evil; it is the wrong use that is evil. Capital in some form or other will always be needed. (H, 28-7-1940, p. 219)"
--and on trust...
"Trust
It is true that I have often been let down. Many have deceived me and many have been found wanting. But I do not repent of my association with them. For I know how to non-co-operate, as I know how to co-operate. The most practical, the most dignified way of going on in the world is to take people at their word, when you have no positive reason to the contrary. fr. pg. 101
Read, Write, Dream, Teach !

ShiraDest
19 February, 12016 HE
( )
  FourFreedoms | May 17, 2019 |
2006-11-11 15:59:00
Surprised by Ghandi's ideas...
"Though violence is not lawful, when it is offered in self-defence or for the defence of the defenseless, it is an act of bravery far better than cowardly submission. The latter befits neither man nor woman. Under violence, there are many stages and varieties of bravery. Every man must judge this for himself. No other person can or has the right. (H, 27-10-1946, pp369-70)"
de: http://www.mkgandhi.org/momgandhi/momindex.htm

"Exploitation of the poor can be extinguished not by effecting the destruction of a few millionaires, but by removing the ignorance of the poor and teaching them to non-co-operate with their exploiters. That will convert the exploiters also. I have even suggested that ultimately it will lead to both being equal partners. Capital as such is not evil; it is the wrong use that is evil. Capital in some form or other will always be needed. (H, 28-7-1940, p. 219)"
--and on trust...
"Trust
It is true that I have often been let down. Many have deceived me and many have been found wanting. But I do not repent of my association with them. For I know how to non-co-operate, as I know how to co-operate. The most practical, the most dignified way of going on in the world is to take people at their word, when you have no positive reason to the contrary. fr. pg. 101
Read, Write, Dream, Teach !

ShiraDest
19 February, 12016 HE
( )
  ShiraDest | Mar 6, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
It illumines with candor all the developing phases of a great spirit
 

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gandhi, Mahatmaprimary 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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (4)

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in Western India in 1869. He was educated in London and later travelled to South Africa, where he experienced racism and took up the rights of Indians, instituting his first campaign of passive resistance. In 1915 he returned to British-controlled India, bringing to a country in the throes of independence his commitment to non-violent change, and his belief always in the power of truth. Under Gandhi's lead, millions of protesters would engage in mass campaigns of civil disobedience, seeking change through ahimsa or non-violence. For Gandhi, the long path towards Indian independence would lead to imprisonment and hardship, yet he never once forgot the principles of truth and non-violence so dear to him. Written in the 1920s, Gandhi's autobiography tells of his struggles and his inspirations; a powerful and enduring statement of an extraordinary life.

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Beacon Press

An edition of this book was published by Beacon Press.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141186860, 0141032731

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