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An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth

by Mahatma Gandhi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,280403,262 (3.96)39
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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This edition of Gandhi's autobiography is published by arrangement with the Navajivan Trust and is the only authorized American edition. The Navajivan Trust was founded by Gandhi, and all royalties earned on this book are paid to it by the publisher for use in carrying on Gandhi's work.

The seeker after truth should be humbler than the dust. The world crushes the dust under its feet, but the seeker after truth should so humble himself that even the dust could crush him. Only then, and not till then, will he have a glimpse of truth. The dialogue between Vasishtha and Vishvamitra makes this abundantly clear. Christianity and Islam also amply bear it out.

'If anything that I write in these pages should strike the reader as being touched with pride, then he must take it that there is something wrong with my quest, and that my glimpses are no more than mirage. Let hundreds like me perish, but let truth prevail. Let us not reduce the standard of truth even by a hair's breadth for judging erring mortals like myself.'-from the Introduction by M.K. Gandhi

Contents

Translator's preface
Introduction
Part I
I Birth and parentage
II Childhood
III Child marriage
IV Playing the husband
V At the high school
VI A tragedy
VII A tragedy continued
VIII Stealing and attonement
IX My father's death and my double shame
X Glimpses of religion
XI Preparation for England
XII Outcaste
XIII In London at last
XIV My choice
XV Playing the English gentleman
XVI Changes
XVII
Experiments in dietetics
XVIII Shyness my shield
XIX The canker of untruth
XX Acquanintance with religions
XXI
XXII Narayan Hemchandra
XXIII The great exhibition
XXIV 'called'-but then?
XXV My helplessness
Part II
I Raychandbhai
II How I began life
III The first case
IV The first schock
V Preparing for South Africa
VI Arrival in Natal
VII Some experiences
VIII On the way to Pretoria
IX More hardships
X First day in Pretoria
XI Christian contacts
XII Seeking touch with indians
XIII What it is to be a 'coolie'
XIV Preparation for the case
XV Religious ferment
XVI Man proposes, God disposes
XVII Settled in Natal
XVIII Colour bar
XIX Natal Indian congress
XX Balasundaram
XXI The pound 3 tax
XXII Comparative study of religions
XXIII As a householder
XXIV Homeward
XXV In India
XXVI Two passions
XXVII The Bombay meeting
XXVIII Poona and Madras
XXIX 'Return soon'
Part III
I Rumblings of the storm
II The storm
III The test
IV The calm after the storm
V Education of children
VI Spirit of service
VII Brahmacharya-I
VIII Brahmacharya-II
IX Simple life
X The Boer War
XI Sanitary reform and famine relief
XII Return to India
XIII In India again
XXIV Clerk and bearer
XV In the congress
XVI Lord Curzon's Darbar
XVII A month with Gokhale-I
XVIII A month with Gokhale-II
XIX A month with Gokhale-III
XX In Benares
XXI Settled in Bombay?
XXII Faith on its trial
XXIII To South Aftica again
Part IV
I 'Love's labour's lost?'
II Autocrats form Asia
III Pocketed the insult
IV Quickened spirit of sacrifice
V Result of introspection
VI A sacrifice to vegetarianism
VII Experiments in earth and water treatment
VIII A warning
IX TA tussle with power
X A sacred recollection and penance
XI Intimate European contacts
XII European contacts (Contd.)
XIII The magic spell of a book
XIX The Phoenix settlement
XX The first night
XXI Polak takes the plnge
XXII Whom God protects
XXIII A peep into the household
XXIV The Zulu 'Rebellion'
XXV Heart searchings
XXVI The birth of Satyagraha
XXVII More experiments in dietetics
XXVIII Kasturbai's courage
XXIX Domestic Satyagraha
XXX Towards self-restraint
XXXI Fasting
XXII As schoolmaster
XXXIII Literary training
XXXIV Training of the spirit
XXXV Tares among the wheat
XXXVI Fasting as penance
XXXVII To meet Gorhale
XXXVIII My part in the war
XXXIX A spiritual dilemma
XL Miniature Satyagraha
XKI Corhale's charity
XLII Treatment of pleurist
XLIII Homeward
XLIV Some reminiscences of the bar
XLV Sharp practice?
XLVI Clients turned co-workers
XLVII How a client was saved
Part V
I The first experience
II With Gokhale in Poona
III Was it a threat?
IV Shantiniketan
V Woes of third class passengers
VI Wooing
VII Kumbha Mela
VIII Lakshman Jhula
IX Founding of the ashram
X On the anvil
XI Abolition of indentured emigration
XII The stain of indigo
XIII The gentle Bihari
XIV Face to face with Ahimsa
XV Case withdrawn
XVI Methods of work
XVII Companions
XVIII Penetrating the villages
XIX When a governor is good
XX In touch with labour
XXI A peep into the ashram
XXII The fast
XXIII The Kheda Satyagraha
XXIV 'The onion thief'
XXV End of Kheda Satyagraha
XXVI Passion for unity
XXVII Recruiting campaign
XXVIII Near death's door
XXIX The Rowlatt Bills and my dilemma
XXX that wornderful spectacle?
XXXI That memorable week!-I
XXXII That memorable week!-II
XXXIII 'A Himalayan miscalculation'
XXXIV 'Navajivan' and 'young India'
XXXV In the punjab
XXXVI The Khilafat against cow protection?
XXXVII The Amritsar Congress
XXXVIII Congress initiation
XXXIX The birth of Khadi
XL Found at last!
XLI An instructive dialiogue
XLII Its risingtide
XLIII At Nagpur
Farewell
Index
  AikiBib | May 29, 2022 |
[“I have considered myself a heavy eater. What friends have thought to be my restraint has never appeared to me in that light. If I had failed to develop restraint to the extent I have, I should have descended lower than the beasts and met my doom long ago.”

This reminds me of a character from “Anna Karenina”, Levin’s brother, I think, whose (non-alcoholic/neuro-normative) friends make fun of him for being very religious, observant, ascetic, pious, and then when he snaps and starts eating and drinking, going to brothels and becoming a ruined man, boy do they get a load out of that! What a loser, they chortle!]

Just read it slowly, people. Read one or two at a time, and don’t expect it to be over and done with immediately. [I’ll admit it’s not paced like a novel; it’s more like a historical or scientific work. A lecture on mathematics or economics doesn’t necessarily have a passionate climax. “And That, is why the answer is two point five!” It’s incremental. Real life is often the same. It’s not meaningless, however; every increment of the book is a little sliver of India, and truth.]
Read more than one book at a time. And be patient. Books telescope years and years into maybe a dozen hours or whatever, but this generation (“what shall I say about this generation?”) expects everything to be like a movie—by the time you get up, it’s over. One and done. Also, I think an unfortunately post-feminist and anti-intellectual generation has substituted the easy weak of whining about great men for the difficult work of raising up free women and men—and becoming one yourself.

I’m a vegetarian myself, so I admire Gandhi for being one, despite the fact that it sounds like it was more difficult in his day. Personally, I haven’t encountered much anti-vegetarian sentiment, so I’m a little surprised to read about the whining people feel the need to burden us with when they have to learn about what some people do to avoid animal cruelty. (I’m actually a vegan during Lent, by the way; cheese is what I give up.)

[Of course, I’m not sure I can approve of Gandhi’s dietary experiments on technical grounds, but it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the medical advice he was offered was anti-vegan. (Eat like an Englishman, Gendhy.) And of course, I approve of his motivation rather than I do of Churchill’s diet, which was to eat too much, and drink too much. On non-technical grounds, I think you have to choose between them, too. Either you are more like the one’s restraint, or the other’s lack of restraint.]

Gandhi may not have been a Christian and may have had a somewhat negative opinion of the imperial Christians of his day, but I think he shows far more charity than he received. Peas are good food; they have protein, but if you served them laced with rat poison a body could be forgiven for saying, I think something’s off about those peas. Christian imperialism was laced with racism, like most things that white people did at that period in history. People pretend to be so woke nowadays, I wonder why most do not see fit to mention that the central struggle of Gandhi’s life was combating white British racism. Is it not sensational enough? Is it not as interesting as the movie? Are we seriously that *paranoid* about people who try to abstain from sex?

At that time in Indian history, like in many places, women were seen as whores or mothers, but either way as breeders, and Gandhi identified this attitude as the reason why people seldom bothered to teach them to read. Gandhi’s choice to abstain from sex has to be seen in this light, this background. Why should his wife live only to serve his sexual needs, and to care for an ever-growing family? Why, because we apparently are such orthodox little post-Freudians that we think that man must live for sex, or else be an external loser. Try to keep up!

Freud: Why does Gandhi refuse me the pleasure of knowing he’s having sex.
Nehru: Gandhi is India’s MLK; he’s leading a struggle. Living for sex would distract him from living a life of service to others.
Freud: He must be thwarted in his desire to have sex with his mother and be normal like me, and that’s why you say these big words.
Nehru: I’m an atheist too you know, but I think you have a dirty mouth.
Freud: The truth is cynical. You’re afraid of the truth.
Nehru: Where is the West headed nowadays, man. Where are you people going?

Einstein: Future generations will wonder that such a one as this walked the earth.
Future Generations: Mommy I don’t like Gandhi. Mommy I want candy. Mommy why does Gandhi have such a funny name; Sue and Billy don’t have names like that. Mommy I want candy. Mommy it must be time for my nap.
Tolstoy: In the future, you have to say something sensational within the first ten to sixty pages, and keep it under 225 pages, or be considered a blast from the past, a blast from the past.
Future Generations: Mommy where’s Daddy? Mommy why didn’t you become an astronaut? Mommy why is the opinion of the multitudes of so little value? Why do people want want want until they kill kill kill Mommy? Mommy are some people in the world intelligent?

Medieval mob: *heresy baiting/doing theology* No, it means, it means: it means that if I don’t understand something, that means you’re not allowed to say it!

…. Nehru: I can’t believe those people don’t like you!
Gandhi: Don’t punish yourself; your blood pressure will thank you.

…. N.B. I also think it’s nice to know that Gandhi was a Gujarati, coming from Gujarat, the Indian state where the language Gujarati is spoken—much like an Italian would probably identify as being from Italy, the region of Europe where Italian is spoken. Indians were driven together by colonialism in a way that Europeans weren’t, despite the fact that Europeans have largely tentatively come together in the shadow of America and China and so on. But most people don’t confuse French and German the way they don’t know (care?) about Hindi and Gujarati. [Also, according to Wikipedia, Gujarat has about a tenth of the per capita GDP of Italy.]

So, there’s that.

[…. Re: his brief official statement in Hindustani, by a Gujarat, as the only use of an Indian language in a British imperial conference in India about India—

It would be like if an American President were allowed by his Chinese overlords to say something, maybe not in English, but perhaps Spanish or French.

To be a cracker is to have double standards. If you don’t have double standards, you must not be quite like that, you know.]

[non-co-operation = non-Coletting lol]

[politics/religion—The business of life is worth nothing if it is based on pillaging and looting, however artfully devised and effective; our love is worth nothing unless we can see the other as our sibling, and include him or her when it is our business to do so.]
  goosecap | Apr 15, 2022 |
This book covers all the events including Gandhi’s childhood and youth, his experiences in England as a student and as a barrister in India and South Africa, foundation of Sabarmati Ashram, Champaran Satyagraha and the birth of Khadi.
  riselibrary_CSUC | Sep 16, 2021 |
Finally, I read Gandhi's work.

Admirable, Inspiring life journey of Gandhi.

Reading this gives a glimpse of Gandhi's life.

Mahadev Desai, Gandhi's Personal Secretary has done excellent work.

He's translated, written it concisely. It's easy for readers to follow paragraphs.

Chapters, Paragraphs neatly organized, concise.

Why?

A Tamil reader had posted a copy from another book, I peaked at it:
-No spaces
-Entire Page filled with one paragraph
-A Blob of Text


I thought, "Orae Vai la full plate sapadu sapdamudiyuma?", "Oru Vai Sapadu at a time."

[Can't eat entire rice in a plate, eat step by step]

As I lived abroad, I could deeply connect with Gandhi's stories.

Maybe, if I had read this 15 years ago, I would not have understood his life story much.

My Favorite Part, Gandhi's reaction, impression with Tolstoy's writings.

"Truth" is my sole objective.

I'd recommend this for everyone.

Deus Vult,
Gottfried ( )
  gottfried_leibniz | Jun 25, 2021 |
Thoughtful and influential account of personal journey ( )
  brianstagner | Sep 19, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (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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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

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