Book Review: ‘My Experiments With Truth’

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Rameez Makhdoomi

gandhiGandhi openly brings his faults to fore openly as human and does not hide behind his faults. Through book we get an idea that via discipline, perseverance, patience, humility Gandhi tries to never repeat the same mistake again. Gandhi Lucidly explains how various events and interactions with diverse personalities moulded his character,

Gandhi ji as the founder of modern India tried to lay a foundation of civilized and humane India. Seven decades later India has failed to live up to his great principles of non violence and adopting humanity over jingoistic nationalism.

I have recently got the opportunity to complete the reading of biography of Gandhi titled “My Experiments with Truth”. I read this book at a time when Indian state is going on with its approach of aggression in Kashmir to quell public protests for resolution and at a time when violence appeal even tends to shake minds like me in midst of blinding and killings of  fellow humans of my society . As a matter of fact, The Story of My Experiments with Truth is the autobiography of Mohandas K. Gandhi, covering his life from early childhood through to 1921. Gandhi’s destination and urge for nonviolent resistance to fight brutalities and injustice is appealing.

It was written in weekly instalments and published in his journal Navjivan from 1925 to 1929. Its English translation also appeared in instalments in his other journal Young India

Pertinently, several points in book attracted my attention. In our world while we are failing to achieve the reform of evil and disgruntled, Gandhi had aptly stated-‘A reformer cannot afford to have close intimacy with him whom he seeks to reform. I believe ‘If this is adopted we can achieve true Reformation’. Furthermore, Gandhi in his autobiography My Experiments with Truth states emphatically on important topic of friendship that ‘True friendship’ is an identity of souls rarely to be found in this world.’

After reading the book, Gandhi view on formal education was always controversial as he does not seem to be favouring the formal schooling much and seemed to be laying emphasis on real life experiences as the real sources of education for the children.

For a nation like Kashmir which has been struggling for achieving its political aspirations what we could get from the book is that “ Be disciplined, be guided by leadership, don’t resort to immoral acts even if the adversary resorts to” are the lessons that can be taken. Gandhi despite having huge differences with British provided and arranged for medical aid for British soldiers at several testing times for the empire and this really lays the moral compass for his struggle.

Gandhi via this book in an elucidate manner explains how he had exposure to meet and interact with people of diverse faiths and interact with them. While holding firm to his religion he calmly listened to what the other had to say and even attended their programmes with appreciating gestures.

All through the book one gets idea that Gandhi never grew rabid, patienceless even in the face of stiff tasks and tough times; a lesson that many modern politicians of South Asia can learn to take this region forward.

The heart touching lines of the book that appeared before me were -” Wife is not husband’s bond-slave, but his companion and his helpmate, and an equal partner in all his joys and sorrows -as free as the husband to choose her own path.”

Gandhi urged to accept the integration of pledges of weak and termed Interpretation of pledges has been a fruitful source of Strife’s all over the world. According to my opinion, Had Indian state acted like this Kashmir conflict would have been long solved.

Gandhi made a morale and interesting appeal by urging to never having more money at ones disposal than necessary.

Gandhi greatly wrote in My Experiments with Truth that God could be realized only through service and in this context pointed out that when service or nursing is done for show or fear of public opinion it crushes man’s spirit.

For me as child of conflict the lines that really that define the book for me are -”

It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow beings,” quotes Gandhi on page no 143 and same applies to Indian journalists, armchair jingoists reporting, analyzing   Kashmir pain and its issues.

Gandhi openly brings his faults to fore openly as human and does not hide behind his faults. Through book we get an idea that via discipline, perseverance, patience, humility Gandhi tries to never repeat the same mistake again. Gandhi Lucidly explains how various events and interactions with diverse personalities moulded his character,

Tolstoy is one personality by whom Gandhi seems to be inspired. Although Gandhi’s legal work and struggles kept him busy, he found time to read some of Tolstoy’s work, which greatly influenced his understanding of peace and justice and eventually inspired him to write to Tolstoy, setting the beginning of a prolific correspondence. As a matter of fact, both Tolstoy and Gandhi shared a philosophy of non-violence and Tolstoy’s harsh critique of human society resonated with Gandhi’s outrage at racism in South Africa.

Overall, I felt the book My Experiments with Truth a great read and a book that will continue to have and hold morale appeal for humanity in times to come. One cannot also miss the fact, 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.

The writer can be contacted at rameezh3@gmail.com.

The article first appeared in print edition of 12 to 18 October 2016,

 

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