‘The Story of My Experiments with Truth’ is a partial autobiography of M K Gandhi. He explains how various events molded his character, how he developed his philosophies, and how he followed them stringently even through periods of extreme trial. This book contains the important events of the his life from the time of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth (Oct. 02, 1869) to 1921, when the book was published.
We know Mahatma Gandhi. But how did M K Gandhi become Mahatma Gandhi? How was one person able to live truthfully, able to convince millions of people to follow him – given his unconventional method of fighting, able to gain enough strength to bring a powerful empire to its knees, all by following non-violent methods of protest?
Practically, he suffered, and asked people to suffer along with him. To understand how he was able to do it, we nee a glimpse of his early life. That’s exactly what the great man himself offers us in his own words.
If you are looking for history and details on his political activities, this book may not satisfy you, although some history is included. This book is more of a spiritual exploration where M K Gandhi tells us how he developed his life’s principles and how he kept up with them (successfully) in spite of huge obstacles.
Some interesting nuggets of info I found in this book:
- M K Gandhi studied law in England and ate only vegetarian food even there. He eventually gave up cow’s milk when he came to know how cows were mistreated on large farms, and drank only goat’s milk which also he tried to avoid. Practically, he was a vegan!
- He went to South Africa to practice law but found himself drawn towards public work (initially legal) after looking at the hardships faced by Indians in South Africa. He fought for their rights, while there.
- M K Gandhi supported the British Govt. during the Boer War in South Africa and during the First World war while in India by becoming a volunteer (nurse) and by recruiting volunteers for them.
- In South Africa when he came to know that a few Indians were affected with Plague, he (along with a few friends) personally attended to them in spite of a grave risk of getting affected themselves.
- In South Africa, he tried to set up a farm and live a simple life outside the city, but was not able to continue as friends kept calling him into the city to address their grievances.
- In India, he traveled around with a third class railway ticket, although the conditions of third class compartments were very bad in those days.
- One of his initial Satyagraha campaigns in India was the Champaran movement where he fought the law against farmers that forced them to cultivate indigo on a significant portion of their lands. His fight took two years but he was successful.
- There upon he led the protest for the Kheda farmers who were forced to pay a huge tax in spite of a famine. Although the lands were confiscated and people were arrested, the large majority did not flinch and the Govt. agreed to withdraw taxes for two years while returning the property.
I should agree that before studying this book, my knowledge about this great man was limited. Now I know something more. I love the way in which he brings his internal debates and confusions — no wonder he is the champion of truth!
This book (and others) are available to download for free from here.