Title: My Experiments with Truth | An Autobiography
Author: M. K. Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi – Father of the Nation, Seeker of Truth, Follower of Ahimsa, Satyagrahi.
My Experiments with Truth by M K Gandhi is one of those books that’s a must-read for every Indian. Growing up and hearing about Gandhi, his role in the struggle of Indian independence I always believed he was no ordinary man. Yet the book implores you to think again. Gandhi was not a perfect human being. From the very first page, he constantly talks about all the mistakes he made in his lifetime and the struggles he underwent to compensate and get the better of those misconducts. There is no attempt to hide any of the ‘misdeeds’. The simplistic style of narration, the penning down of essays after essays in a natural flow makes the book was overflow with humbleness.
“I do not seek redemption from the consequences of my sin. I seek to be redeemed from sin itself, or rather from the very thought of sin. Until I have attained that end, I shall be content to be restless.”
In his autobiography, we see that during the course of his life Gandhi performed a series of experiments which ultimately made him what he had become. We read about his trials with and adoption of vegetarianism, religious beliefs, minimalism, hydropathy, earth healing, brahmacharya, truth, and ahimsa. All of this justifies the very title of the book. He believed that all restraint, whatever prompts it, is wholesome to men and that renunciation of objects without renunciation of desires is short-lived and never retracted from a vow seriously taken. Convinced by the fact that as a man eats so shall he become, time and again he writes about his diet – my experience teaches me that for those whose minds are working towards self-restraint, dietetic restrictions and fasting are very helpful.
The book covers the life of Bapu up until 1921, after which he became such a huge public figure that everything was known about him. The book is divided in 5 parts comprising of 167 chapters. In chronological order, starting with his childhood in Gujarat, we move on to read about the time he spent in London studying to become a barrister, followed by more than a decade long stint in South Africa where he worked as a lawyer. In part 5 we see him back in India during his mid-forties. The book loosely touches the topics of Satyagrah and Ahimsa but doesn’t cover the development and practice of them, which Gandhi has written in great details in other books – Satyagrah in South Africa and Hind Swaraj.
From early on Gandhi devoted his life to public work, from attempting to reform the lives of indentured laborers in Africa, to providing his services during Boer War and the Black plague, to starting the Satyagrah movement. He always had a huge impact on the people who worked closely with him. Even if people didn’t agree with all his views they always respected him.
For those looking to reform themselves, the book can prove to be a spiritual escape. Gandhi was a devout Hindu and at the same time had immense respect for all other religions. In the later years of his life he read the Bhagwat Gita daily. For him Gita became the dictionary of conduct, a ready solution for all the troubles and trials he faced.
“A Satyagrahi is born to be deceived… Ultimately a deceiver only deceives himself.”