It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow-beings.
We all know Mahatma Gandhi as the Indian lawyer who, using nonviolence, fought his way against the British to get India its independence. His philosophy of nonviolent civil disobedience has inspired numerous resistance movements all over the world. He even coined the term satyagraha, which is Sanskrit for “obstinacy of truth”. It is now used to refer to any nonviolent resistance movement. However, from this point few people are aware of his life. In My Experiments with Truth, Gandhi not only enlightens you of his personal life, but also of his spiritual, philosophical, and even political views.
Mahatma Gandhi, born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was born on October 2, 1869 in Porbandar, Gujarat, India of relatively humble origins. After his education in India, he traveled abroad to study law in the University of London in England, and obtained a job as a barrister in Pretoria, South Africa. In South Africa, he actively campaigned for racial equality and civil rights, causing his incarceration in 1905. It is in South Africa that Gandhi undergoes his spiritual metamorphosis. Although born a Hindu, he was introduced to Christianity, and often attended church and social gatherings with other Christians.
Gandhi claims that his knowledge of Hinduism is fairly limited, despite being born and raised in that religion. To further acquaint himself with Hinduism, he tries reading the Bhagavad Gita. He eventually published a book on his interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita, which is still in print today. His zenith, though, is when he decides to return to India to observe Brahmacharya, which is a vow characterized by the control of one’s senses, chastity, and the leading of a very simple life, the latter quite contrary to his lifestyle in South Africa and England.
Gandhi especially talks much about philosophy, especially ethics and morality. To Gandhi, truth was the supreme moral, regardless of anything. Nonviolence, or ahimsa, was also included in truth. The reason why Gandhi decided to call his autobiography My Experiments with Truth is because his life was, according to him, none other than experimenting with truth; being truthful to himself and everything he did. His autobiography covers these experimentations from birth till the year 1920 when Gandhi became a world figure. Reading Gandhi’s story of his life and experiences will certainly enlighten you in some manner, like it did to me, of not only his personal life, but also of many philosophical and spiritual concepts which you perhaps will find interesting and worthwhile to experiment with!
I would recommend My Experiments with Truth to everybody, for I believe Gandhi’s wonderful autobiography is to be read and digested by the world. The edition pictured in this review is, unfortunately only available on Kindle, and the physical book is only available on Jaico Publishing House; it is sold only in Indian rupees. Fortunately, I found an edition which is available on Beacon Press and is sold in US Dollars. The American edition features an introduction by American ethicist and philosopher Sissela Bok who strongly promotes Gandhi’s experimentations and philosophies and thus encourages everyone to embrace them.