In this preface Desai notes that the book was originally published in two volumes, the first in and second in Desai notes the need to bring out a cheaper English version. He also mentions that the translation has been revised by an English scholar who did not want his name to be published. He mulls over the question a friend asked him about writing an autobiography, deeming it a Western practice, something "nobody does in the east". He records the profound impact of the play Harishchandra and says,"I read it with intense interest It haunted me and I must have acted Harishchandra to myself times without number.
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In this preface Desai notes that the book was originally published in two volumes, the first in and second in Desai notes the need to bring out a cheaper English version.
He also mentions that the translation has been revised by an English scholar who did not want his name to be published. He mulls over the question a friend asked him about writing an autobiography, deeming it a Western practice, something "nobody does in the east".
He records the profound impact of the play Harishchandra and says,"I read it with intense interest It haunted me and I must have acted Harishchandra to myself times without number. Gandhi got married at the age of I can see no moral argument in support of such a preposterously early marriage. Gandhi wrote the book to deal with his experiment for truth. His disdain for physical training at school, particularly gymnastics has also been written about in this part.
The white settler and the independent Boer states continued to engage in volatile interactions with the British, so a threat of violent eruptions always loomed large. In order to placate both the Boer and other white settlers, the British adopted a number of racist policies, and while the Indians, most of them working on sugar and coffee plantations, did not suffer as much as the black population, they clearly experienced a treatment as second-class citizens. Gandhi repeatedly experienced the sting of humiliation during his long African sojourn.
The incident at Maritzburg, where Gandhi was thrown off the train has become justly famous. When Gandhi, as a matter of principle, refused to leave the first class compartment, he was thrown off the train. Both Tolstoy and Gandhi considered themselves followers of the Sermon on the Mount from the New Testament, in which Jesus Christ expressed the idea of complete self-denial for the sake of his fellow men.
Gandhi also continued to seek moral guidance in the Bhagavad-Gita, which inspired him to view his work not as self-denial at all, but as a higher form of self-fulfillment. Adopting a philosophy of selflessness even as a public man, Gandhi refused to accept any payment for his work on behalf of the Indian population, preferring to support himself with his law practice alone.
At the time, he also engaged in active correspondence with a highly educated and spiritual Jain from Bombay, his friend Raychandra, who was deeply religious, yet well versed in a number of topics, from Hinduism to Christianity.
The more Gandhi communicated with Raychandra, the more deeply he began to appreciate Hinduism as a non violent faith and its related scriptures. Yet, such deep appreciation also gave birth to a desire to seek inner purity and illumination, without solely relying on external sources, or on the dogma within every faith.
Thus, although Gandhi sought God within his own tradition, he espoused the idea that other faiths remained worthy of study and contained their own truths.
Not surprisingly, even after his work assignment concluded, Gandhi soon found a reason to remain in South Africa. This pivotal reason involved the "Indian Franchise Bill", with which the Natal legislature intended to deprive Indians of the right to vote. Even in Natal, where Indians had more influence, they were not allowed to go out after 9 p. The new bill which prohibited Indians from voting in Natal only codified existing injustice in writing.
Although a last-minute petition drive failed to the Indian Franchise Bill from passing, Gandhi remained active and organized a much larger petition, which he sent to the Secretary of State for the Colonies in London, and distributed to the press in South Africa, Britain and India.
The petition raised awareness of the plight of Indians and generated discussions in all three continents to the point where both the Times of London and the Times of India published editorials in support of the Indian right to the vote. Gandhi also formed a new political organization called the Natal Indian Congress a clear reference to the Indian National Congress , which held regular meetings and soon, after some struggles with financing, started its own library and debating society.
Though, at first, Gandhi intended to remain in South Africa for a month, or a year at most, he ended up working in South Africa for about twenty years. After his initial assignment was over, he succeeded in growing his own practice to about twenty Indian merchants who contracted manage their affairs. This work allowed him to both earn a living while also finding time to devote to his mission as a public figure. During his struggle against inequality and racial discrimination in South Africa, Gandhi became known among Indians all around the world as "Mahatma," or "Great Soul.
In , Gandhi made a brief return to India and returned to his wife and children. For the first time, Gandhi realized that Indians had come to admire his work greatly and experienced a taste of his own popularity among the people, when he visited Madras, an Indian province, where most manual laborers had originated.
Although his fellow-Indians greeted him in large crowds with applause and adulation, he sailed back to South Africa with his family in December Gandhi had become very well known in South Africa as well, to the point where a crowd of rioters awaited him at Port Natal, determined that he should not be allowed to enter.
Many of them also mistakenly believed that all the dark-skinned passenger on the ship that took Gandhi to Natal were poor Indian immigrants he had decided to bring along with him, when, in reality, these passengers were mostly returning Indian residents of Natal.
After this incident, local white residents began to actually regard him with greater respect. As Gandhi resumed his work at the Natal Indian Congress, his loyalty to the British guided him to assist them in the Boer War, which started three years later. Because Gandhi remained a passionate pacifist, he wanted to participate in the Boer War without actually engaging in violence so he organized and led an Indian Medical Corps which served the British in a number of battles, including the important battle of Spion Kop in January At the time, Gandhi believed that the British Empire shared the values of liberty and equality that he himself embraced and that, by virtue of defending those principles, the British constitution deserved the loyalty of all British subjects, including Indians.
He viewed racist policy in South Africa as a temporary characteristic aberration, rather than a permanent tendency. With respect to the British in India, at this point in his life, Gandhi considered their rule beneficial and benevolent.
The armed conflict between the British and Dutch raged on for over three years of often brutal fighting with the British conquering the Transvaal and Orange Free state territories. Gandhi expected that the British victory would establish justice in South Africa and present him with an opportunity to return to India. He wanted to attend the meeting of the Indian National Congress, whose mission was to provide a social and political forum for the Indian upper class.
Founded in by the British, the Congress had no real political power and expressed pro-British positions. Gandhi wanted to attend its meeting nevertheless, as he was hoping to pass a resolution in support of the Indian population in South Africa.
Before he left for Bombay, Gandhi promised the Natal Indian Congress that he would return to support their efforts, should they need his help. As Gandhi attended the Indian National Congress, his hopes came true. Gokhale, one of the most prominent Indian politicians of the time, supported the resolution for the rights of Indians in South Africa and the resolution passed.
Through Gokhale, in whose house Gandhi stayed for a month, Gandhi met many political connections that would serve him later in life. However, his promise to always aid his friends in Natal soon prompted him to return to South Africa, when he received an urgent telegram informing him that the British and Boers had now formed a peaceful relationship and often acted together to the detriment of the Indian population, as Britain was planning to live local white individuals in power in South Africa, much like it had done in Canada and Australia.
Gandhi travelled back to South Africa immediately and met with Joseph Chamberlain, Secretary of State for the Colonies, and presented him with a paper on the injustice against the Indian population but Chamberlain indicated that the Indians would have to obey the new rulers of South Africa, now called the "Afrikaners," which included both Dutch and British local settlers. Gandhi began to organize a fast response to this new South African political configuration. Instead of working in Natal, he now established a camp in the newly conquered Transvaal region and began helping Indians who had escaped from the war in that region, and now had to purchase overly expensive re-entry passes.
He also represented poor Indians whose dwellings in a shantytown the authorities had dispossessed. Gandhi also started a new magazine, Indian Opinion, that advocated for political liberty and equal rights in South Africa. As he adopted this belief, Gandhi chose to abandon Western dress and habits, and he moved his family and staff to a Transvaal farm called the Phoenix, where he even gave renounced the use of an oil-powered engine and printed Indian Opinion by hand-wheel, and performed agriculture labor using old, manual farming equipment.
He began to conceive of his public work as a mission to restore old Indian virtue and civilization, rather than fall prey to modern Western influence, which included electricity and technology. Between and , he also changed another aspect of his personal life by achieving Brahmacharya, or the voluntary abstention from sexual relations. He made this choice as part of his philosophy of selflessness and self-restraint.
Finally, he also formulated his own philosophy of political protest, called Satyagraha, which literally meant "truth-force" in Sanskrit. In practice, this practice meant protesting injustice steadfastly, but in a non-violent manner.
He put this theory into practice on September 8, , when, at a large gathering of the Indian community in Transvaal, he asked the whole community to take a vow of disobedience to the law, as the Transvaal government had started an effort to register every Indian child over the age of eight, which would make them an official part of the South African population.
Setting a personal example, Gandhi became the first Indian to appear before a magistrate for his refusal to register, and he was sentenced to two months in prison. He actually asked for a heavier sentence, a request, consistent with his philosophy of self-denial. After his release, Gandhi continued his campaign and thousands of Indians burned their registration cards, crossing the Transvaal-Natal border without passes.
Many went to jail, including Gandhi, who went to jail again in Gandhi did not waiver when a South African General by the name of Jan Christian Smuts promised to eliminate the registration law, but broke his word. Gandhi went all the way to London in and gathered enough support among the British to convince Smuts to eliminate the law in Yet, the Transvaal Prime Minister continued to regard Indians as second-class citizens while the Cape Colony government passed another discriminatory law making all non-Christian marriages illegal, which meant that all Indian children would be considered born out of wedlock.
In addition, the government in Natal continued to impose crippling poll tax for entering Natal only upon Indians. In response to these strikingly unjust rules, Gandhi organized a large-scale satyagraha, which involved women crossing the Natal-Transvaal border illegally. When they were arrested, five thousand Indian coal miners also went on strike and Gandhi himself led them across the Natalese border, where they expected arrest. Although Smuts and Gandhi did not agree on many points, they had respect for each other.
In , Smuts relented due to the sheer number of Indians involved in protest and negotiated a settlement which provided for the legality of Indian marriages and abolished the poll tax. Further, the import of indentured laborers from India was to be phased out by In July , Gandhi sailed for Britain, now admired as "Mahatma," and known throughout the world for the success of satyagraha.
Mahatma in the Midst of World Turmoil Gandhi was in England when World War I started and he immediately began organizing a medical corps similar to the force he had led in the Boer War, but he also faced health problems that caused him to return to India, where he met the applauding crowds with enthusiasm once again.
Indians continued to refer to him as "Mahatma" or "Great Soul," an appellation reserved only for the holiest men of Hinduism. While Gandhi accepted the love and admiration of the crowds, he also insisted that all souls were equal and did not accept the implication of religious sacredness that his new name carried. In order to retreat into a life of humility and restraint, as his personal principles mandated, he decided to withdraw from public life for a while spending his first year in India focusing on his personal quest for purity and healing.
He also lived in a communal space with untouchables, a choice which many of his financial supporters resented, because they believed that the very presence of untouchables defiled higher-caste Indians.
Gandhi even considered moving to a district in Ahmedabad inhabited entirely by the untouchables when a generous Muslim merchant donated enough money to keep up his current living space for another year. Although Gandhi had withdrawn from public life, he briefly met with the British Governor of Bombay and future Viceroy of India , Lord Willington, whom Gandhi promised to consult before he launched any political campaigns.
Gandhi also felt the impact of another event, the passing of G. Gokhale, who had become his supporter and political mentor. He stayed away from the political trend of Indian nationalism, which many of the members of the Indian National Congress embraced. Instead, he stayed busy resettling his family and the inhabitants of the Phoenix Settlement in South Africa, as well as the Tolstoy Settlement he had founded near Johannesburg. For this purpose, on May 25, , he created a new settlement, which came to be known as the Satyagraha ashram derive from Sanskrit word "Satya" means "truth" near the town of Ahmedabad and close to his place of birth in the western Indian province of Gujarati.
All the inhabitants of the ashram, which included one family of untouchables, swore to poverty and chastity. After a while, Gandhi became influenced by the idea of Indian independence from the British, but he dreaded the possibility that a westernized Indian elite would replace the British government. He developed a strong conviction that Indian independence should take place as a large-scale sociopolitical reform, which would remove the old plagues of extreme poverty and caste restrictions.
In fact, he believed that Indians could not become worthy of self-government unless they all shared a concern for the poor. As Gandhi resumed his public life in India in , he delivered a speech at the opening of the new Hindu University in the city of Benares, where he discussed his understanding of independence and reform.
He also provided specific examples of the abhorrent living conditions of the lower classes that he had observed during his travels around India and focused specifically on sanitation. Although the Indians of the higher-castes did not readily embrace the ideas in the speech, Gandhi had now returned to public life and he felt ready to convert these ideas to actions.
Satya na Prayogo athava Aatmakatha
Start your review of Satya na Prayogo athava Aatmakatha Write a review Shelves: non-fiction , 2-star-reads , biography Gandhi has no energy whatsoever. I think the main problem with him writing his own autobiography is his complete lack of ego. He is too modest. He is too accommodating. And he is too good.
Gandhi Heritage Portal
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