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Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth

Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth

by Mohandas Gandhi

Paperback(Dover Edition)

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"My purpose," Mahatma Gandhi writes of this book, "is to describe experiments in the science of Satyagraha, not to say how good I am." Satyagraha, Gandhi's nonviolent protest movement (satya = true, agraha = firmness), came to stand, like its creator, as a moral principle and a rallying cry; the principle was truth and the cry freedom. The life of Gandhi has given fire and fiber to freedom fighters and to the untouchables of the world: hagiographers and patriots have capitalized on Mahatma myths. Yet Gandhi writes: "Often the title [Mahatma, Great Soul] has deeply pained me. . . . But I should certainly like to narrate my experiments in the spiritual field which are known only to myself, and from which I have derived such power as I possess for working in the political field."
Clearly, Gandhi never renounced the world; he was neither pacifist nor cult guru. Who was Gandhi? In the midst of resurging interest in the man who freed India, inspired the American Civil Rights Movement, and is revered, respected, and misunderstood all over the world, the time is proper to listen to Gandhi himself — in his own words, his own "confessions," his autobiography.
Gandhi made scrupulous truth-telling a religion and his Autobiography inevitably reminds one of other saints who have suffered and burned for their lapses. His simply narrated account of boyhood in Gujarat, marriage at age 13, legal studies in England, and growing desire for purity and reform has the force of a man extreme in all things. He details his gradual conversion to vegetarianism and ahimsa (non-violence) and the state of celibacy (brahmacharya, self-restraint) that became one of his more arduous spiritual trials. In the political realm he outlines the beginning of Satyagraha in South Africa and India, with accounts of the first Indian fasts and protests, his initial errors and misgivings, his jailings, and continued cordial dealings with the British overlords.
Gandhi was a fascinating, complex man, a brilliant leader and guide, a seeker of truth who died for his beliefs but had no use for martyrdom or sainthood. His story, the path to his vision of Satyagraha and human dignity, is a critical work of the twentieth century, and timeless in its courage and inspiration.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486245935
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 06/01/1983
Series: Social Sciences Series
Edition description: Dover Edition
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 68,410
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

Translator's Prefacexix
Part I
Chapter IBirth and Parentage3
Chapter IIChildhood6
Chapter IIIChild Marriage8
Chapter IVPlaying the Husband11
Chapter VAt the High School14
Chapter VIA Tragedy19
Chapter VIIA Tragedy (Contd.)22
Chapter VIIIStealing and Atonement25
Chapter IXMy Father's Death and My Double Shame28
Chapter XGlimpses of Religion31
Chapter XIPreparation for England35
Chapter XIIOutcaste39
Chapter XIIIIn London at Last42
Chapter XIVMy Choice45
Chapter XVPlaying the English Gentleman48
Chapter XVIChanges52
Chapter XVIIExperiments in Dietetics55
Chapter XVIIIShyness My Shield59
Chapter XIXThe Canker of Untruth63
Chapter XXAcquaintance with Religions67
Chapter XXIINarayan Hemchandra72
Chapter XXIIIThe Great Exhibition76
Chapter XXIV'Called'--But Then?78
Chapter XXVMy Helplessness81
Part II
Chapter IRaychandbhai87
Chapter IIHow I Began Life90
Chapter IIIThe First Case93
Chapter IVThe First Shock96
Chapter VPreparing for South Africa100
Chapter VIArrival in Natal102
Chapter VIISome Experiences105
Chapter VIIIOn the Way to Pretoria109
Chapter IXMore Hardships113
Chapter XFirst Day in Pretoria118
Chapter XIChristian Contacts122
Chapter XIISeeking Touch with Indians125
Chapter XIIIWhat It Is to Be A 'Coolie'128
Chapter XIVPreparation for the Case131
Chapter XVReligious Ferment135
Chapter XVIMan Proposes, God Disposes138
Chapter XVIISettled in Natal141
Chapter XVIIIColour Bar145
Chapter XIXNatal Indian Congress148
Chapter XXBalasundaram153
Chapter XXIThe [pound] 3 Tax155
Chapter XXIIComparative Study of Religions158
Chapter XXIIIAs a Householder162
Chapter XXIVHomeward165
Chapter XXVIn India168
Chapter XXVITwo Passions172
Chapter XXVIIThe Bombay Meeting175
Chapter XXVIIIPoona and Madras178
Chapter XXIX'Return Soon'180
Part III
Chapter IRumblings of the Storm185
Chapter IIThe Storm188
Chapter IIIThe Test191
Chapter IVThe Calm After the Storm196
Chapter VEducation of Children199
Chapter VISpirit of Service202
Chapter VIIBrahmacharya--I204
Chapter VIIIBrahmacharya--II208
Chapter IXSimple Life212
Chapter XThe Boer War214
Chapter XISanitary Reform and Famine Relief217
Chapter XIIReturn to India219
Chapter XIIIIn India Again222
Chapter XIVClerk and Bearer225
Chapter XVIn the Congress227
Chapter XVILord Curzon's Darbar229
Chapter XVIIA Month with Gokhale--I231
Chapter XVIIIA Month with Gokhale--II233
Chapter XIXA Month with Gokhale--III236
Chapter XXIn Benares239
Chapter XXISettled in Bombay?243
Chapter XXIIFaith on Its Trial246
Chapter XXIIITo South Africa Again249
Part IV
Chapter I'Love's Labour's Lost'?255
Chapter IIAutocrats from Asia257
Chapter IIIPocketed the Insult259
Chapter IVQuickened Spirit of Sacrifice262
Chapter VResult of Introspection264
Chapter VIA Sacrifice to Vegetarianism267
Chapter VIIExperiments in Earth and Water Treatment269
Chapter VIIIA Warning271
Chapter IXA Tussle with Power274
Chapter XA Sacred Recollection and Penance276
Chapter XIIntimate European Contacts279
Chapter XIIEuropean Contacts (Contd.)282
Chapter XIII'Indian Opinion'285
Chapter XIVCoolie Locations or Ghettoes?287
Chapter XVThe Black Plague--I290
Chapter XVIThe Black Plague--II292
Chapter XVIILocation in Flames295
Chapter XVIIIThe Magic Spell of a Book297
Chapter XIXThe Phoenix Settlement300
Chapter XXThe First Night302
Chapter XXIPolak Takes the Plunge304
Chapter XXIIWhom God Protects306
Chapter XXIIIA Peep into the Household310
Chapter XXIVThe Zulu 'Rebellion'313
Chapter XXVHeart Searchings315
Chapter XXVIThe Birth of Satyagraha318
Chapter XXVIIMore Experiments in Dietetics320
Chapter XXVIIIKasturbai's Courage322
Chapter XXIXDomestic Satyagraha325
Chapter XXXTowards Self-Restraint328
Chapter XXXIFasting330
Chapter XXXIIAs Schoolmaster333
Chapter XXXIIILiterary Training335
Chapter XXXIVTraining of the Spirit338
Chapter XXXVTares Among the Wheat340
Chapter XXXVIFasting as Penance342
Chapter XXXVIITo Meet Gokhale344
Chapter XXXVIIIMy Part in the War346
Chapter XXXIXA Spiritual Dilemma348
Chapter XLMiniature Satyagraha351
Chapter XLIGokhale's Charity355
Chapter XLIITreatment of Pleurisy357
Chapter XLIIIHomeward359
Chapter XLIVSome Reminiscences of the Bar361
Chapter XLVSharp Practice?363
Chapter XLVIClients Turned Co-Workers365
Chapter XLVIIHow a Client Was Saved367
Part V
Chapter IThe First Experience373
Chapter IIWith Gokhale in Poona375
Chapter IIIWas it a Threat?377
Chapter IVShantiniketan380
Chapter VWoes of Third Class Passengers383
Chapter VIWooing385
Chapter VIIKumbha Mela387
Chapter VIIILakshman Jhula391
Chapter IXFounding of the Ashram395
Chapter XOn the Anvil397
Chapter XIAbolition of Indentured Emigration400
Chapter XIIThe Stain of Indigo404
Chapter XIIIThe Gentle Bihari406
Chapter XIVFace to Face with Ahimsa409
Chapter XVCase Withdrawn413
Chapter XVIMethods of Work416
Chapter XVIICompanions419
Chapter XVIIIPenetrating the Villages422
Chapter XIXWhen a Governor is Good424
Chapter XXIn Touch with Labour426
Chapter XXIA Peep into the Ashram428
Chapter XXIIThe Fast430
Chapter XXIIIThe Kheda Satyagraha434
Chapter XXIV'The Onion Thief'436
Chapter XXVEnd of Kheda Satyagraha439
Chapter XXVIPassion for Unity441
Chapter XXVIIRecruiting Campaign444
Chapter XXVIIINear Death's Door450
Chapter XXIXThe Rowlatt Bills and My Dilemma454
Chapter XXXThat Wonderful Spectacle!457
Chapter XXXIThat Memorable Week!--I460
Chapter XXXIIThat Memorable Week!--II466
Chapter XXXIII'A Himalayan Miscalculation'469
Chapter XXXIV'Navajivan' and 'Young India'471
Chapter XXXVIn the Punjab475
Chapter XXXVIThe Khilafat Against Cow Protection?478
Chapter XXXVIIThe Amritsar Congress482
Chapter XXXVIIICongress Initiation486
Chapter XXXIXThe Birth of Khadi489
Chapter XLFound at Last!491
Chapter XLIAn Instructive Dialogue494
Chapter XLIIIts Rising Tide497
Chapter XLIIIAt Nagpur500

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An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book must be read in context or else the reader will be disappointed. It is not the best book to read if you want to learn about Gandhi. It isn't much of an 'autobiography' in a typical sense. Gandhi doesn't directly cover the main events of his life that we know him today for. There is very little treatment about his non-violence movement and the protest marches. If you want to learn about the life of Gandhi, reading this book will leave you unfulfilled. For that, you're better off starting with Louis Fischer's 'Gandhi: His Life and Message for the World'. But Gandhi's Autobiography shows the reader how absolutely honest and humble he was. Gandhi exposes his idiosyncrasies, quirks, and his odd beliefs to anyone who cares to read. He completely downplays himself and his accomplishments by not writing about them and spends most of the pages dwelling on his faults, personal inner struggles, mundane aspects of his life, and strange experiments in diet. This is the closest anyone can get to glimpsing Gandhi's steam of consciousness and the ramblings of his mind.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Gandhi: An Autobiography provides a story of the inspiring life of the man that helped free India from British colonization in the 20th century. The autobiography starts in 1869, with the birth of Mahatma Gandhi and provides his background, such as he was born into a middle-class merchant caste and that he was both politically and religiously influenced at a young age. Gandhi talks about his disparagement of the traditional Hindu caste system and his harsh encounter of racism in South Africa. This caused him to become the leader of the Indian independence movement against British colonial rule and establish his non-violent approach. Gandhi also adds light humor throughout his book and includes interesting components of his life including his bizarre diet, which keeps the reader engaged. I would recommend Gandhi's autobiography to other students because it greatly shows Gandhi's key principles of non-violence, truth, and compassion. Since this book is an autobiography, Gandhi is honest about his life and views, which allows the reader to feel a deeper connection to Gandhi and shows the development of Gandhi's ideology. However, before choosing this book the reader must know that it is lengthy and will take some time to complete. Gandhi's writing is also difficult to comprehend, which can make the book drag on at times. Altogether, this book is a great read if the reader has ample time to spare. Gandhi shows that in a world of violence, non-violence can go a long way.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gandhi had a profound effect on history. As such, I thought reading his autobiography a must. I knew I had a lot of disagreements with what he believed, big and small, but his attitude as alluded to in his title disarmed me at first. He writes that "far from claiming finality or infallibility" truth is something he believes we seek and learn by testing. At first I found him likeable and admirable. I felt for his struggles with shyness and public speaking. But my respect for his views and my liking for him eroded over the course of his autobiography. I felt his family and especially his wife had a lot to put up with by his own account. And so much of the autobiography was taken up with frankly crackpot notions. Even he calls himself a "crank" at one point and refers to his practice of "quack medicine." That may have been meant ironically but I thought it fit. Long, dull stretches of the narrative were taken up with details of diet and hygiene. You're not going to get a complete overview of his life and thinking from this work, since he stops the account at 1921 and he lived until 1948. Too often key events would be glossed over and he'd refer the reader to other writings to fill the gap. But having seen the famous film based on his life, it was interesting to read material not covered there from his childhood in India and his time in England as a young man. I was surprised at how accepted he seemed to be studying in England--he didn't relate encountering much color prejudice there--more the opposite--and this was in the late 1880s. It was a very different story in South Africa where he gained his first experience of law practice and political activism. At one time he was literally kicked to the curb as Indians weren't allowed on the pavement. I would have liked to read more about his development of Satyagraha (active non-violent resistance), particularly his use of Civil Disobedience, especially since I know it greatly influenced Martin Luther King. It was interesting to find out Ghandi himself was greatly influenced by Tolstoy's non-violent principles in The Kingdom of God Is Within You. He even called his ashram in South Africa "Tolstoy Farm" and I can see a lot of commonality between the two men. I could wish this was annotated, or at least a glossary provided. There were a lot of Hindu/Indian terms I had to jot down to look up later: ashram, darbar, darshan, dhoti, haveli, vakils, Khilafat, Madras, Parsi, Swaraj, Vaishnavas. Maps would have been nice too. But I found there was value enough in getting a feel for the man that on the whole I found it worth the read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The younger generation is growing up with the news of war, violence, bombs, and missiles. They should know that non-violence was the only method used to free India from the colonial rule.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Gandhi's life is an open book. His thoughts on non-violence, truth, and perseverance are examples to whole mankind irrespective race, creed, nationality and gender. He exemplifies simple life and is an inspiration to one and all. His bravery needs no armies, guns, or bombs. Truth is his only weapon and the mighty British Empire crumbles. His love for people for all peoples and life is unprecedented. He says 'A nation's greatness is measured by the way it treats its animals'