Excuse the ramblings of a mind coping to understandthis really is a book reviewof sorts.
Yesterday, a man in Oslo set off a bomb that killed seven people then went to a kid s camp and killed eighty four young people The world is sickened Why do these things happen Details are still coming out At first I heard an Islamic militant group had claimed responsibility Now it seems that the killer may be an extreme anti islamic a christian fundamentalist What is clear is that somehow he was able to justify his actions because human life was less valuable to him than his ideals.
Societies sometimes justify violence war, torture, capital punishment by saying they are protecting certain ideals When violence is justified on such large levels, it can not be too surprising when an individual finds ways to justify violence as well It could be a single man in Oslo It could be a million men who beat their wives and children.
Violence is violence In its most extreme and violent manifestations, we can plainly see that it is senseless, but in its commonplace variations it can be tolerated or ignored It seems that to many of us there is some line between acceptable and unacceptable violence and maybe this is part of the problem we can compartmentalize and label the violence we do not like as the work of the evil or insane.
Back in university I read this book by Gandhi Those who think that they cannot defend or promote ideals without the use of violence are either ignorant or likely lazy, because the non violent path is much, much harder to walk than the violent one Violence is easy Revenge is natural But Gandhi was able to lead an entire nation to freedom without bombing police stations The writing of Gandhi is all about the individual having dignity and independence that self respect comes from respecting others Gandhi s writing is a roadmap to a better world I think that those who have not read Gandhi have an overly simplified vision of the man that he was simply a pacifist or an unrealistic dreamer I know that s what I used to think But he was primarily concerned with erasing social injustice non violence was simply the best means to his ends The best and most difficult.
It is time for us to reject by any means necessary and revenge seeking and punishing and all the eye for an eye bullshit All this generally condoned social violence just seeps into individuals where it collects as pure hate.
Intended for a very limited audience My copy of the book had torn spine, small print, dog eared cover and the quality of paper so inferior, that it set a new precedent for me but I shouldn t complain because a friend of mine had lent it to me Let me first clarify something about this book s genre Gandhi says in the foreword that this book was a memoir of his experiments with truth , thus the subtitle but he particularly says that this was not an autobiography He gives his reasons for this First, he did not like this Western genre There was a general prejudice against West during his time Second, he thought that the idea of a man writing his own life was conceited So you might ask, Is it not an autobiography It is It is a straight forward, old school autobiography that begins with birth and leads up to the moment the author is writing the book.
My own dislike for the book is rooted in the fact that I am not the audience Gandhi had in mind In the book you realize that he wants to present himself as an ideal for the kids in India, particularly the Hindus, of that era The reason I say this is that the book was originally published in Gandhi s native language and most of the book s content is about moral teachings Moral from his perspective His morality is deeply rooted in Indian culture and Hindu religion But some of his principles are plain weird Here s an example He doesn t fight out of timidity I think because he started doing this quite early he praises good handwriting renounces tea apparently, doctors then had evidence against it praises unworthy teachers Further, he never quite justifies, or may be he didn t even understand, his superstitious nature.
There is nothing wrong, per say, with this approach But, this mode of writing becomes trite everything has ethical overtone Most of what he writes is judged through the prism of right and wrong And after a point, it just sounds stupid We are taught from childhood to follow a rigid set of rules parents have their own ideas of ethics, teachers theirs, and if you re affiliated with any religion then it s a whole new level of rules you have to follow But as humans, we all have individuality we live our unique lives But not Gandhi He chose to follow whatever his parents, teachers, or anyone he considered worthy enough to be placed on a peddle, tells him He followed these rules to the T.
Honestly, if you want me to judge Gandhi from this book, I ll say he is like a lonely person who lacked self esteem someone without an iota of individuality That, ofcourse, is the impression from the book Now I know that Gandhi was than this But he had to appear an idealist About the English It was archaic, with structures and words that I could not help laugh at The English could have been simpler, direct and less cumbersome It could have used Strunk and White.
These days the autobiography genre is written as creative non fiction, and not as a linear chronology of life, as was the case with this book So I can t complain about it being slightly boring You know how it is Starting from childhood all the way upto the moment you re penning the very book.
Now I know that some people will revere this book This may be because they re the kind of audience Gandhi was writing for I am not one of them So I am critiquing this book from my perspective, which is what we always do, which is what anyone can do Selling this translated edition to the world when its intended audience was a India of a particular epoch is a mistake.
After seeing the movie biopic, I knew I needed to find out about Gandhi so I picked this up Don t let the width of the book fool you, it isn t a thousand pages like it appears The translation of the book is actually pretty good and it reads easily For the most part, Gandhi spends time talking about the little details in his life before he became famous That is sort of the opposite of what you would expect in an autobiography, but as he says, his life was well known by then This may lead some people to feel like the book is meandering I can understand this feeling, but I think his sincerity and honesty outweighs that While this book does not talk a lot about his theories on non violence or his time in South Africa I believe there is a separate book for that , it is impossible not to walk away from reading this book and feel inspired Gandhi s humility has changed my outlook on many things and his passion for finding life s truths is infectious If you re a vegetarian or vegan, you ll appreciate his details and struggles about this as well Ultimately, I think this book can make you a better person if you have an interest in Gandhi s life and philosophies and approach with an open mind and persist through the small amount of less relevant information.
One of those books that needs to be read periodically if only to remind yourself that someone out there sometime thought that transformation, liberation, hell just plain living, without violence was possible It s not the violence that scares me personally as much as the anger There s still some restrictions on the use of violence but anger s got the world s green light Be angry even as you defend peace Be angry on behalf of goodness and beauty Be angry or you don t care So you read about Gandhi s spiritual journey which began with, of all things, anger at the injustice he perceived, and gradually the anger was transformed into another much powerful energy The energy of ahimsa, an inner force he discovered in the discipline of self denial Ahimsa It is not enough not to strike another person but something much, much harder the elimination of all the hostility in your heart A way of life, really, that encompassed all you did And this is what the man Gandhi believed that unless that hostility disappeared and was replaced by this other power, any social good you could achieve would not be lasting, would not even be worth it These thoughts seem so old fashioned, don t they Like when your mother told you that you needed to wait three hours after eating before swimming No one believes these kind of ideas any Is the truth of nonviolence that Gandhi lived, not believed but lived is that truth not believable or livable any Where do people like Gandhi and Martin Luther King and so many others get the notion that the only response to hatred is love Look around you Do you think this is still possible In this world Some biographies inspire but the good ones challenge What would it be like for you and me to fight the biggest battle, the one Gandhi fought, the one that takes place inside of you, the one between your Self and the anger that fills you And what would it take for you to believe that that s the one battle that will truly make this world a better place
fundamentally changed my view of the worldOft In My ThoughtAh, how often I have sought in my days,To emulate the great leaders, and be gently led,By their virtuous actions and well laid plans.
How often I charted the best courses to takeTo reach those heights of thought and action And thought ever of what best will portrayTheir everlasting influence on this humble self,That will make this world to be as they always saw,In their lofty wishes and their fanciful dreams But all those thoughts, alas, they too crumble and dry,And serve no the masters that send them forth,Who are now but ashes or just food to now dead worms,And so are their thoughts but food to a few blind men.
And this world that lets the best of it die,And leaves not even a soul or a smile behind,For what I should try, what lasting effect,When in showing the virtues, I forget them How to pass that time of the night,When all too familiar shame shows its head Have you forgotten all your virtues,It asks with the malevolent sweet smiles,The dead might banish sins and conquer great heights,But will the living learn, it sneers and slips away.
To what profit we move, to what end we sing,Praises of these men, and put their faces in public places The most good, most fair and most just of men They no longer walk this realm, what omen there And when the young can no longer dare imagineThat their footsteps once hallowed these very ruins Description In 1999, this book was designated as one of the 100 Most Important Spiritual books of the Twentieth Century by HarperCollins Publishers When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall think of it, always Gandhi A holy man to Hindus, a hero to Muslims, and a criminal to the British, Mohandas K Gandhi was an inspiring figure of the twentieth century, a man whose quest to live in accord with God s highest truth led him to initiate massive campaigns against racism, violence, and colonialism From his youthful rebellion against vegetarianism, to his successful law practice in South Africa, his struggle with his own sexual excesses, and his leadership of the movement to free India from British rule, Gandhi describes the story of his life as a series of spiritual experiments and explains how he developed his concept of active nonviolent resistance, which propelled the Indian struggle for independence and inspired countless other nonviolent strugglesTranslated from the original in Gujarati by Mahadev Desai Narrator Bill Wallace Gasp And there he was, meeting teh Blavatsky and Annie BesantI picked this up primarily wanting to know the reverse of Letter To A Hindu, not particularly wishing to find the spiritual but not willing to diss that aspect out of hand when faced full on This is wonderful, we get to find that the man was, as a youngster, a thief, a liar, and a con artist From such humble beginnings came a great human being.
Blinking marvellous read We were only given the snippiest snippet of his pernickety character early life in the Attenborough film so it was lovely to acquaint myself with his version of events.