Mohandas is a biographical description of Mohandas Gandhi, famously known as Mahatma Gandhi. It watches Mohandas grow from a timid child in Gujarat to a man who studies law in England and goes against all odds while adhering to his principles of non-violence, self-dependence, simplicity and equality to bring about revolutions, first in South Africa and then in India. It starts with the boy Mohandas’ family and social ties, his experiences as a 13 year old husband, his difficulty in accepting religious norms and his ambition to study in England after his father’s demise. As a young man studying law in England, he zealously develops simplicity in life, a zeal he would retain for the rest of his life. A job search takes him to South Africa where he starts Satyagraha and wins Rights for Indians there. Coming back to India as a well known reformer, he popularizes his principles and wins the hearts of millions uniting them despite religious and political differences. He helped an entire nation achieve ‘Swaraj’, but couldn’t prevent The Partition. Till his assassination in 1948, he tried to bring peace between India and Pakistan.
The development and meaning of Gandhi’s principles are in focus. This simple man tore through all kinds of differences, helped alleviate poverty and outcastes, found a way, the charkha, to make millions self-dependent. Simplicity and non-violence can go a long way even today with the Neta Raj replacing the Empire. Gandhi’s lessons in sanitation and hygiene can be useful guidance to many villages and his belief in the equality of all religions is a lesson we frequently forget. Gandhi won over various politicians and leaders with his principles and dedication to the Indian cause and this serves as an inspiring lesson to many who have similar ideals.
The research behind the book is vast as it uses other biographies, commentaries and press reports. Detail is a positive aspect of this book and very frequently historical personalities have been quoted in the book. The chronology is brilliant and chapters though lengthy either describe stages of Gandhi’s personal growth or focus on important historical events like Dandi March, Non-cooperation movement, Independence etc. Gandhi's images in the book have a certain emotional touch to them.
The book is a brilliant lesson in understanding Gandhi and how he influenced India's freedom struggle. It is disappointing that the principles which freed a nation are not practiced any more. Gandhi is the perfect role model for an honest and simple life. Religious and cultural differences have always been our weakness, but one man dared to overlook all such differences; the result is before our eyes. Of course such principles should be gradually realized through thoughts and action; blind acceptance will just make us weak. Gandhi found solutions to most social problems and these solutions hold even in today’s industrialized world. Only self-discovery can help us truly appreciate the man who confronted an Empire, his own divided people, his adversaries and most of all, his own self.
Book Reviewed by Karan Mehta
Did you read this book too? Got an opinion on it? Share it!