Title: Gandhi: An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth
Author: Mahatma Gandhi
Challenge: The Well-Educated Mind Reading Challenge (biographies)
|A young Gandhi|
Gandhi's Autobiography covers about thirty years of his life, from his youth in the late 1800's to the early 1920s. In his introduction, he said his objective for writing an autobiography was to "tell a story of [his] numerous experiments with truth." Truth was the "eternal," “sovereign" standard. His goal was to "achieve...self-realization, to see God face to face..." He said, "I worship God as Truth only. I have not yet found Him, but I am seeking after Him."
He never set out to become the Mahatmas Gandhi, as the world knows him today, but in his quest for truth, he was moved or called to defend it wherever there was injustice. As people tend to respect and love those who speak for truth and justice, Gandhi drew much attention to himself; but what really made him different was his approach to achieving truth and justice, using what he called Satyagraha, which means "clinging to truth." It became a philosophy or practice that involved non-violent force or resistance. Returning good for evil became his guiding concept.
In his travels between Britain, India, and South Africa, he experienced and witnessed many injustices that he wanted to change. For a man who understood truth as the only way of life, he was astonished that people were treated unfairly based on the color of their skin or their socio or economic status. Equally, he was incensed that victims accepted the mistreatment and did not know any better because of their ignorance. Gandhi set out to change both.
As a lawyer, he had knowledge of the law and access to the courts; and when the legal system did not work, he used other methods. Not only did he get arrested a few times and spent time in jail, but he eventually caused laws to be changed; and most importantly, he taught victims to recognize prejudice and how to press for equal treatment. Gandhi demonstrated how to campaign by leading the way and setting an example. He lived what he preached, and he made a difference.
And when Gandhi struggled with his natural feelings of physical attraction toward his own wife, I knew he did not understand God's essential gift to married couples. In fact, Scripture tells us that since it is more difficult for man to remain celibate and single: GET MARRIED!
In the ashram community Gandhi created, he expected the lowest level of efficiency in tools, machinery, and work to be used because the harder the struggle, the better the outcome. Those are my words, but the idea was plain: if workers used a more efficient tool or machine, they were not working hard enough; they were not struggling; therefore, they may not perceive truth at its purest.
Also, I wonder if Gandhi ever found God, the One True God, before his assassination in 1948. In his autobiography, he saw all religions as a way to the same God, just with varying practices. He sought a perfect religion in order to reach God, but none of them satisfied him. He personally rejected Islam, Christianity, and parts of Hinduism, but he used his Hindu customs, like Ahimsa (non-violence), to lay the foundation of Satyagraha. Gandhi struggled like so many other people do to create their own God in their own image or in an image that they are comfortable with. He thought he could be equal with God by achieving the perfect way to live in peace and harmony with the world. So while God offers peace through the sacrifice of His Son, Gandhi sought to find peace in the way he lived through his own means.
Because I thoroughly enjoy reading about other people's life stories, Gandhi's Autobiography was a great read. While I disagree with some of his personal ideas about God and truth, and how he treated his wife (though she consented to his lifestyle and followed him willingly), I still think the world could use more Gandhis.
Injustice will always exist, and we need courageous leaders who will stand for righteousness. Gandhi confronted real racism, true oppression, and genuine prejudice; yet, he never resorted to violence, encouraged the destruction of private and public property, or overthrew the government.
Compare that to America today where protests amount to TEMPER TANTRUMS over opposing opinions, ideologies, and FEELINGS, in the form of vile threats and fear, mob rule, violence, stopping traffic and business, destruction of other people's property, burning police vehicles, ambushing law enforcement, and murdering unrelated individuals, in order to meet irrelevant demands.
Gandhi was not a bully. He would be shocked if he knew what people considered injustice (in America) today, how it invokes anger and violent protest, and the thuggery used to demand outrageous change. I'm so sick of it that if people actually used Gandhi's tactics for REAL grievances, it would be a welcome sight of change, for once.