Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is widely recognized as one of the twentieth century's greatest political and spiritual leaders. Honored in India as the father of the nation, he pioneered and practiced the principle of Satyagraha—resistance to tyranny through mass nonviolent civil disobedience.
The Story of My Experiments with Truth is the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi. The book covers Gandhi’s early life through to 1921 when he was in his early 50s. Initially, the book was written in weekly installments. Each week from 1925 to 1929, the journal Navjivan would publish a new part of the autobiography. However, this book summary will cover the final work, which was first published in the West in 1948.
Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most influential people of the 19th and 20th centuries. Gandhi was an Indian Lawyer and anti-colonialist. He used nonviolent resistance to campaign against Britain’s rule over India. This resistance eventually led to India’s independence from Britain. Plus, his peaceful approaches inspired civil rights movements across the world.
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“I lost no time in assuming the authority of a husband . . . (she) could not go out without my permission.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Gandhi was a shy child. He would shy away from sport, and he struggled academically at school. Gandhi found the multiplication tables particularly challenging. Similarly, he had no particular affinity to religion at this age. His household, growing up, was religiously diverse. His mother was a devout Hindu, while his father and his friends often debated Islam. On top of this, Jainism was very popular in his local area. Therefore, from a young age, Gandhi was surrounded by a wide range of religions. Although this upbringing most probably molded the man he would become, he was not interested in religion at a young age. In fact, it bored him. He even describes how he ‘“leaned somewhat towards atheism.”
Gandhi Becomes a Barrister and Returns Home
“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Gandhi studied extremely hard to pass the bar. He did pass and was enrolled as a lawyer. The very next day, he sailed back to Bombay. He had been away from his home, wife, and child for more than three years. He was desperate to see them again.
However, his homecoming was not the welcome he was expecting. Gandhi’s mother had died while he was abroad, and the family had decided to keep the news from him until he got home. They did not want to disrupt his studies.
He also was expecting to come back to lots of work opportunities. This did not transpire. He struggled to get well-paid work and he, and his growing family, struggled financially. His first lawsuit ended in a disaster when his shyness overcame him. He was unable to cross-examine a witness. Following this failure, he tried to obtain a teaching position but was unsuccessful. He eventually decided to accept an offer from a Muslim Indian Firm to travel to South Africa for a year and advise on a lawsuit.
He tried to stop this violence but to no avail. He conducted multiple fasts’ until death’ or until there was peace in Delhi. One fast he started lasted five days until the Muslim and Hindu leaders promised to make peace. He was hoping to do the same for Punjab after recovering. However, it was not to be. On Friday 30th January 1948, a Hindu nationalist named Nathuram Vinayak Godse broke into Gandhi’s garden. Instead of being angry or aggressive to this intruder, Mahatma gave this man a Hindu blessing. However, the man proceeded to take a gun out of his pocket and shoot Gandhi four times. Smoke rose around Gandhi, while his hands were folded in a peaceful position. His dying words were Hei Ra…ma, which means ‘Oh God’. The assassinator’s motivation was that he felt Gandhi had been too accommodating to Muslims during the partition of India. Godse had hoped that Gandhi’s death would lead to war between India and Pakistan and the elimination of the Muslim state. Instead, it led to peace, as Hindus and Muslims alike joined in mourning for the slain Mahatma. Indeed, the entire world mourned: flags were lowered to half-mast, and kings, popes, and presidents sent condolences to India.