An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth*
Author: M. K. Gandhi
The Floating Press, January 01, 2009 - 891 pages
In this autobiography, also titled The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Mohandas K. Gandhi recounts his life from childhood up until 1921, noting that "my life from this point onward has been so public that there is hardly anything about it that people do not know." Harper Collins chose this work as one of the "100 Most Important Spiritual Books of the 20th Century." The pursuit of truth was a guiding principle for Gandhi. He states that it "is not my purpose to attempt a real autobiography. I simply want to tell the story of my numerous experiments with truth, and as my life consists of nothing but those experiments, it is true that the story will take the shape of an autobiography." He also notes that this "will of course include experiments with non-violence, celibacy and other principles of conduct believed to be distinct from truth."
Mohandas Gandhi is well known as a political activist and pacifist who played a key role in achieving India's independence from Great Britain. Although born in Porbandar, India, to parents of the Vaisya (merchant) caste, he was given a modern education and eventually studied law in London. After returning briefly to India, Gandhi went to South Africa in 1893, where he spent the next 20 years working to secure Indian rights. It was during this time that he experimented with and developed his basic philosophy of life. Philosophically, Gandhi is best known for his ideas of satyagraha (truth-force) and ahimsa (nonharming). Intrinsic to the idea of truth-force is the correlation between truth and being; truth is not merely a mental correspondence with reality but a mode of existence. Hence, the power of the truth is not what one argues for but what one is. He developed this idea in conjunction with the principle of nonviolence, showing in his nationalist activities that the force of truth, expressed nonviolently, can be an irresistible political weapon against intolerance, racism, and social violence. Although his basic terminology and conceptual context were Hindu, Gandhi was impressed by the universal religious emphasis on the self-transformative power of love, drawing his inspiration from Christianity, Western philosophy, and Islam as well.