Millennium Post

Gandhi revisited

Mahatma Gandhi has returned to Gen Next with an account of his early life. He originally wrote it 80 years ago.

My Early Life, a book Gandhi wrote in 1932, appears now in a new edition published by Oxford University Press under the title, My Early Life: An Illustrated Story, to mark Gandhi’s 143rd birth anniversary.

The book, first edited by Gandhi’s close associate Mahadev Desai, has now been annotated by Gandhian scholar Lalita Zackariah. Saurav Chatterjee has provided black and white illustrations.

The book offers young readers funny asides from Gandhi’s essays, and covers the period between 1869-1914 in his life. ‘I have tried to make the book interesting for today’s boys and girls. Children want to see pictures in Gandhi’s original writings because today’s young readers are much more clued into various other things other than the printed word. They are adult children,’ Lalita Zackariah, annotator of the book said. Zackariah said the book was relevant today as it throws light on the values that ‘Gandhi held dear for children’. ‘It teaches children to grow up with a purpose in life, understand the importance of taking a vow, and instils the virtues that influenced Gandhi,’

Zackariah said she has tried to give Gandhi a down-to-earth character in the new edition by demystifying his concepts of freedom. ‘Today’s generation might find the concept of Satyagraha an abstraction. But he was very humane and had a terrific sense of humour.’

Gandhi in his book writes that he was married to Kasturba when he was still in high school. Around this time, he befriended one of his brother’s associates who told him that many important people were eating meat and drinking wine in secret.

Gandhi writes in his book that he asked his friend the reason and he explained it thus: ‘We are weak people because we do not eat meat. The English are able to rule over us because they are meat-eaters... Meat-eaters do not have any boils or tumours and even if they have any, they heal quickly,’ The thought stayed on with the young Gandhi till one day he decided to eat meat.

However, the vegetarian from a Vaishnavite family could not eat goat’s meat and baker’s bread. ‘Every time, I would drop off to sleep, it was as though a live goat was bleating inside me. And I would jump up full of remorse. But then I woulwd remind myself that meat-eating was a duty, so take heart,’ Gandhi wrote. [IANS]
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