So, I have started reading Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography ‘My Experiments With Truth’. Generally, people my age don’t read books like that. If I tell my friends “Hey Dude, I am reading Gandhi Bapu’s book,” he will be like, “What? are you all right?”
Behind my inspiration to read this book is a cliché that I have come across many times. I have heard people saying “Majburi ka name Gandhiji” (Helplessness is another name for Gandhiji). So I wanted to know to what extent this phrase is true. And that was the reason why I purchased this book. I wanted to know if Gandhiji was truly a helpless man in his simple dhoti-khes attire or if he was truly a legendary person. Do we really know who Gandhiji actually was or do we just hate the very idea of ‘non-violence’ which Gandhiji championed to fight for independence?
Some of us even say that Gandhiji didn’t bring freedom, it was those who got martyred in the struggle. I am not against those who say this. But I don’t agree with them either.
Gandhiji is called Mahatma, but I wanted to find if he was as human as any of us.
Here are five facts about Gandhiji I’ve come to know so far:
Gandhiji has confessed in his book that he was once a meat eater. He writes about how his friend had justified that eating meat is not bad. In fact, he told Gandhiji that it was good for health and those who eat meat are stronger than those who don’t.
Gandhi in his book confessed very frankly and openly that he had once unknowingly visited brothels and it was a prank played on him by his friends.
Gandhiji said in his autobiography that he tried smoking once. He wanted to feel like a grown man so he used to smoke when he was a teenager and he had also tried alcohol since the barristers and Maharaja of that time used to drink wine. He thought if he drinks he will get the chance to mingle with the barristers. But when he was leaving the country for higher studies vowed to his mother that he will abstain from smoking, alcohol or even meat.
In chapter 9 called “My Father’s Death and My Double Shame”, Gandhiji says that when his father was on his deathbed, he wanted to be by his side at the end. Instead, his father died in the lap of Gandhiji’s uncle because Gandhiji was in the ‘clutch of the carnal desires’. He felt shameful for that.
While staying in England, Gandhiji became close with a white woman. She had come to his aid when he was stuck in a restaurant, unable to read the French in the menu. Since then, the two became friends. The woman didn’t know Gandhiji was married and a father, and Gandhiji didn’t know that she had the intention of dating him. Gandhiji wrote a letter to the woman telling her about his marriage and that they should stop seeing each other.
So that was it. I haven’t yet read the book completely. But whatever I’ve read has been written very frankly and with an open-mind and I feel that Gandhiji was not the way we have perceived him. He was a lot cooler than what I thought of him to be.