For every Indian, there comes a time in his life when he wonders about Gandhiji (1869-1948). Of course, every Indian (at least since Indian independence) grew up reading about Gandhiji and knows that he was somebody. I am not referring to the doubts of a school kid, not those of an academic, or a politician (or any other professional), or even those of a ‘proud’ citizen who loves remembering the figure head of the Indian freedom struggle. I mean a curiosity in any Indian about Gandhiji that grows organically due to an Indian way of thinking (which I shall detail later).
For me it began when I was around 19. I had tried to understand Gandhiji by reading many things about him written by others. I couldn’t get him. With my limited time and slow reading style I couldn’t get far. For many years, it didn’t occur to me (obvious to many) that I should be reading Gandhiji himself and not commentaries on him/his work. When it did come across, I tried reading his autobiography (a Kannada translation). I couldn’t get him. I don’t remember a whisper probably because I was surrounded by the cacophony of modern India, which had the capacity to drown out even the thought of a distant musical note of dissent. It could be that simply I wasn’t ready. Fortunately, my curiosity didn’t whither away and I am still on course to discovering my own Gandhiji. I don’t know what he will become. Therefore, I have drawn a symbolic question mark that wears Gandhiji’s spectacles. I am adapting this as the featured image of my wander.
This is a preamble to what hopefully will be a multi-part series on my readings of Gandhiji. I intend to begin with his first major work “Indian Home Rule” (1909), better known as “Hind Swaraj“. It is widely considered to be the book that first defined and later reinforced Gandhiji’s convictions in his ways many times until his death.