Sadly I was a little disappointed with this. After watching Richard Attenborough's epic with Ben Kingsley, I was so inspired that I had to read more about this inspirational man, so I went straight to the library to get his autobiography.
When will I learn?! I'm not a big fan of autobiographies as, no matter how interesting the person, they tend to be dull and tedious, concentrating on the minutiae, rather than the overall bigger picture. As autobiographies go, this is a strange one. It is what it says on the cover - a series of brief descriptions of his many experiments with the principles of Satya (truth), Ahimsa (non-violence), Religion and Diet. It also charts his journeys through South Africa and India and his dealings with the Governments of the time, pioneering the principle of Satyagraha (mass civil disobedience). There are gaps, however, which was annoying as a reader when the Author declines to describe a particular event, but refers you to another of his books. However, Gandhi writes exquisitely, and his use of language is exemplary. In this respect it was a pleasure to read. Credit must also go to the translator of course, Mahadev Desai.
The theme which resonated most with me was, strangely, his experiments with religion. Strangely, as I'm an atheist. His quest for a better understanding of all religions is admirable. Perhaps if religious leaders all over the world were to be as reasonable and pragmatic as Gandhi, we might not have so many wars based on religion. Gandhi might not have agreed with all principles from every religion, but the very fact that he was willing to acknowledge their existence makes him a better man than most. India and the Indian people have a baffling number of religions and languages. It was interesting to learn a little more about the country at the time, the abject poverty, the politics, the caste system. His philanthropic nature is both bewildering and admirable. He had an inherent need to improve the lives of his fellow countrymen. He certainly was unique and its a shame that there are not more like him in the world today.