Understanding Gandhi : A Mahatma in Making 1869-1914

Neither an ode of adulation, nor an exercise in iconoclasm, this book on Gandhi gives praise where praise is due; and criticizes where criticism is warranted. The author treads in step with Gandhi as he reveals himself in his Experiments with Truth in an honest attempt to understand the Mahatma in the making. Gandhi's veracity is not in question; but his memory, and selection and omission of episodes, inevitably temper the tenor of truth! His equation of Truth with God can only be understood as justice and fair play analogous to sat or ?ta signifying the Cosmic Order. Page after page poses questions in a bid to understand Gandhi as he speaks, writes and acts.
The author relates how Gandhi discovered himself in South Africa; and formulated a new vocabulary of revolt; a new ideology of non-violence and self-suffering to defeat racial injustice and tyranny; to rouse the corrective conscience of his oppressors. Deliberate defiance of unjust laws, self-effacing humility, unflinching acceptance of punishment, the unfading smile and unfailing forgiveness sum up the transformation of an otherwise ordinary mortal into a Mahatma, who identified himself with all downtrodden humanity! Ahi?sa, satya and satyagraha became the watchwords of his philosophy in action. The author explores the meanings of these words; and notes that at times Gandhi's ahi?sa could be devoid of compassion, confined only to self-cleansing, not true to itself.
He learned from all religions without conversion to any; and identified religion with morality, without realizing that morality preceded the rise of religion. As basic morality constituting the core of every religion transcends all doctrinal divisions, Gandhi tirelessly advocated religious tolerance; and Hindu-Muslim unity. He lived and died for peaceful co-existence. But his pursuit of mok?a (release from reincarnation) was irrelevant to the world's welfare!
Gandhi upheld human equality and indivisibility regardless of race and colour. The author notes his reverence for the Brahmins; and his painful progress from caste consciousness to its final rejection. He draws attention to Gandhi's unwillingness to mount a satyagraha for the liberation of the untouchables from Brahmanical tyranny. Gandhi also took time to realize the woeful plight of the Africans; and to speak of a future which would grant them their due in the land of their birth.
The author also takes note of Gandhi's great love of the British, and his faith in their destiny to deliver the world into a dawn of freedom and democracy. He points to Gandhi's celebration of the British success against Indians in 1857!  It took a while to shake off that subservience in Gandhi's Hind Swaraj.
The book looks closely at Gandhi's relations with his elder brother and friends. The author notes his dictatorial direction of the lives of his wife and sons. His brahmacarya (sexual abstinence) was a capricious imposition on submissive Kasturba; a pathetic denial of the joy of sex mocking mortality and the sorrow of transience. But the book salutes his cruel, uncompromising candour. He practised what he preached. His obsession with sanitation and hygiene unfortunately failed to inspire Indians to follow his example.
As an advocate of right means to right ends excluding all violence for the resolution of human disputes, as an enemy of imperialism and champion of human equality, as a practitioner and preacher of religious goodwill and tolerance, as a respecter of the earth and its gifts, as an upholder of the primacy of man over machine, Gandhi remains a beacon of timeless relevance!

Vij Books
  • Pages: 578
  • 9789386457844 • HARDBACK • Jul 2018 • Rs.1250
  • 9789386457837 • PAPERBACK • Jan 2019 • Rs.695
  • 9789386457851 • EBOOK • Sep 2018 • Rs.695
  • Subjects: M K Gandhi, India, South Africa, Gandhi in Boer War
  • Understanding Gandhi : A Mahatma in Making 1869-1914
author details
PROFESSOR SARVA DAMAN SINGH, B.A.(HONS.), M.A., PH.D. (UNIVERSITY OF LONDON), PH.D. (UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA), F.R.A.S., was born at Angai, in District Mathura of Uttar Pradesh, India; and migrated to Australia in 1974. He won many awards and five gold medals during the course of a distinguished educational career at the universities of Lucknow and London. He has taught at the University of Lucknow; National Academy of Administration, Government of India, Mussoorie; Vikram University, Ujjain; and the University of Queensland, Australia; and held chairs of Indian History, Culture and Archaeology. He is at present Director of the Institute of Asian Studies, Brisbane.
He has travelled widely, and lectured at universities and institutions in India, Sri Lanka, U.K., France, Germany, the U.S.A., South Korea, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.  
Apart from his contributions to numerous books, his publications include Ancient Indian Warfare with Special Reference to the Vedic Period, E.J. Brill, Leiden, with later editions brought out by Motilal Banarasidas, Delhi; The Archaeology of the Lucknow Region, Paritosh Prakashan, Lucknow; Polyandry in Ancient India, Vikas, and Motilal Banarasidas, Delhi; Culture through the Ages, (B.N. Puri Felicitation Volume), Agam, Delhi; The Art of Pir Tareen-Evocation of Beauty in Life and Nature, published by the Institute of Asian Studies, Brisbane; and Indians Abroad, Hope India Publications and Greenwich Millennium Press Ltd, Gurgaon and London.    
As Honorary Consul of India in Queensland from 2003 till 2011, he addressed numerous forums, always stressing the indivisibility of humanity, and its cultural diversity as a natural expression of its floriferous creativity.  

Chapter 1 – Familial Heritage: Cultural Conditioning
Chapter 2 – In England: New Horizons
Chapter 3 – Back Home in India
Chapter 4 – In South Africa
Chapter 5 – The Voyage
Chapter 6 – Proselytizing Push of Christianity
Chapter 7 – Indians in Pretoria
Chapter 8 – The Lawyer
Chapter 9 – Spiritual Quickening 
Chapter 10 – Persuaded to Prolong His Stay in South Africa
Chapter 11 – The Indian Response 
Chapter 12 – Gandhi Stays On
Chapter 13 – The Natal Indian Congress
Chapter 14 – Inhumanity of Indenture
Chapter 15 – A Lesson Learned
Chapter 16 – Immersion in Comparative Religion
Chapter 17 – Gandhi’s Household
Chapter 18 – Public Service and the Practice of Law
Chapter 19 – India
Chapter 20 – The Roving Publicist
Chapter 21 – To South Africa
Chapter 22 – Gandhi Settles Down
Chapter 23 – The G?hastha (Householder)
Chapter 24 – Spirit of Public Service
Chapter 25 – Brahmacarya (Sexual Abstinence)
Chapter 26 – Gandhis Return Home
Chapter 27 – Calcutta and the Congress
Chapter 28 – Banaras
Chapter 29 – In Bombay Again
Chapter 30 – In South Africa Again
Chapter 31 – Life in Johannesburg
Chapter 32 – Statement of Faith in Human Equality
Chapter 33 – Spiritual Striving
Chapter 34 – Indian Opinion
Chapter 35 – Earth and Water Cures
Chapter 36 – European Friends
Chapter 37 – Coolie Locations and the Plague
Chapter 38 – Indian Opinion: Phoenix Settlement
Chapter 39 – Return of Kasturba
Chapter 40 – Inroads upon Indian Livelihood
Chapter 41 – Evolution of Ideas
Chapter 42 – The Zulu Rebellion
Chapter 43 – Brahmacarya (Celibacy)
Chapter 44 – Mok?a (Salvation)
Chapter 45 – Tram Cars
Chapter 46 – Return to Johannesburg
Chapter 47 – The Civil Rights Campaigner
Chapter 48 – Kallenbach
Chapter 49 – Back at Work: To Satyagraha
Chapter 50 – Fortitude of Kasturba
Chapter 51 – Towards a Union of South Africa
Chapter 52 – Flagging Satyagraha
Chapter 53 – London
Chapter 54 – Henry Polak in India
Chapter 55 – Hind Swaraj: Collision of Cultures
Chapter 56 – Gandhi Returns
Chapter 57 – Indentured Labour for Natal
Chapter 58 – The Transvaal Satyagraha
Chapter 59 – Self-Restraint
Chapter 60 – The Travails of Satyagraha
Chapter 61 – The Parting of Ways: Harilal
Chapter 62 – Life on Tolstoy Farm 
Chapter 63 – Satyagrahis
Chapter 64 – Gokhale’s Visit
Chapter 65 – Return to Phoenix
Chapter 66 – Betrayal
Chapter 67 – Crisis at Phoenix
Chapter 68 – Death of Rev. Joseph Doke: Declaration of Passive Resistance
Chapter 69 – The Scene
Chapter 70 – Negotiations and the ‘Final Settlement’
Chapter 71 – Farewell Meetings
Chapter 72 – Gandhi, the Africans and the British
Chapter 73 – Ahi?sa, Satya and Brahmacarya
Chapter 74 – Steps to Sainthood: Uneasy Birth of a Mahatma
Chapter 75 – Postscript: Relevance of Gandhi
Glossary of Indian Words
Select Bibliography