His life, his message

The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems.

A sentiment, when evaluated against the backdrop of the problems that Gandhi did manage to solve, that only serves to inspire.

Today will see the release of My Life is My Message, the English translation of Narayan Desai’s epic four-volume biography in Gujarati, Maru Jivan Ej Mari Vani.

In writing this biography, Narayan Desai has drawn "from a wealth of sources—what Gandhi wrote in letters, books and newspapers, spoke in intimate conversations with his fellow “servant co-workers”, and in speeches and interviews, besides what those around him wrote and spoke about him". A Gandhijan who spent much of his childhood in Gandhi's ashrams- he is the son of Mahadev Desai, Gandhi's personal secretary- his biography reflects this unique and very personal relationship.

"Most biographies of Mahatma Gandhi tell the story of a great political leader who led India to freedom. But for Gandhi, his politics was a part of his spiritual quest. Swaraj meant self-rule and not merely political autonomy, and Gandhi’s struggles were meant to aid the quest for individual self-perfection. Everything he did—the Dandi march or his fasts for self-purification—was part of this struggle for self-realisation.

This English translation of Narayan Desai’s epic four-volume biography in Gujarati, Maru Jivan Ej Mari Vani—hailed as one of the finest insights into the life of Gandhi—brings alive Gandhi’s quest as one indivisible whole, in which “the political” is not outside the realm of “the spiritual”. My Life is My Message liberates the Gandhi story from the constraining tyranny of political discourse and gives centrestage to his “soulsearchings”. The struggle within and the struggle without, are both seen as aspects of the same reality—just as the inner journey of the self is depicted in its interaction with the life of the collective. What emerges is a full picture of Gandhi."

The translation is by Tridib Suhrud of the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Infomation and Communication Technology in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. In some ways an unlikely juxtaposition of names, and in some ways, very appropriate.

In four volumes, paperback. Rs 2990. ISBN: 9788125037064

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