The 30 week project - week 3
Week 3 of The 30 Week Project beckons, and it is this week that will test my resolve for the first time for I am totally inundated with work. Nevertheless, I will try to stick to it, and hopefully will be successful.
Week 3 started on October 2nd, the birthday of one of the most well known Indians. So I decided it would be the right time to get to a book that has been on my list for some time now. The book is "Gandhi An Autobiography - The story of my experiments with truth".
I have read parts of this book in Hindi a few years ago. Since then I've wanted to give it a complete reading but something or the other kept popping up. But now the stars have aligned in the form of my 30 week project, and my wife randomly buying this book, so I shall make full use of it.
I went through the first few chapters this morning on the way to office and what stuck out for me from the introduction were the bits where he asks the readers to not take like/hate any idea because he does so, but to go through his own experiments and form his own conclusions.
When a friend asks him, before he has started writing this work,
"What has set you on this adventure? ...Supposing you reject tomorrow the things you hold as principles today, or supposing you revise in the future your plans of today, is it not likely that the men who shape their conduct on the authority of your of your word, spoken or written, may be misled? Don’t you think it would be better not to write anything like an autobiography, at any rate just yet?"
Gandhi's answer is to state that his attempt is to give an account of his experiments with truth, which is what his life consists of. Though he stands by his convictions at the time, he does not consider them as the final word and does not want anyone else to do so too,
"...I am far from claiming any finality or infallibility about my conclusions. One claim I do indeed make and it is this. For me they appear to be absolutely correct, and seem for the time being to be final. For if they were not, I should base no action on them. But at every step I have carried out the process of acceptance or rejection and acted accordingly. And so long as my acts satisfy my reason and my heart, I must firmly adhere to my original conclusions."
When concluding the introduction, he says that
"I hope and pray that no one will regard the advice interspersed in the following chapters as authoritative. The experiments narrated should be regarded as illustrations, in the light of which everyone may carry on his own experiments according to his own inclination and capacity."
These provide some food for thought to those who quote Gandhi when it is convenient for them to drive home a point, and to those who blame Gandhi's actions/views/values at every given chance. He wasn't a perfect man, no one is. Giving him the title of Mahatma in some way took away his right to have flaws and the chance to improve upon them like every other human being, though he still kept at it.