My Early Life (An Illustrated Story)

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Item Code: NAG014
Author: Mahadev Desai
Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2012
ISBN: 9780198083795
Pages: 166 (Through out B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 10 inch X 7.5 inch
Weight 320 gm
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Shipped to 153 countries
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More than 1M+ customers worldwide
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100% Made in India
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23 years in business

About the Book

My Early Life: An Illustrated Story covers the formative years (1869-1914) of Gandhi's life: from early childhood, schooldays, and teenage desires and confessions to the trip to England and struggle thereafter as a young attorney to the austere life in South Africa. This illustrated edition includes contextual notes and evocative line drawings to complement the narrative. A flesh-and-blood story of an inspirational journey-from 'Mohandas to Mahatma'-this book will capture the imagination of children, young adults, and those keen on knowing about Gandhi's early life.

About the Author

Mahadev Desai (1892-1942), a freedom fighter and nationalist writer, was personal secretary to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Associated with him form the year 1917 to 1942, Mahadev, came to known not only as a devoted disciple but an outstanding interpreter of the mind of Mohandas. His works include translations from Tagore, twenty diaries, ten books, and the translation of The Story of My Experiments with Truth into English, among others. He also contributed articles for young India, Navjivan and Harijanbandhu.

Publisher's Note

Much of the text of this book has been taken word for word from the two volumes of The Story if My Experiments with Truth (Navjivan Press, Ahmedabad, 1925 and 1929) and from Sotyaqraha in South Africa (S. Ganesan, Madras, 1928). Arranged and edited by Shri Mahadev Desai (1892-1942), who also rewrote certain parts, in collaboration with Gandhiji (1869-1948), the book was first published in 1932 by Oxford University Press under the title My Early Life.

My Early Life: An Illustrated Story is a new and revised edition of the book conceived for the benefit of the young readers of today, who are distanced form the lifetime of Gandhiji by several decades. It seeks to reanimate the author's written words, with illustrations and quotations from The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (CMWG) interspersed in the text. These and the editorial annotation are in italics.


It was a happy thought of the Oxford University Press to arrange to publish an abridgment of Gandhiji's Autobiography for boys [children] in Indian schools. My help was sought, I being in touch with Gandhiji and being the translator of his Autobiography, in preparing the abridgment. I gladly consented. But I am not sure that the result does justice to the original, if only because the Autobiography, which is a model of condensation, nearly eludes condensation. But I ventured on the task thinking that there were some details and discussions of ethical and religious problems, in which young people may not be expected to be interested, and which might without detriment be omitted. Thus the narrative of the South African Satyagraha condensed from my friend Sjt. Valji Desai's translation of The History if Satyagraha in South Africa, omits intimate details of the South African Indians' problems and only retains episodes of permanent interest and perennial moral value.

It was thought desirable that the abridgment should end with the year 1914. There was perhaps some justification for it. At any rate the omission of the portion dealing with the period since 1914 does not materially alter, for the student at school, the value of the Autobiography. All that the reader, however young, has heard of Gandhiji in recent years will be found in germ in what has gone before. The search for and devotion to truth-truth not only meaning veracity, but truth which is synonymous with God and hence is intimately linked with Love or on-Injury-burns throughout the early period with a steady unflickering flame. The courage which one finds equal to grappling with mighty potentates and powers has its root in that sleepless devotion to truth which cannot be lived without love; the courage which thus becomes sacred and makes him, in Emerson's language, 'everywhere a liberator, but of a freedom that is ideal. free to speak truth, not free to lie' , free to serve, not free to exploit, free to sacrifice himself, but not free to kill or injure-that sacred courage will be found in an ample measure even in the period before 1914.

'I am not writing the Autobiography to please critics', says the author in the second volume. 'Writing it is itself one of the experiment with truth. One of its objects is certainly to provide some comfort and food for reflection for my co-workers.'

Let me add that 'co-workers' in this excerpt means not necessarily those who are labelled Satyaqrahis, but the circle embraces the whole confraternity which holds truth and non-violence sacred and who for the sake of them will forsake all. To my mind the youth are, or should be, naturally the first members of that confraternity. May this abridgment serve to whet their appetite to read the whole, in the original if possible.



Publisher's Note ix
Foreword xi
Childhood 1
At School 4
Marriage and Meat-eating 12
In the Wake of Evil Company 18
The Story of a Confession 22
A Double Shame 28
A Guiding Principle 31
The Triple Vow 33
First Experiences in England 36
The Vow that Protected 40
Affecting the English Gentleman 43
A Shilling and Threepence a Day 47
Saved from Temptation 51
Back Home as Barrister 54
I Go to South Africa 56
Servant of the Community 62
Rumblings of the Storm 65
Lynched 68
My Own Dhobi 75
A Recollection and a Penance 77
Boer War Experiences 80
To India and Back 84
The Magic Spell of a Book 89
The Phoenix Settlement 91
The Zulu 'Rebellion' 94
A Life Plunge 96
Some Reminiscences of the Bar 99
The Birth of Satyagraha 102
Imprisoned 106
First Jail Experiences 109
A Memorable Episode I 112
A Memorable Episode II 117
Satyagraha Resumed 119
Tolstoy Farm 122
The Women's Part I 127
The Women's Part II 131
The Labourers Join 135
The Great Trek I 141
The Great Trek II 144
The Triumph of Satyagraha 151

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