This was one of the first books published by the Oxford University Press, in 1932, and, as a part of its centenary year and a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on the occasion of his 143rd birthday, OUP has reissued this book. Originally written in jail by Gandhi 80 years ago and edited by his close associate, secretary, freedom fighter and nationalist writer Mahadev Desai, this edition has been annotated by Lalitha Zachariah, a Bangalore-based Gandhian scholar.
The original is a concise version of Gandhi’s autobiography. This OUP reissue is complete with Sourav Chakravarthy’s line drawings. My Early Life is an account of a very formative period in Gandhi’s life between 1869 and 1914 and looks at his teenage aspirations, confessions, his pursuits in London as well as his austere choices in South Africa, all of which are a window into his transition from Mohandas to the Mahatma. Peppered with funny asides from Gandhi’s essays, this book has been designed especially keeping today’s young generation in mind. ”The idea is to make the book interesting for today’s boys and girls,” says Zachariah. The book throws light on the values that Gandhi held dear and Zachariah has tried to demystify the Mahatma and make him a more relatable figure for today’s reading public.
“Gandhi spoke about the value of self-cooking so that children could stand on their feet later in life. He urged children to use their own hands, and warned against smoking while also advocating vegetarianism,” she said.
Zachariah has also tried to break down abstract but important concepts connected intrinsically to Gandhi’s life. “Today’s generation might find the concept of Satyagraha an abstraction. But he was very humane and had a terrific sense of humour. I have tried to highlight what was funny in his life.”
An insight into his life, My Early Days tells you the story of Gandhi’s early marriage to Kasturba and the germination of his values and belief system. Also, while the original text ended with events of 1914, Zachariah has added quotations from the life of Gandhi in his later years in order to provide a deeper understanding and give more perspective to his earlier statements.
Bottomline: An attempt to demystify the Mahatma for today’s youngsters.
My Early Days: An Illustrated Story; Mahatma Gandhi; Oxford University Press, Rs. 295