All that is unique about Gandhiji is his continuous experiments in his life where he moved from inconsistencies towards perfection by being truthful to himself from time to time. His first experiment and most successful experiment, undoubtedly, was with himself and those experiments were written about by himself in his autobiography. All those who come in contact with Bapu including those, who were ranged against him, perceived that there is indeed something unique about him. In his autobiography, Gandhiji wrote in great detail about his childhood with all frankness.
A mediocre student
Born in a well -to- do and highly respected family. In school, he admitted truthfully, he was a middle ranked and mediocre pupil. He ate meat, despite coming from a strict vegetarian sect, tried smoking and stole a bit of gold from his brother to meet his pocket expenses. He gave up both because it affected him physically and morally. At one time, he tried to commit suicide because of his perception that he doesn’t enjoy freedom and can’t do anything without the permission of his parents and community but abandoned the idea realizing that it is not easy to commit suicide as contemplated. Once he visited home of prostitutes and sat near the woman on her bed, but the woman shouted at him to get away seeing his lack of confidence.
Defied the community leaders
Married at the age of 13, he had a huge urge for earthly pleasures and to exercise excessive authority over his wife. Later having realized the
glory of Brahmacharya, he started treating his wife as an equal partner in all joys and sorrows. After his father’s death, with the advice of friend of his father, Bapu decided to study law in England. An incident that fascinates us is when he went to England against the order of his community leaders, as no Modh Bania, the community to which he belonged, had been to England till then. He had the gumption to tell the community leader that he should not interfere in such matters. Bapu was unmoved by the threats that he would be treated as an outcast since he had his family’s permission to go for higher studies. Only after taking a vow not to touch wine, woman and meat, his mother agreed for his foreign visit. Bapu strictly adhered to his mother’s advice throughout his life.
No gap between preach and practice
Bapu allowed no gap between his resolutions and actions. His manner was gentle and courteous even when dealing with his adversaries with his resolute sincerity. Any departure from his beliefs, however minute or unimportant, are intolerable for Bapu. One of the core principles of Gandhian ideology is being truthful to oneself. “If I am true to myself from moment to moment, I do not mind all the inconsistencies that may fly in my face,” said Gandhi with firm commitment; so, life is not about being perfect, but moving away from imperfections through self-corrections as believed and practised by Gandhiji. Another aspect is the ability to confess our mistake for emancipation is his hallmark. That is pure Ahimsa. Gandhiji’s greatness was summed-up by a renowned writer Neeraj Choudhary, a bitter critic of mahatma, ‘man and masses became one’.
Dr. D. SREENIVASULU