Archive for June 2009

My experiments with truth

One habit that I have always wanted to cultivate was reading books. I don’t know what is it that turns me off while reading books but I have always found it difficult to sit & read something.

Two weeks ago, dad & I went to a book store to get some books to gift few boys on their upanayana. There, my eyes fell on “An Autobiography or The Story of my Experiments with Truth”. I was surprised looking at the cost of the book, just 30 rupees. There, I thought of getting it. If it was some hundred or more rupees, I wouldn’t have bought it because there was no guarantee that I would read it. I wouldn’t mind wasting 30 rupees & see it lie on my table.

Last weekend, I finished Part 1 and Part 2 day before yesterday. I have reread a few chapters of Part 1 and this is something that I hadn’t thought that I would ever do. The book is interesting, the interest being brought by the experiences told truthfully. There are so many aspects of Gandhi’s life that  I hadn’t known, there are so many ideas, experiences that we can learn from. There are few chapters that I felt should have been in the school syllabus.

Here are some of my observations from Part 1.

  • Though Gandhi was quite religious, he says “I literally believed in the story of Harishchandra. The thought of it all often made me weep. My commonsense tells me today that Harishchandra could not have been a historical character. ” (*)
  • Gandhi talks openly about the mistakes he committed, as a teenager, as a husband.
  • Major portion of the part has been dedicated to dietary habits & how he stayed a Vegetarian in England. He also recommends long walks.
  • There are chapters where I could relate myself with Gandhi, those talking about the reluctance to do anything wrong or lying  and shyness.
  • This one paragraph, I found interesting, probably because of my ‘ascetic’-interests.

I must say a word about the Eiffel Tower. I do not know what purpose it serves today. But I then heard it greatly disparaged as well as praised. I remember that Tolstoy was the chief among those who disparaged it. He said that the Eiffel Tower was a monument of man’s folly, not of his wisdom. Tobacco, he argued, was the worst of all intoxicants, inasmuch as a man addicted to it was tempted to commit crimes which a drunkard never dared to do; liquor made a man mad, but tobacco clouded his intellect and made him build castles in the air. The Eiffel Tower was one of the creations of a man under such influence. There is no art about the Eiffel Tower. In no way can it be said to have contributed to the real beauty of the Exhibition. Men flocked to see it and ascended it as it was a novelty and of unique dimensions. It was the toy of the Exhibition. So long as we are children we are attracted by toys, and the Tower was a good demonstration of the fact that we are all children attracted by trinkets. That may be claimed to be the purpose served by the Eiffel Tower. (*)

Have to say this, I’m quite impressed by the book. The subsidy on the book by Navajivan Trust has very well served it’s purpose!