Today is Mahatma Gandhi’s 139th birthday. He was shot dead by a Hindu nationalist at a prayer meeting in New Delhi on January 30, 1948, at the age of 78, only five months after India’s independence — for trying to protect the Muslims during the communal riots that followed the partition of India and Pakistan.
India is marking his birth anniversary with a public smoking ban, of all things, across the country, reports The Times. Gandhi would have approved, it adds. But smokers are bound to defy the ban. That’s the usual lot of a mahatma or a saint – to be revered and ignored. And do we really want to follow Gandhi’s example in everything? It leads to all kinds of quirks — from marital celibacy to enemas! Still, with love and admiration for one of the greatest men who ever lived, here are some excerpts from An Autobiography Or My Experiments With Truth by Mohandas K Gandhi, published in two volumes in 1927 and 1929. (Read the book online, courtesy of Wikisource).
On his school days:
I passed my childhood in Porbandar. I recollect having been put to school. It was with some difficulty that I got through the multiplication tables. The fact that I recollect nothing more of those days than having learnt, in company with other boys, to call our teacher all kinds of names, would strongly suggest that my intellect must have been sluggish, and my memory raw.
On his wife:
I must say I was passionately fond of her. Even at school I used to think of her, and the thought of nightfall and our subsequent meeting was ever haunting me. Separation was unbearable. I used to keep her awake till late in the night with my idle talk…
I have already said that Kasturbai was illiterate. I was very anxious to teach her, but lustful love left me no time.