Political Theory PS10
22 November 2010
Mohandas K. Gandhi:
The Story of My Experiments with Truth
“Truth is like a vast tree, which yields more and more fruit, the more you nurture it. The deeper the search in the mine of truth the richer the discovery of gems buried there, in the shape of openings for an ever greater variety of service” (Gandhi 191). Mohandas K. Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, and ever since that day has dedicated his life to the search for truth. During this quest, he became a leader of the Indian Nationalist Movement against British rule and to this day remains a highly influential figure in political activism and social progress. In his autobiography The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Gandhi shares stories of his triumphs and falls while trying to free India from British rule, all the while trying to stay true to his vows to his mother and to himself. The point that shows through brightly in Gandhi’s autobiography is that his values and morals about life coincide with his political philosophy.
Gandhi’s main view on business and politics is the strictness to truth. He explains this well when he states:
“Business, they say, is a very practical affair, and truth a matter of religion; and they argue that practical affairs are one thing, while religion is quite another. Pure truth, they hold, is out of the question in business, one can speak it only so far as is suitable. I strongly contested the position in my speech and awakened the merchants to a sense of their duty, which was two-fold. Their responsibility to be truthful was all the greater in a foreign land, because the conduct of a few Indians was the measure of that of the millions of their fellow-countrymen” (109). Gandhi’s devotion to truth begins as far back as his high school days. During a spelling examination Gandhi has trouble spelling the word “kettle”. Seeing this the teacher tries to prompt Gandhi with the point of his boot to copy his neighbors answer, with which Gandhi does not respond cooperatively and was the only one in the class to misspell the word. He explains, “I never could learn the art of ‘copying’”(4). His devotion to truth only is strengthened as he matures eventually he states that he is a, “Worshiper of Truth”(6) and that, “The passion for truth was innate in me”(9). Gandhi shows an admiration for truth that runs deep in his blood. Most likely he obtained this ideology from the devotion his mother held within her. He explains of the impact of his mother while stating, “The outstanding impression my mother has left on my memory is that of saintliness. She was deeply religious. She would not think of taking her meals without her daily prayers”(2). Clearly Gandhi received his committed, religious mindset from his mother; the exception was that Gandhi’s religion was his search for ultimate truth.
To begin his odyssey Gandhi travels to London for training to become a barrister. The profession of barrister comes with the reputation of being filled with lies and trickery, which one might say disputes the purpose of Gandhi’s existence. However, Gandhi does not believe this is so explaining, “As a student I had heard that the lawyer’s profession was a liar’s profession. But this did not influence me, as I had no intention of earning either position or money by lying”(324). Gandhi’s pure heart could not be tainted by even the most corrupted of professions. After school he returned to India in 1891 and in 1893 accepted a job at an Indian law firm in Durban, South Africa. Gandhi was appalled by the treatment of Indian immigrants there, and joined the struggle to obtain basic rights for them. Gandhi’s determination to honesty and truth combined with his uprising political stance granted him great respect in the political community. He realizes this when he states, “I also saw that my devotion to truth enhanced my reputation amongst the members of the profession, and in spite of...