An Autobiography Book Summary - An Autobiography Book explained in key points
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An Autobiography summary

M. K. Gandhi

The Story of My Experiments with Truth

4.3 (69 ratings)
29 mins
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    An Autobiography
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    Born into the merchant caste in Porbandar, India, Gandhi was wed in a child marriage at age 13.

    If you’re familiar with world history and how nations become independent, you know that the process can often be a violent affair. Yet India was able to gain its independence from Britain, and this remarkable feat has a lot to do with the nonviolent beliefs of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the man who led that fight for independence.

    As an adult, Gandhi’s beliefs, practices and accomplishments changed the world, but his upbringing was quite humble.

    Gandhi was born in India on October 2, 1869, the youngest child of Karamchand Gandhi, his father, and Putlibai, his mother. His family belonged to the Modh Bania, a class of Hindu merchants, and lived in the harbor town of Porbandar, on the Kathiawar peninsula, in the western state of Gujarat.

    Gandhi’s father was commonly known by the nickname “Kaba,” and he worked as a diwan, or chief minister, of two other Gujarati cities, Vankaner and Rajkot, where Gandhi spent much of his childhood. Kaba didn’t have any formal education, but he did have plenty of life experience, as well as an honest and incorruptible value system that proved to be quite influential with his son.

    Gandhi’s mother, Putlibai, also left a lasting impression, thanks to her devotion to Hinduism and determination to stay well-informed on current affairs. Gandhi was also raised to be tolerant and inclusive toward others, as the family’s friends were numerous and diverse, and included Muslims, Jains and Parsis.

    In school, Gandhi was an average student at best, but he did display an early talent for understanding morality.

    In particular, he admired the honorable characters from the plays that were read in class, such as Shravana Pitribhakti Nataka. In this enduring folktale, the protagonist’s devotion to his blind parents is so strong that he carries them on his shoulders.

    Gandhi also adopted an important guiding principle early on in life in the form of a saying passed down from the Gujarati community – if one receives evil from a person, one should respond with goodness.

    Certainly, Gandhi’s morality and sense of honor seem already to have been in place when his teacher tried to persuade him to copy his classmates’ work during a spelling test that was being given by an inspector. Young Gandhi simply couldn’t understand what the teacher was asking of him.

    It was only a few years later, as a 13-year-old, that Gandhi would be wed. Since such wedding ceremonies were quite expensive, the event also included the marriages of one of his brothers and a cousin.

    At the time, Gandhi was quite excited about getting married, but as an adult, he was a vocal critic of the practice of child marriage.

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    What is An Autobiography about?

    An Autobiography (First published in two volumes; Volume 1, 1927, and Volume 2, 1929) is the autobiography of one of the world’s most famous political icons – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The book traverses his rebellious childhood, his early activism in South Africa and his work for the Indian Independence Movement up until 1920, and gives insight into Gandhi’s personal philosophy and his lifelong quest for Truth.

    Best quote from An Autobiography

    But all my life though, the very insistence on truth has taught me to appreciate the beauty of compromise.

    —M. K. Gandhi
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    Who should read An Autobiography?

    • Anyone interested in Gandhi’s life and personal philosophy
    • Students of history and political science
    • People cultivating leadership skills

    About the Author

    Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Oct 2, 1869-Jan 30, 1948) was an early twentieth-century Indian activist. After working to improve Indian immigrant rights in South Africa, Gandhi returned to India in 1915 to lead the Indian Independence Movement against British rule with his unwavering belief in nonviolent protest until he was assassinated in 1948 during his evening prayers.

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