Excursions Of A Bibliophile

What are u reading these days?

Bahuroope Gandhi – Anu Bandhopadhyaya

Posted by Vish Mangalapalli on January 31, 2011

In jail he prepared for me a pair of sandals. I have worn them for many a summer, though I feel that I am not worthy to stand in the shoes of so great a man – General Smutts about Gandhiji

Gandhiji will remain as one of the most enigmatic figures of 20th century. It is said of him that he was difficult to ignore when he was alive and difficult to follow after he has gone. Whatever people may say about him either in full awareness or ignorance, my view is that he is still relevant to me and there is an enoromous lot in him that is admirable and worth imbibing for my own overall well-being. With this view in mind, I started to survey the literature on Gandhiji. An interesting challenge that one encounters when one sets oneself on a reading treck of this nature is that the body of work around Gandhiji (Gandhiana) is large. If one were to add the prolific personal output of Gandhiji to this, one starts to realise that the expansiveness of this body of work can get bewildering. Starting with his lucid “My experiments with truth” or the many seminally wonderful biographies viz: Louis Fischer’s biography  “The Life of Mahatma Gandhi“, Rajmohan Gandhi’s Mohandas: A True Story of a Man, His People and an Empire“, “The Good Boatman” or D.G.Tendulkar’s Life of M.K.Gandhi“, the choices are many. Given my own dilemmas and reading predilections, I wanted to start this journey of knowing Gandhiji in a measured manner and was amply rewarded by reading of Anu Bandhopadhyaya’s “Bahuroope Gandhi“.

I am grateful to Vinod Gupta of www.vinodguptatoys.com for introducing this classic on Gandhiji to me

In certain facets of living, practice, discipline and ideas, Gandhiji personified excellence that is inspiring and aspirational. He had an uncanny ability to comprehend the root causes of many complex and large problems that faced India. His insights into economic bondage of India, the power of non-violence and civil disobedience were deep and at some level startling. One area where he was on target in identifying the root cause of the malady was the general Indian tendency to abhor human labour and portray it in derogatory terms. Gandhiji was extremely particular that he and his compatriots move away from this tendency. To be able to put this thought into practice Gandhiji, consciously embraced physical work and insisted that everyone working with him also embrace this attitude to work. Bahuroope Gandhi portrays this aspect of Gandhiji brilliantly. Written with a sense of reverence and uncommon lucidity the book focuses on various professions like Barrister, Tailor, Washerman, Barber, Scavenger, Cobbler, Servant, Cook, Doctor, Nurse, Teacher, Weaver, Spinner, Bania, Kisan, Auctioneer, Beggar, Looter, Jail Bird, General, Author, Journalist, Printer-Publisher, Fashion- Setter, Snake Charmer and Priest, that Gandhiji embraced effortlessly as part of his journey as a leader of India. Anu Bandhopadhyaya brings out something unique that Gandhiji brought to each of these roles. This portrayal of uniqueness left me not only startled but provoked me to examine my own beliefs towards manual labour. That I will not retain the same views about physical labour after reading this book is a given. However, in what form it will shape me going forward will remain to be seen. The American writer David Foster Wallace said that all good literature should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. In reference to my readership, Bahuroope Gandhi has definitely achieved this

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