Pannalal Dasgupta (aka Panna Babu) wrote the Bengali original of this outstanding, insightful book on Gandhi in 1954-55, when imprisoned in the Alipore Central Jail. An indomitable revolutionary himself, he realised that Gandhi was indeed an extraordinary revolutionary who sought a radical change in the human condition, which could not be brought about without causing a ferment in society.
Gandhi was a dreamer, but also a man of action par excellence. His revolution was unique
in that it had to be non-violent, and had, at every step, to be tested on ‘the touchstone of truth’. “Truth is God,” he
declared. His enquiry pervaded all fields of life: food, agriculture, education, health, society, man-woman relationship,
cottage industry, uplift of the downtrodden, religion, politics, struggle, and above all, human freedom.
The book delves deep into Gandhiji’s personality to understand his spiritual quest, which he insisted was an intrinsic part of his political activity. In
a strikingly original chapter, Panna Babu examines Gandhi’s views in the light of Marxism, and Marxian thought and action
from the Gandhian perspective. He regrets that the Indian leftists failed to recognize Gandhi as a true revolutionary and an incomparable leader of the Indian masses. That was a historical blunder.
Entire chapters are devoted to Gandhiji’s relationship with Rabindranath Tagore, and with Subhas Bose; as also to his views on Hindu-Muslim unity,
constructive programme, economics and ethics, and trusteeship.
In the end, the issue of Gandhism – and whether there is something as Gandhism – is incisively discussed, including the relevance of Gandhi in modern times.
Doubtless, he raised many fundamental questions to which no ideology or ‘ism’ has yet been able to furnish a satisfactory answer.