BOOKS REVIEWS > Hind Swaraj and Other Writings


HIND SWARAJ AND OTHER WRITINGS  : M. K. Gandhi, Edited by Anthony J. Parel (University of Calgary, Canada)


Published by : Cambridge University Press India Pvt. Ltd., Cambridge House, New Delhi, India.


Pages : 201


Price : INR 295/-



About the Book:

Just as it is in Bible’s Gospel chapters that we find Jesus announcing his messianic mission, so it is in Hind Swaraj that we find Gandhi first announcing his own life-mission.

Hind Swaraj, besides being a dialogue on Swaraj, is also an intensely ‘spiritual’ and ‘practical’ book, one that teaches that there is a link between inner life and outer achievement, that individual and national regeneration constitute one continuum. Anthony Parel’s 62 page introduction sets the work in its historical and intellectual contexts. ‘Hind Swaraj’ is the seed from which the tree of Gandhian thought has grown to its full stature. For those interested in Gandhi’s thoughts it is the right place to start, for it is here that he presents his basic ideas in their proper relationship to one another.

The book is divided into twenty short chapters. Eleven of these deal with historical reflections, while the rest deal with philosophical ones. The historical reflections begin with an assessment of the contributions of the Indian National Congress towards the rise of Indian nationalism [chap.1]. The partition of Bengal had caused much excitement which required it to be directed through non-violent channels [chap.2, 3].

There follows an analysis of the causes and the consequences of British rule in India [chap.7 to 12]. Philosophical reflections begin with a preliminary statement on the nature of Swaraj [chap.4], followed by revised a statement [chap. 14]. A similar two step examination of the nature of civilization follows [chap.6 &7]. With chapters 16 and 17 we reach the high point of the book, the futility of violent revolutions and the need to use ethically sound means (Satyagraha) to attain independence. Additional means of attaining independence, educational reforms [chap.18] and a technology appropriate to India’s needs [chap.19] are discussed. Chapter 20 makes a series of practical proposals to the moderates, the extremists, the new middle class and the English.

This book is Gandhi’s fundamental work, and a key to the understanding of his thoughts, and South Asian politics in the twentieth century. It also includes Gandhi’s correspondence with Tolstoy, Nehru and others. The key to an understanding of Hind Swaraj lies in the idea that worldly pursuits should give way to ethical living. This way of life has no room for violence in any form against any human being, irrespective of caste or colour. Hind Swaraj is a very basic document of the study of Gandhi’s thoughts.