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THE SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI > Vol. III - The Basic Works > UNTO THIS LAST > Translator's Note


Translator's Note

In a chapter in his Autobiography (Part IV, Chapter XVIII) entitled 'The Magic Spell of a Book' Gandhiji tells us how he read Ruskin's Unto This Last on the twenty-four hours' journey from Johannesburg to Durban. 'The train reached there in the evening. I could not get any sleep that night. I determined to change my life in accordance with the ideals of the book.... I translated it later into Gujarati, entitling it Sarvodaya.'

Sarvodaya is here re-translated into English, Ruskin's winged words being retained as far as possible.

At the end of that chapter Gandhiji gives us a summary of the teachings of Unto This Last as he understood it:

1.   The good of the individual is contained in the good of all.

2.   A lawyer's work has the same value as the barber's, as all have the same right of earning their livelihood from their work.

3.  A life of labour, i.e. the life of the tiller of the soil and the handicraftsman is the life worth living.

Nothing more need be said as regards the paraphrase of Ruskin's four chapters, but Gandhiji's conclusion (pp. 77-80), written as it was in South Africa long before he returned to India in 1915, is prophetic and fit to be treasured by India for all time to come. And the last paragraph of the booklet is a pearl beyond price.

V G. D.

2007, Bhadra vadi 5


[SECOND EDITION]

This is a reprint of the first edition except for a few verbal alterations suggested by my friend Shri Verrier Elwin who was good enough to go through the translation at my request.

V G. D.

Vasantapanchami, 2012