26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2011
From front to back cover, this book cannot help but draw you in. Pick it up and simply flip through it: with even more photographs than before - all of them digitally restored - you'll see Gandhiji walking and laughing in the pages. And the detailed chronology with map and notes make this a useful reference for anyone - young and old - trying to understand the historical stage on which he lived.
Easwaran's introduction (not in the previous edition) brings to light his deep desire to understand Gandhiji's mesmerizing effect on Easwaran himself as well as the circle in which he lived. His quest to discover the underlying cause prompted a visit to Gandhi's ashram so that he could spend time with the Mahatma, and understand the deep inner transformation that Gandhiji underwent - to the end of his life - so that his every action was consistent with his deepest beliefs.
I love Easwaran's ability to unlock historical events by illustrating, for example, how by conserving his anger at injustice and harnessing it instead through "the fierce discipline of satyagraha", Gandhiji became an instrument for the welfare of both British and Indians alike. Ultimately, as we see here, Gandhi's actions are far from "political"; instead, they are driven by a deeper understanding of the unity of life. There is no book on Gandhi that captivates my heart as much as this one, or shows me how to become even a small part like him, through my own inner transformation.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2011
When I was in high school and college I read about Gandhi, and thought I understood who he was, and what he did; he liberated India. This book is my first understanding of how little I knew. Yes, he did liberate India but the path to having the force and the power to do that against the might of the British Empire is an amazing story. In this book I find that his own personal transformation was necessary, to get himself out the way, to get his ego out out of the way; appropriately, Gandhi called it reducing himself to zero. We think of warriors training themselves for battle and all the disciplines they must endure. Here, we find that Gandhi had the same training and disciplines to endure to make this transformation. And he had a training manual to follow: the Bhagavad Gita.
A splendid bonus in this book is the chronology of Gandhi's life to allow one to follow the events being discussed. And another splendid bonus is the afterward by Timothy Flinders, which allowed me to finally get a grasp, an understanding of satyagraha and ahimsa, the twin pillars that Gandhi used in his life and in his struggle to free the people of India. Students everywhere need this book to see how truth, love and non violence are melded into powerful, powerful forces. And these forces are available to us today "if we choose to make the same effort."
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2011
This beautiful little book from Nilgiri Press, with its attractive cover and myriad photos, belies its simple but revelatory title. It goes behind the political persona of the Gandhi we all know so well to reveal the power that produced his political genius: his unshakable faith in and devotion to the spiritual ideals contained in India's ancient text, the Bhagavad Gita, which he called his "mother" and upon which he meditated daily. Few Gandhi biographers, it seems to me, have pointed this out. In fact, I was happy to find actually the passage from the Gita that influenced him most on pages 146-7 of this 200-page gem of a book. A professor of language for many years, I feel it would make a superb classroom text.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2011
I'm currently in the middle of his grandson's biography of the Mahatma ("Gandhi: The Man, His People, and the Empire"). As a "break" from this huge tome, Easwaran's little book seemed perfect. And what a wonderful interlude it provided! Whereas Rajmohan's book is an encyclopedia of the great man's life, Eknath Easwaran's distills the essence of Gandhi down to a fine jewel that motivates and inspires. Easily read in a day and chock full of gorgeous, meticulously rendered pictures and quotes that add immensely to its appeal, "Gandhi the Man" shows how each of us, regardless of our talent and ability, can make a difference. What a perfect message for our times! As Gandhi himself tells us, in a quote that opens the book, "I have not the shadow of a doubt that any man or woman can achieve what I have, if he or she would make the same effort and cultivate the same hope and faith." Easwaran then proceeds to paint a portrait of Gandhi as an ordinary man who achieved his transformation through the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita - his prescription for living, to which he turned for guidance in every difficulty. Huston Smith's comment on the back cover reads "This book belongs in every public library in the English-speaking world." I agree, and would add to that every classroom as well. Teachers could give their students no greater gift!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2011
I knew little of Gandhi before reading Ekanath Easwaran's account of Gandhi's life. It is like sitting with a great storyteller. As Easwaran tells one story after another, we see Gandhi transform himself from a man with everyday aspirations to one whose goal in life is to love and serve others. Through this love, he finds himself on the world stage.
One particularly telling episode recounts Gandhi visiting villages to calm the pervading conflict between Hindus and Muslims in India. In one village a man steps out of the crowd and begins to choke Gandhi. Gandhi's deep inner reliance on love and nonviolence keep him from even trying to protect himself. The man falls to his knees weeping.
The last chapter is quite compelling as it describes Gandhi's small everyday acts of love, kindness and self-discipline that can inspire any one of us to bring peace to our family, our immediate circle of friends, and our community.
The many photos, maps and chronology add a lot to this really wonderful book.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2011
This is an extraordinary book. Not only because Gandhi is one of the most extraordinary figures in recent history but because this book gets at the basis for the remarkable way he conducted his life - first and foremost as a person of deep faith and compassion. Easwaran has drawn on Gandhi's wide-ranging writings to show how his spiritual and political philosophy developed between 1893 when he first traveled to South Africa and his assassination in 1948. There are marvelous vignettes throughout book about the effect Gandhi had on supporters and foes alike. One such poignant relationship was the one he shared with Abdul Ghaffar Khan who came to be called "the frontier Gandhi". In a sharp counterpoint to today's Afghanistan, Abdul Ghaffar Khan created a non-violent force of a 100,000 Pathans who voluntarily laid down their arms and devoted themselves to non-violent resistance in the North West Frontier of British India. This latest edition is filled with digitally restored photos, which bring the characters vividly to life. There is also a useful chronology of Gandhi's life and times pp. 173-185, which will please history buffs and students.
Gandhi the Man: How One Man Changed Himself to Change the World
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2011
Gandhi The Man is an extraordinary book on a great soul that enables a common man like me to understand the transformation of M. K. Gandhi. Growing up in independent India I looked upon Gandhiji as a political figure, the father of the nation (India) but he was always someone up on a pedestal. Sri Eknath Easwaran tells us how the shy and tongue tied barrister(M. K Gandhi) became a Mahatma (great soul). This book makes Mahatma Gandhi accessible and inspiring to an average person like myself. It gives us a high ideal (Gandhi) and also tells us how he got there. This book has outstanding quotes and pictures of Gandhi and shows us how Gandhiji was able to overcome his limitations to become a great soul. I particularly enjoyed the chronology with maps and notes and also noticed many delightful new photos in this new edition. This book gives me the feeling of meeting Gandhiji in person. I treasure it and highly recommend it to all. It is a source of immense comfort and inspiration to me like all other books by Sri Eknath Easwaran.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2011
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Many organizations today are seeking to discover how best we can live that message. In this captivating portrayal of Gandhi the Man: How one man changed himself to change the world, Eknath Easwaran gives us the keys. He tells us how Gandhi began his life as a shy, awkward boy, not academically brilliant and yet through the careful spiritual process of reducing his selfish inclinations, he emerged a potent force for bringing sovereignty to India and peace to the world. Throughout this delightfully written book, Eknath Easwaran sprinkles gems like, "Gandhi made himself the force of nonviolence. He is a force which cannot die, which awakens again when a person or a community or a nation turns to non-violence with all its strength and all its will." This declaration of truth makes me want to reduce my own selfishness and find the inner strength to draw upon to live more in harmony. The beautiful photos slowed me down to absorb the greatness of this man, Gandhi. On page 157, Gandhi is photographed with a baby; they are nose to nose with baby absorbing the gentleness of a man who lived his peace with every gesture. This jewel of a book is well organized with photos, chronology, maps, charts and a remarkable rendering of Gandhi's life. In the Afterword written by Tim Flinders, I garnered more understanding about non-violence, Gandhi's great gift and strength. We are shown how to apply the practices of Satyagraha and Ahimsa to our lives. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to make a difference in the world.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2011
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I've read the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi and have learnt a lot about him growing up in India. In spite of all my knowledge on him, I find this book an interesting read for it provides an insight into his personal advancement from a struggling lawyer to the Father of a Nation. It was inspiring to learn how he overcame each shortcoming and tried to live his life with honesty, integrity and transparency until his death. My only complaint with the book is that it is a bit short. It was a quick read. But, the content was good.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 29, 2012
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is considered the greatest man of his age, and his influence has been far reaching in many realms. In "Gandhi the Man; How One Man Changed Himself to Change the World," Eknath Easwaran ponders the question of how a seemingly ordinary person managed to transform himself and become such a powerful person that he influenced millions of people, changed politics, and made friends out of enemies.
This book, originally published in 1972, has just been reissued in a new edition printed on highquality paper. It includes a new introduction by Eknath Easwaran that has been compiled from transcripts, 70 digitally restored photographs from the GhandhiServe Foundation archive, and a new detailed chronology of Gandhi's life and times with maps and background notes. There is also an Afterword entitled "How Nonviolence Works" by Timothy Flinders that serviceoriented people will find of practical interest in their own work.
The author, born in 1910, grew up in India during the years when Gandhi was just beginning to make his impact in South Africa and India through his program of nonviolent resistance (satyagraha). Easwaran studied to become a teacher and was the head of the English Department at the University of Nagpur. In 1959 he moved to the United States and founded the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation in 1961. As a deeply spiritual person, the author has written many books on spiritual topics such as meditation, the Bhagavad Gita and the Katha Upanishad. This book is a testament to Gandhi's vivid impact on Easwaran's life and the inspiration of his own spiritual evolution.
Easwaran's writing easily holds the reader's interest as he details important milestones and influences in Gandhi's life, such as his early years of repeated failure in school and in his attempts to establish a career - first in India, then in South Africa. It was while Gandhi was in South Africa that he realized the futility of his fruitless attempts to change his outer circumstances, and thus he discovered the path of transforming his life by changing his inner circumstances. He learned to look on every difficulty as an opportunity for selfless service rather than as a way to gain personal profit or recognition. With each personal challenge he learned to draw on previously unrealized resources of intelligence and imagination, and each success led to further selfless service on ever-larger scales of endeavor.
Gandhi gave his secret of life in three words: "Renounce and enjoy." He said that the Bhagavad Gita, the most important book in his life, is a commentary on these three words. The author posits, "If we can understand the Bhagavad Gita as a manual for daily living, we can understand Gandhi." In particular, Gandhi has said that the last 18 verses of the Second Chapter of the Gita "give in a nutshell the secret of the art of living." Easwaran likened Gandhi to "an immense spiritual force barely contained in a physical form." And when this force was released, via an act of will and through the fusion of his emotional desires with his physical drive and mental intelligence, it became a force that would never die and that "awakens again wherever a person or a community or a nation turns to nonviolence with all its strength and all its will."
Gandhi the Man is an inspirational read for everyone who is attempting to transform their lives, to discover and empower their unique avenue of service. It reaffirms the fact that one person can make a difference in the world, no matter their circumstances.