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The Essential Gandhi: An Anthology of His Writings on His Life, Work, and Ideas Paperback – November 12, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (November 12, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400030501
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400030507
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.8 x 5.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Gandhi believed in revealing himself. He regarded secrecy as the enemy of freedom-not only the freedom of India but the freedom of man. He exposed even the innermost personal thoughts which individuals usually regard as private. In nearly a half-century of prolific writing, speaking, and subjecting his ideas to the test of actions, he painted a detailed self-portrait of his mind, heart, and soul.

"Gandhi was a unique person, a great person, perhaps the greatest figure of the last nineteen hundred years. And his words have been preserved as they came from his mouth and pen."

-- Louis Fischer

From the Inside Flap

Mohandas K. Gandhi, called Mahatma (?great soul?), was the father of modern India, but his influence has spread well beyond the subcontinent and is as important today as it was in the first part of the twentieth century and during this nation?s own civil rights movement. Taken from Gandhi?s writings throughout his life, The Essential Gandhi introduces us to his thoughts on politics, spirituality, poverty, suffering, love, non-violence, civil disobedience, and his own life. The pieces collected here, with explanatory head notes by Gandhi biographer Louis Fischer, offer the clearest, most thorough portrait of one of the greatest spiritual leaders the world has known.
?Gandhi was inevitable. If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. . . . We may ignore him at our own risk.? ?Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

With a new Preface drawn from the writings of Eknath Easwaran

In the annals of spirituality certain books stand out both for their historical importance and for their continued relevance. The Vintage Spiritual Classics series offers the greatest of these works in authoritative new editions, with specially commissioned essays by noted contemporary commentators. Filled with eloquence and fresh insight, encouragement and solace, Vintage Spiritual Classics are incomparable resources for all readers who seek a more substantive understanding of mankind's relation to the divine.

Customer Reviews

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A good overview of his life and philosophy.
James Roling
It is well organized and takes the most crucial parts of his writings and puts them in an order that is coherent and easy to read.
P. Barrett Coleman
This is the only book I have read about Gandhi and it was enough for me to get an overall idea about his personality.
Ayesha Riaz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Tony Theil on September 2, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gandhi's words have never been so pertinent as they are today. This is an anthology of his writings, edited by topic in chronological order. It's an autobiography revealing Gandhi's evolution from a fearful young man, afraid of the dark, to a fearless leader who feared no rebuke by an empire. More than an aesthete in a modern world, Gandhi's complexity is revealed in each passage as he penitently reveals his transformation into selfless service and living simply. His words and actions inspired others to follow without fear of retaliation and could guide today's leaders to a peaceful resolve. The book reads like a primer on non-violence.
Eknath Easwaran's 18 page Preface is worth the price of the 339 page paperbound book.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Zing Om on April 4, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before purchasing this book I had purchased quite a few of other Gandhi titles, but this book truely takes the cake.

It is so incredibly well organized, hits the essential notes about Gandhi the man, his spiritual and political gifts to the world.

Anytime i need a dose of inner strength and need to evoke a spirit of service in my self this very portable and handy book is the magic key
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Adam Clark on December 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is a collection of Gandhi's writings linked together by a biographer. The writings are taken from many different sources (including his autobiography) which I found produced a slightly disjointed reading experience.

I found his autobiography (called The Story of My Experiments with Truth) worked much better for me. In this book, which is written entirely in his own words, we join Gandhi on a journey of self-discovery as he relates experiences and learning lessons which were important during his life. His mission was to seek truth, which he achieved through conducting experiments on himself and then appraising the results.

Gandhi was one who never followed the crowd. He felt they didn't know where they were going. He preferred to trust his own judgement and soul, rather than blindly following other people or their beliefs. This did not mean he rejected all commonly held beliefs but he always cross-examined them fully before finally accepting them. He urges us not to follow him, rather to seek the truth for ourselves through our own experimentations. After all seeing is believing.

He found that uncovering the truth was not always popular as many people are resistant to change, preferring instead to maintain the existing status quo either because of inertia, self-interest or misguided beliefs. However once the truth is on the march nothing can stop it. All it takes is time to achieve traction and gain momentum. As Gandhi says "The truth is far more powerful than any weapon of mass destruction".

His autobiography confirms to us that the most important battle to fight is in overcoming one's own demons, fears and insecurities. It is all too easy to blame people, governing powers or enemies for our actions and wellbeing.
Read more ›
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By M. Riley on April 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
The format of this book is a little unusual, it's basically an abridged version of Gandhi's writings, supplimented with editorial comments which set the scene for when and where his statements are coming from. If you're not entirely familiar with Gandhi's life or some of the basic aspects of Indian culture at the time, these editorial comments are very helpful. For example, just before some statements about Gandhi's use of the Gita (around page 160) the editor gives a brief summary of the what the Gita is.

Moving on from the basic format, I found this book very enlightening, and not in the way that other reviewers seem to have. I doubt very much that I'm in a position to change anyone's opinion on him, but I ask that if you buy this book, look closely at the ways in which Gandhi supports his claims. Oftentimes he makes grand statements and then leaves them in the air, unsupported. This is not in an of itself a bad thing, as sometimes the truth value of a statement is obvious to the casual observer, but then again sometimes it is not.

Gandhi was certainly a great leader, but I think it's stretching to call him a great philosopher. His ideas were not new, even if the grand-scale application of them was. He seeks truth but seems largely unconcerned with methodology, which undermines the grand statements he makes.

If you do read this book critically, it may help to keep in mind persuasive techniques, even beginner things like appealing to authority. Watch for strange analogies, as in page 168's equating atoms to people and Love to hydrogen/ionic/covalent bonds.

It probably seems a little weird to hear someone object to the methodology of someone like Gandhi, but these days we have to be aware of the methods by which the people around us seem convincing, whether we like what they're saying or not.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By H. B. Grant on March 10, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Disappointed that Gandhi's writing was lumped together by topic selected by the editor, rather than by chronology, so you can't really see how his thought developed over time. Still a good selection.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. Scanlon VINE VOICE on November 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
but why not get the originals instead, avaiable here cheaply on amazon.

This book draws from a number of original sources, including "My Experiments with Truth", etc., and you may choose to skip these excerpts and get the full writings. The more in this case the better.

Yet please take a moment to view the back cover using amazon's remarkable "Search Inside" feature, to read the quote about Gandhi's inevitability written by our nation's greatest Christian preacher, the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., slain for doing and preaching non-violence, including opposing profitable warmongering and warmaking that only killed and wounded his and other peoples of color. King learned much about Christianity from Gandhi, and we can do no less. Lucky if we do as well.

Again, please search the mighty amazon for all of Gandhi's orignal works and read them in their entirety,and not only these excerpts collected originally long ago. (In fact one chapter heading, not quoting Gandhi, refers to Negros, a term which fell out of use some forty years ago).

I in particular now study with gratitude his Tous les hommes sont freres, whose topics are tellingly urgent today. His Way to God is also very very helpful and consoling.

But if you need a fine introductory text, begin here if you promise not to rest here. Vintage Spiritual Classics series are a decent popular source, but not the deep river that runs nearby. It is a division of Random House here recycling and reprinting old works still in the catalogue in new wineskins.

Go to the originals! These are the leaders and voices we most sorely need today: Dr. King and Gandhi. Or just read the Reverend Father John Dear, SJ, and you'll get the idea if not the Spirit. Or better yet, get Father Dear's collection of Gandhi's writings instead, from Orbis Books' Modern Spiritual Masters series entitled, Mohandas Gandhi: Essential Writings.
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