Monday, June 27, 2016

Book Review : ‘My Letters ….M K Gandhi’

‘My Letters ….M K Gandhi’
Edited by Prof. Shrikant Prasoon
Publisher : Cedar Books / Pustak Mahal

The Book
‘My Letters’ is a collection of M K Gandhi’s letter to Motilal & Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhai Patel, M A Ali Jinnah, Lord Mountbatten,  Lord Wavell, Lord Irwin, Mira Ben, SC Bose, G D Birla, Tagore, Kasturba, Hitler and many more.

This book covers not only M K Gandhi’s objects and attitude towards different personalities but also his view on Ahimsa, Division, and Satyagraha etc. His letter writing method will guide you how to write an effective and modest letter to your hard critics and opponents.  All his letters are filtered and edited deliberately with the aroma of vocabulary as well.  If you go through these 240 pages, I bet you it will be worth than going for a political and social letter writing course.

The Content
Begins with the re-introduction of M K Gandhi, readers may be in awe to think about any introduction about Gandhiji’s life, his messages and his propaganda. But I vow you; it will give an apparent effect while you are going through this introduction and it will lead you to the splendid style of narration and discussion about the contemporary issues in his era.

You can see the pain of a freedom fighter in his letters to Vallabhai Patel, Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Sometimes it takes you to a different point of feeling. See his words to Mohammad Ali Jinnah “This is again not for publication but for your eyes. It is the cry of a friend, not of an opponent”  

Even though he is the seer of Truth, Non-violence & Ahimsa, his letters will illustrate how to tackle critics without hurting and deviating from the mainstream and ideology.

One of the interesting things noted in Gandhiji’s letters is his salutation to the addressee. He uses ‘Dear’, ‘Chi’, ‘Dear Friend’, ‘My Dear Friend’, ‘Bhai’, My Dear Sister’ etc.  When he writes to Viceroy, he used ‘Dear Friend’ and he also narrates the reason for his salutation in his first letters as well. The method of correspondence and techniques used are quite interesting. Gandhiji’s words are humble, strong and clear guide for modern politicians indeed. In a letter to Lord Irwin he has given the fact and matrix about the foreign (British) administration in India which is most expensive in the world by writing, “……Thus, you are getting (salary) much over five thousand times India’s average income.  The British Prime Minister is getting (salary) only ninety times Britain’s average income.  On bended knees I ask you to ponder over this phenomenon”

When you are pondering over the last pages, you can see how Gandhiji deals with his spouse Kasturba.  It is a mixed feeling of pain of separation and philosophies.  He wrote to her, “Gods ways are beyond our understanding.  He erased difference between birth and death in a matter of minutes.  Who was born and who is dead?  Whether human being s are born or die, His plays goes on”

In short, this collection of letters proves that letters are a strongest tool and it is still relevant in the epoch of internet, Smartphone and Social Medias. I recommend this collection of letters to school libraries because our little readers can benefit from this book.

The Criticism
It will be blasphemy if I attempt to criticize Gandhiji’s letters.  If I do, it will be sour grapes.  All these letters are properly melted, purified and shaped.

But, after reading ‘My Letter…’, I am bit interested to see the handwriting and photos of real letters. It could be a great feeling if publisher can include couple of his letter’s copy in this book and add photos of the personalities to whom Gandhiji has addressed. Shortly, couple of photos can make an imperative and candid feeling to readers so far.

In one point, my view is clashing with Gandhi’s philosophy on his letter to Jayaprakash Narayan (dated November 21, 1930 from Yervada Jail). JP’s wife Prabhadevi had stayed in Gandhiji’s Ashram during his studies. Even though I am obscure about the personal life of JP and Prabhadevi, I cannot digest Gandhiji’s advice to JP to observe Brahmacharya or find another wife.

The Consumer

The price of this book is INR 250/- which means it costs almost INR 1/- per page. As a consumer, I feel its worth to spent Rupees One per page of this hardcover version. Since we can use this as reference book, I do hope readers cannot repent on this spend.