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FAQ 6: Gandhi's Basic Writings

Q

What about Gandhi's basic writings ?

  

A

You are right about the volume of literature on Gandhi. It is massive.
 
Although the first biography of Gandhi was published in 1909, the development of what has become known as "Gandhiana" began in earnest in the 1920s and simply has not stopped. The books published worldwide about Gandhi, his life and philosophy number, to my knowledge, in the many thousands. The number goes on increasing every year.

I presume the references you want relate to Gandhi in general rather than Gandhi’s humor. I am sure you are aware of Gandhi’s An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth, published by a number of publishers over many years. An autobiographical companion to this is Satyagraha in South Africa, also published over many years but in this case published mainly by the original publisher, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, the publishing house founded by Gandhi. You might also be aware of The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, published by the Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, New Delhi. If you do not know of this compilation, beware – it comprises 100 volumes. The first volume was published in 1958. Volume 100 was published in about 1994.

There are two multi-volume biographies of Gandhi which are both considered "bibles" by those in the field. One is the eight-volume Mahatma: Life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi by D.G. Tendulkar, originally published in sequence between 1951 and 1954 and published today by the Publications Division. The second is a 10-volume series started by Pyarelal (Gandhi’s chief secretary in his latter years) and completed by Pyarelal’s sister, Dr. Sushila Nayar (Gandhi’s personal physician in his latter years), after Pyarelal’s death in 1982. The works by Pyarelal are titled Mahatma Gandhi : The Early Phase, (Vol. I), Mahatma Gandhi : The Discovery of Satyagraha – On the Threshold, (Vol. II), Maharma Gandhi : The Birth of Satyagraha, (Vol. III), Maharma Gandhi: The Last Phase, (Vol. IX), and Maharma Gandhi : The Last Phase (Vol. X). These latter two volumes have been published both as one book and as two books. The titles by Dr. Sushila Nayar are Maharma Gandhi : Satyagraha at Work, (Vol. IV), Maharma Gandhi : India Awakened, (Vol. V), Maharma Gandhi : Salt Satyagraha – The Watershed, (Vol. VI), Maharma Gandhi : Preparing For Swaraj, (Vol. VII), and Maharma Gandhi : Final Fight For Freedom, (Vol. VIII). All titles in the series have been published by the Navajivan Publishing House. The publishing of this series stretches from the 1950s to the 1990s. Dr. Sushila Nayar still lives in India. The most popular (though not necessarily the best from all points of view) single-volume biography of Gandhi is that by Louis Fischer titled The Life of Mahatma Gandhi, first published in 1951 and published by a number of publishers since.

You asked for three and I have given you more than three. I hope that is alright. This is the basic collection on Gandhi that cannot be reduced any further. These six single works and series are the base of a very large mountain of books.

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