THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: ‘Mohandas Gandhi’ written by Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai and published in 1914 is one of those masterpieces in history, which did not receive much credit. A rare book, which was published during the lifetime of both the author and the person documented. A book which had not been reprinted in the later years, until recently.
The short biography was recently released in the city in a venture by Swadeshabhimani books, and came assembled in a single book with his biography on Karl Marx featuring on the other side.
‘Mohandas Gandhi’ gives the reader a glimpse into the major events associated with Gandhi before he became Mahatma. Documenting the period of his life in South Africa from 1893 to 1913, the book journeys through Gandhiji’s childhood and his family briefly.
Though brief, the book talks about instances in the leader’s life which have not been highlighted in textbooks. One such instance is of his having a hard time convincing his mother about going to London for pursuing studies in law. Finally, his mother gives him permission after making him take a vow of chastity during his time there. The book highlights another instance where Harry Escombe, the Attorney General of Natal, South Africa, apologies to Gandhiji, half an hour after which he passes away.
While many works on Gandhiji concentrates more on the events after his South Africa struggles, ‘Mohandas Gandhi’ chooses to be different. From the time of his journey to Durban in South Africa from Mumbai, his legal battles to make the British Raj authorities remove the Asiatic Exclusion Act, Gandhi’s decision to represent the Indians at Durban as well as Transvaal, his journey back home and his return to Natal, South Africa, and the efforts taken by a group of Indian workers led by him to take care of the injured in the Boer war, the book chronicles a number of events till his consecutive prison sentences at Transvaal, South Africa.
The last few pages of the book mentions the events which took place from 1859, causing a number of Indians to come to South Africa for manual labour, and their subsequent torture and harassment at the hands of the English.
Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai, a political activist as well as a journalist is credited with writing the first book on Journalism in Malayalam. His book on Karl Marx is credited with being the first Malayalam work on the social reformer.