The fascinating and timely quest of a longtime New York Times contributor to follow Mahatma Gandhi’s code of ethics in today’s world.
In Becoming Gandhi, veteran journalist and author Perry Garfinkel sets out on a three-year quest to examine how Gandhi’s ideals have held up in a world beset with troubling trends. In one chilling admission, one of Gandhi’s own grandsons tells Garfinkel that humans will always retain a degree of violence. Where does this leave modern society? “When I despair,” the Mahatma had said, “I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won.” To many he was a beacon of hope, a true moral compass; to others, a divisive lightning rod for controversy.
Garfinkel takes to heart one of Gandhi’s most famous sayings―“Be the change you want to see in the world”―and attempts a personal transformation. Committing to practice the Mahatma’s six main principles―truth, nonviolence, vegetarianism, simplicity, faith, and celibacy―he seeks to better himself, facing successes and failures that at times lead to self-effacing humour. Perry undertook a unique journey of self-discovery by tracing Gandhi’s footsteps from India to England to South Africa and even American communities where Gandhi’s spirit endures.
Featuring inspiring interviews, provocative reflections, and remarkable encounters, Becoming Gandhi shares new perspectives on this pivotal figure and why his teachings are needed like never before.
Caste, as it is experienced in everyday life, is the pièce de résistance of this book. Thirty-two voices narrate how from childhood to adulthood, caste intruded upon their lives—food, clothes, games, gait, love, marriage and every aspect of one's existence including death. Like the editor Perumal Murugan says, caste is like god, it is omnipresent.
The contributors write about the myriad ways in which they have experienced caste. It may be in the form of forgoing certain kinds of food, or eating food at secluded corners of a household, or drinking tea out of a crushed plastic cup, or drinking black coffee in a coconut shell or water poured from above into a cupped hand. Such experiences may also take the form of forbidden streets, friends disapproved of and love denied. And when one leaves behind the fear of caste while living one's life, there is still death to deal with.
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