The Story of My Experiments with Truth by author Mahatma Gandhi

The Story of My Experiments with Gandhi’s Pursuit of Truth


Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, better known as Mahatma Gandhi, is one of history’s most revered spiritual and political leaders. His autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, chronicles his pursuit of truth and nonviolence throughout his life in South Africa and India.

Originally published in weekly installments between 1925-1929, Gandhi’s autobiography provides rare insight into the philosophical underpinnings behind his fight for civil rights and India’s independence from British rule. The book details the events, relationships, and internal struggles that shaped his satyagraha theory and peaceful resistance movements.

The Story of My Experiments with Truth by author Mahatma Gandhi

You can find The Story of My Experiments with Truth by author Mahatma Gandhi on your favorite bookstore, including and Amazon UK.

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About author Mahatma Gandhi

Author Mahatma Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, better known as Mahatma Gandhi, was one of the most influential and iconic leaders of the Indian independence movement. Born on October 2, 1869 in Porbandar, Gujarat, Gandhi studied law in London and began his first civil rights campaign in South Africa in 1893 to end discrimination against Indian expatriates.

In 1915, Gandhi returned to India to fully commit himself to the freedom struggle. Armed only with a philosophy of non-violence and civil disobedience, Gandhi organized peasants, farmers, and laborers against unjust British policies and inspired millions with his message of truth, faith in God, and dedication to the greater good. Some of his key achievements include the powerful Salt March in 1930, and unifying the entire nation behind the quit India civil disobedience movement in 1942.

After decades of principled leadership and sacrifice, Mahatma Gandhi’s unwavering commitment finally paid off when India achieved independence from British rule on August 15, 1947. Today, Mahatma Gandhi’s message of truthful living, mutual understanding between religions and cultures, and achieving socioeconomic equality by peaceful means continues to inspire unity and social change across the world.

Known as the Father of the Nation in India, Mahatma Gandhi’s life and philosophy will always be among humanity’s most stalwart forces for justice and peace.

Why Read Mahatma Gandhi’s Story?

So why should you take the time to read Gandhi’s story? What value could it possibly hold for your own life?

I believe Gandhi’s pursuit of truth contains universal lessons we can all learn from. By walking in Gandhi’s shoes, we discover the personal sacrifices, self-discipline, and moral courage needed to stand up for human dignity and freedom. We also better understand the philosophical source behind his ability to love those that hated and abused him.

In reading his account, we ask ourselves:

  • How did he cultivate such deep compassion for all people, even his enemies?
  • What gave him the inner resilience to endure abuse without hating his oppressors or resorting to violence?
  • Where did he find the internal strength to live simply and detach himself from possessions, people, and prestige for the sake of his principles?

Gandhi’s Youth and Vows in London

The book begins by briefly describing Gandhi’s devoutly religious upbringing as part of India’s merchant caste. However, the real substance starts when an older Gandhi narrates his fateful promise to his mother to stay vegetarian before leaving for London to study law in 1888.

His Promise Sets Off a Chain of Events

This solemn vow to his mother sets off a chain of events that begin Gandhi’s self-described “experiments with truth.”

Keeping his vegetarian pledge in late 19th century England poses multiple social and logistical challenges. Under peer pressure, Gandhi almost abandons his vegetarian values during his first weeks in London.

“The choice was now continually hovering between vegetarianism and meat-eating. Every day I had to choose between the two.”

Yet after reading a booklet on vegetarianism, he decides he would rather give up his legal studies than compromise on ethical values taught since childhood.

“I said to myself: ‘If there is nothing to be gained by living, then why live at all? Life and death are but phases of the same thing’ . . . How could I bear to touch the dead flesh of a butchered cow or goat? . . . I could not relish boiled vegetables soaked in meat soup. . .”

What would you have done in Gandhi’s shoes? Would you have found the courage to risk alienation and stigma by refusing meat under peer pressure?

Gandhi’s stand forever changed the trajectory of his life. This incident hardened his resolve to live according to his personal convictions, even in the face of intense social pressure to conform.

Vow of Truth & Reformer Born

While still in London, Gandhi joins the local Vegetarian Society and takes a solemn vow to eat only pure vegetarian food for life. He also takes vows of abstinence from alcohol and women to gain better self-mastery.

“These vows became living words with me. The motive that lay before me was pure, because I desired to serve humanity . . . to improve body, mind, and soul.”

In taking these vows, Gandhi realized that self-restraint gives personal freedom and self-mastery far greater than self-indulgence.

“To conquer the subtle passions seemed to me to be harder far than the physical conquest of the world by the force of arms.”

It was through these early experiments that a passionate reformer and modern crusader of justice was born within Gandhi. We see glimmers of the great leader he would later become.

Building Nonviolence & Fearlessness in South Africa

In 1893, a London-trained barrister Gandhi set sail for South Africa as a legal representative for Indian settlers there.

The Train Incident Sparks Nonviolent Resistance

However, Gandhi was unprepared for the deep racial injustices and mistreatment Indians faced there every day. An incident on a train changes him forever.

When asked to leave his first-class compartment, Gandhi refuses on principle. Police throw him off the moving train on a cold platform where he spends a shivering night alone.

“I began to think of my duty. Should I fight for my rights or go back to India, or should I go on to Pretoria without minding the insults, and try to serve the people who had subjected me to hardships?”

Gandhi’s moral courage grows. Despite his fears and anger over this humiliation, he resolves to stay and fight such injustices through nonviolent resistance. This decision shapes his next two decades in South Africa as an immigrant rights advocate.

Had Gandhi swallowed this indignation and left immediately for India, he may never have become such an influential voice for justice and nonviolence worldwide.

Standing Up to Injustice Takes Great Courage

From organizing his Indian constituents to launching labor strikes and protest marches, Gandhi displayed relentless civic courage. He faced arrests, beatings, and threats to his life countless times for defiantly standing up to institutionalized racism.

Gandhi confessed that overcoming fear and finding this courage was an immense personal battle, not natural to his temperament:

“My wife had no fear nor anxiety for me, for she had the feeling that I must die some day having absolutely declined to seek protection from the authorities . . . But I must confess that she had more courage than I.”

Through his wife’s loving support and personal sacrifices, Gandhi nurtured the fearlessness and strong moral backbone to lead others and absorb violence with nonviolence.

Faith Fosters Fearlessness

Where did Gandhi’s courage originate? He gives us a clue when quoting his favorite Sanskrit hymn:

“Thou art my refuge and my rest, My home, my hope, my comfort blest. When I sing of me and mine How can I but sing of Thine! Cares or troubles come which way They fill my thoughts by night and day.”

Gandhi stayed grounded in a personal devotion and surrender to serving others – even under intense harassment. His connection to faith is what strengthened him during the darkest nights.

And Gandhi felt called to awaken these fearless qualities in his fellow men. His peaceful non-cooperation movement inspired thousands to transcend paralyzing fears and stand up through soul force.

“It takes great courage and vigilance born out of nonviolence and true faith in man to rid society of the suicidal and disruptive forces of violence.”

Take a moment to ponder: What fears may paralyze you from standing up for what’s right? How might cultivating nonviolence and spiritual courage help you make a positive difference today?

Unveiling Truth Through Nonviolent Experiments

After two decades fighting for minority rights in South Africa, Gandhi returned to India in 1915. He grew determined to liberate India’s poor from extreme taxation and exploited labor under British rule.

To give Indians the strength to love their oppressors, Gandhi knew he must unveil deeper truths through his liberation movement. What hidden truths does Gandhi aim to reveal?

Experiments Reveal Oneness Under God

Gandhi considered his activism a laboratory for experiments with truth and nonviolence. His nonviolent resistance methods unveiled three profound truths he held as self-evident:

  1. Regardless of religion or race, all humankind shares an essential spiritual oneness under one sovereign God;
  2. Through selfless service and unconditional love, truth-seekers cultivate fearlessness, compassion for all beings, and moral courage;
  3. Only nonviolent, peaceful action – free from fear or hatred – can transform conflict and liberate human dignity.

Gandhi’s unwavering faith in these principles led him to declare, H4Truth is God”. By unveiling truth’s hidden unity in all people, Gandhi knew faith in that unity would melt away fear and conflict.

“Love and exclusive devotion to truth can give the needed courage. Fearlessness is the first requisite of Satyagraha.”

Consider for a moment: Do you believe nonviolence contains a hidden power to transform enemies into friends? How might unveiling humankind’s spiritual unity help resolve conflicts in your life?

Organizing Nationwide Civil Disobedience

After leading smaller nonviolent campaigns from 1915-1918, Gandhi organized his first national civil disobedience movement in 1919. Millions joined his call to boycott British goods, schools, and taxes. This organized refusal to cooperate with injustice initiated mass arrests of satyagraha volunteers willing to suffer beatings without retaliation.

“For me the light came out of the East. I had realized early in my life that nonviolence was imperative for India if she was to survive and achieve her destiny.”

Yet cultivating such nonviolent fearlessness across India remained an immense uphill battle. Most peasants lacked training to absorb abuse without retaliation. But Gandhi walked beside them on his famed Salt March to embody fearless satyagraha he called soul force.

<h3>Leading 330 Miles on Foot for Justice</h3>

In 1930, Gandhi led over 60 satyagrahis on a 24-day, 330 mile Salt March protesting the oppressive salt tax. Each day they quietly walked over miles of dusty roads through isolated villages. Gandhi talked and slept alongside the poorest, dispelling untouchability myths. This solidarity and self-sacrifice won hearts across the country to join their cause.

Gandhi later wrote that while his feet blistered terribly, this march birthed a living faith in satyagraha nationwide:

“The pilgrimage lent a living touch and gave a kind of bodily dimensions to the great struggle which was in progress for swaraj [independence] based on nonviolence. The songs they sang became the rage of the day.”

Just imagine Gandhi limping mile after mile, feet bleeding, refusing any special comforts. What kind of moral authority and catalyzing power might such self-sacrifice have? What does Gandhi’s march teach us about earning genuine leadership today?

Cultivating Love through Self-Suffering

The pinnacle of Gandhi’s nonviolent experiments involved cultivating love for enemies through self-inflicted suffering. Gandhi clung to his deepest conviction: the way to cut chains of oppression is through self-sacrifice and soul force, not weapons or retaliation.

“Nonviolence in its dynamic condition means conscious suffering.”

In particular, Gandhi felt called to this suffering discipline after witnessing horrific carnage and religious hatred during India’s Partition in 1947. Amid Muslims and Hindus slaughtering one another by the tens of thousands, Gandhi plunged himself into prayer and then weeks of sacrificial fasting.

Fasting for Peace During Mass Violence

At 78 years old, enduring only water and prayer, Gandhi grew physically weaker each day. But millions halted in reverent prayer themselves, hoping this living martyr might inspire sanity and reconciliation. And for days he did. Bloodshed temporarily ceased.

“There is no peace for me when I hear cries of agony from Punjab or Bengal. But I can find peace only when these cries are hushed in our land and nonviolence reigns in every breast.”

Alas, after Gandhi survived, sectarian killings resumed. Yet he taught us that self-sacrifice retains the power to temper hatred and inspire moral courage, however briefly.

Gandhi sacrificed his body as a theophany – making visible the spiritual truth of human unity under divine love. This final experiment poignantly enacted Gandhi’s core conviction that voluntary self-suffering naturally awakens courage and compassion in others.

Do you think Gandhi’s approach could tempt or teach violent groups today? Does self-sacrifice contain redemptive powers to temper hatred into mercy?

Seeds Planted through Power of Love

While the full fruit of Gandhi’s experiments ripened only partially within his lifetime, the seeds found richer soil across oceans he never sailed.

Inspiring Fearless Truth-Seekers

Gandhi directly inspired a generation of prominent activists and truth-seekers worldwide. Martin Luther King Jr even visited Gandhi’s India in 1959 to absorb satyagraha firsthand. King later affirmed, “It was in this Gandhian emphasis on love and nonviolence that I discovered the method for social reform that I had been seeking for so many months.”

A century later, Gandhi’s methods and writings continue teaching the power of love, faith, and peaceful resistance. They unveil the moral authority we gain by appealing to conscience through self-sacrifice. And they offer timeless guidance in nonviolently fighting injustice anywhere, whether apartheid in South Africa or racial violence in America.

Gandhi urged individuals to cultivate spiritual courage and ‘be the change’ they wish to see. He wrote:

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”

What seeds might Gandhi’s life help nurture in you? How can we personally ‘be the change’ today?

Still Seeking Truth & Justice

While much has changed worldwide, oppressed minorities still suffer violence, prejudice, and exploitation over a century since Gandhi’s bold campaigns confronted such injustices.

More than ever, Gandhi’s story calls us to join in seeking truth and demanding justice through peaceful soul force. It invites us to walk alongside the vulnerable, reflect on moral courage, and examine how to enact lasting reforms nonviolently.

Gandhi’s enlightening autobiography forever stands as a timeless classic for growing in wisdom, fortitude, and faith to follow truth wherever it may lead.

I hope this glimpse into Gandhi’s story spurs you to discover more by reading his short but powerful book for yourself. His vulnerable sharing and universal messages make this spiritual classic accessible for anyone wishing to know him better.

Here are 10 recommendations that share some aspects with “The Story of My Experiments with Truth”, dived in Fiction and Non-fiction books.


  1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: This magical realist epic explores themes of family, history, and social change. Like Gandhi’s struggle for India’s freedom, the Buendía family’s saga reflects the larger forces shaping Latin America.
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: This novel explores racial injustice in the Southern US through the eyes of a young girl. Similar to Gandhi’s non-violent resistance, Lee’s protagonist Scout demonstrates the power of standing up for what is right with courage and dignity.
  3. A Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh: This historical novel depicts the partition of India and Pakistan through the eyes of ordinary people. It examines the human cost of political upheaval, echoing Gandhi’s emphasis on human connection and understanding.
  4. Animal Farm by George Orwell: This classic dystopian satire uses allegory to critique totalitarianism. While Gandhi’s philosophy was grounded in peace and cooperation, Orwell warns against the dangers of blind obedience and oppression.
  5. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe: This postcolonial novel depicts the clash between traditional Igbo culture and British colonialism in Nigeria. It raises questions about identity, progress, and the legacy of imperialism, themes that resonate with Gandhi’s fight for self-determination.


  1. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela: This autobiography chronicles Mandela’s 27-year imprisonment and his fight against apartheid in South Africa. Similar to Gandhi, Mandela’s personal story is intertwined with social justice and non-violent resistance.
  2. Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X: This book offers a different perspective on the Civil Rights Movement in the US. While Gandhi emphasized non-violence, Malcolm X advocated for self-defense and Black empowerment. It’s a fascinating contrast to Gandhi’s approach.
  3. Wings of Fire by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: This inspiring autobiography follows the journey of an Indian aerospace engineer from humble beginnings to becoming President of India. It shares Gandhi’s themes of self-reliance and striving for a better future.
  4. The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru: This book provides historical context for Gandhi’s era, exploring India’s cultural and political landscape. It delves deeper into the country’s struggle for independence, which Gandhi played a pivotal role in.
  5. Gandhi: His Life and Message for the World by Louis Fischer: This biography offers a comprehensive overview of Gandhi’s life and achievements. It’s a great resource for those who want to learn more about the Mahatma beyond his autobiography.

Which universal message or experiment with truth from Gandhi’s life impacted you most? How might his legacy help you pursue justice more fearlessly and compassionately?

I hope Gandhi’s bold experiments walking truth’s path expand our horizon of what’s possible when love and moral courage guide the way. Let’s pick up where Gandhi left off in the steady pursuit of justice through peaceful means and determined nonviolence. Our world desperately needs such scalar waves of fearless soul force today.


What inspired Mahatma Gandhi to write The Story of My Experiments with Truth?

Gandhi was inspired to write his autobiography to share the story of his pursuit of truth and how his beliefs and principles developed over his life. He wanted readers to understand the evolution of his thinking and experiments with concepts like non-violence and passive resistance. Writing the book was part of his own self-examination and search for truth.

Why is Mahatma Gandhi’s book titled The Story of My Experiments with Truth?

The phrase “experiments with truth” refers to Gandhi testing and applying philosophical concepts over the course of his life struggles. He called his approach “experiments” because he was trying out moral and spiritual ideas, evaluating their effectiveness, and evolving his principles. The title reflects Gandhi’s belief that the pursuit of truth is an ongoing process of experiential learning.

What is significant about Mahatma Gandhi writing this book in his native language Gujarati?

Gandhi intentionally wrote his autobiography in his native language Gujarati even though he was fluent in English. He wanted the story of his life’s experiments accessible to the common people of his homeland rather than just the English-educated elite. Writing in his mother tongue aligned with Gandhi’s principles of staying connected with his roots and empowering all classes of Indians.

How does Mahatma Gandhi’s The Story of My Experiments with Truth explore the concept of passive resistance or civil disobedience?

Gandhi provides extensive detail on how he developed and applied the concept of passive resistance, or civil disobedience to unjust laws, in response to racism and discrimination against Indians in South Africa. He also examines the effectiveness of tactics like strikes and peaceful protests that he later expanded into his philosophy of satyagraha during India’s independence movement.

What was the vow Mahatma Gandhi made to his mother that influenced his life?

In keeping a solemn vow to his mother, Gandhi abstained from eating meat and stuck to a vegetarian diet his entire life. He also vowed to remain faithful to his wife Kasturba. Gandhi honored these promises even when circumstances made them challenging to uphold. He believed keeping vows was critical to his moral development.

Why did Mahatma Gandhi feel that the Bhagavad Gita had a tremendous impact on his thinking?

Gandhi discovered the Bhagavad Gita as a young man in London and felt it resonated with many of his deepest held beliefs more than any other Hindu scriptures he read. He was especially moved by the Gita’s passages on selfless duty and non-attachment to outcomes. Gandhi strived to absorb these teachings and apply them in his pursuit of truth.

How did Mahatma Gandhi’s time spent working as a lawyer in South Africa influence his political awakening?

Witnessing discrimination against Indian immigrants while working as a lawyer in South Africa and being subjected to racism himself sparked Gandhi’s political awakening. He immersed himself in India’s struggle for independence and equality while in South Africa. His first acts of civil disobedience came in response to the unjust treatment of Indians there as well.

What unique perspective does Mahatma Gandhi provide on the historical figure Muhammad Ali Jinnah?

Long before Jinnah became an instrumental leader in the partition of India, Gandhi knew him as a moderately successful lawyer lacking direction when they worked together in Mumbai. Gandhi’s behind-the-scenes perspective provides rare insight into Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s early relationship and personalities.

Why does Mahatma Gandhi say that his first public speech was a total failure?

Though a respected lawyer, Gandhi admits his first speech addressing a public cause was a humiliating failure. Speaking to the Indian community in South Africa about petitions, Gandhi froze with stage fright and could hardly string sentences together. The embarrassing experience taught him humility and fueled his commitment to self-improvement in communication.

How did Mahatma Gandhi’s views on effective public advocacy evolve over time?

Gandhi’s public speaking skills may have been poor at first, but he dedicated himself to improvement. He made slow, steady progress and learned to speak from the heart to connect with everyday people. As Gandhi’s confidence grew, he found his voice and went on to inspire nations through powerful, words matched with actions reflecting his evolving principles.

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