His experiments with truth

Ballad of BapuBallad of Bapu by Santosh Bakaya
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Generations to come, it may well be, will scarce believe that such a man as this one ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth.”
But where lays the magical charm of the old man- referred as half naked fakir by a proud imperialist leader. Why he had become synonymous with the voice against tyranny?
What is the secret behind the charisma?
Louis Fisher once remarked that Indian can see the reflection of them on Mahatma Gandhi. When he passes through the palace gate of the governor general-every Indian can identify himself in him.
He was the face of India.
Controversy might there be with him-but there is no denying the fact that his utter simplicity and truthfulness is an inspiration that had ignited many minds and will continue to ignite many more in the years to come.
His living and faith on God coupled with a firm faith on the oneness of human race is the plinth of his crusade against injustice. Be it in South Africa or be in India-everywhere he was a worshipper of God or humanity or truth-whatever name you may like to call it. His ideals of Satygraha have not only inspired the road to freedom of his own country, but countless minds have been illuminated by the torch of his thought-he may be Martin Luther King, he may be Nelson Mandela- the effect is the same everywhere. In today’s hostile social environment and conflict torn society-he seems to be more relevant than ever!
Ballad of Bapu by Santosh Bakaya is a tribute to the life of a man whose life was like an open book-who had the courage to admit his guilt and who had always firmly followed the path the had believed to be true. It is probably the only biography of Mahatma Gandhi crated in melodies. Santosh is an academician and an expert of Gandhian thought. She has amassed formidable amount of information in the book and that too in the form of wonderful poetical narrations. Let us quote from the forward by Tushar Gandhi-
“His life his massage
Of such a one as he
Who people would scarce believe
Had walked in flesh and blood
Once upon this earth
Tells Santosh in her verses
The life of Mohan
The saga of a Mahatma.”
Let us now go straight to the book. It began with as early as the birth of the Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi-way back in 1869. She called him the magician- and it was really the birth of a magician. The magician who will not take a rabbit out of an empty hat, but who will perform the Herculean task of regaining the lost dignity of India. In the wonderfully scripted narration-the moment of birth had been narrated-
“On 2nd October1869, this magician took birth,
Whose nickname would soon spread on earth,
Sarojini’s fancy this Mickey Mouse tickled
While the imperialists their noses crinkled,
Churchill called him a half- naked fakir in mirth.”
Gandhiji throughout his whole life was a firm believer of God and truth came to him as a chariot of God himself. May be beauty and truth are synonymous to him-may not it be- but to him truth has always shown him the right path. In his own writings
“Does not God himself appear to different individuals in different aspects? Still we know that he is one. But truth is the right designation of God. Hence there is nothing wrong in everyone following truth according to his lights. Indeed it is his duty to do so. Then if there is a mistake on the part of anyone so following truth, it will be automatically set right.”
Our writer has narrated an incident where Gandhiji stole an ornament f his brother and later confessed it.
“Smoking a transgression, meat-eating another yet
Stealing a bit of gold from his brother’s armlet.
A written confession followed his theft
Forgiving him his ailing father wept
As he had stolen to clear his brother’s debt.”
Let us ride on the time machine that Santosh has invented for us-and this time our destination is to the youth of Gandhiji.
Storm is coming- storm within the mind of a youth who have just passed out his legal course from an alien law. Storm is approaching-within a conservative society to whom travailing at sea is next to the sin of dinning with Lucifer. The mental turmoil of the Mahatma in making has been represented precisely by the writer through her pen
“The storm about his trip raged within his caste
A fraction readmired him, trying to heal the past
But he felt bad
And also sad
To be treated so unkindly left him aghast.”
But alas- passing out from the Temple bar was no way proved to be a boom from him-rather a disaster. So destiny took him away-trying his luck in a far away country –where the world is going to witness a weapon that the world had never imagined.
It is the Dark Continent-which beholds the future for him. In a country where human dignity is a relative term-where colonial rule holds no respect for the traditional natives of the land –his tryst with truth started. there was no place for non whites in the position of respect- Gandhi was literally thrown out form everywhere-from upper cabin of a ship, from a first class railway compartment, from the saloon of a white barber-everywhere.
But he realized-“we can only win over the opponent by love, never by hate. Hate is the subtlest form of violence. We cannot be really non violent and yet have hate in us.”
It was a new journey –a journey that is soon going to transfer a shy weak boy into a mass leader. In the words of our poet
“The meek youth was now a leader of men
Who could preach, moralize and wield the pen!”
The rest is a gripping tale of history. I have dubbed it as history-but it is more than history- where the struggle of a single individual has been synonymous with the awakening of a nation.
written in a lucid style-her biographical sketch of Mahatma is sure to present the man before the eyes of the reader-not a saint, not an avatar- but a man of blood and flesh- who had truly sacrificed his life for the sake of what he believed throughout his life.
And extra asset of the book are rare photographs from the pages of the freedom struggle of India- from the time of dawn!
And whether his faults have been highlighted?
Human souls are eager to adore human-and when you are starved- even a half baked bread will taste like ambrosia!

This review has been made courtesy to goodread’s first read initiative.

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