The Story of My Experiments with Truth

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The Story of My Experiments with Truth
Cover page of 1993 reprint by Beacon Press.
Author Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Original title સત્યના પ્રયોગો અથવા આત્મકથા
Translator Mahadev Desai
Country India
Language Gujarati
Series None

India – ISBN 81-7229-008-X United States – authorised edition with forward by Sissela Bok, Beacon Press 1993 reprint: ISBN 0-8070-5909-9

Dover Publications 1983 reprint of 1948 Public Affairs Press edition: ISBN 0-486-24593-4

The Story of My Experiments with Truth is the autobiography of Mohandas K. Gandhi, covering his life from early childhood through to 1921. It was written in weekly instalments and published in his journal Navjivan from 1925 to 1929. Its English translation also appeared in installments in his other journal Young India.[1] It was initiated at the insistence of Swami Anand and other close co-workers of Gandhi, who encouraged him to explain the background of his public campaigns. In 1999, the book was designated as one of the "100 Best Spiritual Books of the 20th Century" by a committee of global spiritual and religious authorities.[2]


Translator's preface[edit]

This section is written by Mahadev Desai who translated the book from Gujarati to English in 1940. In this preface Desai notes that the book was originally published in two volumes, the first in 1927 and second in 1929. He also mentions that the original was priced at INR1 (1.7¢ US) and had a run of five editions by the time of the writing of his preface. 50,000 copies had been sold in Gujarati but since the English edition was expensive it prevented Indians from purchasing it. Desai notes the need to bring out a cheaper English version. He also mentions that the translation has been revised by an English scholar who did not want his name to be published. Chapters XXIX-XLIII of Part V were translated by Desai's friend and colleague Pyarelal.[3]


The introduction is written by Gandhi himself mentioning how he has resumed writing his autobiography at the insistence of Sjt. Jeramdas, a fellow prisoner in Yerwada Central Jail with him. He mulls over the question a friend asked him about writing an autobiography itself, deeming it as a Western practice, something "nobody does in the east".[1] Gandhi himself agrees that his thoughts might change later in life but the purpose of his story is just to narrate his experiments with truth in life.[3] He also says that through this book he wishes to narrate his spiritual and moral experiments rather than political.

Part I[edit]

The first part narrates incidents of Gandhi's childhood, his experiments with eating meat, smoking, drinking, stealing and subsequent atonement.[4] There are two texts that had a lasting influence on Gandhi, both of which he read in childhood. He records the profound impact of the play Harishchandra and says,"I read it with intense interest...It haunted me and I must have acted Harishchandra to myself times without number."[5] Another text he mentions reading that deeply affected him was Shravana Pitrabhakti Nataka, a play about Shravana's devotion to his parents.Gandhi got married at the age of 13.[3] In his words, "It is my painful duty to have to record here my marriage at the age of thirteen...I can see no moral argument in support of such a preposterously early marriage." Another important event documented in this part is the demise of Gandhi's father Karamchand Gandhi. Gandhi wrote the book to deal with his experiment of truth. His disdain for physical training at school, particularly gymnastics has also been written about in this part.[6]

Part III[edit]

Part III contains 23 chapters.[3]

Part 4[edit]

Part IV consists of 47 chapters.[3]

Part V[edit]

Part V consists of 43 chapters in total.[3]

First publication and Later editions[edit]

After its initiation, "The Story of My Experiments with Truth" remained in the making for 4–5 years (including the time while Gandhi was imprisoned at Yerwada Central Jail near Pune, Maharashtra), and then it first appeared as a series in the weekly Gujarati magazine Navjivan during 1925–28 which was published from Ahmedabad, India.


Gandhi wrote in his autobiography that the three most important modern influences in his life were Leo Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God Is Within You, John Ruskin's Unto This Last and the poet Shrimad Rajchandra (Raychandbhai).[7][8]

Book Reviews

Editions in print[edit]

Online editions[edit]


  1. ^ a b Johnson, edited by Richard L. (2006). Gandhi's experiments with truth : essential writings by and about Mahatma Gandhi. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. p. 388. ISBN 978-0-7391-1143-7. 
  2. ^ "Spiritual books of the century". USA Today. 2 December 1999. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Desai, M. K. Gandhi. Transl. from the original Gujarati by Mahadev (1987). An autobiography : or the story of my experiments with truth (reprint. ed.). London [u.a.]: Penguin Books. p. 454. ISBN 978-0-14-006626-5. 
  4. ^ Men of Turmoil – Biographies by Leading Authorities of the Dominating Personalities of Our Day. Hesperides Press. 2007. p. 384. ISBN 1-4067-3625-2. 
  5. ^ Post, Pitirim A. Sorokin ; introduction by Stephen G. (2002). The ways and power of love : types, factors, and techniques of moral transformation (Timeless classic pbk. ed. ed.). Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press. p. 552. ISBN 978-1-890151-86-7. 
  6. ^ Rudolph, Susanne Hoeber; R, Lloyd I. (1983). Gandhi : the traditional roots of charisma ([Pbk. ed.]. ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-226-73136-0. 
  7. ^ Singh, Purnima (2004). Indian cultural nationalism (Ed. 1st. ed.). New Delhi: India First Foundation. p. 290. ISBN 978-81-89072-03-2. 
  8. ^ editor, Wendy Doniger, consulting (1999). Merriam-Webster's encyclopedia of world religions ; Wendy Doniger, consulting editor.. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster. p. 1181. ISBN 978-0-87779-044-0.