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Four-volume Gandhi biography releases today

A four-volume biography of Mahatma Gandhi, with intimate details penned by one who in his childhood played with the great man, has been translated from Gujarati into English and releases today.

books Updated: May 21, 2012 15:18 IST

A four-volume biography of Mahatma Gandhi, with intimate details penned by one who in his childhood played with the great man, has been translated from Mahatma GandhiGujarati into English and releases today on the 140th birth anniversary of the icon of peace and non-violence.

When Narayan Desai, 84, published Maru Jivan Ej Mari Vani (My Life is My Message) in October 2003, it was immediately hailed as a milestone by Gandhian scholars. "Within the first months, three editions of this four-volume text were sold out. It went on to re-prints later," Ahmedabad-based academic and Gandhi scholar Tridip Suhrud, who has translated the biography into English, said.

The English version of the biography penned by the son of Gandhiji's personal secretary Mahadev Desai is now ready and will be released at a function at the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad today. "Until 1948, Narayan Desai lived with Gandhiji in the Sabarmati Ashram and therefore his biography has very personal details, Gandhiji's letters and other facts," Suhrud said.

Narayan Desai later worked with Vinoba Bhave in the Bhoodan (land donation) movement and Jaiprakash Narayan on the Total Revolution movement. He has been based in Vedchhi near Surat.

After the publication of the Gujarati biography, he also held a series of readings - calling them 'Gandhi Katha' on the lines of Ramayana narrations across India and also abroad.

"It's ironical that there should be just one complete biography of Mahatma Gandhi in his mother tongue, Gujarati. My aim in translating this text is that the world has the right to know how Gandhi was perceived by Gujarat," he added.

According to Suhrud, there is a tradition among those who have lived in the Sabarmati Ashram to write about Gandhi. "Whether it was Mahadev Desai, Pyarelal or others, there is a tradition amongst Ashramites to write on Gandhi, but for the last many years this has not been done. My translation is therefore like a culmination of these works," he said.

Suhrud is confident that the book will be of much interest to everyone, including the younger generation. "This text has such personal details on Gandhi...it has the essence to change you. There have been a lot of advance bookings and if there was no interest why would the publishers go ahead with the four volumes?" he said.

A professor of humanities at the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DAIICT), Suhrud has authored 11 books including one on Mahatma Gandhi's eldest son Harilal Gandhi.

"My book on Harilal Gandhi about two-three years back was partly based on research and partly translated from another work. It was later made into a movie, Gandhi, My father he said.

Suhrud is now working on three more books on Gandhi, slated to be released by the end of this year and early next year.

My Life is My Message (Orient Publishing House, 2,500 pages, Rs.2,995) will be released by noted scholar Ashis Nandy.