Book Review

Gandhi: His Life and Message for the World
By: Louis Fischer

            Throughout Gandhi, Louis Fischer reviews the life of the Hindu leader and revolutionist, Mahatma Gandhi. Fischer gives a conclusive biography of how Gandhi, though a religious leader, grew from an ordinary person to an extraordinary leader because he remained firm in his ideas and beliefs. It was through his courage and dedication that India gained her independence from England. However, Fischer also mentions how Gandhi failed in many aspects of his life and was not able to achieve all his goals.
            One of the more notable failures was his attempt to better the relations between Hindus and Moslems. The violence between both groups had been occurring for years and Gandhi wanted to unite India in order to strengthen her people. He felt that through his love and fasting, he would be able to help improve the relations among the different religious groups. He stated, “I can fast against my father to cure him of a vice, but I may not in order to get from him an inheritance” (p. 76). Therefore, he began a twenty-one day Hindu-Moslem fast in an attempt to cure India of her vice. After the fast unfortunately the relations between both religious groups did not change. Gandhi realized that the roots of the problem were deeper than he thought and that more time and love was required.
Although change did not occur after the fast, Gandhi continued to try to teach love to the people of India. According to Fischer, “He was not merely leading a movement and striving for its success, he was forging a nation by molding men” (p. 91). Unfortunately, his attempt to create a country full of men and women who would not need his leadership was another failure. Gandhi wished to make India a more peaceful nation, full of men and women who would help in the cause of lifting up other, creating peace, and eliminating poverty. It was never his intention to become glorified, “…he would have preferred Indians to follow in his footsteps rather than kiss his feet” (p.82). Throughout his life Gandhi believed that once a civil rebellion was started, the leader was no longer needed because the people dedicated to the cause would carry the rest of the rebellion. This proved wrong during the two year imprisonment of Gandhi from 1922-1924. While he was in prison many of the people returned to their normal lives because they were not able to continue. In disapproval, Gandhi retired from politics for the following years and stated that “My belief is that the instant India is purified India is free, and not a moment sooner” (p. 74). Although he was disappointed that the people did not continue without his guidance, he eventually continued his quest and eventually he was able to achieve many of his hopes for India.
This biography not only related the life of Gandhi, but it also reviewed the life of the people of India. Despite the fact that Gandhi failed in some aspects of his life; his teachings, beliefs and influence continue to change and shape the future of India and her people. Although he is not physically leading the people of India, his beliefs and love are still guiding people throughout the world.