Mahatma Gandhi was very timid in his youth but days after being thrown out of a train in South Africa, he expressed no signs of timidity and instead changed into an embryonic 'soul force' warrior, says a new book.
Former diplomat Pascal Alan Nazareth, who has written "Gandhi: The Soul Force Warrior, Revolutionised Revolution and Spiritualised It", says the train incident was Gandhi's transformational moment.
When he was thrown out of a train going from Durban to Pretoria, at the Pietermaritzburg station for sitting in a first-class compartment, despite the fact that he had a first-class ticket, Gandhi was only 24-years-old.
"Gandhi was very timid in his youth and continued to be so even after he returned to India with his British legal degree. He had failed miserably in arguing his first case in a Bombay court in early 1893," the book says.
But after the train incident, he expressed no signs of timidity, it says.
Gandhi had also admitted many times that the Pietermaritzburg episode changed the course of his life and his "active non-violence began from that date".
The book, published by Wisdom Tree, talks how the essence of Gandhi's ideology was a rare and distinctive combination of truth and non-violence-a pro-active, passionate and path-breaking approach, rather than a passive absence of violence.
It has a foreword by the Dalai Lama, who says he has put into practice Gandhi's principles in his own efforts to "restore the fundamental human rights and freedom of the Tibetan people".
Nazareth, who has served in India's diplomatic missions in Tokyo, Rangoon, Lima, London, Chicago and New York and as India's High Commissioner to Ghana and Ambassador to Egypt and Mexico among other assignments, also says Gandhi's approach to all religions including his own was unorthodox and eclectic.
"He believed that all of them embodied substantial elements of truth but none was infallible. Besides, all of them had acquired some irrational and inequitable social practices during the course of their long histories, which need to be purged. Most importantly, the great need was to transcend each other's religion and bind oneself totally to the truth and be purified by it."
By urging this approach, the author says, Gandhi raised religious practice to the realm of spirituality and succeeded in gestating a new religious ecumenism and in attracting people of diverse religious faiths to himself and the movements he gestated.
Nazareth has also authored the book "Gandhi's Outstanding Leadership", which has been published in 12 Indian and 20 foreign languages.
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