Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of self-rule,as enunciated in his classic work,Hind Swaraj,which had stirred the young generation to plunge into the freedom movement,may have been somewhat lost in time. But a renewed interest in Gandhian political thought seems to have motivated Navjivan Trust to come out with a commemorative edition of the book in a new form altogether.
The book is a 256-page trilingual edition and 2,000 copies are being printed on khadi paper’. It will be released on January 30,coinciding with the 61st death anniversary of the Father of the Nation and completion of the first centenary of the publication of the book,which the then British government had banned. The publisher,Navjivan Printing House,then located in Kalupur,had been raided and all copies seized.
Printed in ‘royal size’,the book will have photocopies of Gandhi’s original handwritten Gujarati manuscripts covering half of the page on top,with Gujarati on the left side of the lower half,English translation in the centre and Hindi on the right.
The idea behind bringing out a trilingual edition,according to Jitendra Desai,who heads Navjivan Trust,is to show deference to the people who love Gandhi.
They will get an opportunity to see Gandhiji’s own handwriting in his mother tongue. It will hold a special charm for Gandhi-lovers, said Desai,who is also the former Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapeeth.
Desai further said that the significance of the book lies in the fact that like the Das Kapital,it inspires revolutionaries to think and act for a change in the political,economic and social order of the society. It is comparable to the Bhagvad Gita,as it is written in a question and answer form.
“It is a small classic on Gandhiji’s concept of self rule and freedom from foreign domination,” Desai added.
Gandhi had written the book between November 13 and 22,1909,during his return journey from London to South Africa on board the ship,Kildonan Castle,in reaction to the violence resorted to by the freedom fighters in India and similar violent tactics employed by those trying to seek freedom for South Africa. After the Gujarati edition was banned,Gandhi translated it into English to popularise his concept of ‘Home Rule’ among Englishmen and other foreigners.
According to Desai,this is the most sought-after book of Gandhi; his autobiography The Story of My Experiments with Truth is the most well known. As against 27 lakh copies of the autobiography that have been sold in 13 different languages including English,Hind Swaraj has so far sold 4.77 lakh copies with 1.14 lakh in English,2.88 lakh in Gujarati and 75,000 in Hindi. The demand for the Gujarati edition is going up with the Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University prescribing it as a compulsory textbook for all courses in the last five years.
According to Desai,the book has become so popular that Malayalam and Tamil translations have also come in recent times. The popularity of the book in Kerala can be gauged from the fact that seminars on Hind Swaraj are being held twice every month by the Purnodaya Book Trust to propagate Gandhiji’s concept of self rule, said Desai.