Gandhi the Man

How One Man Changed Himself to Change the World
by Eknath Easwaran | Nilgiri Press © 2011 · 216 pages

Eknath Easwaran is one of my absolute favorite teachers. In this beautiful and brilliant biography we get his insights into the transformation of Gandhi the man into the Mahatma or "great soul." As per the sub-title of the book, we learn “How one man changed himself to change the world.” Big Ideas we explore include why/how it all starts with being the change, the power of satyagraha (= soul-force!), making history (by ignoring historians), Gandhi and sugar (and fuel for his soul engine), the call to action (to be moral warriors), and "my life is my message" (what's yours?).

I am not a visionary. I claim to be a practical idealist.
Mahatma Gandhi

“Activists and scholars have studied what they call ‘Gandhian politics’ and ‘Gandhian economics,’ but few have asked the questions which really count. How did he do it? From what did he draw his strength? How did such an ordinary little man, an ineffectual lawyer without a purpose, manage to transform himself into someone able to stand and fight alone against the greatest empire the world has known, and win—without firing a shot?”

~ Eknath Easwaran from Gandhi the Man

Eknath Easwaran is, as we’ve discussed, one of my absolute favorite teachers. In fact, this is our 8th Note on one of his books. (I need to check with the crew to see if that’s officially a record, but I’m pretty sure it is!)

Easwaran was an English Professor in India before coming to the United States as a Fulbright scholar where he taught at UC Berkeley. He then taught the first university-level meditation class in the US and founded the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation where he proceeded to spend decades as a spiritual teacher.

I read this book years ago but hadn’t done a Note on it yet. I recently reread it and here we are.

Let’s start with the cover of the book. It’s completely mesmerizing. Just LOOKING at Gandhi elevates your soul. Above the picture of Gandhi on the cover, we have, of course, the title: Gandhi the Man. And… Below that we have the sub-title that perfectly captures the essence of the book: How one man changed himself to change the world.

You know Gandhi’s iconic aphorism that we must “be the change we want to see in the world”?

Well, Easwaran tells us that the reason Gandhi had the power he had was because he worked extraordinarily (!) diligently to transform himself from a timid young man to the living embodiment of his highest ideals.

And, this book shows us HOW he did it. It’s fantastic. (Get a copy here.)

It’s packed with Big Ideas. I’m excited to share some of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!

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About the author


Eknath Easwaran

Easwaran taught passage meditation and his eight-point program to audiences around the world.